Key Moment – When five drivers lost tires between laps 193 and 197, a caution finally came out. All of the lead lap cars except for Landon Cassill hit pit lane. Kurt Busch, Tony Stewart and Paul Menard took two tires, moving to the front while the remainder of lead-lap cars took four. In the …
The good news is that nobody had to worry about points on Saturday night. The bad news is that many teams come to Daytona with three cars: their Sprint Unlimited car, Daytona 500 car and Daytona 500 backup. After a practice wreck, some teams could be left scrambling. Carl Edwards’s team already loaded his Unlimited car on a hauler bound for Charlotte after his practice wreck; they’ll fix it, hang new sheetmetal, and bring it back to serve as the Daytona 500 backup as Edwards was forced to pull his original second car out for Saturday’s race.
There were a few typical Martinsville skirmishes on Sunday. Kurt Busch called Kevin Harvick “half-assed” when Harvick refused to cut him some slack as Busch wanted to move into the bottom groove and Harvick got into him instead spinning him around. Johnson was upset with Mears after Mears got into his right front, wrenching the steering wheel from his hands, though no damage was done. Montoya was upset with Johnson, who shoved his way underneath the No. 42 in the closing laps, sending him up the track.
A week after winning the pole in Charlotte and driving home with a top-15 finish, Aric Almirola showed once again that Richard Petty Motorsports is a team on the verge of a breakthrough year. Almirola drove the No. 43 to a sixth-place result at the Monster Mile on Sunday, while teammate Marcos Ambrose finished 10th. That made RPM the only multi-car organization to see each of their entries finish inside the top 10 at Dover; it’s also the first time the team has done it all season. Mike Ford continues to work wonders since becoming Almirola’s crew chief; they haven’t finished lower than 19th in four starts together.
This is a tough call this week. Although it was easy to focus on Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s third-place run that propelled him to third in driver points, Earnhardt wasn’t the only choice and, in the end, wasn’t even the best choice. Although his finish was six spots below Earnhardt’s, Kurt Busch did it a car that never finished better than 12th all year in 2011.
Aric Almirola put his Chevrolet on the pole at the second Phoenix race in November, leading 66 laps before an accident ended his day.
After winning in Iowa last week, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. probably wasn’t thrilled with a fourth-place run, but Stenhouse has a lot to celebrate. He’s just one point off the series lead, and he was the highest-finishing Nationwide regular in the race. Considering that just a year ago, Stenhouse’s job looked to be in jeopardy after a horrendous start and a string of wrecked racecars, and now he could be putting the pressure on David Ragan for the No. 6 Cup seat, life must be a lot more fun for Stenhouse in 2011.
Homestead-Miami Speedway. Aric Almirola, subbing for the recently dismissed Kasey Kahne, posted a fourth-place finish in his 35th Sprint Cup Series start, running at or neat the front all day for a career-best performance.
Sad but true: the 2010 NASCAR racing season, for all intents and purposes, is over.
Kyle Busch took the checkered flag 0.577 seconds ahead of Ron Hornaday Jr. to win the Ford 200 at Homestead-Miami Speedway Friday night.