For a good five years now, the debate has gone on about NASCAR safety and medical workers. With wrecks and mechanical failures forever ingrained in the culture of the sport, having a solid medical staff in place is necessary in order to ensure the safety of all competitiors. But, what type of medical crew would best serve the drivers: a crew specific to each particular track, or a group that travels with NASCAR to every race? While NASCAR currently adheres to the former, support seems to be gathering for the latter; whether that debate will ever reach a resolution seems to be a whole other matter altogether.
The departure of Casey Mears and Carl Edwards left Dave Blaney in the lead, but he’d have to hold off Matt Kenseth for the green/white/checker finish to claim his first Busch Series win. It looked like it might slip away when Blaney slid high during the last lap of the race, opening the door for Kenseth to sneak by. But Blaney stood on the gas, and coming out of the fourth turn for the checkered flag Kenseth bobbled and then lost control of the No. 17 Ameriquest Ford, spinning down the frontstretch as Blaney drove off for the win.
He may not be able to catch Kevin Harvick for the championship, but Carl Edwards can still win races and poles and he did just that for the Dollar General 300 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Edwards posted a fast speed of 186.245 mph to win the Busch Pole Award. Teammate Matt Kenseth took the outside front row position with a fast lap of 186.181 mph. JJ Yeley, Mike Skinner, and Casey Mears complete the top five starters.
Ray Evernham’s cars have been at the top of the time sheets all weekend, but someone else finally broke in on their domination as Dale Earnhardt Jr. posted the fastest lap at 183.943 mph in Nextel Cup Series final practice. Kyle Busch repeated his second-place result from the first session with Denny Hamlin, Kasey Kahne, and Jimmie Johnson rounding out the five fastest cars.
Kasey Kahne was sitting comfortably at the head of the field for most of the qualifying session until his Evernham Motorsports teammate came out late in the going and blew his fast lap right off the board. Scott Riggs took the pole with a lap of 191.469 mph to beat Kahne’s outside pole speed of 190.194 mph.
Kasey Kahne is really good on tracks configured like Lowe’s Motor Speedway and he drove that point home by posting the fastest time in the opening Busch Series practice session to match his performance on the Cup side of the fence. Kahne set fast time with a lap of 184.055 mph in the No. 9 Wisk Dodge and was the only driver to break the 184 mph mark. Jimmie Johnson posted the second-fastest lap at 183.511 mph while Jeff Burton, Dave Blaney, and Regan Smith rounded out the top five fastest. Smith’s fifth place time in the No. 35 McDonald’s Ford is best among Busch Series regulars so far.
The first practice session for Nextel Cup Series teams has just ended and the three teams of Ray Evernham have planted themselves firmly at the top of the speed charts. Kasey Kahne was fastest in the No. 9 Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge with a speed of 187.279 mph on a track where many expected he would do well and perhaps have a shot to pull back into Chase competition. Teammate Scott Riggs posted the second fastest speed at 187.266 mph. They were the only two drivers over 187 mph. Kurt Busch was the only driver to break the Evernham stranglehold on the top spots, slotting in to third while Elliott Sadler in the third Evernham Dodge was fourth fastest and Mark Martin rounded out the top five.
ESPN personalities will tell you that it happens time and again; NASCAR fans approach them and comment on how much they enjoyed the coverage the cable network provided to their favorite sport and how much they miss that coverage since it virtually disappeared following the 2000 season.
It was business as usual for Kevin Harvick Saturday afternoon; he scored his seventh Busch Series win of the season at Kansas Speedway, and once again, he found his way to Victory Lane even without the fastest car. Matt Kenseth dominated the day, but a slow pit stop under caution on lap 165 cost him the top spot, losing him an advantage he could never get back. Harvick took advantage of Kenseth’s mistakes and came out in second with four fresh tires. That would prove to be the difference, as after two more caution flags, Harvick got by Kyle Busch on lap 185 and never looked back.
News came down this week that Bobby Labonte would be taking over driving duties for Kevin Harvick Inc.’s No. 77 Dollar General Chevrolet for the remaining companion events of the 2006 Busch Series season. This means that rookie driver Burney Lamar will have only one more run in the car in the Busch Series standalone event at Memphis. The reason given for the change involves the performance of the car or rather the lack thereof. It seems the team has not seen the progress or improvement they were hoping for and are putting a veteran behind the wheel to evaluate the program in an effort to see where they might need to make improvements for next season. Although he hasn’t technically been completely relieved of his driving duties, Lamar is basically the next rookie being sidelined.
Passing leader Matt Kenseth on lap 179, Clint Bowyer held on over the final 25 laps to take his first win of 2006 in overtime at Dover. Bowyer sailed out to a safe lead after getting by Kenseth, but for a while it looked like he might come up short again when he got tied up in lapped traffic, allowing Kenseth to climb right back up on his back bumper. It was actually a late caution for Martin Truex Jr. with four laps remaining to set up the green-white-checkered finish that actually worked to Bowyer’s advantage and sealed the win for him. With nothing but clean racetrack in front of him on the restart, Bowyer was once again able to dash off from Kenseth and take the win. Teammate Kevin Harvick finished third, followed by Jamie McMurray and Jason Leffler to round out the top five.
It was another chapter of the same story Friday night, as Kevin Harvick chalked up his sixth Busch Series win of the year at Richmond International Raceway. Harvick was once again the class of the field and clearly dominated all night, leading 154 laps en route to the victory. Greg Biffle finished a distant second followed by Matt Kenseth, Paul Menard and Reed Sorenson rounding out the top five.