Kurt Busch to Attempt The Indianapolis-Charlotte Double
posted by Phil Allaway
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Andretti Autosport announced this morning that Kurt Busch, driver of the No. 41 Haas Automation Chevrolet in the Sprint Cup Series, will attempt the Indianapolis 500 in a fifth entry for the IndyCar Series team. Once the Indianapolis 500 is completed, Busch will fly from Indianapolis to Charlotte, jump in his No. 41 Chevrolet and compete in the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
Busch considers the opportunity to do the double as an old-school throwback moment.
“This is really to challenge myself within motorsports,” Busch said in Andretti Autosport’s press release. “Perhaps I am a bit of an old-school racer; a throwback, I guess. I enjoyed the era of drivers racing different cars and testing themselves in other series. It is tough to do now for a variety of factors, but when the opportunity is there, I want to do it. While NASCAR is my home, I have been fortunate to compete in Pro Stock on the NHRA circuit a number of years ago and test a V8 Supercar. This opportunity was a talk with Michael [Andretti] over dinner one night, a “What if,” and now it’s becoming a reality for me to drive in the Indy 500 with Andretti Autosport. It’s literally a dream come true. To go to the famous Brickyard with the iconic Andretti name, it doesn’t get much cooler or better than that.”
Busch will be doing the Indianapolis-Charlotte double as a Memorial Day mission to men and women serving in the U.S. Military via the Armed Forces Foundation. Fans can contribute to the cause by texting AFF to 50555 to donate $10.
Busch, who has never raced an IndyCar, passed Rookie Orientation at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway last year during a test session. At the time, Busch was more or less testing the Dallara DW12 for fun.
Busch will be the fourth driver to attempt the Indianapolis-Charlotte double. John Andretti was the first driver to attempt it in 1994. After finishing four laps down in tenth in Indianapolis, Andretti crashed and had engine problems in the 600. Robby Gordon has attempted the double five times, most recently in 2004. However, Gordon failed to make it to Charlotte on time and did not start the 600 in 2000 (P.J. Jones started Gordon’s No. 13 Ford in that instance). Finally, Tony Stewart has attempted the double twice (most recently in 2001) and is the only driver to ever complete all 1100 miles. Neither of the three drivers has won either leg of the double. The best finishes are Stewart and Gordon’s sixth-place finishes at the Indianapolis 500 (although Gordon’s came in 2000, the year he didn’t make it to Charlotte in time to start the Coca-Cola 600), and Stewart’s fourth-place finish in the 2001 Coca-Cola 600.
Danica Patrick, Justin Allgaier Talk About Phoenix Incident
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
A disappointing start to the year for Danica Patrick won’t include continued conflict. Patrick met with rookie Justin Allgaier Sunday, shortly after the Phoenix Cup race after a wreck ruined both drivers’ days. Patrick, who was critical of the No. 51 car on the radio, claiming Allgaier was “driving all over the track” appeared receptive to a conversation that quickly settled differences over what will be a long season.
“She was just upset because she got involved in the crash that we had,’’ said Allgaier to the Motor Racing Network. “She says she’s been through this and that she felt like I needed to settle down at that point. I explained my position on why everything happened. I think she understood where I was coming from. It doesn’t fix either one of our racecars. It doesn’t fix either one of our days. Unfortunately, we were both having pretty decent days.’’
Allgaier wound up 30th due to the incident while Patrick was 36th. The incident, which was caused by Allgaier’s spin also involved the No. 32 team and Travis Kvapil, which wound up 38th after sustaining heavy damage.
Camping World Close to Extending Title Sponsorship of NCWTS
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Tuesday March 4, 2014
Marcus Lemonis, CEO of Camping World, Grand Marshal of Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Phoenix International Raceway, and star of CNBC’s “The Profit,” made the announcement over the weekend that the retailer is very close to announcing a deal that would continue its title sponsorship of NASCAR’s Truck Series. The original agreement with NASCAR is scheduled to conclude after the 2015 season.
According to the sanctioning body, no formal contract has been signed, but “the agreement between the two parties has proven to be a beneficial one.”
“In about a month, we’ll be announcing a significant extension to that contract. It’s been great for us,” said Camping World’s Lemonis in a statement. “The NASCAR relationship has worked well for Camping World. When we started, we had 35 stores. Now, we’re up to 120 stores. As we travel the country and we meet new customers in stores, they always are very appreciative of our relationship with NASCAR. It’s been good.”
Gaining a long-term commitment from Camping World to sponsor the Truck Series would be a relief for NASCAR, which is set to lose Nationwide Insurance as title sponsor for the NASCAR Nationwide Series at the end of the 2014 season. The sponsorship of the Cup Series by Sprint runs through 2016.
The NCWTS is back in action on March 29th at 2:30 PM (ET) when the trucks visit Martinsville Speedway in the Kroger 250, which can be seen on Fox Sports 1. Ratings for the season opener were up 11 percent.
Harvick Takes Win At Phoenix In Second Race With New Team
posted by Justin Tucker
Monday March 3, 2014
Phoenix International Raceway has become Kevin Harvick’s home away from home. Sunday Afternoon was no exception as Harvick charged to the front early and would dominate for much of the day, leading 224 of the scheduled 312 laps to record his record fifth win on the one mile oval and his third win in the last four races at Phoenix.
Harvick, coming off of a disappointing Speedweeks which was capped by a last lap crash in the Daytona 500 in his debut with Stewart-Haas Racing, set the tone on Saturday by winning both practices while having the best 5 and 10-lap averages in the first practice of the day on Saturday. On Sunday, Harvick and his No. 4 Jimmy John’s Chevrolet was nothing short of flawless as he was able to hold Dale Earnhardt, Jr. by .489 seconds after a late race restart to claim his 24th career Sprint Cup Series victory.
“Man, this is awesome,” Harvick said after his dominant victory on Sunday. “Man, this just solidifies so many things and so many decisions. It’s been so much work with all the time and effort that these guys (the crew) have put in—but what a race car.”
Stewart Haas Racing co-owner Gene Haas shared in Harvick’s excitement after the race.
“It took long enough,” Haas joked. “This is phenomenal. I think there was a lot of skepticism last year about what myself and Tony (Stewart) what we were up to, was there a lot of madness to this. Quite frankly, it’s a great team, there’s a lot of synergy at the shop, people working together. I don’t know what we did, but I think we put together a great organization.”
Daytona 500 winner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. continued his hot start to the 2014 season. Earnhardt Jr. would finish second on Sunday, marking his seventh consecutive top 10 finish since the end of the 2013 season. Earnhardt Jr. was pleased with the effort after a coast-to-coast whirlwind week after winning his second Daytona 500 and also gave great praise to the efforts of Harvick and the No. 4 team.
“I’ve got to congratulate Kevin. Those guys were two-tenths faster than everyone all weekend in practice. They were just phenomenal,” Earnhardt said. “To be able to run with them all day was a big confidence builder for us.”
Joining Harvick and Earnhardt in the top 5 of The Profit on CNBC 500K were Brad Keselowski with his second consecutive top 3 run of 2014 in third. Keselowski’s Team Penske teammate Joey Logano would finish fourth, and Jeff Gordon would come home fifth in his No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet.
Jimmie Johnson finished in sixth, followed by Ryan Newman with a nice rebound after Daytona in seventh. Carl Edwards would carry the banner for Roush Fenway Racing by finishing eighth, Kyle Busch was ninth, and Jamie McMurray would finish tenth.
A look at the Profit on CNBC 500K by the numbers. There were 14 lead changes among eight different drivers, there were eight cautions for 39 laps which slowed the race pace to 109.229 MPH.
Next Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to Sin City and the Las Vegas Motor
Starting Lineup: The Profit On CNBC 500K
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday March 1, 2014
Drivers in RED (i) are those ineligible to collect Sprint Cup points
Daytona 500 TV Ratings Down
posted by Frontstretch Staff
Wednesday February 26, 2014
What was the longest weather delay in Daytona 500 history turned out to bring NASCAR lower ratings and TV viewership Sunday night than expected. According to a report Monday from FOX Sports, the 56th running of the Daytona 500 airing at 8 PM (ET) posted a 5.6/10 national household rating/share which averaged 9.3 million viewers. That’s down 44 percent from last year’s 9.9, easily making it the least-watched Daytona 500 of all-time.
Due to the six-hour, twenty-two minute rain delay in Daytona, the race was up against the primetime coverage of the Winter Olympics Closing Ceremony from Sochi, Russia on NBC (15.25 million viewers). FOX also reported that 69% of the pre-rain delay viewers of the race, which began at 1 PM (ET) kept tuning in.
In comparison, the 2013 Daytona 500 on FOX was the most-watched race in five years, posting a 9.9/22 rating/share, commanding 16.7 million viewers. The Daytona 500 in 2012, the first to ever be run on a Monday and in the primetime slot did a 7.7/13 overnight rating/share which resulted in 13.67 million households viewing the race according to Nielsen TV ratings data.
Earnhardt, Jr. Claims Second Daytona 500 Victory
posted by Justin Tucker
Wednesday February 26, 2014
Ten years is a long time. For Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it felt like an eternity. NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver endured many near misses and close calls at the Daytona 500 since his only win in the Great American Race in 2004. Earnhardt had finished second in two of his last three Daytona 500s coming into Sunday’s race. He was also riding the tail of a 55-race winless streak, dating back to Michigan in 2012.
However nothing would stop Dale Jr. on Sunday, not even a 6 hour and 22 minute rain delay from capturing his second Daytona 500 win. Earnhardt Jr. led a race-high 54 laps on the evening and used some timely drafting help from teammates Jimmie Johnson and, on the final restart, Jeff Gordon to separate from the pack and secure the victory.
“Winning this race is the greatest feeling that you could feel in this sport besides accepting the trophy for the championship,” said a jubilant Earnhardt after pulling into Victory Lane. “We could fight off battle after battle. We got a little help at the end there from Jeff to get away on the restart. This is amazing. I can’t believe this is happening. I never take this for granted, man because it doesn’t happen twice, let alone once.”
Aside from the race itself the big story of the race was the 6 hour and 22 minute red flag, which threatened to move the race to Monday evening (had the race been postponed, FOX Sports’ Chris Myers had tweeted that the race would resume at 5:00pm EST). However, Mother Nature would cooperate and would allow the race to be run under different conditions from which they practiced this week. Once the race resumed, the intensity picked up from the changing track conditions. This allowed the pack to race side-by-side and at times 3-wide up to seven rows deep.
Joining Earnhardt Jr. in the top 5 for the 2014 Daytona 500 were: Denny Hamlin who closed out a spectacular Speedweeks in second, Brad Keselowski in third, Jeff Gordon in fourth, and Jimmie Johnson who overcome two wrecks leading up to the 500 in fifth.
Rounding out the top 10 in the Daytona 500 were Matt Kenseth in sixth, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in seventh and Greg Biffle would bring his No. 16 Ford home in eighth. Austin Dillon would come home ninth in his first Cup Series race in the iconic No. 3 for Richard Childress Racing, while Casey Mears would round out the top 10.
A couple of major contenders for the Daytona 500 win would see their hopes dashed early on as Martin Truex, Jr. would blow up just 30 laps into the race, relegating him to a 43rd-place finish in his debut for Furniture Row Racing. Crew chief Todd Berrier was already in Nashville for a test session before the race was even over. Kyle Busch, meanwhile would have a pit road violation just before halfway and would spend much of the race battling back from that mistake. Busch would eventually finish 19th after leading 19 laps.
Danica Patrick would also be bit by bad luck as she was caught up in a multi-car wreck on lap 145. Patrick would lead her second consecutive Daytona 500, but wouldn’t have the finish to show for it finishing 40th. Tony Stewart would encounter a frustrating evening as well, with a fuel pickup problem derailing his quest for his first Daytona 500 win. Stewart would finish 35th.
A look at the Daytona 500 by the numbers. There were 42 lead changes among 18 drivers, while seven cautions for 39 laps would slow the race pace to 145.290 MPH.
Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the “diamond in the desert,” Phoenix International Raceway for The Profit on CNBC 500K. The Green flag is scheduled for 3:15pm EST.
Nationwide Series Post-Race Quotes: Drive4COPD 300
posted by Thomas Bowles
Tuesday February 25, 2014
Frontstretch Interviews – Courtesy Mike Neff
ELLIOTT SADLER – FINISHED 4th
Thoughts on the race?
It’s definitely a lot different racing than what we’re used to.
Comfortable with it?
Yeah, it’s just different. You’re worried about what you’re doing, but you’re also worried about what everyone else is doing and they’re not doing more than you’re doing. Physically pushing a guy is way better than just riding so you just gotta time it right and push it to the edge.
Happy to start the year with a top 5?
Yeah. Hell, that was the worst we ran all day, I think. I have no idea how they put the 3 car in front of us on that last restart. I hadn’t seen the 3 car hardly all day. When they put us from fifth to sixth, on the outside line, it just really boxed us in. I would have really restarted behind my teammate and given him a good push to the front. Anyways, it is what it is; we’ll take it and move on.
Looked like you were up front all day.
The guys did a good job. We had a fast race car. Great pit stops, just really proud of these guys. The car’s in one piece and we can take it to Talladega now. Great job by my guys. A lot of effort came into coming down here to Daytona and giving ourselves a shot to win. We had that chance to be up front and make some things happen. Fifth is not what we want, but we’ll take it and move on.
Bumping vs Pushing?
It’s way harder. You don’t want to lay on the guy in front of you, so it’s tough racing. A lot different than what we’re used to, ‘cause you gotta go. You gotta drag the brake too ‘cause you don’t want to hit the guys and you don’t want to stay on him. It’s a lot harder mentally than what we’ve done in the past.
Car was strong all day. Pushing vs. Bumping, is that harder to do than just getting on somebody and pushing them?
Yeah, it is a little bit. When you bump ‘em, you jar ‘em, it kinda jacks ‘em a little bit. It’s a little more abrupt, obviously. I thought it was OK there at the end. It was certainly fun and hopefully entertaining. But a little bit of a struggle in the early part of the race and the midpart of the race to see a good race. And that’s unfortunate for the fans. You can’t do that the whole race, you can’t tear up your stuff, knock your grill in, overheat your motor, all that stuff so there’s no sense in doing all that until you get down to the last lap. The 7 and the 6, they did a good job. Man, the 7 really held the 22 and I tight on the bottom. I was rubbing his door and hitting the apron at the same time, no room whatsoever. So it was good; wish we were the ones who could have won but a lot better now than what we were last year.
Going home in one piece makes it a lot better, right?
Yeah. My back feels good. My foot feels good. Past years here, I’ve been going home with pain so I’m alright.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Truck Series Post-Race Quotes: Daytona (Exclusives)
posted by Thomas Bowles
Saturday February 22, 2014
When you’re on the outside like that, how frustrating is it?
It’s so hard. Timothy Peters has won here. Kyle Busch has won everywhere. Ron Hornaday has been running Trucks forever, probably before I was even born. I was surrounded by veterans there, and like I told them I don’t have a rookie stripe but I’m a rookie. This is only my fourth Truck race ever, my fourth superspeedway race, and man, I figured out when the 17 got up in front of me, I pushed him. And as soon as I pushed him, he took off. And I went with him. And I just kept doing it, and before I knew it, he was leading. And I saw Ron in my mirror, backed up to him, and if it wasn’t for him, I don’t know what would have happened. I gotta thank him big time for that. That was a true teammate move right there. I really appreciate that. He just bounced off me and we got to the front. I tried my hardest to sidedraft Kyle. I was probably touching his door.
Top 5 in the No. 30 truck. This deal come together at the last minute, but you had a heck of a truck. Tell us about your night.
Yeah, I’ve got to thank Turner Scott Motorsports. The guys worked so hard on this Rheem Comfort Products Chevrolet. Exciting! Just got hung up on the outside and had to wait for my teammate there to catch up. And then he got to the bottom, so… I got the old 32 and started pushing ol’ Ryan to the front. So, it’s not bad. We’ll take it. You just don’t want to step over that boundary. You don’t know how far to push and shove. We bumped about six times down the straightaway without latching onto them. Hopefully, that was OK and we came home with a top 5.
Connect with Mike!
2014 Budweiser Duels Post Race Quotes
posted by Matt Stallknecht
Friday February 21, 2014
BUDWEISER DUELS POST-RACE QUOTES
They’re saying the wheel bearing burned up in it. I don’t know what caused it, they’re taking it all apart to figure out what the heck happened. Something abnormal that’s for sure I don’t think I’ve ever had that happen at all. Hopefully, we made the race and hopefully we can fix the problem before Sunday.
WHAT WAS THAT LOUD BOOM ONCE YOU TURNED INTO THE GARAGE?
Loud pop was a tire… thankfully, it popped, hopefully it didn’t hurt anybody. All the heat created in the left front that popped was pretty weird.
REALLY GOOD RUN. WHAT DID YOU THINK OF IT?
Yeah, it was good. We have a car we can work with for the 500. Got a good starting spot, so we’re going to rest easy, fluff and buff our car for a couple of days and get ready for Sunday.
ANY DIFFERENCE ON WHETHER THE TOP OR BOTTOM LANE WORKED?
Yeah, I was just moving around, trying to stay with the flow. For me, this car works on all parts of the racetrack. So I’m pretty happy with it.
DALE EARNHARDT, JR.
GOT SHUFFLED BACK, AFTER PIT STOPS AND THEN COULDN’T GET BACK UP TO THE FRONT. WHY?
Nah, we were just sitting there waiting until the last few laps to make a move. You didn’t want to pull down and get sent to the back. Seen a couple of guys get sent to the back really quick so we were just kind of waiting for the end. I felt like we had a good situation there with Ambrose behind us — we had a good run off Turn 2 and I went. It was the last lap, time to go do something, nobody went with us but hopefully Sunday is a different story.
We got a great car. We don’t have to work hard. We learned, we got a good race car. Got a car in one piece, ready to go so we’ll try and get through the next couple of practices, deliver it to the starting group this Sunday and we’ll be real happy.
YOU’RE IN THE DAYTONA 500!
Yeah, it’s pretty awesome. This Whitetail Chevrolet was so fast that I knew all I had to do was stick it behind smart, intelligent drafters and we could have a good finish. That’s what we did in the Duels and I’m excited. I’m excited to go do some stuff with the Nationwide car and have some more practice with this. But to know that we’re locked in the Daytona 500’s pretty cool.
YOU WERE OBVIOUSLY IN FRONT OF THAT MELEE AT THE END. WHEN YOU WERE UP FRONT THERE IN THE BEGINNING, WERE YOU HOPING TO JUST STAY IN LINE AND LET YOU FINISH TOP 5?
I was pretty content to ride and luckily I knew a lot of people around us were. It was nice to have a little calm and not really have to be racing hard the whole time. I knew that the pit stop was going to shake everything up and that’s exactly what happened. Fell back a little bit there but made the right moves at the end to get a good finish.
HOW STRONG ARE THESE RCR CARS?
They’re very strong! They definitely have the capabilities to be winning one of these races.
YOU’RE IN THE TOP 5 FOR YOUR HEAT IN THE DAYTONA 500. YOUR PRIMARY CAR IS SITTING RIGHT IN THE GARAGE, KIND OF WADDED UP. DID YOU THINK THIS ONE HAD IT IN IT?
Yeah, it’s a brand new car also. It’s just not quite as good as the primary but still a damned good car. I’m just proud of everybody at RCR for building such fast race cars. All of our cars have been fast, ECR motor’s been strong, even our affiliate teams have been qualifying really good and racing good. So… excited about 2014! It’s going to be a good year.
WELL MAN, YOU STARTED IN THE BACK BUT WORKED YOUR WAY TO THE FRONT WHEN IT COUNTED MOST. WERE YOU JUST BIDING YOUR TIME THROUGHOUT THE RACE?
Eh, you never know if you’re going to get back up there or not. We had to start at the back, we had to make a run early and see what we could do. We drove right to 10th, or something like that and then it got stagnant. We tried to make something happen, and went to the back again. Drove back up to the front. Again, just really proud of my guys. Matt Kruder did a hell of a job on that pit stop getting just enough gas in to gain some spots there.
RCR CARS SEEM PRETTY DARNED STRONG. DO YOU THINK THE RCR CARS HAVE SOMETHING FOR THEM ON SUNDAY — ESPECIALLY THE THREE JOE GIBBS RACING CARS THAT SEEM TO BE THE CLASS OF THE FIELD RIGHT NOW?
Oh yeah. The 20 car was extremely fast. The 11 didn’t qualify that good, but he’s a good drafter. I think he won. We definitely have something for him.
Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Tom Bowles and Beth Lunkenheimer · Tuesday September 7, 2010
Editor’s Note: Matt McLaughlin is off this week for Labor Day Weekend. Beth Lunkenheimer filled in for Atlanta’s edition, with Managing Editor Tom Bowles adding the stats and points update Matt usually throws in on the bottom of his Monday column.
The Key Moment: Tony Stewart’s crew helped him gain three spots on pit road in the crucial final stop of the night, allowing him to join Carl Edwards on the front row for the restart. From there, Stewart finally managed to keep his tires from spinning coming up to speed, easily pulling out ahead of Edwards by more than a second to score his long-awaited first victory of 2010.
In a Nutshell: Great battles throughout the field in a better-than-expected race from Atlanta. But Tony Stewart proved the class of the field after nightfall, leading 176 laps on the way to his first win since Kansas last October.
Dramatic Moment: Scott Speed’s engine blew on lap 264, and on the trip down pit road, the No. 82 Red Bull Toyota burst into flames, causing crew chief Ryan Pemberton to frantically tell his driver to stop the car and get out of there. The funny thing was that Speed had no idea what Pemberton was so worried about until he saw the replay on television after the fact.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week:
It’s no surprise the first caution of the night came out because of debris after 131 laps of green flag racing. After all, NASCAR couldn’t let drivers continue to be lapped at a blistering pace. Ironically, the Lucky Dog went to none other than Dale Earnhardt, Jr. who was lapped just before the caution came out. Coincidence?
I’m sure everyone is still wondering about the scoring error by NASCAR after the fifth caution flew. Kevin Harvick’s left front tire shredded as he tried to pit, causing all kinds of damage to the No. 29 Chevrolet and leaving a path of debris behind him. But the pace car picked up the wrong driver under caution and allowed Harvick to get a lap ahead of everyone else, and that resulted in being held on pit road for a lap to correct the scoring error, ultimately making Harvick the last driver on the lead lap. It’s never good to make that mistake; but in this case, kudos to the sanctioning body that they took the time to correct it instead of just shrugging their shoulders. A downright refusal to admit a similar error gave Brett Bodine the victory over Darrell Waltrip at North Wilkesboro in 1990.
Ryan Newman was once again involved in an on-track incident followed by an off-track “conversation” with a fellow driver. With 25 laps remaining, Kasey Kahne got loose inside Jimmie Johnson, and a poorly timed bump from Newman sent Kahne bouncing off the wall before sliding down the track and bouncing off the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge of Kurt Busch. After spending 15 laps getting repairs, Kahne attempted to pay back that bump with just three laps remaining and failed. Though he got Newman sideways, the driver of the No. 39 held on and finished eighth. Following the race, the two were seen discussing the incident in the garage, after which both of them seemed to be just fine. It was nice to see two drivers race hard, play by the “Have at it, boys” rules, then get back at each other without either car nearly flipping into the stands as a consequence.
Friday night’s Truck Series Built Ford Tough 225 saw a mini-rivalry born. During his post-race interview, winner Todd Bodine thanked Kyle Busch for “driving dirty” and setting up the pit strategy that ultimately won the race for Bodine. As you would expect, Busch wasn’t pleased with Bodine’s comments and promptly made an appearance in Victory Lane to defend himself – causing Bodine to spew venom in a lengthy Saturday interview where he claimed Kyle’s recent driving style has been bordering on out of control. Frankly, Todd Bodine has a point about Busch being a dirty driver. Though the move Friday night was nothing more than hard racing, Kyle has done his fair share of running over others across the board in NASCAR with no regard to those around him, and it’s about time someone called him out for it.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Joey Logano found himself a lap down inside the first 100 laps Sunday night, but the troubles didn’t stop there. Less than 50 laps later, the sophomore driver reported he was down a cylinder, and though the team tried everything they could think of for a fix, nothing worked. Despite the engine troubles, Logano managed to still finish 27th, only one lap down.
As if Logano’s struggles weren’t enough for Joe Gibbs Racing, Denny Hamlin started off strong, first swapping the lead with Ryan Newman and then Tony Stewart several times throughout the first 140 laps of the 500-mile race. But it wasn’t meant to be when his engine let go on lap 144 after leading 74 laps in a race where everyone in the garage pointed to the No. 11 team as the ones to beat. Instead, he was left to settle for a 43rd-place finish but still managed to clinch his spot in the Chase thanks to later troubles for Mark Martin, Newman, and others chasing him.
If it weren’t for bad luck, Elliott Sadler would have no luck at all. After turning across Ryan Newman’s nose, Greg Biffle spun down the track where he caught the back end of Sadler’s No. 19 and sent him head-on into the outside wall where he suffered terminal damage. The 41st-place finish marked Sadler’s fourth DNF this season and the 17th race of 25 he finished off of the lead lap.
As has become the standard for this season, points leader Kevin Harvick quietly worked his way through the field, posting fast laps and quickly gaining on the leader as the laps wound down Sunday night. But as he prepared to make a green-flag pit stop, his left front tire gave out as he missed pit road, tearing up the fender and his hopes for a shot at the victory. Though repairs were made, Harvick continued to struggle and ended up with a disappointing 33rd-place finish.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Tony Stewart caught a lucky break when NASCAR chose to call a caution for what amounted to Brad Keselowski hitting the brakes a little too hard in Turn 2. At the time, Stewart was fourth and over three seconds behind a battling trio of Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, and Kasey Kahne, each of whom would have been virtually impossible to run down and pass with less than 30 laps remaining.
After the first round of green-flag pit stops, Kyle Busch inherited the lead but was busted for speeding on pit road, forcing him to serve his pass-through penalty under green flag conditions. Add a loose wheel to a mounting series of problems, and the driver of the No. 18 Toyota found himself mired back in 34th, nearly two laps down at one point. But a free pass coupled with a strong car allowed Busch to move back through the field for a solid fifth-place finish.
Kurt Busch became a pinball in Kasey Kahne’s and Ryan Newman’s game of bumpdrafting gone bad after the final caution. But despite getting slammed in the side of his No. 2 Dodge, the March Atlanta winner somehow held the car together long enough to come home sixth. It was a bit of a miracle for Busch to even be running that high in the field in the first place; after struggling with the handle on the car all night and taking advantage of the wave-around to gain a lap lost in the early stages of the race, Steve Addington made the call on lap 273 to stay out on the track when the rest of the field pitted, allowing Busch to inherit the lead. Though he only stayed out front for five laps, a caution with 23 laps remaining allowed the driver of the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge to pit for fresh tires with the front of the field. That move paid off big-time, giving Busch a sixth-place finish from a car that was easily on track for a mid-20s performance at best.
What’s the Points?
With just one regular season race remaining, what’s the point? Kevin Harvick has officially clinched the “points title” for the first 26 races, earning him little more than a pat on the back, some lovely free NASCAR merchandise and the answer to a question on the same Trivial Pursuit card as, “Who did Britney Spears marry and then divorce within 48 hours?” Holding a 219-point edge over Jeff Gordon in second, both are among ten drivers who have now clinched a postseason spot in the Chase. The others (in order of where they are in the standings): Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Jeff Burton, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin.
Greg Biffle sits eleventh, the victim of an ugly wreck on Sunday that makes him both start and (gasp!) finish 42nd or better in the field at Richmond to earn his playoff spot. As for Clint Bowyer, a seventh-place run leaves his magic number a fairly manageable 28th-place finish. Should he stumble or fail to show up, Ryan Newman, Jamie McMurray, and Mark Martin all remain within a whisker of pulling a miracle upset.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – When all was said and done, it wasn’t a terrible race, easily worth three ice cold cans of Miller Lite. It’s a shame this event had an attendance decline of nearly 18,000, exactly the reason why it’s getting trimmed from two dates to one in 2011.
Next Up: It’s time for that all-important Saturday night race at Richmond that’ll determine the Chase field before we roll into the final ten races of the season.
©2000 - 2008 Tom Bowles and Beth Lunkenheimer and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!
Good race, and a good column Beth.
Comeback/perserverance story of the race was absolutely the #2…great calls by Addington and great driving by Busch after being punted by the #39 running over Kahne.
Glad I’m not in the huddle at the JGR engine shop today…
I was there Sunday night and the stands were about 85-90% full. Which of course was a lot more than what was there in March.
The time off didn’t improve your sentence structure DansMom . I read that gibberish twice and still have no idea what point you were trying to make , other than the fact you apparently don’t like Ryan Newman .
was there and thought the racing was good…long green flag runs like normal during a 500 miler…but good racing for the lead and back in the pack…Told my husband I was going to the bathroom cause I knew a “Jr. caution” would be flying soon…got back in my seat just as it flew.
Too bad schools not still out.
DansMom can’t spell either. The wrong one is back in school.
Woohoo! Dansmom is back! Finally there is something worth reading again on this freakin forum!
Question, when was it required to speel everything correctly on a nascar blog? I dont think any of this is being submitted for a Pulitzer prize anytime soon (especially the junk that Matt M writes).
Nascar is like slot cars with a little more horsepower.
Too bad that caution flew with 30 to go, that 3 way racing was awesome and I was looking forward to a great finish for the 9 car but, kind of a bogus caution and the finish didn’t get close.
Did you see that sweet move when Jr. went a lap down? The caution flag saves the day once again.
At least Jr didnt cause the caution himself this time to make sure he didnt go a lap down. I am sure he thought about it though.
@DansMom: Welcome back. I for one have missed you and your thoughts, although I don’t agree with most of them. Please play nice with the rest of the kids.
DansMom is right! Kasey did not FAIL to pay Newman back. He got into him enough to cost him valuable positions and points toward making the Chase AND he caused no mayhem on the track as a result of his payback. Carl Edwards should take lessons from Kasey on how to do payback without incurring the wrath of NASCAR.
As for Todd Bodine, gimme a break! He sounded like Danica Patrick whining, “Isn’t there a penalty for that? He got me loose! I lost control of my car! BA-WA-WA!”
NASCAR lets Kyle “get away with it,” because Kyle, like KK, knows how to stay just this side of the rules. More power to him. He is NASCAR’s most valuable asset and they are going to continue to keep him on a VERY long leash. Have at it, Kyle! You have fans who appreciate your talent and your attitude.
I like susan. Wonder if she is as hot as dansmom.
That was my first though when that caution was thrown and gave Jr. the Lucky Dog. How convenient? Can’t let our biggest draw stay a lap down!
Jeez, nc1fish, that’s low! I love slot cars!
amen to the jr caution. i knew the flag was going to fly for mystery debris once jr went a lap down. if not they still might be running green flag laps up interstate 75 north to north carolina.
wonder why seats aren’t selling…..na$car credibility, ie jr caution. EVERYONE who has half a brain knew what the caution flag was. place would have emptied out even more so if jr had trouble. not that finishing 22nd is fanstastic.
Best “Matt” column ever—simply because he didn’t write it.
If he had, I wouldn’t have read it because he doesn’t write as if he is any more intelligent than DansMom.
Sad that apparently Atlanta fans aren’t supporting the track. Reminds me of the 90s when the Braves had great teams every year and the attendance at Fulton-County still was weak.
There are about six hundred 1.5 mile tracks on the schedule that should be losing dates before Atlanta.
They raced in Atlanta? But it was Labor Day weekend!