Busch Dominates, Wins History 300 at Charlotte
posted by Amy Henderson
Saturday May 25, 2013
Kyle Busch led 186 laps en route to a dominating victory in the History 300 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday. It was a record seventh CMS win for Busch and his overall in the NASCAR Nationwide Series. Busch’s victory was the most dominant in a 200-lap Nationwide Series race at Charlotte since 1986, when Dale Earnhardt led 194 laps en route to the win.
Kasey Kahne looked like he might have something for Busch after a series of late cautions set up a dash to the finish, but the No. 5 faded in the final alps while the No. 54 rolled to the win. Joey Logano, rookie Kyle Larson, and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top 5, with Larson the highest finishing Nationwide Series regular in the race. Larson’s charge through the field in the second half of the race, using the high groove to pass several cars, had the young driver closing on the leaders before a string of cautions shuffled the field.
The first half of the race was a test of patience for race teams. Austin Dillon started from the pole but quickly faded, leading just one lap and finishing 14th. The caution didn’t fly for the first 39 laps, until debris in turn three brought the yellow flag out of hiding. Close racing on the restart led to a second yellow flag at lap 47 as Robert Richardson, Johanna Long and Reed Sorenson were all involved in a crash that ended Richardson’s day and caused damage to both Long’s and Sorenson’s machines. The third of seven cautions, for debris, flew at lap 88. The field would not see another caution until lap 154.
That yellow flag came out on that lap for debris once again. The final 43 laps were punctuated by three more caution periods, starting at lap 166 with a spin by Travis Pastrana, who hit the inside wall on the backstretch hard enough to lift all four wheels off the ground, reminiscent of Denny Hamlin’s hit at Fontana that sidelined Hamlin for more than a month, but unlike that crash, there was a SAFER barrier where Pastrana slammed the wall, and the driver walked away unhurt. John Wes Townley and Joe Nemechek also sustained damage trying to avoid Pastrana and the cars checking up around him.
Just seven laps after the race went back to green, Sorenson spun in Turn 2 for caution number six, and the field went back to green for just two laps before the final caution came out on lap 185 for a crash between Dakoda Armstrong and Michael Annett, who was making his first series start since being injured in a crash at Daytona.
That incident set up the 13-lap shootout between Busch and Kahne before Busch pulled away for the win, leaving Logano and Larson to duke it out with Harvick for the rest of the top 5. Trevor Bayne finished sixth, and Justin Allgaier, Matt Kenseth, Parker Kligerman, and Regan Smith rounded out the top 10.
Busch was quick to credit his team after the victory. “It was a really great race for us,” said Busch in the media center at Charlotte after the race. “We’ve had a lot of fast race cars this year, and it’s a testament to our team and (crew chief) Adam Stevens and the work that the guys put in. They do such a great job for me, and being able to go out there with some good-driving cars and lead a lot of laps and put them in Victory Lane, I think it’s just a true testament to how good our organization is and how hard these guys work. They never forget what they’re supposed to do. We have to have good race cars from practice and qualifying and into the race, and so having those adjustments all set and having things ready to go is what makes us look so good. “
Smith leaves Charlotte with a 29-point advantage over Hornish in Nationwide Series standings. Allgaier moves into third, 40 back of Smith, and Elliott Sadler dropped to fourth after finishing 13th. Sadler’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate, Brian Vickers, holds on to fifth spot after a pit gamble didn’t pay off, leaving Vickers, who had been racing with the leaders, with an 11th-place result. Kligerman, Dillon, Brian Scott, Larson, and Alex Bowman finish off the top 10 in points.
Hamlin Snags Coca-Cola 600 Pole With Track Record Time
posted by Amy Henderson
Thursday May 23, 2013
Denny Hamlin shattered the track qualifying record at Charlotte Motor Speedway as he rocketed to the pole for Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600. Hamlin had a lap time of 27.604 seconds, or 195.624 miles per hour. Several drivers drove past the old record, set by Greg Biffle in 2012, but it was Hamlin who came out at the top of the heap and holds the new record. Kurt Busch will start on the outside of the front row. Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, and Clint Bowyer round out the top 5. Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, Jamie McMurray, and Ryan Newman hold down sixth through tenth places.
The pole is Hamlin’s second of 2013; he also started in front at Fontana before an injury in that race sidelined him for over a month. Hamlin says that his back feels “nearly 100%” and that it doesn’t cause him pain while driving. He added that winning the pole helped solidify for him that he is back at a competitive level, but he wants one more thing before he’ll be satisfied.
“I think winning would do that. I think ultimately getting the big trophy on Sunday is the validation that you’re truly back,” said Hamlin after his lap. “For me, it’s going to take some wins and some really good consistency throughout these summer months to put ourselves in position to have a chance at a championship. That’s what we’re here for. Even these small victories though give me that confidence that I’m still capable, and I’m still able to do the job at 100 percent like I should be. Any kind of confidence booster for me — it’s always a plus on Sunday.”
The Cup teams are next on track Saturday at 10 AM for the weekend’s second practice. Final practice for Sunday’s race is Saturday afternoon at one o’clock. The Coca-Cola 600 is scheduled to start at 6 PM on Sunday and will air on FOX.
Jimmie Johnson wins the Sprint All-Star race.....again
posted by Mike Neff
Sunday May 19, 2013
Five-time is now four-time when it comes to the Sprint All-Star race. Coming into Saturday night’s race, Johnson was tied with Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt for most wins in the annual event with three wins. Johnson bided his time, restarted the last segment in the second spot, dueled Kasey Kahne for two laps to secure the lead and pulled away to a convincing win. Joey Logano started the last segment in the seventh position, took advantage of a slip up by Kyle Busch on the start of the final segment, and ultimately came home in the runner-up spot. Kyle Busch rebounded from his slip up to muscle his way back to third. Kahne started the final segment on the pole but couldn’t hold off Johnson on the first few laps of the restart and ended up fourth. Kurt Busch won two segments, was the first on pit road for the money pit stop, but finished the event in fifth place.
Jimmie Johnson summed up his results in two words, “we’re lucky”. It was tongue in cheek but Johnson was poking fun at the people who continue to accuse the No. 48 of preferential treatment, fixed races, and a blind eye to cheating. Johnson has one of the highest winning percentages in NASCAR history and it comes from natural talent and chemistry with his crew. This race also now ties Johnson with Davey Allison as the only two drivers to win the race in back-to-back years.
Logano and Busch visited with the media after the race to speak about their runs. Logano was understandably upbeat about his second while Busch was quite dejected, having another All-Star race slip out of his grasp. Kahne spoke about the elephant in the room that is the length of the segments in the race during his post race availability on pit road. He noted that the inherent problem with the format is that the car is designed with downforce, on a track that is cool and has a bunch of grip. The only way to make the races exciting after the first couple of laps of racing would be to extend the segments to the
The first 20 lap segment was won by Kurt Busch. Segment two went to his brother Kyle. That segment win allowed Bruton Smith to breathe more easily since he put up a $1,000,000 bonus to anyone who won all four of the segments. Segment three also went to the younger Busch, while the fourth segment win was tallied in brother Kurt’ s account.
Kyle Busch wins the North Carolina Education Lottery 200
posted by Mike Neff
Friday May 17, 2013
‘Rowdy’ Busch was back in his familiar No. 51 truck at his favorite track on the Truck schedule. Busch led 80 laps and thought he should have led more but had a fuel issue on pit road that resulted in him having to battle back through the field. The race was slowed by eight cautions that helped him work his way back through the field. Busch beat Brendan Gaughan to the finish by .488 seconds, while Max Gresham chased them both to the line for his first top three finish of his Truck career. Matt Crafton came home in fourth place after having to battle through a couple of tire mishaps during the event. Ty Dillon rounded out the top 5 for his first finish that high this season.
Busch led the race three times for his 80 laps. Miguel Paludo was second on the laps led board with 33. Gaughan, Gresham and Dillon also scored bonus points for leading laps. There were two cautions in the first 72 laps of the race while 29 of the last 62 laps were completed under the yellow flag.
Jeb Burton started the race on the pole but did not lead a lap. He did however end the race as the Rookie of the Race for his 13th place finish. Matt Crafton leads Burton by 22 points in the season standings after five races this season.
Matt Kenseth Snatches Victory from the Jaws of Defeat at Darlington
posted by Mike Neff
Sunday May 12, 2013
Kyle Busch appeared to be headed for another weekend sweep after winning the Nationwide race at Darlington on Friday night. However, a funny thing happened as they were bringing out the dustpan. Matt Kenseth chased down the dominant car of the night, passed him with relative ease and then strolled away to a 3.165 second victory. Kenseth led the final 13 laps after Busch had held the point for 265 of the 354 laps leading up to Kenseth’s race winning pass. After Kenseth worked around Busch, the No. 18 slid rapidly backwards over the final eight laps to fall from second to sixth place.
Joe Gibbs Racing did manage a 1-2 finish after sweeping the podium in Friday night’s Nationwide tilt. Denny Hamlin, in his first full race back in the car since his vertebrae fracture at California, soldiered through the pain of his arms, neck and shoulders more than his recovered back to wrestle a second place finish away from the Lady in Black. Coming home in third was Jeff Gordon, who turned his 700th career start into a top 3 finish. Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick rounded out the top 5 in the Bojangles Southern 500.
Kurt Busch started the race on the pole and led the first 51 laps before coming to the pits for a green flag stop. After the stops cycled through Busch was back at the point for 18 more laps before his brother began his domination. The race went green for the first 302 laps save a seven lap caution stint from lap 125 to lap 131. The final 65 laps saw four more cautions that flew for accidents involving Regan Smith, Brad Keselowski, Casey Mears, Kurt Busch, Josh Wise, David Reutimann and Kasey Kahne.
The race saw four leaders including Jeff Gordon in addition to the Busch brothers and Kenseth. The win is Kenseth’s 27th of his career and breaks a tie between himself and his teammate Kyle Busch. The win is Kenseth’s third this season which is the most among all of the competitors in the Cup series. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was the Rookie of the Race. Jeff Gordon’s top 5 finish was his 300th of his career. He joins Richard Petty, David Pearson and Bobby Allison as the only four drivers in the history of the sport to accomplish such a feat.
Busch Dominates at Darlington as JGR Sets Nationwide Series Record
posted by Amy Henderson
Friday May 10, 2013
Kyle Busch dominated the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 on Friday night en route to his 56th career Nationwide Series victory and fifth series win of 2013. Joe Gibbs Racing in general was the class of the field all night at Darlington Raceway, claiming four of the top 5 finishing spots, with only fourth-place Joey Logano keeping them from sweeping the top four spots. It was a historic night for JGR, as no team has ever before placed four cars in the top 5. Elliott Sadler finished second to Busch and Brian Vickers third, with Logano and Matt Kenseth rounding out the top 5.
Busch led 107 of 147 laps on the way to the win. Sadler was the best among the Nationwide Regulars, finishing second despite an early spin in Turn 2, and gained points on leader Regan Smith, who finished seventh. Kyle Larson continued to impress at the Lady in Black, posting a sixth-place finish in his first Darlington start as he runs for rookie honors. Sam Hornish, Jr., who remained second in points, finished eighth while Kasey Kahne and Justin Allgaier filled the top 10.
Smith now leads Nationwide Series points by 28 over Hornish. Sadler jumps two spots to third on his second-place run as Justin Allgaier fell one place to fourth. Vickers gained three sports and is now fifth, 49 behind Smith. Austin Dillon, Parker Kligerman, Brian Scott, Alex Bowman, and Kyle Larson round out the top 10.
Joe Gibbs Racing Penalties Reduced Following Appeal
posted by Summer Bedgood
Wednesday May 8, 2013
Joe Gibbs Racing had many of their penalties for the No. 20 team reduced during the appeal process on Wednesday.
Driver Matt Kenseth and owner Joe Gibbs had their points penalties reduced from 50 to 12 points.
Crew chief Jason Ratcliff’s suspension has also been dropped from seven races to one, though he will still be forced to pay the $200,000 fine.
Not all of the penalties were reduced, however. Toyota Racing’s manufacturer points penalty was increased from five points to seven.
All other penalties were dropped, including the suspension of Joe Gibbs’ owners license, the loss of bonus points for the Chase earned at Kansas Speedway, and the loss of eligibility into the Sprint Unlimited garnered from the pole at Kansas Speedway.
JGR has accepted the penalties and will not appeal further.
Following a dominant win at Kansas Speedway a few weeks ago, Kenseth’s car failed post-race inspection when it was found that a connecting rod was 2.7 grams below the minimum weight. Toyota Racing Development accepted the blame for the incident.
The reduction moves Kenseth up to fourth in points, 66 points behind leader Jimmie Johnson.
JGR has not announced who will replace Ratcliff this weekend in Darlington.
The appeal was heard by Mark Arute, Dennis McGlynn, and Jack Housby.
NASCAR cannot appeal the revised penalties.
Penske Has Suspensions Reduced On Appeal
posted by Thomas Bowles
Wednesday May 8, 2013
Roger Penske’s team got some relief Tuesday from NASCAR’s Chief Appellate Officer John Middlebrook, as he chose to reduce penalties assessed to that organization at Texas Motor Speedway in early April. Middlebrook, after hearing the evidence from both sides Tuesday chose to reduce all suspensions in the case from six to two weeks, plus NASCAR’s All-Star Race on May 18th. That means the final consequences for both teams are the following:
No. 2 car
No. 22 car
Middlebrook’s official statement was short, simply stating, “After looking at all the facts, data, and interpretations from the rule book, I have decided to uphold the original fines and points penalties. However, I have decided to reduce the suspensions of the seven team members involved from six points races and the All-Star race to two points races and the All-Star Race.” However, it seemed both sides, after presenting their cases were far more pleased with how the case was handled during this portion of the appeal.
“We were able to talk about areas we worked in,” said Roger Penske, referring to the “gray area” of the NASCAR rulebook officials ultimately felt stepped over the line. “I’m very happy with the outcome. This sport has been built on innovation. All of us have tried to innovate in areas not defined in the rulebook. We were in that area.”
In conversations with the parties involved, it was clear the controversy surrounded parts designed to increase the rear-end angle at the back of both cars. In past years, with innovation limited through the Car of Tomorrow templates teams have played around with suspension systems designed to make the rear end of the car easier to “move.” The more the car skews in the corner, the easier it can be to handle and gain extra speed.
However, NASCAR had made rules designed to curb those types of innovations this year and made the determination Penske parts to build the rear suspension were unapproved. Why they had gone undetected in previous inspections was never addressed, along with claims someone else in the garage had alerted officials to possible inappropriate car construction. One thing Penske did admit, though is had this decision been issued by the initial appeals panel, he would not have pressed his luck with Middlebrook.
“All of us,” he said. “Have lost points for certain infractions over the years. The key thing is to have people back at the racetrack operating in full control.”
The end results leave Logano 18th in points, 146 behind championship leader Jimmie Johnson and 43 outside a Chase position. Keselowski is far more stable; fifth in points, he’s 69 behind and 45 ahead of 11th-place Matt Kenseth. Neither of the Penske cars have won a race this season.
“Moved on from last few weeks,” Keselowski tweeted Wednesday morning. “And ready to focus on @TooToughToTame (Darlington Raceway).”
The next round of NASCAR penalty appeals, focusing on Joe Gibbs Racing and Matt Kenseth will be heard on Wednesday morning.
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Penske Racing LOSES Penalty Case, Will Appeal To NSCRC John Middlebrook
posted by Thomas Bowles
Wednesday May 1, 2013
A three-member panel Wednesday unanimously upheld penalties assessed to Penske Racing after pre-race inspection at Texas Motor Speedway. Comprised of Pocono President Brandon Igdalsky, Bowman-Gray President Dale Pinilis and former NASCAR VP Paul Brooks, the trio determined the sanctioning body’s evidence was enough to “convict” Penske to the tune of points lost, suspensions given and $200,000 in fines.
Roger Penske, in response has pledged to send a final appeal to National Stock Car Racing Commissioner John Middlebrook. That hearing will occur Tuesday, May 7th at NASCAR’s Research and Development Center. Here’s a quick list of what penalties are pending (everything but the points deductions will be deferred, pending Middlebrook’s approval until after the final appeal):
No. 2 team
No. 22 team
NASCAR’s representation included Sprint Cup Director John Darby but not Vice President Robin Pemberton, who was whisked away to Florida on jury duty. Owner Roger Penske was in attendance to defend the allegations along with Team Manager Travis Geisler, Tim Cindric, Walt Czarnecki, Joey Logano’s crew chief Todd Gordon along with several other key principles.
UPDATE: The National Stock Car Racing Commission issued a brief statement, reviewing the penalties and then explaining the following.
“Upon hearing the testimony and carefully reviewing the facts, it was a unanimous decision by the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel to uphold the original penalties assessed by NASCAR.”
“The Appellants have the right under Section 15 of the rule book to appeal this decision to the National Stock Car Racing Chief Appellate Officer.”
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Kyle Busch Wins Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown
posted by Thomas Bowles
Friday April 26, 2013
Who says Joe Gibbs Racing teammates don’t get along? Kyle Busch is certainly receiving gifts, from Denny Hamlin in the form of shiny trophies from winning the latter’s annual charity event. Rowdy was romping through the field again at Richmond Thursday night, taking control at the race’s midpoint and cruising during the latter stages to win the Showdown for the third time in the past six years. In a race that benefits the Denny Hamlin Foundation, created to help those with cystic fibrosis Busch had his late model hitting on all cyilnders down the stretch. Pulling away from fellow Cup driver David Ragan, in the final segment of the 75-lap race the outcome was simply never in doubt following a 5-minute break for pit stops prior to Lap 47. Ben Rhodes, Ronnie Bassett, Jr., and Garrett Campbell rounded out the top-5 finishers.
Other Cup drivers, including defending race champion Tony Stewart were in the field but never a factor up front. Smoke, actually extending his slumping start to 2013 into this race got wrecked before the halfway point and wound up 28th. Matt Kenseth, still distraught after a midweek penalty virtually negated his win at Kansas was never truly competitive, either; he finished 22nd.
Also on Thursday night, African-American driver Ryan Gifford won the first K&N Pro Series East race of his young career. Surviving a five-lap shootout, following a red flag he cruised home over Brandon Gdovic.
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As is the case with many families, we enjoy other forms of racing besides NASCAR. My son, Joshua, especially, enjoys the CHAMP cars, the Rolex Series, the IRL, and Formula 1 (the recent debacle at the U.S. Grand Prix notwithstanding).
Joshua thinks that these different series bring him some good racing. And this was even before Danica Patrick stepped from her car at the Indy 500, shook her jet black hair out from under her helmet, and made all of America take notice of her. (Now that that has happened, and he’s seen a few more photos and media bytes of her, he has found more reason to enjoy IRL races. But I digress.)
This past weekend’s IRL race was at the Kansas Speedway, and was held on Sunday afternoon. Since there was no NASCAR race on, it was an easy choice what we were going to watch.
Shortly into the race, the show’s broadcast turned to its first round of commercials. While that in itself isn’t anything new for the airing of races of any kind, what was shown on-screen was. Dubbing it ‘ESPN’s Side-by-Side’, viewers were treated to a split screen. On the left-hand side of the screen was the IRL race, and on the right-hand side was the commercial. Yeehaw! A racing fan’s dream! No break in the action, and no chance of missing anything significant happening while the obligatory commercials were being aired.
I remember one time before when this sort of thing was attempted, and it was done during a NASCAR race. When TNN was the broadcaster, a ‘picture-in-picture’ racing/commercial mix was tried. However, the racing was just a small box on the whole screen, instead of sharing the same amount of space as the advertiser.
Another thing different from TNN’s experiment in keeping the fans and advertisers alike happy to ESPN’s was a tip of the hat to a sponsor. At the top of the screen on Sunday was ‘ESPN’s Side-By-Side, brought to you by…..’ followed by the name of one of the advertisers, prominently displayed. This not only brought extra-kudos and credit to the companies that helped bring this great compromise to the racing fan, but also gave those fans company names to support and buy products from out of gratitude. What a great win-win.
Any time that I see an opportunity for NASCAR fans to ask questions of the producers of the NASCAR races, inevitably a fan always puts forth this one, “Can’t you find a way to break from the commercials faster when something happens on the track?”
I believe this is a fine way to not even have to make that break, in a way that is acceptable to the sponsors that help bring it to the fans.
If this appeals to you as a racing fan, then I would suggest watching ESPN’s airing of a future race, and then letting them how terrific of an idea it is. Then write the producers of our NASCAR races, and let them know as well.
The squeaky NASCAR fan may someday get ‘the grease’, in the form of racing/advertising split-screens.
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NBC did this experiment in it’s first season of broadcasting, 2001, at the Homestead race.
Broadcasting a race without commercial interruption would be great, but NASCAR is the one sport I feel that has outgrown a concept like this. It works very well for soccer in both the US and worldwide, however what soccer lacks is the colorful personalities that NASCAR brings.
NASCAR drivers, owners, crew chiefs and even announcers are so recognisable that they have to pitch the item they are sponsored by on a face to buyer approach that just wouldn’t work by placing a “This commercial break sponsored by Goodwrench, etc.” tag on top of the screen…
Personally I think ESPN does a great job of presenting the split screen feature to allow for racing action being uninterrupted by commercial break.
I b ellieve they even went back to dedicated race feed during a caution period? I know I have seen them do so prior to this last event.
I cannot believe NASCAR’s broadcast partners have not been able to utilize this for all NASCAR events? NASCAR’s network partners are definately behind the eight ball on this one.
I commend ESPN for their commitment to both their advertisers and viewers.
Overall, ESPN and the IRL both deserve our congratulations and contiuned support.
Cheryl is no longer a contributor to the Frotnstretch, having branched out on her own, starting CawsnJaws with her son Josh. If you'd like to see more of Cheryl's Frontstretch articles, check out her bio and archive page.