_Though foggy conditions and clouds offered race fans a break from the stifling heat seen at Charlotte and Kansas, 500 miles at Pocono as always proved to be among the most grueling seen anywhere on the Cup schedule. A track where engine durability and power are both a premium ingredient for success, the track has seldom proved to be a refuge for the teams a step back in the pecking order, and this Sunday was no exception. Pit strategy was the only means for the teams fighting the owner points battle to secure any TV time even over a four hour broadcast, and when the checkered flag flew a long 500 miles later, there was little movement in what are becoming entrenched positions in the struggle for the top 35._
Keepin’ it Short – Racing for a memory The Lucas Oil Dirt Late Model Series will be invading the upstate of South Carolina this coming week for the Grassy Smith Memorial. The winner of the event will take home $10,000 but they’ll also enter their name in the record books alongside some of the best …
500 miles at Pocono officially kicks off the second half of NASCAR’s regular season, and for Kyle Busch and Richard Childress, the green flag can’t come fast enough. Their fight has dominated the headlines this week, from Jimmy Spencer to that Jimmy you saw yapping with the bartender last night forming an opinion on the subject. But beyond their little scuffle, there’s been plenty of news to follow this weekend at a time where winless teams are willing to start thinking outside the box in order to jumpstart seasons stuck in neutral.
Which one of those wheelmen will stand out come Sunday, and why? Let’s take a look at one to start this weekend preview…
_While fuel mileage proved to shuffle the front of the Sprint Cup field on a hot afternoon in Kansas City, the same could not be said for a top 35 bubble roster that scarcely fluctuated over the course of 400 miles on Sunday afternoon. With the Wood Brothers’ No. 21 not entered at Kansas Speedway, the bubble drivers struggled through a slick afternoon that ultimately proved to be of little consequence, with positions 31-39 holding serve as the Sprint Cup Series next turns to the Tricky Triangle of Pocono next week._
*LOCKED INTO THE FIELD FOR KANSAS*
*No. 51 – Landon Cassill (Phoenix Racing)*
Incoming Owner Points Ranking: 31st (+20 points ahead of 35th)
*Sunday’s Finish: 35th*
Current Owner Points Ranking: 31st (+30 points ahead of 35th, gained 10 points)
A swap back to Finch Racing’s older No. 51 number did not prove to change the luck of Landon Cassill and team, who wrecked out of the Coca-Cola 600 a week ago despite a promising stretch in the middle section of the race.
With 25 laps to go, Carl Edwards stormed past race leader Elliott Sadler, seemingly poised to steal another Nationwide Series trophy on a standalone weekend. This time, the regulars were having none of that. Edwards ran out of gas on the backstretch coming to the checkered flag, allowing a hard-charging Justin Allgaier to pass him…only to run out of gas himself exiting turn 3. But with third-place driver Trevor Bayne having to nurse a nearly-empty fuel tank home himself, Allgaier was able to limp his Chevrolet across the stripe to score his second career Nationwide Series victory. Edwards, Bayne, polesitter Aric Almirola and Jason Leffler rounded out the top 5.
Allgaier’s victory marked the first race a Nationwide Series regular has won on a 1.5 mile oval since Mike Bliss won a rain-shortened event at Charlotte back in the spring of 2009, and also snapped a three-race win streak for Roush Fenway Racing. The event was largely without incident, slowed for only 18 laps on four cautions, three of which did not involve contact of any kind.
Much ado is made about the current crop of NASCAR’s best drivers. The names of Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and so many others are almost synonymous with today’s NASCAR. But, in this week’s edition of the “Shakedown Session,” we’ll be taking a look at ten drivers who might not be household names yet, but in three to five years down the road, could be very well held to the same standard as the names above.
_Another year, another unpredictable Coca-Cola 600. When the track was hot and slick, the race went green. When the sun went down and the grip went up, the middle stretch of the race was marred by a flurry of yellow flags. And late race fuel mileage stretches turned the finish into one that somehow proved able to give the Indianapolis 500 a run for its money. Unfortunately for the majority of those in the back of the Sprint Cup field, a race notorious for how long and arduous it is lived up to its reputation, making for a long (or short) evening for many of the teams battling around the top 35._
*LOCKED INTO THE FIELD FOR CHARLOTTE*
*No. 09 – Landon Cassill (Phoenix Racing)*
Incoming Owner Points Ranking: 31st (+34 points ahead of 35th)
*Sunday’s Finish: 35th*
Current Owner Points Ranking: 31st (+20 points ahead of 35th, lost 14 points)
“This is the Coca-Cola 600. We deserve to be here.” With this statement…
It seems that Kyle Busch has found his Nationwide nemesis at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and thy name is Kenseth. Driving his first Nationwide Series race since Atlanta last September and his first at CMS since the fall of 2009, Kenseth stormed past Carl Edwards with XX laps to go to win his 26th career Nationwide trophy, a triumphant return for Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 16 team after skipping the previous weekend’s race at Iowa. Edwards, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Reed Sorenson rounded out the top 5.
Despite being run in heated sunlight during the peak of the afternoon in Charlotte, the tire package provided ample grip, which led to the race being slowed only five times for the yellow flag, the fewest any Nationwide event at Charlotte has seen since 2009. A combination of both the surprisingly grippy tire and a field that from 20th on back was racing simply to make laps led to a race that was low on both incidents and, to a larger degree, side-by-side racing.