Race Weekend Central

Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2012 AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix

Jeff Gordon intentionally wrecked Clint Bowyer, collecting Joey Logano and Aric Almirola as the field was coming to the white flag. The result was a green-white-checkered finish, one that saw Danica Patrick wreck on the first of two laps, lay down a large amount of oil on the track, then cause a complete melee on the front straight as the cars came to the checkered flag. The final wreck tore up over half-a-dozen race cars while the incident between Gordon and Bowyer set off a rumble in the garage, one reminiscent of the Tide team vs. the Kodiak crew at the 1989 Winston.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2012 AdvoCare 500 at Phoenix

Dale Jarrett said it best: as much as everyone wanted to see the race end, and as close as some teams were on fuel mileage, there needed to be a caution for Danica Patrick on the green-white-checkered attempt. NASCAR’s failure to throw the yellow was costly. As Harvick took the checkers, several cars sustained heavy damage as their drivers raced for position coming to the finish line, only to realize that there was fluid on the track from Patrick’s limping car. Menard slammed into the back end of Patrick’s slower car so hard that the No. 10 was thrown into the air. Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Menard and Brad Keselowski all suffered damage. Kurt Busch’s car was destroyed and on fire.

Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2012 AAA Texas 500

During the seventh caution flag of the night, Brad Keselowski took two tires on his pit stop to regain lost track position while Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch took four. That got Kes the lead, for a series of restarts but kept what was likely the fastest car from having the speed to pull away. While Busch faded into the background, that decision would ultimately result in Johnson and Keselowski finishing first and second.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2012 AAA Texas 500

There was a time when racing hard with the title contenders would have brought out the worst in Kyle Busch. But this time around, Busch put on a clinic of how to do it right. Busch had a top-three car, and when late-race cautions bunched up the field, he had a shot to race Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson for position — and he did it in the best possible way. He didn’t roll over and give either Chase driver a spot; instead, he raced them both with maximum effort, balancing that with controlled aggression. Busch didn’t race them checkers or wreckers; he raced them hard and clean.

Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2012 Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville

During the pit stops for a lap 476 caution, Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. stayed out while Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and the rest of the lead lap cars came in for two tires. Johnson restarted behind Keselowski and worked him over for four laps before taking the lead for good. In the end, Keselowski ended up about where he would have finished with tires, while some of the other top contenders on the day ended up falling back to unsatisfying results.

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2012 Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas

What a mess. That’s what several teams were left thinking after the wreckfest that was the Hollywood Casino 400. A track-record and season-high 14 cautions marred the racing over the course of the 400-mile event, caused by everything from a rash of blown tires, a couple of driver errors at the wrong time, a move made in anger, and a very slick repaved racetrack. “If people are wondering where all the cautions went, they moved to Kansas,” Brad Keselowski said at one point during the day, referencing complaints about a lack of yellow flags during several events this season.

Thinkin’ Out Loud: 2012 Bank of America 500 at Charlotte

Brad Keselowski ran out of gas, down the backstretch with 58 laps left, allowing Clint Bowyer to breeze by. That left the No. 15 team virtually unencumbered as they turned on the fuel mileage jets, put a Rip Van Winkle spell over the stands, and advanced to a shocking intermediate oval victory at Charlotte.

What’s Vexing Vito: Why is Penske Racing Switching to Ford?

When Danica Patrick rolls into Daytona next year, it likely will not be with her Greg Zipadelli-led crew, but rather that of Tony Gibson and Ryan Newman’s No. 39 team. It has been rumored that in part, the No. 39 crew doesn’t exactly feel appreciated by Newman, and the driver’s comments did little to dispel …

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The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2012 AAA 400 at Dover

Sometimes those who have nothing to lose are the most dangerous of all. For most of the day on Sunday, it looked as though Kyle Busch, who failed to make the Chase this year, had the field covered at Dover. If the race hadn’t come down to fuel mileage, Busch would most likely have been the driver in Victory Lane. True to his take-no-prisoners style, Busch took the race lead from teammate Denny Hamlin and from there, cut nobody a break — not even Hamlin, who is very much in the title hunt. Leading 302 of 400 circuits, the only thing stopping Busch was that extra stop for gas, slipping him to a seventh-place finish when winner Brad Keselowski and others could go the distance.

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