Tag Archives: Kevin Harvick

Matt Kenseth Wins an Explosive Daytona 500

[box] Article first published as Matt Kenseth Wins Explosive Daytona 500 on Technorati.[/box]

DAYTONA BEACH, FLA. – Matt Kenseth survived rain, fire, engine overheating and a fast charging Dale Earnhardt Jr., to win the 54th running of the Daytona 500, his second victory in the Great American Race.

At the finish line it was Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Greg Biffle. Denny Hamlin took 4th and Jeff Burton rounded out the top five. Paul Menard, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Joey Legano and Mark Martin filled in the top-ten.

Sunday rain pushed the race to Monday and then to late Monday. Drivers nerves were tweaked tighter than a Carolina wino when the race finely went off at 7:00 pm. One lap into the event five-time champ Jimmie Johnson ended up in the outside wall bringing out the first caution. It was a short race for Johnson.

The crash set the tone for the rest of the race as drivers threw caution to the wind and drove hard from flag to flag. The second caution came out on lap 13 when Ryan Newman looped his racecar in the middle of the pack. He was able to restart the car and get going.

Caution number 5 came out on lap 64 for debris on the track and the next on lap 81 when former champion Jeff Gordon exploded an engine going into turn three shattering his hopes for another Daytona win.

Caution 7 flew on lap 89 when Terry Labonte clipped Marcos Ambrose coming off turn 4.

Martin Truex Jr., was the leader at the halfway mark and took home the $200,000 bonus.

Clint Bowyer brought out the next caution on lap 129 when his car stalled in the second turn. On lap 157 David Stremme blew an engine and spun in front of a small pack of cars and was lucky to come through as the only victim.

On lap 157, with the race still under caution, Juan Pablo Montoya had mechanical issues on the backstretch and lost control of his race car. Montoya collided with a jet dryer working on cleaning debris up by the outer wall. The violent crash ruptured the jet-fuel cell which exploded in heavy flame.

The event brought the race to a complete stop as firefighters and safety crews quickly went to work to extinguish the fire and protect the racing surface. All in all the cleanup took nearly two hours to complete.

When the race resumed on lap 166 Matt Kenseth was the leader and for the next 34 laps nobody presented a serious challenge.

There were two more cautions in the closing laps including a multi-car mishap on lap 196 involving Tony Stewart, Dave Blaney, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Landon Cassill, Kyle Busch, and Ryan Newman.

The race ended on a green-white-checker finish on lap 202 with Kenseth, Earnhardt Jr., and Greg Biffle, the top 3 cars.

Clint Bowyer Wins ‘Dega

Article first published as Clint Bowyer Wins ‘Dega on Technorati.


In a day that saw championship hopes crumple faster than a fender in the turn three wall, Clint Bowyer and teammate Jeff Burton ran up front all day long. In sight of the checkered flag, Bowyer put the old shake-n-bake slingshot move around Burton and they drag raced through the tri-oval. Bowyer edged Burton at the line. With four more races left with Richard Childress Racing, Clint Bowyer isn’t burning any bridges. He’s polishing that sucker on the way out.

Chase contenders Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick took their lumps earlier in the race. On lap 104,  A.J. Almendinger spun in the middle of the pack causing a big wreck and brought out the fourth caution. With nowhere to go, Harvick took a big hit to his race-car and championship hopes at the same time. He finished in 32nd, 13 laps down.

On lap 174 Kurt Busch played the “wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time” game and collided into the back of Bobbie Labonte’s racecar as it was spinning on the backstretch. The damage relegated the Pennzoil team to the garage and ended their day nine laps down to finish 36th.

A late race caution came out when Mark Martin got loose and sent Regan Smith hard into the outside wall. The stage was set for a showdown between the front runners. On the restart with three laps left, it was Jeff Burton in the lead followed closely by Clint Bowyer and a host of win-hungry drivers looking to get past the Childress cars. But it wasn’t to be.

Burton and Bowyer pulled away on the white flag lap and never looked back. At the finish line it was Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Dave Blaney taking 3rd for his career best finish. Brad Keselowski 4th, and Brian Vickers rounding out the top five. Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin, Michael Waltrip, and Martin Truex Jr. make up the balance of the top ten.

Points leader Carl Edwards played a safe strategy in Sunday’s race and drove near the rear of the pack until late race when he made a charge with teammate Greg Biffle pushing him towards the front. Edwards finished 11th.

In the post-race press conference, Richard Childress, the winningest owner at Talladega, took a bit of a verbal jab at Edwards when he said, “We don’t get paid to ride in the back.”

Sprint Cup Standings 

The show moves to the southern hills of Virginia to the little track at Martinsville for next weeks running of the TUMS Fast Relief 500.

Racing from Martinsville begins Sunday the 30th at 2:00 pm EST on ESPN.

Chase Spots Shuffle as Kenseth Takes Charlotte

Article first published as Chase Spots Shuffle as Kenseth Takes Charlotte on Technorati.

Matt Kenseth flexed his muscles at Charlotte Motor Speedway to drive around leader Kyle Busch at lap 310 and put the Crown Royal car in victory lane.

Kenseth was slowly pulling away from Busch until lap 315 when Jimmie Johnson lost control of the Lowe's Chevrolet and slammed into the turn two wall, destroying the front end and bringing his night to an early end. The mishap relegated Johnson to a 34th spot finish and dropped him five positions in the standings, the biggest fall of all Chasers

Kenseth lead the field to the green flag restart on lap 323 and never looked back. It was his third win of the season and moved him up two notches to third in the Chase.

At the finish line it was Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch in second, Carl Edwards third, Kasey Kahne fourth, and the Australian, Marcos Ambrose, a solid fifth. Kevin Harvick, A.J. Allmendinger, Tony Stewart, Denny Hamlin and Ryan Newman round out the top ten.

Johnson's 34th was the worst finish of all Chase contenders. Jeff Gordon finished 21st, Dale Jr. 19th, Brad Keselowski 16th, and Kurt Busch 13th. 

Sprint Cup Standings

 

Good Sam ClubNASCAR moves the show to the high banks of Talladega for the Good Sam Club 500 next Sunday afternoon at 2:00 pm EST on ESPN.

NASCAR Math: 8 Drivers, 20 Points, 1 Trophy = High Drama

Article first published as NASCAR Math: 8 Drivers, 20 Points, 1 Trophy = High Drama on Technorati.

I hate math. These days you almost need a degree in quantum physics to calculate probabilites, statistics, point differentials and scenarios inNASCAR. For instance do you remember ratios? To compare this season, using a brand new points system to seasons past, you have to look at rations.

The top-eight drivers are separated by only 20 points. With NASCAR’s simpler point-per-position format, what does that mean, exactly? Here’s one way look at it: What used to be a 25 point penalty is now six tiny little points.

So, put on your algebra hat and work the ratio:
If 6 is to 25, then 20 (points from first to eighth ) is to X?
I think you will find that X = 83.3.

That little calculation told us that this years 20 point separation from first to eighth would be 83 points in years past. Looking back, the fewest points separating first and eighth after the first four Chase races was 116 points in 2005. That makes this race season the tightest ever this deep into the season.

The drivers involved in this high octane affair and all the dynamics of competition makes this seasons chase one of the most drama filled title fights in NASCAR history. In one corner you’ve got Jimmie Johnson running for his sixth straight Sprint Cup. At Kansas Speedway last week, Johnson won his 20th career Chase race. He is the only driver to have won at least one race in all eight editions of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Don’t count on him slowing down. After a runner-up finish at Dover two weeks ago and the win at Kansas, a similar outcome seems likely at Charlotte on Saturday night. Johnson boasts six wins there which ties him for most all-time with NASCAR Hall of FamerBobby Allison and Hall of Fame inducteeDarrell Waltrip.

Then around the other corners you have title contender Carl Edwards, who nabbed the points lead with an unlikely fifth-place finish at Kansas. He now holds a slim one-point lead over Kevin Harvick who is looking for the Charlotte sweep. Harvick won the Coca-Cola 600 in May.

There are also three past champions within striking distance. Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch and Matt Kenseth have all hoisted the Sprint Cup.

You can’t count out Chase rookie Brad Keselowski in the fourth spot trailing Edwards by only 11 points. And then there’s Kyle Busch, a threat to win anytime he rolls out on a speedway. You can bet with six Chase races remaining, Kyle Busch, sitting in the eight spot, is not going to just lie down. He’s going to cinch up the gloves and get at it.

This is like a David and Goliath whodunit where all the players are the big guy.

Jimmie Johnson Gets it Done at Kansas

Article first published as Jimmie Johnson Gets it done at Kansas on Technorati.


Jimmie Johnson continues to elevate his by winning Sunday’s Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway. It was a dominating performance as Johnson led for 197 of the 272 laps.

Teammate Jeff Gordon struggled in the late stages of the race and was responsible for a caution with three laps remaining to bring out the last caution of the day and setting up a Green-White-Checkered finish.

Red Bull driver, Kasey Kahne, not in the Chase and getting ready to be Jimmie Johnson’s teammate next season was closing in on Johnson when the caution came out.

On the restart, Kahne spun his tires giving Johnson an advantage at the line. Kahne never seriously challenged the #48 car for the lead. Kahne took 2nd place behind winner Jimmie Johnson.

Brad Keselowski brought it home third, Matt Kenseth in fourth and Championship contender Carl Edwards cracks the top five. Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose and Mark Martin round out the top ten.

Championship Standings after Kansas

Chase Standings

Bank of America 500NASCAR takes the show back to Charlotte next week for the running of the Bank of America 500 and the 5th stop on the road to the Championship.

Race is scheduled to start at 7:30 p.m. on ABC. (October 15)

Kurt K.O.’s the Monster Mile

Article first published as Kurt K.O.’s the Monster Mile on Technorati.

Kurt Busch Wins Dover

The Monster Mile at Dover can be a mean mistreater. It can chew up a race car, driver and all, and spew out parts for the clean up crew.

Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway was a typical day on one of NASCAR’s few concrete tracks. Fast cars, crumpled fenders, temper’s flaring and a come-back win.

Kurt Busch gave a nod of appreciation to Jimmie Johnson for a late race pit stop mistake that handed the lead to Busch who took it and stayed there for the last 42 laps.

“It was just perfect execution today, with pit stops and with making the car better during the race,” Busch said. “I couldn’t be happier right now. To win a Sprint Cup race in the Chase, this is what it’s all about. This is the playoffs.

“We had everything go wrong for us last week. We had everything go right for us this week. We just need nice smooth races from here.”

After a disappointing 22nd place finish last week at Loudon, this win could swing Chase momentum his way.

And while KB was fist-pounding and high-fiving in Victory Lane, 2nd and 3rd place finishers, Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards  were bemoaning their mistakes and wondering what could have been.

“I did a really good job, up until those last two [restarts],” Johnson said. “I have to say, when you’re the leader, you have a small advantage, because you go when you want. I blew it by spinning the tires. Kurt got a good launch, and we were door to door going into [Turn] 1, and he was able to get by on the outside.

“And then the next one, I was going to try to do that same thing back to him, and I was just trying to time it when he was going to accelerate. And I didn’t time it right. And I had too big of a gap, and fell in behind him going into Turn 1. I put it on me, because the starts I had earlier in the day, regardless of the lane, leading or not — I cleared them typically going into 1 so, it’s on me.”

Carl Edwards speeding penalty on pit road was a serious source of frustration for the Aflac team.

“It was a great day, other than that feeling I had when I ruined it there on pit road,” Edwards said. “That’s about as small as you can feel in a race car. We talked about it before the race. We looked at the pit-road speeding lines and that last line. Bob and I actually discussed the last section. It’s 25 feet, 8 inches long, and we talked about that run and how I was not going to speed through it, and I just blasted right through it.”

Kasey Kahne had a good day coming in 4th followed by Matt Kenseth in Fifth. Kyle BuschA.J. AllmendingerClint BowyerMarcos Ambrose, and Kevin Harvick round out the top ten.

Points leader Tony Stewart struggled on the Dover concrete and went down two laps to finish 25th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. also had a rough outing just ahead of Stewart’s 14 car, also finishing two laps down.

Sprint Cup Chase Standings

Hollywood Casino 400Kansas Speedway is the next stop on the Chase for the Hollywood Casino 400 next Sunday on ESPN. (2:00 pm Eastern)

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=utZXvCW2GE4&w=560&h=315]

Gordon Spoils Million Dollar Day

Article first published as Gordon Spoils Million Dollar Day on Technorati.


HAMPTON, GA – On a rare Tuesday NASCAR race, Jeff Gordon took home the 85th victory of his Sprint Cup career moving him out of a tie with Bobby Allison and Darrell Waltrip to third all time behind Richard Petty (200) and David Pearson (105).

Gordon’s win stole the thunder from one of four lucky NASCAR fans sitting on the sidelines with a chance at a Million Dollar payday. With a throwback to the old  “Winston Million” days, the series sponsor Sprint put their money where their cell phone is. Four drivers were qualified (Kyle Busch, Marcos Ambrose, Paul Menard and Brad Keselowski), four fans were selected, each  a shot at a million dollar check from Sprint if their driver won today.

Jeff Gordon was not one of the four and as the winner was accepting his trophy in victory lane an armored car was seen leaving the raceway turning the money bags to the vault.

Jeff Gordon celebrates victory with a finish line burnout.

In a tough day at a slick Atlanta Motor Speedway that saw race cars sliding sideways through the turns, Gordon started the day strong and after a mid-race red flag for rain, came back strong. In the final laps Jimmie Johnson tried every wrench in his drivers toolbox to get past the #24 Chevrolet, but with little to no grip remaining on his Goodyear race tires, the five-time champion had to settle for second.

Tony Stewart passed several cars on the last lap to bring home third, Kurt Busch took 4th and championship contender Carl Edwards rounded out the top five.

The hottest  driver over the last four races, Brad Keselowski, came in sixth, followed by Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and A.J. Allmendinger slipped in with a tenth place finish.

With one race left to lock in a position for the ten race Chase, driver’s Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Tony Stewart, sitting in ninth and tenth, could potentially be bumped out of the Chase with a bad performance next week at Richmond.

To qualify for one of the two wild card spots drivers must be between positions 11 and 20 with one or more victories. Keselowski is assured at least one of the wild-cards sitting in 11th with three victories. Mathematically, Earnhardt and Stewart only need to finish 20th and 18th respectively to secure their spot in the Chase.

So the season comes down to the little track in Richmond. Clint Bowyer and David Ragan fall into the “Must Win” category to even have a shot. It’s a common mindset among other drivers. Paul Menard, Marcos Ambrose and Denny Hamlin could slip into the Chase with a Richmond victor, bringing their season victories to two.

 

September 10 @ 7:30 pm EST

TV:  ABC

Richmond International
Raceway

Weirdo Wednesday – July 20, 2011

It’s a bit unusual that my NASCAR blog over at Technorati and my Weirdo Wednesday entry here would align in a collage of weirdness, yet here we are. This article first published as Weird Trophies of NASCAR on Technorati.

NASCAR Sprint Cup takes a rare week off as teams prepare for one of their biggest races of the season, the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, July 31st.

With drivers off doing their thing, crew chiefs working on the cars and race fans readying for the run up to the Chase, finding something worthwhile to write about this week was a bit of a struggle. Then I came across the picture to the right.

Tony Stewart is no little guy but he more resembles one of Tolkien’s Hobbits standing beside this monstrosity. For winning the Bass Pro Shops 500 in 2006, this was his prize. Stewart was overheard telling his crew chief later, “I’m going to need a bigger mantle.”

NASCAR trophies through the years have run the gamut from the tiniest little brass gizmos with no character and little room for the drivers name, to some of the wildest, weirdest trophies in professional sports. Here is a quick look.

For winning a race at Martinsville the driver takes home one of the most sought after trophies in the sport – a Grandfather Clock.  Valued at over $11,000 the clock is the most coveted trophy in all of NASCAR. Everybody wants a clock and the checkered flag that comes with it.

After body-slamming their race-cars around the mile and a half track just a few miles north of the Las Vegas strip, it seems fitting the winner’s trophy looks more like a wrestling belt from the WWE.

Dover International Raceway is a treacherous one-mile concrete raceway located on Dover Downs Hotel & Casino property just north of Dover, DE. Somewhere along the way this speedway picked up the nickname, The Monster Mile for the beating it hands out over 500 laps of racing. It was only a matter of time before a trophy came along to reflect its personality. Rumor has it, Thing, of Fantastic Four fame, was the model for this monstrosity.

If there’s a rock and roll heaven, they should be lucky enough to have a mondo-trophy like the winner of the Chevy Rock & Roll 400 at Richmond receives. Now if only Alice Cooper would give up golf and take up racing.

Keeping with the guitar theme, winners of the Nationwide race at Nashville Superspeedway gets to take home this Sam Bass custom painted Gibson Guitar. (Nashville is Gibson’s headquarters.)


Carl Edwards looks like a playa!

It’s been said that everything is bigger in Texas, even their boots. The winners trophy from the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway is this homage to Cowboy life. Handguns not included.

Win a race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma, CA, and a bottle of Napa Valley’s finest blush awaits the driver in victory lane. Now that’s the way to chug a glass of wine.

Kyle Busch Night at Kentucky Speedway

Article first published as Kyle Busch Night at Kentucky Speedway on Technorati.

It may have been the first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway but Las Vegas native Kyle Busch drove like he grew up there. He started on the pole and hovered around the top all night long. He led 125 of the 267 laps and became the first driver of the season to win from the pole.

Kyle Busch burnout

Unfortunately the most exciting part of this race was Kyle’s post race burnout. Other than the restart on lap 265 making it a two lap sprint to the finish, this race was about as titillating as a root canal. I’ve had more fun doing my taxes.

But that last minute or two was almost a nail-biter. Not so much as who was going to win. That was a given. The real drama played out behind Busch once he pulled away from second place Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch in third. David Reutiman poured on the steam and passed both Johnson and Kurt Busch to take second.

Kyle’s win was the second of the three Kentucky Speedway events over the weekend. He won the Camping World Truck Series race Thursday night. The strong finish in Saturday night’s race let the Joe Gibbs‘ driver leap-frog over Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards onto the top of the series leaderboard.

When asked about what it meant to get that first Kentucky win, Busch replied, “That I won on the way to Slinger. I’ve got to go to Slinger [Wisconson]. I’m going to stay here tonight, chill out and get a good night’s sleep, get out of here in the morning and head up there and, hopefully, win a Late Model race.”

Third place finisher Jimmie Johnson said his inability to stay beside Busch on the restart cost him a chance for victory.

“I was able to hang with the 18 [Busch] inside of Turns 1 and 2, and he just cleared me going down the back,” Johnson said. “The outside lane had a little bit more momentum coming off of [Turn] 2 down the back. If I could have stayed inside of him, it would have been one heck of a finish.

“But it didn’t happen that way, and then he cleared me and went on, and then I had my hands full with the 00 [Reutimann]. David was probably the best car at the end, and if he had cleared me sooner, I think he would have been up there with the 18 racing for the win.”

Leaving Kentucky the Sprint Cup Chase shakes up a bit with Kyle Busch leading second place Carl Edwards by four points, Kevin Harvick in third, Kurt Busch in fourth and nineteen points behind the leader is fifth place Jimmie Johnson.

Post race interview with Driver Kyle Busch, crew chief Dave Rogers and car owner Joe Gibbs.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HjieC3aEDQg]

David Ragan Wins Coke Zero 400 at Daytona

David Ragan atones for late race mistake that handed the Daytona 500 to rookie Trevor Bayne.

Article first published as David Ragan Wins Coke Zero 400 at Daytona on Technorati.


David Ragan was out front on the last restart, exactly where he was in February for the Daytona 500. He screwed that one up with a penalty and finished seventh. Not to be denied, the young driver was rock steady and two laps later absolved himself of the spring snafu.


Ah, the sweet taste of redemption for the driver of the Jack Roush owned, UPS Ford. It was Ragan’s first win in his fifth season of Sprint Cup.

“It’s a good feeling to come back here — we got one back at Daytona,” said Ragan, 25, in post race interviews. “It would have been tough to lose another one. I thought about that, actually, under that last caution [before the final restart]. I said, ‘Man, if we don’t win this thing, I’m not going to talk to anyone afterward.’

“We were able to win, and that does ease the pain from February. … This is a great race. It does ease the pain, and so we’ll think about this one a lot more than we’ll think about the Daytona 500.”

The race itself seemed to have two distinctly different personalities. The first 157 laps had a couple of minor skirmishes resulting in early cautions. Daytona 500 Winner, Trevor Bayne, was knocked out on lap five ending his shot at the Daytona sweep. Points leader Carl Edwards got the short end of an bump from Greg Biffleon lap 23. With heavy damage to the 99 car, Edwards fought to stay in the race. At one point he got very sick in the race car overcome by exhaust fumes. He would finish in 37th, 26 laps off the pace.

And then the second part that was more demolition derby than “Gentlemen, start your engines.” Just three laps from the end on lap 157, Jeff Gordon was spun around by slight contact from Kasey Kahne. Gordon made a spectacular save and kept the #24 Chevy off the Daytona wall.

On lap 162 the first green-white-checkered finish took off with Ryan Newman out front. Denny HamlinDavid RaganMatt KensethBrian Vickers and Kasey Kahne second through sixth.

Barely up in turn two the “Big One” unfolded as the field bunched up and race cars turned into pinballs.  Joey Logano got into Mark Martin and took a dozen cars with them.

On lap 168, Ragan lead the field on the second G-W-C restart with Ryan NewmanMatt KensethDenny HamlinKevin HarvickPaul MenardJoey LoganoKasey KahneJamie McMurray and Juan Montoya in positions two through ten.

Ragan stayed out front and would not be denied as the field was crashing behind him. Teammate Matt Kenseth finishes second and Joey Logano took third.

Carl Edwards dropped to second in points behind new leader Kevin Harvick.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=HjmPvYZl25k]