NASCAR Changes Qualifying Format
posted by Summer Bedgood
Tuesday March 11, 2014
Following safety concerns regarding NASCAR’s new qualifying format, the sanctioning body is introducing some changes in preparation for this weekend’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway. According to the Associated Press, NASCAR is banning teams from cool-down laps after their qualifying attempts, but will instead be allowed to hook up cool-down units to the engine through hood flaps.
Late Tuesday afternoon, a release from NASCAR fully detailed the changes. Teams will be allowed a single cool down unit to be connected through the right or left side hood flap, however the hood must remain closed. Additionally, two crew members will be allowed over the wall while cooling down.
“The qualifying is new to all of us and as we have said over the past several weeks, we are looking at it from all aspects,” said Robin Pemberton, vice president of competition and racing development. “Following discussions, both internally and with others in the garage area, we moved quickly to make a few revisions that will be effective starting with our two national series events at Bristol Motor Speedway this weekend. We believe this will only enhance and improve what has demonstrated to be an exciting form of qualifying for our fans, competitors and others involved with the sport. Moving forward we will continue to look at it and address anything else that we may need to as the season unfolds.”
The move comes after three weeks of NASCAR’s new knockout qualifying system, where multiple cars are allowed to make qualifying attempts at the same time instead of the traditional one-car-at-a-time procedure. Drivers and teams had complained that the new rules didn’t allow them to cool their engines down on pit road, and the cool-down laps caused a dangerous situation with slower cars staying on the track at the same time that other cars were running by them at much higher speeds.
The rule will begin this weekend in Bristol, a track that has a much narrower racing surface than Daytona, Phoenix, and Las Vegas.
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.
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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.
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Check in with Matt and Jay on their site at CareyandCoffey.com.
Key Moment – During the pit stops for a lap 476 caution, Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. stayed out while Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and the rest of the lead lap cars came in for two tires. Johnson restarted behind Keselowski and worked him over for four laps before taking the lead for good. In the end, Keselowski ended up about where he would have finished with tires, while some of the other top contenders on the day ended up falling back to unsatisfying results.
In a Nutshell – Jimmie Johnson owned Martinsville from the Fall of 2003 through 2009, but his last few races there have been less than dominating. On Sunday, he made a statement that he is the man to beat in the Chase and that Martinsville is still his house as much as anyone else’s.
Dramatic Moment – Denny Hamlin was poised to make a second dramatic, come-from-behind win on the weekend as he rebounded from pit road penalties to have himself poised for a run at the win. Instead of taking home a second grandfather clock in as many days, he suffered a debilitating electrical malfunction that not only ended his bid for a win, but eliminated him from Championship contention.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around The Water Cooler This Week
Denny Hamlin was a title contender for six races in the Chase. Coming into Martinsville, he had to feel like he’d leave in great position to race the final three events for the Championship. Instead, a fluke electrical issue ended his race and his title chase on one of his best race tracks.
Brad Keselowski’s average finish at Martinsville coming into this weekend’s race was 13.4. He was in the lead of the race with 15 laps to go and came home with a sixth-place finish. Although he’s leaving the second-oldest track on the circuit behind in the points for the first time since New Hampshire in the Chase, he has proven that he’s no fluke in this title battle and he’s going to be there until the end.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. returned to competition with a full-on assault on Martinsville. Although he didn’t lead a lap and ended up with a 21st-place finish (thanks to a late-race dustup with Carl Edwards), the legions of fans in Junior Nation have to be glad that the No. 88 was back in the hands of Earnhardt this weekend.
Clint Bowyer and Brian Pattie were both visibly disappointed in the result of the race at Martinsville this weekend. It speaks volumes about where Michael Waltrip Racing is when the driver and crew chief of their flagship car at this point in the season are upset because they thought they should have won the race instead of being thrilled with a top-five finish.
The race wasn’t a sellout, but the stands were 95% full shortly after the green flag dropped on Sunday. Martinsville Speedway is nestled in the hills of Virginia rather far from any major metropolis, but it is still one of the best places to see a stock car race on the planet.
Although it isn’t Cup-related, racing lost another future star this weekend when Tyler Wolf was killed in a sprint car wreck in California. It is a stark reminder that, no matter how safe the equipment is, racing is still a dangerous sport and the worst can and, sometimes, does happen.
Brian Vickers inked another contract with Michael Waltrip racing and proceeded to go out and have another great run in the No. 55. Although he’s only a part-time driver in the MWR family, Vickers continues to put on shows when they stick him behind the wheel of the car. You have to think that he’ll get a full-time ride at some point if Mikey can ever sell a sponsor on the idea.
The Hindenburg Award for Foul Fortune
Number one on the list this week, without a doubt, was Denny Hamlin. He comes into one of his best tracks within shouting distance of the top of the points and he leaves more than a full race behind. To add to the abuse, it was supposedly a post that fell off of the master switch that derailed his strong run toward the finish.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was looking to make a triumphant return from his two-week concussion recovery stint out of the No. 88. He ran in the top 10 for the vast majority of the race only to go for a loop off of the front bumper of the No. 99 with nine laps to go. Although it wasn’t Edwards’ fault (he was bumped from behind by another competitor), it was still a very disappointing end to what could have been a storybook day for Earnhardt and Hendrick Motorsports.
Kevin Harvick was sporting a Chasing the Cure paint scheme this weekend, as part of Breast Cancer Awareness month. He started 13th and fell back into the 20s early in the race. He clawed and scratched his way back into the top 10 before his engine done blowed up. A 32nd-place finish was a letdown for both the team and the cause.
Carl Edwards hasn’t had much to smile about in 2012. Martinsville was looking like it just might smile on him for a change and give him a decent finish, until he was hit from behind heading into turn one and spun himself and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Not only was Edwards’ day ruined, but now he’s going to get hate mail on green stationary for the next 10 years.
”The Seven Come For Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Aric Almirola had a great run at Kansas that went south in a hurry. He had a run that was in the toilet at Martinsville for most of the day but turned the corner right before the finish and ended up with a top-five run. The No. 43 team “changed everything they could change on the car” according to Almirola after the race. Then a late-race call for two tires by crew chief Todd Parrot gave them track position and the typical beating and banging at the end of the race afforded Almirola a fourth-place finish in his Gwaltney-sponsored car. Hopefully, there will be some sort of ‘free bologna Friday’ promotion in celebration.
In a move that happened more than once at Martinsville on Sunday, Kyle Busch spun around and didn’t hit anything hard enough to do any damage to his car. He battled back from a spot in the 30s to come home in second place. Although it wasn’t a win, the results could have been vastly different if he’d drilled the outside wall when he went for a loop.
Greg Biffle and Sam Hornish both started deep in the field with Brad Keselowski. Both soldiered their way to the front by the end of the race. Biffle finished 10th and Hornish crossed the line in 13th. Although grandfather clocks, or even wrist watches, are not awarded for such finishes, both drivers can be pleased to have battled through the minefield that is Martinsville and brought home strong finishes.
Chevrolet notched its 699th victory in the sport and clinched the manufacturer’s title for the 10th year in a row on Sunday. The bowtie brigade has long been the standard in the Cup series and this is just another notch in their belt of long, storied success in stock car racing and auto racing in general.
*Jimmie Johnson notched his 59th career victory in 396 starts. His winning percentage is 14.9% which ranks him eighth on the all-time list of drivers with at least 100 starts. Johnson is the only active driver in the top 12 on the list; Jeff Gordon is 13th.
*Chevrolet has notched 699 wins in the Cup series over its career. GM as a company has 1,034. Ford has 712 with Ford, Mercury, and Lincoln. Chrysler has 466 with Dodge, Plymouth, and Chrysler. Toyota has scored 49 wins in their short time in the sport.
*Johnson’s win is his fourth this season. He has 17 top-5s and 23 top-10s in 33 races this season.
*The win is Johnson’s seventh at Martinsville, his fifth in the Fall race, and his 19th top-10 at the track.
*The victory is Hendrick Motorsports 207th win all-time and eighth win this season. It is their 19th win at Martinsville and 12th win in the Fall race.
*The second-place finish for Kyle Busch was his 10th for 2012 and 17th top-10 for the year. He has seven top-5s and eight top-10s all-time at Martinsville.
*Kasey Kahne’s third-place was his 11th top-5 and 18th top-10 of the season. Kahne has two top-5s and three top-10s all-time at Martinsville. Kahne has more DNFs (4) than top-10s at Martinsville.
*Stephen Leicht was the highest-finishing rookie, finishing in 34th place.
*Almirola’s top-5 finish is his second top-5 finish of his career and first this season. It is his second top-10 of the year.
*Clint Bowyer’s fifth-place finish marked the ninth time this year he’s come home in the top 5. It is his 21st top-10 finish. This is the second top-5 of Bowyer’s career at Martinsville and eighth top 10.
*Bobby Labonte crossed the line in ninth place today for his second top-10 finish of the season. It is his 14th career top 10 at Martinsville.
What’s the Points?
Brad Keselowski has led the point standings since Dover (which means he led for almost the entire month of October). However, his sixth-place finish today drops him two points behind Johnson in the run for the title. Two points is still a mere pittance no matter how you look at it; so heading into the final three races, the Chase is still either of the frontrunners’ to lose.
Denny Hamlin’s foul fortune not only kept him from competing for the win this weekend at Martinsville, it has KO’d his hopes for landing a championship in 2012. Hamlin is now 49 points out of the top spot and in fifth place in the overall point standings.
Clint Bowyer finished in fifth place, but that dropped him further behind Johnson and still too far back to think he has a realistic shot at the main table in Vegas. Certainly, 26 points out isn’t a death sentence; but when you have to leap-frog two people who are competing at the top of their game (Johnson and Keselowski), it is just too long of a row to hoe.
Kasey Kahne scored a top-5 at a track where he almost never does and vaulted himself into the fourth spot in the point standings. Like Bowyer, it is too little too late. For now, the only point battle Kahne has on his hands is whether he can beat Bowyer for a podium finish in the points.
The rest of the Chasers are just squirrels trying to find a nut at this point in time. They can obviously win races and take home a big fake check on any given weekend, but their title hopes have long been out the door. The only interesting development would be if Dale Earnhardt, Jr. somehow managed to overtake Kevin Harvick or Tony Stewart for a spot above 12th over the final three races. That would be a true slap in the face to either of the other drivers, since Earnhardt was on the sidelines for two races.
Overall Rating (from one to six beers, with one being a total snoozer and a six-pack an A+ effort): On scales of Martinsville classics this was hardly an epic race. Although there were 11 caution flags for 64 laps, there were no serious incidents in which cars ended up driving around with a fender pointing to the sky or both front quarter panels removed so the car looked like a modified. The race did, however, contain a lot of intrigue from a racing standpoint. There were 22 lead changes among nine drivers and many of them actually took place on the track. Hamlin’s miscues on pit road, his charges back through the pack, and then his ultimate demise most assuredly added some edge of the seat moments to the racing action. The intensity on the track picked up markedly during the last 50 laps. Cars were moved out of the way on numerous occasions during the final five laps, with some good cars coming home with less-than-anticipated finishes because they were pushed up and out of the groove. Adding to the score is the fact that it is Martinsville, the only track still on the schedule that was contested the very first year of the sport and the most unique track in the Chase, it deserves four cans of savory adult beverage and one dozen Jesse Jones Hotdogs. Let’s hope we’ll see more short tracks in the Chase in the future.
Next Up The series heads to the final Intermediate quad-oval on the schedule for the year. The track that laid claim to the fastest track on the circuit title for several years is now just one of the quick ones. What we can look forward to at the end on Sunday is a driver who is not anywhere close to a cowboy wearing a large, goofy looking hat and firing off blank rounds of ammunition in an attempt to make themselves look cool in said goofy hat. It will most likely be a great race because the surface is smooth but abrasive, tires make a difference and, in the end, the battle for the season title will probably have the last two contestants standing looking each other in the eye most of the weekend.
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heh…. 4 cans….
Carl Edwards did nothing wrong other than receive the chrome horn from none other than Sam Hornish. Carl won’t get the hate mail. Just Sam showcasing why he isn’t the man for the 22
95% full?? I’m sure I saw almost all the backstretch covered over with tarps or whatever they use?
Martinsville and other “1-grove” tracks are the only places where I detest double-file restarts. I wish they would allow some kind of lane selection for the first few rows.
ok I like Marty alot but 95% full??? come on now. back stretch covered by tarps, turns 4 and turn one grandstands about half empty…just saying…
Hey EZRider714. The backstretch stands have been out of the seat count for years at Martinsville. Of the seats that you are able to purchase, 95% of them were filled when the seats were at their fullest.
Laidback – I may have had a slightly distorted view from the infield but there is no way that the turn four and turn one stands were only half full. They were at least 90% full at the 25 lap mark. It did thin out late in the race because the temperature dropped but the place was very full.
My family and I were supposed to be there but Hurricane Sandy forced us to cancel our plans to get there.
I love the little paperclip – it’s my favorite track on the circuit. Wish I could have seen the race in person. The one groove aspect is frustrating though because if you are on the outside on a restart, your goose is effectively cooked.
I agree, the backstretch seats have been covered for several years.
I still don’t like the chase, I’m never going to. I didn’t watch much of the race on TV. I had a tweet from one of the ESPN announcers when I protested that they skipped over Gordon’s 10th place finish wherever it was they raced before Martinsville to talk about Hamlin’s finishing 13th. He said that only the 2, 48 and 11 were “important” now. Well, gee, that makes me feel just like tuning in to ESPN for more races! Not.
So i spent the weekend preparing my house to ride out the storm and followed the race via trackpass/radio without turning on the TV. I am really giving a lot of thought to cancelling my cable – I really don’t need to pay for ESPN considering their attitude toward the fans. Actually I feel that way about Fox, too.
I wonder how well these Chase guys would be doing each week if the Non-Chasers were actually allowed to race them. Seriously, there is only 12 drivers racing out there. The other 30 are riding around waiting for the season to end trying to stay out of the Chasers way….and you want to compete with the NFL with that?
I know this isn’t a critique of the race, but that coverage was gawd awful yesterday. Was anyones else racing besides the 6 or so chosen ones? Sure didn’t look like it on tv.
I never thought I would say this but Nascar is even making Martinsville boring. This series needs an overhaul in a hurry. Maybe they can hire Randy Bernard to help. And I thought the powers that be at Nascar were idiots, the Indy Car board makes Brian France look intlligent
I used to be able to count on the short tracks for the best racing but the current points/chase system has turned even those tracks into snoozers.
Drivers are so ultra-conservative in their driving and in their interviews. Everything has a flat-line feeling to it. The LIFE has been taken out of nascar.
I can no longer count on Martinsville, Bristol, or Richmond to provide the type of racing I grew up watching. And it’s sad.
Couldn’t agree more with Penny! The life HAS been sucked out of NASCAR
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