NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Mark Martin Breaks His Winless Streak, Wins 2009 Subway Fresh 500 at Phoenix

Starting on the front row this season had been a mixed bag for Mark Martin. At Bristol, he ran up front for most of the race and finished sixth. At Daytona, he got caught back in traffic and the rains prohibited him from moving up higher than 16th before the rains came and ended the festivities. And at Atlanta, Martin blew a tire and spun out, eventually finishing 31st. Saturday night was a different story all together.

Jeff Gordon Snaps Career-Long Winless Streak in 2009 Samsung 500 at Texas

Coming into Sunday’s Samsung 500, Jeff Gordon had not been to victory lane since the Bank of America 500 on October 13, 2007, a streak of 47 races. That is a thing of the past now. Gordon’s pit crew was quick enough during the final pit stop on lap 307 to get Gordon the lead. From there, Gordon had to hold off resurgent teammate Jimmie Johnson to win the Samsung 500.

Jimmie Johnson Claims Yet Another Victory at Martinsville for Hendrick Motorsports

On Sunday, Hendrick Motorsports celebrated the 25th Anniversary of their first victory in the then-Winston Cup Series. Back then, the team, then known as All-Star Racing, fielded the winning No. 5 for Geoff Bodine. Today, Jimmie Johnson capped off the anniversary celebration in the best way possible for Hendrick Motorsports. Johnson, who had early issues on pit road, charged up through the field, and then used his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet in the manner of a battering ram in order to move Denny Hamlin out of the way on lap 430. After winning the race off pit road under a late caution, Hamlin passed on Johnson on the restart.

Kyle Busch Dominates at Bristol Once Again, Wins 2009 Food City 500

Once again, the Busch family has staked their claim to victory lane, reducing the act of winning a Sprint Cup race to a simple activity where the brothers take turns, like the game of Memory. At Las Vegas, Kyle Busch claimed the victory. Two weeks ago at Atlanta, older brother Kurt Busch dominated on his way to victory. This week, it was Kyle’s turn again. Kyle Busch started 19th and immediately started coming up through the field. Busch first took the lead on lap 69 from Jimmie Johnson, and from that point on, Kyle was in near complete control.

Kurt Busch Dominates 2009 Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta, Tires Tough on Many

Kurt Busch must have been watching his brother Kyle Busch drive Saturday, because Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway resembled the prior day’s Truck race in many ways. Many cars went down a lap early, there was a big wreck, the few competitive cars put on a good show at the end of the race, pit strategy played a role in the finish, and a Busch overcame troubles and stormed to victory. In the Cup race, the older sibling Kurt came out far on top.

Concern Shifts from Engines to Tires at Atlanta

Many drivers seemed to downplay the current engine dilemma. Kyle Busch said that “Mark Cronquist does such a good job at Joe Gibbs Racing that I don’t believe we’ll have engine failures – that’s never in the back of your mind.” Ryan Newman attributed the current upswing in failures to simply being “just the way things cycle.” Where concern is shifting to yet again in Atlanta is to the tires that will be run this weekend. Expectations were high after Greg Biffle and Juan Pablo Montoya both provided rave reviews of Goodyear’s newest Eagle following a preseason tire test, but so far they do not seem to be living up to the hype.

Great Work in the Pits Guides Matt Kenseth to His 2nd Straight Victory in 2009 Auto Club 500 at Fontana

For years, it seems, Matt Kenseth’s pit crew, affectionately known as the “Killer Bees,” has been considered to be the best pit crew in the Sprint Cup Series. Tonight, they proved it. Kenseth greatly benefitted from the speed of the Killer Bees on pit road to gain the lead back on the final round of pit stops under the caution at lap 210. From there, Kenseth held off the advances of Jeff Gordon to win the Auto Club 500.

Matt Kenseth Scoots in Front Just in Time to Win 2009 Daytona 500

Matt Kenseth entered Daytona winless in his last 36 starts. That winless streak is now history. Kenseth passed Elliott Sadler in turn 3 on lap 145 for the lead under threatening skies. Half a lap after the pass, the yellow came out for a crash involving the No. 98 of Paul Menard and the No. 31 of Jeff Burton. During the caution, the heavens opened up, and the race never restarted. After less than 15 minutes, NASCAR called the race at 6:48 p.m. with 152 laps (380 miles) completed. Kenseth was thus declared the winner of the 51st Daytona 500.

Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch Win 2009 Gatorade Duels at Daytona

If Thursday’s Duel 150 qualifying races are any indication, Jeff Gordon is set to put a winless 2008 behind him. Gordon went toe-to-toe with former series champion Tony Stewart for the final five laps before holding off the No. 14 car, as well as teammate Jimmie Johnson, for the victory in the first Gatorade Duel qualifying race.

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