TALLADEGA, Ala. – Brad Keselowski won the Aaron’s 499 on Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway driving away from second place driver Kyle Busch.
It was the second trip to victory lane for BK this season, his second at Talladega and the sixth of his short Sprint Cup Series career. Keselowki handed Dodge its first victory at Talladega since Dave Marcis sored a win in 1976.
Busch took second, followed by Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle rounding out the top-five. Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, Trevor Bayne, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton in 10th.
A succession of late race cautions drove the race six laps past its scheduled 188.
With 45 laps remaining the competitors were just starting out a set of green-flag pit stops wen a chain-reaction wreck in Turn 3 took out many contenders, including pole-sitter Jeff Gordon.
Aric Almirola and Dave Blaney made slight contact triggering the crash and ending the day for Martin Truex, Carl Edwards and Juan Montoya, among others.
“It was like a wreck at a stoplight,” Edwards said. “Everybody started checking up and hitting each other.”
With Paul Menard leading the race went green on lap 151. Hamlin, surged to the front, where he raced Brad Keselowski for the lead.
Kenseth was sent to the back of the field for pitting too soon under the Lap 143 caution, but wasted no time driving himself back into contention. He drove past Denny Hamlin on Lap 167 for the lead, with Keselowski and AJ Allmendinger following close behind.
Casey Mears cut a tire on lap 175 and brought out a caution setting up a restart with nine laps to go.
On lap 181, Kurt Busch spun into the inside wall at the entry to Turn 1 bringing out another caution. Kenseth led the field back to green on lap 185.
The green flag didn’t last long. As soon as the leaders crossed the start/finish line, Hamlin made a quick move to the inside; and Allmendinger adjusted and clipped the nose of Hamlin’s car taking out a few Dega hopefuls such as Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Michael Waltrip.
NASCAR Sprint Cup returns to Darlinton Raceway for next Saturday night’s running of the Bojangle’s Southern 500, 6:30 pm EST on Fox.
RICHMOND, Va. — Kyle “Rowdy” Busch stormed to his fourth consecutive victory in the spring race at the three-quarter mile Richmond International Raceway by driving away from Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the closing laps of the Capital City 400.
The victory marked Busch’s first of the season and the 24th of his career. Tony Stewart was leading before the final caution fell for debris in Turn 2.
On the restart Stewart fell off the pace and finished third. Denny Hamlin took fourth, followed by Kasey Kahne rounding out the top five.
A Jeff Burton crash on Lap 311 brought out a caution and scrambled the field for the restart.
Jimmie Johnson was penalized for a tire violation on his pit stop and had to restart at the tail end of the field.
Carl Edwards who led a race-high 210 laps also lost significant ground during the caution sequence when he was black-flagged for jumping the restart.
After a pass-through penalty, Edwards dropped to 15th, 17 seconds behind leader Tony Stewart. On lap 372, Stewart was able to lap Edwards and pull away from second place Kyle Busch to a nearly two second lead.
After the last caution Edwards got the “Lucky-Dog” putting him back on the lead lap to finish tenth.
NASCAR moves the show to Talladega for next Sunday’s running of the Aaron’s 499, 12:00 pm EST on FOX.
Changing track conditions at Kansas pushed Denny Hamlin to the lead for his first victory at Kansas Speedway.
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Denny Hamlin drove to victory in Sunday’s STP 400 holding off Martin Truex Jr. the final 30 laps. The win is Hamlin’s second of the season, his first at the 1.5-mile Kansas track, and the 19th of his career.
Jimmie Johnson took third, followed closely by Roush Fenway Racing drivers Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle. Truex moved into second place in the Sprint Cup Series standings behind Biffle, who leads by 15 points.
A late cycle of green-flag pit stops put all the contenders on the same sequence. Then, for the first time all day, the sun broke through, changing the track dynamics and the whole complexion of the race.
Before the sun came out, Truex had dominated the race, leading 173 laps. The shifting track conditions altered the handling on Truex’s Toyota to “wrecking loose.” Hamlin got past Truex for the lead on Lap 237 and began to drive away with Jimmie Johnson pursuing from the third position.
To Hamlin, the sunlight was a welcome game-changer.
“We just needed some kind of change — weather or adjustments or something to get where he was at — and we kind of got both of them. In overcast conditions, the cars run a little bit tighter, the grip level’s higher in the race car, and it’s more of a track-position type race. When the sun’s out, the drivers, in my opinion, are more prominent,” Hamlin said.
“You move around, find the grip, do things in the car to make up for what you don’t have. The slicker the conditions are, the better it tends to be for our race team. Luckily, we had that run in sunshine.”
When clouds returned to cover the track again, Truex found handling and began to close on Hamlin. Truex tried racing beneath Hamlin in Turn 3 twice in the final three laps but couldn’t get the job done.
“Desperation,” Truex exclaimed. “I was a little bit faster than Denny at the end, but he was running against the wall right where I needed to be, and I was just trying to gain a little bit of ground.
“It was desperation — last-ditch effort — just trying something. There was no chance to make it work.”
In spite of the varying track conditions, Truex pointed to a bad set of tires for the final run as root cause.
“I’m just not really sure what to think of that last set of tires,” Truex said. “The car had been really good all day, we put the last set on, and I was just wrecking loose for the first 20 laps of that last run.
“Denny was able to get by me, and once he did, the race was over. The car got better longer in the run, and I was able to get back to him, but I’d get three or four car-lengths from him and pick up the aero push …
“I guess if we can be this disappointed with second, it kind of shows how far we’ve come as a race team.”
Richmond 3/4 Mile Speedway
Saturday, April 28
7:00 p.m. EST on Fox
MARTINSVILLE, VA — Ryan Newman played the spoiler role and snatched victory away from Hendrick’s champions in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500, Sunday at Martinsville Speedway.
Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson reigned most of the days action for 497 laps. A caution flag flew when David Reutimann stalled on the frontstretch with three laps remaining setting up extra laps.
Gordon and Johnson stayed out while the remaining lead-lap cars behind them came in for tires and fuel. On the lap 504 restart, Clint Bowyer, Johnson and Gordon, tried running three-wide into the first corner resulting in a tri-car spin, ending the Hendrick’s shot at their 200th NASCAR Sprint Cup victory.
On the second lap of a green-white-checkered-flag restart Ryan Newman cleared runner-up AJ Allmendinger and held on to win by .342 seconds. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took third, followed by Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr.
It was Newman’s first win this season and his first at Martinsville. It was the third win of the year in six events for a dominating Stewart-Haas Racing.
Gordon led 322 laps before Johnson passed hto take the lead on Lap 356. That brought Johnson all the way back from a pit road speeding penalty incurred on Lap 100 under the first caution of the race. Johnson was flagged for speeding on exit and restarted at the tail end of the field.
But with 80 percent of the race ahead of him, the five-time champion had plenty of time to work his way back to the front of the field.
Denny Hamlin beat both Johnson and Gordon off pit road on Lap 363, during pit stops under caution for Travis Kvapil’s spin in Turn 2, but Johnson regained the lead on Lap 393, passing Hamlin to the inside through Turns 1 and 2 after dogging the No. 11 Toyota for more than 10 circuits.
Gordon regained the lead on Lap 497 moments before caution slowed the race. The eighth caution for the Bowyer/Gordon/Johnson wreck extended the race to 515 laps, 15 past the scheduled distance.
After a week off Sprint Cup heads to Texas.
7:00 pm EST
Source: NASCAR Wire Service
BRISTOL, TENN. — Brad Keselowski was out to prove his win last August at the Tennessee half-mile was not a fluke.
Consider this back-to-back victory at the fastest short track on the planet proof enough the Penske driver is the real deal. BK drove the Miller Lite Dodge to his fifth Sprint Cup win in 93 starts.
He was followed closely to the finish line by second-place Matt Kenseth.
A great day for the Michael Waltrip Racing team as his drivers filled out the top five. Martin Truex Jr. took third, Clint Bowyer fourth and Brian Vickers, fifth. Today marked Vickers return to Sprint Cup since his Red Bull Racing deal fell apart last year.
Jeff Burton, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Jimmie Johnson and Paul Menard made up the top 10.
After BK’s Bristol win last August many people thought he took an unfair advantage of the timing lines coming out of his pit that allowed him better acceleration than other teams and that advantage was the root of his victory. NASCAR added two timing loops at each end to eliminate any advantage that might come from those pit positions.
Keselowski did not like hearing he won the race because of the timing line advantage. It has been under his skin ever since.
“I got on Twitter, and I got kind of PO’d at some people who said I won it because of the timing line,” Keselowski said after today’s win. “I knew this Blue Deuce was fast enough to win the race last fall with or without timing lines. It feels so good just to prove it here in the spring race.
“This car here, this brand-new car that Penske Racing built — everybody back at the shop did a phenomenal job. The last few races have been really good, and I knew we had a shot at winning one if we closed the deal. Matt didn’t make it easy.”
An early wreck wiped out several top cars, including Kasey Kahne, Carl Edwards, Marcos Ambrose and Kyle Busch. Contact between Regan Smith and Kahne triggered a chain reaction in front of a pack of hard charging race cars. Kahne moved up on the word of his cousin/spotter who said he was clear when in fact he was not.
Racing next week moves on to Fontana, California, for the Auto Club 400, live on Fox at 2:30 PM, EST.
LAS VEGAS — Tony Stewart wins for the first time in his career at the mile and a half Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Powering away from Jimmie Johnson after a restart with four laps left in Sunday’s Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the reigning Sprint Cup champion took the checkered flag .461 seconds ahead of Johnson.
The victory was Stewart’s first at the 1.5-mile track, leaving only Darlington and Kentucky as active Cup tracks at which he hasn’t won. The win was Stewart’s 45th, 15th all time, in 467 Cup starts.
Greg Biffle, Ryan Newman and Carl Edwards came home third through fifth, respectively. Clint Bowyer, Paul Menard, Jamie McMurray, Trevor Bayne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the top 10.
Stewart took two tires during a pit stop under caution on Lap 204 and pulled out to a comfortable lead over McMurray. A caution for debris slowed the field for the fifth time on Lap 228, and Stewart came to the pits for fuel only.
Brad Keselowski and Bowyer remained on the track and led the field to green on Lap 234, but Stewart regained the top spot with a three-wide dive to the inside moments after Keselowski crossed the stripe.
Stewart pulled out to a 1-second lead over Keselowski before Landon Cassill‘s blown engine caused the sixth caution. As Stewart sped away after the restart on Lap 250, Keselowski’s fuel pickup failed, and the driver of the No. 2 Dodge took his car to the garage.
Next Sundays race is from Bristol Motor Speedway. Start time is posted for 12:30 ET on Fox TV.
Source: NASCAR Wire Service