Next Sprint Cup Series Race * Charlotte Motor Speedway * Charlotte, North Carolina * Sunday, May 26, 2013
Next Nationwide Series Race * Charlotte Motor Speedway * Charlotte, North Carolina * Saturday, May 25, 2013
Next Camping World Truck Series Race * Dover Int'l Speedway * Dover, Delaware * Friday, May 31, 2013
Weekend NASCAR Television Times All Times Eastern * Subject To Change
Nationwide Series Practice Thursday, May 23 01:00 PM SPEED
Sprint Cup Series Practice Thursday, May 23 03:30 PM SPEED
Nationwide Series Practice Thursday, May 23 05:00 PM SPEED
Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 Qualifying Thursday, May 23 07:00 PM SPEED
Sprint Cup Series Practice Saturday, May 25 10:00 AM SPEED
Nationwide Series History 300 Qualifying Saturday, May 25 11:00 AM ESPN2
Sprint Cup Series Practice Saturday, May 25 01:00 PM SPEED
Nationwide Series History 300 Countdown Saturday, May 25 02:30 PM ABC
Nationwide Series History 300 Saturday, May 25 02:45 PM ABC
Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 Prerace Show Sunday, May 26 05:30 PM FOX
Sprint Cup Series Coca-Cola 600 Sunday, May 26 06:00 PM FOX
Johnson Wins Record Fourth NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race
CIA Stock Photos
Fast Pit Work Wins Race For Johnson
The Brothers Busch won the first four segments of Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, but Jimmie Johnson took the one the counted—the 10-lap dash to the finish—and continued to build his legacy, not to mentioned his bank account. Speeding away from Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne after a restart on Lap 81 of 90, Johnson won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series all-star exhibition race for a record fourth time, beating charging Joey Logano to the stripe by 1.722 seconds. Kyle Busch, who won the second and third segments of 20-laps each, ran third, followed by Kahne and Kurt Busch. The elder Busch brother won the first and fourth segments and was first onto pit road before the final dash but exited fifth with a less-than-stellar pit stop.
Despite changes to his pit crew this week, Johnson’s over-the-wall gang performed an 11-second pit stop that got him out of the pits on the front row, beside Kahne, for the final restart. Ultimately, that made all the difference. With the victory, Johnson broke a tie with teammate Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Sr. for most wins in the non-points race, won his second straight All-Star Race and collected $1 million for his efforts. “To beat Jeff and Earnhardt, two guys I’ve looked up to my whole life—two massive icons of our sport—this means the world to me,” said Johnson, who started 18th after sliding through his pit box and drawing a penalty for a loose lug nut during Friday’s qualifying session. I really didn’t think we had a shot at winning tonight, starting (18th), but we had a great race car and worked our way through there and got the job done. Over time, honestly, it’s just dedication and drive from every member at Hendrick Motorsports, every member on this No. 48 team. We’re very proud of what we’ve accomplished, but we know we’ve got to keep pushing harder and pushing one another.”
Kyle Busch thought he had the fastest car, but a slower-than-usual four-tire stop put his No. 18 Toyota on the second row for the final restart. “We just didn’t get the best pit stop there at the end to get us out on the front row, and when you’re back behind cars, you’re getting beat up on,” Busch said. “It is what it is. We’ll just take this as a good learning day and hopefully bring back some speed like this to the (Coca-Cola) 600 (May 26).” NASCAR’s luck with weather held Saturday night, with a large enough window to complete the race with just one delay. With Kurt Busch leading from the outset, NASCAR called a caution because of rain after Lap 8 and red-flagged the race after 13 laps when the shower intensified. The drivers came to pit road, parked in their stalls and waited.
The rain didn’t come soon enough, however, to save reigning Cup champion Brad Keselowski. On the second lap, transmission troubles sent his No. 2 Penske Racing Ford to the garage. “Something just broke in the back half of the drive train, either the transmission or drive shaft gear – I’m not sure which one – but it’s one of those deals, unfortunately,” Keselowski said. “We’ll try to learn from it and move on.” With Keselowski in the garage, the race resumed after a stoppage of 41 minutes 28 seconds. Kurt Busch pulled away from brother Kyle Busch to win the first 20-lap segment by .751 seconds. Kyle Busch kept the second segment in the family, pulling away from Clint Bowyer after a restart on Lap 29—after Ricky Stenhouse Jr. bounced off the Turn 4 wall and knocked Mark Martin for a loop through the grass in the quad-oval.
Jamie McMurray led wire-to-wire to win the Sprint Showdown and transfer into the main event. McMurray, who started second, took two tires during the halfway competition caution after 20 laps and pulled away to beat Cup rookie Stenhouse to the finish line by 1.226 seconds. Stenhouse transferred into the All-Star Race as the second-place finisher. His romantic interest, Danica Patrick, finished ninth in the Showdown but punched her ticket into the All-Star Race as the winner of the Sprint Fan vote. “Obviously being out front is massive,” McMurray said during the break between the Showdown and the main event. “When I got by (polesitter) Martin (Truex Jr.) at the start of the race… I was trying to take it easy because I didn't know with the track being green how quickly the tires would fall off, and even running at like 80 percent it was amazing what a difference just being in clean air was. “I had a really good car in practice (Friday). I thought honestly the 56 (Truex) and I had the two best cars looking at times yesterday, and then the two tire stop was the right call for us. It got us up front.” McMurray’s words proved prophetic. Being out front for the final 10-lap run was crucial to Johnson’s record run. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Kyle Busch Breaks “Drought” With NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Win at Charlotte
CIA Stock Photos
Kyle Busch Wins Charlotte Truck Race
Winless in his last seven starts in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck Series, Kyle Busch broke what was for him a major drought with a victory in Friday night’s North Carolina Education Lottery 200 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Busch, who owns his own truck, charged from the back of the field after a pit road penalty to win in the series for the first time since Sept. 24, 2011 at New Hampshire. The victory was Busch’s fifth at Charlotte and the 31st of his career in 107 starts.
Brendan Gaughan ran second, .468 seconds behind Busch, with the race decided in an eight-lap green-flag run to the finish after the eighth caution of the night. Max Gresham finished a career-best third, followed by series leader Matt Crafton and Ty Dillon. “It was an eternity -- the starts were spread over a year and half,” Busch said of his seven-race winless streak. “It certainly was frustrating last year that (crew chief) Eric (Phillips) and I weren’t able to get to Victory Lane. We only ran three starts, and in all of those three starts, we were a really good truck and had a shot to win in all three of those. “We’ve been fast. These guys do a good job, (crew chief) Rudy (Fugle) here, taking over for my stuff on the No. 51with a smaller team -- it’s only him and a couple of other guys that are full-time for it. These guys do a lot of work for being so small and just coming out here trying to knock out some wins.”
Busch had led 66 laps by the time Tyler Young’s spin caused the fourth caution of the race on Lap 82. On a fuel-only pit stop under yellow on Lap 84, Busch drew a penalty for dragging his gas can out of the pit stall and restarted on Lap 88 at the rear of the field. Undeterred—and using the penalty as an opportunity to take four fresh tires -- Busch carved his way through the field and had just taken over the seventh position when hard contact between the trucks of Ron Hornaday Jr. and Jake Crum—after Hornaday cut his right front tire -- brought out the fifth caution on Lap 94. After a spate of cautions, Busch finally regained the lead, passing Miguel Paludo for the top spot a lap before a pair of simultaneous wrecks caused caution No. 8 on Lap 122. A crash near the front of the field eliminated Darrell Wallace Jr. and damaged the truck of Brad Keselowski.
Note: The victory was the first as a crew chief for Fugle…Busch now has 113 wins in NASCAR’s top three series combined…Gaughan scored his third straight top-five finish and climbed three spots to fourth in points… Crafton leads in the series standings by 22 points over polesitter Jeb Burton, who finished 13th. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Quick Work on Pit Road Nets Carl Edwards Pole for Sprint All-Star Race
Needless to say, Carl Edwards loved the new qualifying format for Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race. Benefiting from a high-speed trip down pit road and a quick pit stop during the unique three-lap regimen in Friday’s time trials, Edwards won the pole for the 29th running of NASCAR’s non-points all-star event. With the pit road speed limit waived for the qualifying session, Edwards ran three laps—including a mandatory four-tire pit stop—in one minute 51.297 seconds, averaging 145.556 mph. The 15th of 19 drivers to make a qualifying attempt, Edwards knocked Kurt Busch (144.398 mph) off the provisional pole. Dale Earnhardt Jr. posted the second fastest average speed (144.398 mph) but drew a five-second penalty for a loose lug nut and will start 13th, leaving Busch on the front row beside Edwards.
Greg Biffle will start third, followed by Kyle Busch and Joey Logano, in an event that pays $1 million to the winner -- and another potential $1 million to a driver who can win all five segments. The event will be contested in segments of 20, 20, 20, 20 and 10 laps. “This is so unbelievable, because we tried so hard,” Edwards said. “This is such an exciting qualifying format. There’s so much pressure, and to get the pole -- it’s spectacular. Our car was fast. Our pit crew was fast. It was awesome. This is the way we want to start this weekend. We want to win this thing. We want to win all $2 million, all the segments. It’s part of our plan… I vote we did this at every race track. It’s so cool. It’s a lot of fun.”
Defending race winner Jimmie Johnson was fourth out and first to blow the pit stop. Johnson screamed down pit road, but his No. 48 Chevrolet slid through his pit stall, forcing Johnson to back up before his crew could begin its work. With a stop of more than 20 seconds, Johnson averaged 135.608 mph. A penalty for a loose lug nut added five seconds to his time and cut his average speed to 130.160 mph. Johnson will start 18th on Saturday night. Kevin Harvick also slid through his pit stall, and had his time disallowed because his crew started service before the No. 29 Chevy was back in the box. But the miscue didn’t matter, given that an engine change after Friday’s practice will send Harvick to the rear of the field for the start of the race. In a conventional two-lap qualifying session that preceded the Sprint All-Star Race time trials, Martin Truex Jr. won the pole for Saturday’s Sprint Showdown at 193.424 mph (27.918 seconds), edging Jamie McMurray (192.699 mph) for the top starting spot.
The top two finishers in the Showdown, which features a field of 23 cars this year, will transfer into the main event. Winless since 2007, Truex is a veteran of the Showdown, and he confessed to being envious of those who were exempt into the All-Star Race. “I’m definitely jealous that I’m not out there tonight,” Truex said after winning the pole. “For an event like this, it’s neat to see them mix it up and do something different because it’s an all-star race. There’s not points here. You don’t have to go by the book. This is the weekend where you want to throw out the rules and make new stuff up, which generally they like to do.” (NASCAR Wire Service)
Is Winning Bruton Smith’s $1-million Bonus a Realistic Possibility?
Jimmie Johnson, on the other hand, doesn’t discount the prospect of winning Bruton’s Big Bonus nearly that much. Track owner Bruton Smith, chairman of Speedway Motorsports Inc., has offered a $1-million bonus to any driver who can win all five segments of Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. That’s in addition to the $1-million top prize already on the line for the winner of the non-points NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race. “I think there’s a chance, (but) I think it’s a long shot,” said Johnson, who won last year’s exhibition event. “With the competition that exists in the All-Star Race, it’s going to be a long shot, but it’s worth it, and it will bring some excitement. If somebody does ring that bell, it will be a hell of a party.”
Busch facetiously took credit for a rule change that should motivate drivers to race hard in each of the four 20-lap segments leading up to the final 10-lap shootout. Last year, Johnson won the first segment and, knowing he would be first to pit road before the final 10 laps, ran in the back during segments 2, 3 and 4. This year, drivers will enter pit road for a mandatory four-tire stop based on best average finish in the four segments combined. “I don't know if you have my transcript from last year, but I said the rules were stupid and they need to change it to this year's rules, so I take full credit and responsibility for them changing the rules,” Busch said. “I think the rules are right this year. (This year), you have to run each segment as hard as you can. You have to stay up front to keep your average finish as good as you can. There's going to be a lot of things playing out in between the segments with pit stops, tire strategy -- do you take two (tires), do you stay out, do you come in and get four if there's a yellow in the middle of a segment? Do you pit then and get yourself ready for the next segment? There's a whole bunch of different things that could certainly lie in the race, and I think it's going to make it a lot more fun not only for the fans, but for the crew chiefs as well. I say fun, but I'm sure they will have some headaches after it, too. I think this year is going to be a heck of a lot better.” --/-- Though the prospect of winning Bruton’s Big Bonus will enliven the action, too, Busch thinks it will be extremely difficult for one driver to win all five segments. “Realistically, winning all the segments, if I were a sports bookie, I would put a 300-to-1 on it." (NASCAR Wire Service)
Former NASCAR Driver Dick Trickle Dead at 71 of Apparent Suicide
Former short-track ace Dick Trickle died Thursday at age 71 from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to the Lincoln County (N.C.) Sheriff's Department. Trickle was active in NASCAR racing for more than 30 years. He was winless in 303 Sprint Cup Series starts but collected two victories in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, the first coming on Easter weekend in 1997 at Hickory Motor Speedway, where the Wisconsin native took the lead from Randy LaJoie with 22 laps left and held on for the win. When Trickle won his second and final race on September 5, 1998, at Darlington Raceway, he was 56 years, 10 months and eight days old, the oldest race winner in NASCAR's three national series.
Trickle's body was found near his pickup truck in Forest Lawn Cemetery in Boger City, N.C. The Lincoln County Communications Center received a call at around noon Wednesday, from a man -- apparently Trickle -- who said there would be a dead body, and it would be his. Communications center workers tried to return the call, but no one answered, according to the sheriff's department. The body was found by the first emergency units dispatched to the scene. Trickle, who won well over 1,000 short-track features in his career, ran his last NASCAR race in 2002. He had lived in Lincoln County since the early 1990s.
Reigning Sprint Cup champion Brad Keselowski heard about Trickle's death en route to the unveiling of his "Fan Mosaic" paint scheme for Saturday night's NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. "Dick Trickle's one of those guys who was a part of the sport in a number of ways and meant a lot to the local short-track racers," Keselowski said. "Kind of like the Midwest style of racing, which was track by track when NASCAR was more of a regional Southern sport, before it had developed to the national platform it is now. He was the superstar of that style, of that genre and era. It's very sad to see him go, and obviously difficult with the way it went."
NASCAR's Chairman and CEO, Brian France, issued the following statement regarding Trickle's passing. "Our thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends of Dick Trickle on his passing today. Dick was a legend in the short-track racing community, particularly in his home state of Wisconsin, and he was a true fan favorite. Personalities like Dick Trickle helped shape our sport. He will be missed." (NASCAR Wire Service)
Matt Kenseth Surges To Third 2013 Victory At Darlington
CIA Stock Photos
Kenseth Lifts Heavy Trophy Overhead
Unsinkable Matt Kenseth capped a banner week for unsinkable Joe Gibbs Racing with a victory in Saturday night's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway with a substitute crew chief on his pit box -- the unsinkable Wally Brown. The past four days could hardly have been better for JGR, with Wednesday bringing a substantial reduction in penalties on appeal for an engine infraction Apr, 21 at Kansas. On Friday, Gibbs cars ran 1-2-3 in the Nationwide Series race at Darlington, and the organization followed that Saturday with a 1-2 finish from Kenseth and Denny Hamlin in the 11th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season.
Kenseth took the lead from JGR teammate Kyle Busch on Lap 355 of 367 and pulled away to win by 3.155 seconds over Hamlin, as Busch faded to sixth. Hamlin also had much to celebrate in his first full race back from a compression fracture to his first lumbar vertebra, sustained during a last-lap crash at Fontana, Calif., in late March. It was a race of significant numbers. Jeff Gordon finished third in his 700th Cup start, all consecutive. Jimmie Johnson ran fourth and extended his series lead to a massive 44 points over seventh-place finisher Carl Edwards. In a race that saw just four drivers pace the field, Kyle Busch led 265 laps but faded to sixth at the finish, thanks to a cut tire on the final 30-lap green-flag run.
Journeyman Brown won his first race as a Cup crew chief, after serving with four different drivers before his one-week shot on the pit box with Kenseth, who will get regular crew chief Jason Ratcliff back next week at Charlotte after Ratcliff's six-race suspension for an underweight connecting rod was reduced to one event on appeal. But the day belonged to Kenseth, whose resilience under trying circumstances was emblematic of the organization he joined this season. "Honestly, I've only dreamed about winning the Southern 500," said Kenseth, who notched his first victory at Darlington, his third of the season and the 27th of his career. "This to me probably feels bigger than any win in my career. I really feel bad that Jason isn't here. This is obviously his team and his effort, but Wally did a great job filling in. We had a fifth- or sixth-place car, fighting loose, (and) those last two adjustments (on pit road) were just awesome."
For Hamlin, second place was the best he could have hoped for, given the strength of Kenseth's car in the closing laps. "For me, we kept grinding away," Hamlin said, clearly tired from the effort of his first race back at one of NASCAR racing's most demanding tracks. "Pit crew picked us up some spots, obviously, throughout the night. It was one of those days where we got our car better, pit crew picked us up positions, took us to the most optimum spot we could get to—and that was second." --/-- From a physical standpoint, Hamlin admitted the race took its toll. "Really, it's just like starting your season over," he said. "To start it back over at Darlington for 500 miles, there's some muscles that have gotten weak. I've gotten pretty sore and tired, mentally tired as well. We'll have a couple of weeks really to rest until the next long event (Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte), and we'll be good to go then."
A caution for Regan Smith's spin off Turn 2 on Lap 302 of 367 -- only the second yellow of the race—interrupted a cycle of green-flag pit stops. After Juan Pablo Montoya took a free pass as the highest scored lap car, and Harvick availed himself of a wave-around, there were 11 cars on the lead lap for a restart on Lap 309. By then, Kyle Busch had led 218 laps and had dominated the race ever since he wrested the lead from his brother, polesitter Kurt Busch on Lap 74. But the pit stops on Lap 303 put the lead-lap cars on the edge of their fuel windows. They need not have worried. On Lap 311, Casey Mears tangled with Kurt Busch and reigning series champion Brad Keselowski off Turn 4 to cause the third caution. All but the top-four cars came to pit road for fuel under the yellow, leaving Kyle Busch, Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and Gordon out front on slightly older tires.
Johnson was first off pit road with new tires and quickly moved to third. Busch fended off a challenge from Kahne right after the restart and held a lead of .850 seconds when an accident involving David Reutimann and Josh Wise brought out the fourth caution and gave the lead-lappers a chance to pit for tires. Kahne briefly took the lead after a restart on Lap 333, but one lap later, Kahne's Chevy slapped the wall near the apex of Turns 1 and 2 and the race went yellow for the fifth time. The result was the same. Busch pulled away after the restart and opened a comfortable advantage, this time over Kenseth, only to have Kenseth run him down and pass him on Lap 355. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Kyle Busch Dominates Darlington For 56th Nationwide Series Victory
CIA Stock Photos
Kyle Busch Wins No. 56
Kyle Busch kept it simple Friday night at Darlington Raceway. The strategy was basic—win the pole, stay out front and win the race with the strongest car, and Busch did an admirable job in every category. He dusted the rest of the field at the venerable track in the South Carolina sandhills, pulling away to win the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 by .935 over Elliott Sadler, who recovered from an early spin to finish second. Brian Vickers came home third, followed by Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. With cars in first, second, third and fifth, Joe Gibbs Racing became the first organization to place four cars in the top five of a Nationwide Series race.
Rookie Kyle Larson ran sixth, followed by Regan Smith, who extended his series lead by 28 points over eighth-place finisher Sam Hornish Jr. The victory was Busch's fifth in eight NNS starts this season. Busch, who led 107 of 147 laps, extended his career win record in the series to 56. Busch scored a perfect Driver Rating of 150.0, his 16th perfect rating since NASCAR started keeping the statistic in 2005. Busch won the race on a track that has started to regain the abrasive characteristic of the racing surface that was a hallmark of the Darlington before a repaving project in 2008. Realizing that, Busch insisted on a four-tire stop on lap 121, even though his tires were only eight laps old, and that move helped win the race.
Busch also was able to pull away from his rivals trough Turns 1 and 2, the wider end of the egg-shaped track. "You want to be good at both ends here, but there's a lot of speed in 1 and 2, so you're going to have to take advantage of that as best you can," Busch said. "Three and 4 is an end where—I'm not going to say slower is faster—but maintaining a minimum speed is faster down there. But it seems like it's a little easier to do than not having a good-handling car in 1 and 2. There's a littler margin of error in Turn 1 and 2."
Sadler found that out the hard way when he spun in that corner while trying to keep up with Busch. Sadler explained that he simply misjudged the corner and got loose. "I was pushing it, trying to keep up with the 54 (Busch)," Sadler said. "I wanted to get up there and try to lead some laps and just went in there too hard and got loose and had to make a decision whether to spin out or try to correct it, and I overcorrected and spun out. "Lady Luck helped me from not hitting anything." --/-- About the only thing that could slow Busch's progress was an issue on pit road. Busch came out sixth after a slow stop on Lap 51 under yellow for Sadler's spin.
Charging forward after the restart, Busch was on Kenseth's bumper, challenging for the lead by the time the race reached Lap 74, just past halfway. For the next eight laps, Busch hounded Kenseth, finally clearing his teammate for the lead on Lap 82. Busch held the top spot until a caution on Lap 119 for Kyle Fowler's wreck changed the running order again. Logano and Austin Dillon stayed out on old tires and led the field to a Lap 125 restart. Sadler restarted third after a two-tire stop, while Busch took the green in fourth on four fresh tires. Busch made short work of the drivers on older rubber and passed Logano for the lead on Lap 130. Game over. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Kurt Busch Wins Darlington Pole With a Track-Record Run
High speeds seem to suit Kurt Busch. A day after driving an IndyCar at 218 mph during rookie orientation at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, Kurt Busch put his No. 78 Furniture Row Chevrolet SS on the pole for Saturday night's Bojangles' Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway—and he did so in track-record fashion. Busch toured the Lady in Black in 27.032 seconds (181.918 mph) in Friday's time trials to win the 16th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pole of his career, his second at Darlington and his first since 2011 at Michigan. Busch broke the former track record of 181.250 mph (27.131 mph) set by Kasey Kahne in 2011.
Series leader Jimmie Johnson will line up on the outside of the front row after a lap at 180.974 mph (27.173 mph). Kurt's brother Kyle Busch qualified third at 180.920 mph. Kahne qualified fourth Friday at 180.741 mph, followed by Martin Truex Jr. at 180.284 mph. "(It was) real fast in (Turns) 1 and 2," Busch said of the money lap. "Maybe I left a little on the table getting into 3. It didn't feel that fast, and when it doesn't, that means the car was stuck really well. That's just a tribute to these Furniture Row guys. The confidence they had coming here this weekend stems from a few years ago when they won here with Regan Smith. All of the changes we made in practice—all of them made sense… The car's been feeling pretty good."
Kahne was the 10th driver to make a qualifying run, and he held the top spot until Johnson, 26th out, knocked him off the provisional pole. Johnson stayed there until Busch smashed Kahne's former track record by .099 seconds. Busch won the first pole of his career at Darlington in 2001—almost by accident, as he tells it today. Busch also was part of the historic finish in 2003 where he raced side by side with Ricky Craven and was second to the stripe by .002 seconds.
"When I first came here as a rookie, you hear all of the Darlington urban legend about how tough this place is, how it was going to chew you up and spit you out, how you have to respect it," Busch said. "I was like, ‘Yeah, whatever, I've got this.' There were even jokes about how you were supposed to hold it wide open off Turn 2. That's like a rookie hazing -- if you try that, you're supposed to wreck. I accidentally held it open off 2 and got the pole. I got lucky that day. I beat Jeff Gordon for the pole and, honestly, I never thought it was a pole-sitting lap. It was because of my stupidity that I got it. It was very sweet to get that first pole… Today is great, the 10-year anniversary with Ricky Craven and the battle that we had. This gives me a great shot to stay ahead of the field and win by two thousandths of a second this time."
Note: Carl Edwards and Dale Earnhardt Jr., second and third in the standings, qualified 17th and 16th, respectively. ... Busch was 23 years, 29 days old when he won the Darlington pole in 2001, making him the youngest ever. ... Johnson will start from a top-10 position for the seventh time in 11 races this season. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Kenseth, Gibbs and Ratcliff Have Penalties and Fines Reduced and Rescinded
Today at the NASCAR Research and Development Center in Concord, N.C., the National Stock Car Racing Appeals Panel heard and considered the appeal of the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing NASCAR Sprint Cup Series team. The penalties stemmed from a post-race engine inspection on April 23 at the facility where NASCAR broke down the race-winning engine as part of its normal post-race inspection process following the STP 400 at Kansas Speedway. After hearing the testimony and considering the appeals, the panel reached a unanimous decision to amend most of the original penalties assessed by NASCAR.
The penalties concern Sections 12-1: Actions detrimental to stock car racing; 12-4J: Any determination by NASCAR Officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to the NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20 of the NASCAR rule book, or has not been approved by NASCAR prior to the event; and 20-5.5.3E: Only solid magnetic steel connecting rods with a minimum weight of 525.0 grams will be permitted. Connecting rod failed to meet minimum connecting rod weight.
Matt Kenseth faced losing 50 driver points, his eligibility into the 2014 Sprint Unlimited for winning the Coors Light Pole award from April 19 for the Kansas race, the three bonus points he would receive if he were one of the top 10 drivers to make the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup after the 26th race of the season and credit for the win toward his eligibility for a wild-card position in the Chase. The loss of 50 driver points was reduced to 12, moving him from 11th in the points standings to fourth. All other penalties were fully rescinded.
The original penalties assessed to Joe Gibbs, Kenseth's car owner, included a loss of 50 owner points, no bonus points for the first-place finish at Kansas toward the accumulated owner points total after the 26th race of the season, no credit for the win toward the eligibility for a car owner wild-card position after the 26th race and suspension of Gibbs' owner's license for the No. 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car for the next six points events, making him ineligible to receive owner points during that time. The penalty for 50 driver points was reduced to 12. All other penalties were fully rescinded.
Jason Ratcliff, the crew chief for the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, originally received penalties that included a $200,000 fine and suspension from NASCAR for the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points events, which also includes the non-points NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. After today's hearing, his suspension was dropped to one points event. Once Ratcliff serves his one-race suspension and is reinstated, he will be placed on NASCAR probation for the next three points races. His $200,000 fine remains.
Toyota also received a penalty when the original penalties were handed down: the loss of five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series manufacturer points. Unlike Kenseth, Gibbs and Ratcliff's penalties, the car manufacturer's penalty was upheld and actually increased from the loss of five points to seven. (NASCAR Wire Service)
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week Celebrates Five Years In Las Vegas
NASCAR announced today that the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards -- the annual culmination of Champion’s Week – will be held on Friday, Dec. 6 at Wynn Las Vegas in Las Vegas, Nev., for the fifth consecutive year. From 1981 until 2008, NASCAR held its year-ending premier series awards show in New York City. Starting in 2009, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards has been held in Las Vegas, a destination that has triggered an entertainment evolution for the fan-favorite show. “Every single week, NASCAR creates the big-event experience, so it’s fitting that our year-end celebration of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series champion takes place in a city built on major moments,” said Steve Phelps, NASCAR chief marketing officer. “Las Vegas has been home to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards for five years, and each year it grows bigger, better and more entertaining for our fans. Undoubtedly, this milestone Champion’s Week will continue – and heighten – that tradition.”
Last year’s show alone featured host Howie Mandel, Train, Phillip Phillips, Lifehouse with Natasha Bedingfield and Cirque du Soleil: The Beatles LOVE. Among other A-List entertainment acts who have performed since the move to Vegas include Reba, Kid Rock, Brooks and Dunn, David Gray, Rascal Flatts, Colbie Caillat, Martina McBride, Jersey Boys, Cirque du Soleil’s “Viva ELVIS” and Frank Caliendo. “Two of the world’s most recognizable brands, NASCAR and Las Vegas, have developed a strong and successful partnership that delivers unrivaled excitement to millions of loyal fans,” said Rossi Ralenkotter, president/CEO of the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority. “We’re proud to celebrate this milestone as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards and its Champion’s Week return for the fifth year, proving that no destination matches the passion and energy of NASCAR like Las Vegas.” A full lineup of events or activities during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week will be announced at a later date.
David Ragan Beats Goliaths in Astonishing Cup Race at Talladega
CIA Stock Photos - Andrew Coppley
Ragan and Gilliland Finish 1-2 at Talladega
In the type of stunning victory that has typified racing at Talladega Superspeedway since its inception, David Ragan led an extraordinary 1-2 finish for Front Row Motorsports, which had never won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race before Sunday. David Gilliland pushed Ragan, his teammate, to the lead on the final circuit in a green-white checkered-flag finish that took Sunday's Aaron's 499 four laps past its scheduled distance of 188 laps. Gilliland came home second, followed by pole sitter Carl Edwards, Michael Waltrip and series leader Jimmie Johnson. As Ragan put it, two Davids beat the Goliaths of NASCAR racing in one of the sport’s most unlikely finishes ever.
Ragan's victory followed a massive wreck that took the race to overtime -- and to near-darkness, in what truly was truly was a Talladega night. In fact, NASCAR gave the drivers a chance to change their tinted visors for clear ones during the final caution. Afterwards, Ragan tried to put the win in perspective. "I can only imagine what it felt like back in 1988 when Mark Martin got that first win for Jack Roush or when Geoff Bodine won that first race for Hendrick Motorsports," said Ragan, who scored his only Sprint Cup win at Daytona in July 2011, his last season with Jack Roush. "I’m sure it was just as special. "A lot of these guys have been to Victory Lane in the Sprint Cup Series and late model racing, short tracks, ARCA -- all kinds of series -- but to do it here at Talladega in 2013, like I said, it’s a true David vs. Goliath story. I couldn’t be more proud to play my own role."
Ragan restarted 10th and Gilliland 11th for the final two-lap sprint. As the cars raced into Turn 1, they were barely visible from the frontstretch grandstand, but the teammates managed to find each other on the track. For the first time in NASCAR’s new Gen-6 car, Gilliland pushed another car through the corners--to the amazement of Edwards, whose jaw dropped in the post-race news conference as Gilliland described the final two laps. "We got restarted there, and it was sprinkling, and it was dark and there was (speedy-dry) on the track so it got on the windshield where it was wet but I could see, and I could see David there and he came down," Gilliland said. "Michael Waltrip was behind me, giving me a good run and just carried a lot of momentum up through there and got hooked up with David and figured he's got the best chance of anybody sticking together with him out there and just worked our way up there.
"It got real tight getting into (Turn) 3 and 4 with Carl there. I know David was sideways and out of the gas, and Carl was right up on his door, and could have gone a number of ways. But, thankfully I just stayed on his bumper. I pushed him all the way through the corners. It's the first time I've ever done that with this car, with these style of cars, because with these type of cars in practice I've pushed people down the back straight and it actually kind of gets underneath that little lip underneath the back bumper cover and I've always been kind of scared getting into the corner. As the front car compresses, the back part of the nose doesn't have anywhere to go because the splitter is already on the racetrack. But I just pushed him all the way around there and Carl about stalled out a little bit, and we were just able to carry some good momentum and come home one-two."
On Lap 183, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. tried a four-wide move to the outside, but contact with J.J. Yeley's car triggered a multicar melee that wiped out Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Danica Patrick and Clint Bowyer, among others. That set up the two-lap dash in overtime with Matt Kenseth in the lead and Edwards beside him on the front row. Kenseth, who led 142 laps dropped to eighth at the finish. Michael McDowell blew a tire and hit the wall on Lap 174 to cause the fourth caution of the race and bunch a field that had become segmented during a series of green-flag pit stops that ended on Lap 168. When NASCAR threw the yellow, Johnson led a six-car breakaway that included Kenseth, Kurt Busch, Edwards, Bowyer and Waltrip. The caution, however, brought 19 other lead-lap cars back into play and the massive wreck at the end of the backstretch changed the game completely.
NASCAR slowed the race on Lap 122 and stopped it after Lap 125 when showers that had been forecast for race day arrived shortly after 3 p.m. ET. Edwards had nosed ahead of Stenhouse moments earlier and was ahead at the last scoring loop the cars crossed before the yellow. That left the Fords of Edwards, Stenhouse, Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski at the front of the field when NASCAR red-flagged the race, forcing drivers and fans to wait and see whether the event would resume. After a stoppage of 3 hours, 36 minutes, the race restarted after pit stops, and Kenseth quickly surged to the front.
As the cars approached Turn 1 on lap 43, a tap from Kyle Busch's No. 18 Toyota turned Kasey Kahne's No. 5 Chevrolet into the outside wall and triggered a wreck that damaged 16 cars, among them the Chevys of Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick, the Toyota of Brian Vickers (after a driver change with Denny Hamlin) and the Ford of Greg Biffle. "I know I got in the back of the 5 (Kahne), and I guess I was trying to go to the outside of him," Busch said. 'But he just moved up in front of me, and I wasn't expecting it, and I tried to go to the outside of him, and before I could get to the outside of him I got in the back of him. I just hate that I caused a hell of a melee for everybody. I hate that. A lot of cars got torn up, and it's way too early in the race to be doing any of those sorts of moves, whether he made it or I made it. Just I hate it that we all got crashed in that deal."
Both Kahne and Busch visited the infield care center after the wreck, and both were released in short order. "I just kind of got shot through the center (of the field) there, just a lot of momentum coming from behind," Kahne said of the action immediately before the crash. "Felt the No. 18 pushing me, and next thing I know, I was spinning. "You just can't push with these cars. We learned that at Daytona. He was pushing me and spun me in the wall, and then (it) happened again, so that is what it is." --/-- Kahne said he and Busch didn't speak in the care center. "No, I didn't talk to him," Kahne said. "I think we both probably understand what happened, and we'll figure it out from there."
Notes: Johnson’s margin in the Cup standings over second-place Edwards shrank by two points to 41. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (17th Sunday) is third, 59 points behind his Hendrick Motorsports teammate… Paul Menard finished 26th with a sour engine but gained two spots to eighth in the standings because other drivers in Chase-eligible positions had bigger issues… Ragan and Gilliland won a combined $608,261 for their 1-2 finish, a welcome payday for a team run by owner Bob Jenkins predominantly out of his own pocket. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Regan Smith Wins Wild Nationwide Series Race at Talladega
CIA Stock Photos
Close Finish At Talladega
The delicious irony of Regan Smith's victory in Saturday's Aaron's 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway wasn't lost on the driver of the No. 7 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. With a push from teammate Kasey Kahne, Smith roared out of the pack during the final 400 yards of a green-white-checkered-flag finish and won a race decided when NASCAR called the seventh and final caution an instant before the four cars battling for the win crossed the finish line. Smith was the leader as the field was frozen when NASCAR called the caution. Kahne was first across the stripe but was scored in third place behind Smith and Joey Logano, who were the two lead drivers when the caution lights came on.
This was the same Regan Smith who was deprived of victory in a race he thought he had won at Talladega in 2008, when NASCAR demoted him to the 18th position for passing Tony Stewart below the yellow boundary line as the cars approached the checkered flag. "I was having flashbacks, sitting on pit road -- I'm not going to lie -- when they were making the decision," Smith said. "I was like ‘Man, I hope we got it -- I'm pretty sure we got it when the flag came out and I saw the lights come on… They only thing I didn't know was if they took it all the way to the stripe. "I don't know if it's vindication or not. I think I'd gotten over that and gotten past that, but I definitely wanted to win here ... but you want to win every week, and it definitely helps wipe that bad memory away of sitting on pit road and finding out you're 18th instead. So, yeah, that was kind of cool."
Kahne was surprised NASCAR called the final caution instead of letting the race play out to conclusion. "I think there's been plenty of times (when) there've been wrecks in (Turn) 4 or 3, and we've just raced to the line at the end," Kahne said. "As soon as they started wrecking, I saw the caution. I still raced to the line, and we had a good enough run to get there and be first there, but I was surprised the caution came out. I knew I was third when the caution came out, and I knew I was first at the line… My spotter after the race was like, 'I think we won,' but I was thinking the whole time, ‘There's no way. The caution was out.'"
On Lap 14, Danica Patrick spun off the bumper of series rookie Kyle Larson, her Turner Scott Motorsports teammate-for-a-day and slid though the waterlogged infield grass, damaging her No. 34 Chevrolet extensively. After losing a lap on pit road, Patrick brought the car to the garage and called it a day. Patrick, hardly a grizzled veteran herself, attributed the wreck to Larson's inexperience with the tandem racing that characterizes the Nationwide Series at restrictor-plate tracks. Larson, who was attempting to push Patrick's car when the wreck occurred, found trouble of his own on Lap 35, when he blew a tire, spun and took Jeffrey Earnhardt's Ford with him.
Busch was leading on Lap 93 when contact between Hornish's Ford and Eric McClure's Toyota ignited a spectacular 12-car wreck that sidelined the series leader entering the race (Hornish), among others. NASCAR then opted to shorten the race by 10 laps because of impending darkness, but four laps after a restart on Lap 101, Joey Coulter's contact with the outside wall caused the sixth caution and set up the two-lap dash to the finish. Smith took over the series lead, by 27 points over Sam Hornish Jr. in a race whose start was delayed three hours because of rain. It's the first time JR Motorsports has led the Nationwide Series standings. It was also the first victory as a crew chief for Greg Ives.
The hardest hit of the race, however, came on Lap 71 when pole sitter Travis Pastrana nosed into the outside backstretch wall during a three-car incident that started when Brian Scott turned the Ford of Reed Sorenson. Sorenson hit the outside wall and spun back across the track into Pastrana's path. Pastrana blamed himself for being in harm's way and for not reacting quickly enough when he saw Sorenson spin. "I just get an award for being stupid," Pastrana said after leaving the infield care center. "We had the two fastest cars on the track (with Roush Fenway Racing teammate Trevor Bayne). We could have been a half-lap down just pushing each other, not worrying about anything. We all said we were going to sit back the whole race, and then, all of sudden, we're up there racing just like a bunch of fools up front… Everything kind of happened." (NASCAR Wire Service)