Race Weekend Central

Nationwide Qualifying Recap: Food City 250

Kyle Busch laid down the fastest lap during Nationwide qualifying to claim the pole position for the 30th annual Food City 250. Busch laid down a lap of 15.979 seconds for a speed of 120.083 mph. Busch was the only driver to break into the 120 mph range. Starting next to Busch on the front …

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Fan’s View: Blind Corners Another No-No NASCAR Must Fix

“More Drivers Die in the Month of August” The headline in the local paper barely caught my eye, as it had all the panic I associate with pointless statistics and surveys. More people on vacation, drinking with friends, and traversing unknown roads results in — drum roll please — more fatalities on the highways. Complacency …

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The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2011 Pure Michigan 400 at Michigan

2011 has been a disappointing season for Greg Biffle, but it looked like this week would signal a turnaround when Biffle grabbed the pole on Friday. The No. 16 looked strong in the early going, but by the end, faded to 20th. That’s a bitter pill to swallow for the Roush Fenway team, whose sponsorship is up in the air after 2011. Really, it was a disappointing day for Ford teams in general, with just Matt Kenseth able to score a top-10 finish at the end. This after the manufacturer and their new FR9 powerplants looked to dominate the intermediate tracks earlier this year.

Nationwide Series Breakdown: NAPA 200

The Marcos Ambrose Redemption Tour carried on across the border into Montreal Saturday, with the Tazmanian exorcising his demons on the Circuit Gilles Villeneueve by recovering from an early-race run-in with Jacques Villeneuve to score his fourth career Nationwide Series win in his first start of 2011. Hometown IndyCar regular Alex Tagliani finished second, with Michael McDowell, Steve Wallace and JR Fitzpatrick rounding out the top 5.

With the sun shining as the green flag dropped, the first half of the Montreal road course event was among the quietest seen since NASCAR started racing on the renowned Formula One circuit; there was still battling for position, but minus the myriad of incidents accompanying it. That all changed when the sky darkened on the horizon, and the threat of rain forced the entire field into a frenzy, with four yellows taking up nearly 50% of the final 21 laps. The closing laps saw a myriad of road ringers, including Villeneuve, Robby Gordon and Boris Said all forced out of the event.

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Zippo 200

Kyle Busch was the only driver in the field that had anything for brother Kurt at Watkins Glen on Saturday, but Rowdy learned the hard way that one mistake on a road course is enough to cost a win. Racing for the lead less than halfway into Saturday’s event, Kyle got out of shape in the bus stop chicane and ended up with a grill full of grass. Forcing an earlier-than-scheduled pit stop, the No. 18 was a few laps short on fuel and forced to pit from the lead less a mere 10 miles from the checkered flag, leaving Kurt to drive away from the field on a green-white-checkered to score his second career NNS win at the Glen. Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards rounded out the top 5.

ARCA Road Racers Add Flavor to Stout Nationwide Field at the Glen

Coming off what was a stellar standalone stretch featuring back-to-back short track races, the Nationwide Series turns left (and right) into Watkins Glen International. Just as with any companion race, there’s plenty of chatter surrounding the Cup regulars ready to leave their mark, be they five-time champion Jimmie Johnson in a rare minor league start or Kurt Busch filling in for the injured Brad Keselowski. There’s also the usual cast of road ringers, with 2008 Montreal winner Ron Fellows, Kyle Kelley and others making an appearance.

The lesser-told story is that of the ARCA Racing Series entrants that will be making the rounds on the New York road course this weekend. Three different situations, three different teams, and three different ways that a few of the lesser known drivers in the field just might have a dramatic impact on Saturday’s Zippo 200.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2011 Good Sam RV Insurance 500 at Pocono

Joey Logano was so close to victory he could smell it, and it smelled a lot like rain on a humid summer day. Unfortunately for Logano, who had grabbed his third career pole on Saturday, the rains let up, the race ran its complete distance, and the third-year driver faded to a disappointing 26th. For Logano, who is breathing a sigh of relief now that Edwards is no longer a threat for his ride, Silly Season isn’t quite over until other potential replacements like Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers and Mark Martin have contracts somewhere else. Good finishes still have extra importance for the No. 20 right now.

Nationwide Series Breakdown: U.S. Cellular 250

Roush Fenway Racing’s Mustangs had finished 1-2 four times this season prior to Saturday night’s race at Iowa, so Ricky Stenhouse Jr. beating Carl Edwards to the stripe wasn’t the most remarkable outcome statistically. But this finish was so much more. In a race that saw the two teammates trade paint and get hot under the collar for the second consecutive week, Stenhouse had nearly a second on Edwards heading into the final corner when his engine expired. Edwards, who had enough momentum to clear the No. 6 and steal the win, got caught up in the cloud of smoke and oil from the expired motor, slammed into the back of Stenhouse’s car, and in doing so secured the second career win for the current points leader. Edwards, polesitter Elliott Sadler, Josh Wise and Aric Almirola rounded out the top 5.

Nationwide Series Breakdown: Kroger 200

A night of complete dominance for Roush Fenway Racing that saw the team’s three cars lead 193 of the first 198 laps went up in smoke late at Lucas Oil Raceway on Saturday night. With Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Carl Edwards and Trevor Bayne all running one-two-three inside of 30 laps to go, each ran into trouble. Edwards was busted during a late-race cycle of pit stops for visibly speeding on pit road exit, Bayne had his engine expire on lap 188 and Stenhouse, who led a career-high 189 laps was pushed from the lead on lap 198 by Brad Keselowski. The defending series champion drove hard into turn 3 and forced the No. 6 Ford towards the fence, driving off to score his second win of 2011.

Despite a few late race yellows, the majority of Saturday’s race was the cleanest seen on the bullring in Clermont, Indiana in some time, with Stenhouse dominating for most of the evening. A slightly harder tire did keep failures to a minimum, without impacting the continual side-by-side racing that the Nationwide Series has enjoyed for years on the longtime venue’s racing surface.

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