Harvick Wins at Kansas, Third in Chase Standings

October 7, 2013 by  
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The recently repaved surface at Kansas Speedway received some sharp criticism following the wreck-filled Hollywood Casino 400, which was won from pole position by Kevin Harvick driving the #29 Chevrolet for Richard Childress Racing. Kurt Busch took 2nd spot in Furniture Row Racing’s #78 Chevrolet; with Jeff Gordon in Hendrick Motorsports’ #24 Chevrolet; Joey Logano in Penske Racing’s #22 Ford; and Carl Edwards in Roush Fenway Racing’s #99 Ford, following in 3rd, 4th and 5th place respectively. Points leader Matt Kenseth finished the race in 11th place, which have Harvick the opportunity to gain ground on the top two drivers in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Kenseth remains in the points lead, just three points ahead of Jimmie Johnson, with Harvick in 3rd place, followed by Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch.

Driving for Stewart-Haas Racing, Danica Patrick wrecked the #10 GoDaddy Chevrolet on the first lap of the race, saying in a post-race press release that if she did something wrong resulting in the wreck she apologizes to everybody on her team and to GoDaddy. Having crashed in practice, Kyle Busch started the race at the rear of the field, and narrowly missed a crash on Lap 1. But later in the race, after using pit strategy to make his way to the front, on lap 187 Busch made contact with Juan Pablo Montoya, resulting in Busch spinning out and Mark Martin crashing. Just thirteen laps later, Busch made contact with Carl Edwards and Brian Vickers, causing him to slam into the wall and sending him to the garage. Busch finished 34th in the race, after having started third in points. Busch was later quoted as saying that both the racetrack and the new tire are the worst he had ever driven on. Matt Kenseth referred to the track as being treacherous, noting that it had been a struggle all day and he felt as though he was about to crash ‘pretty much at all times in the race’.

The next race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will be the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

In other NASCAR news, it has been announced that NASCAR will be keeping ESPN and TNT as its television partners through the 2014 season.

Kenseth Earns Second Consecutive Chase Victory

September 23, 2013 by  
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Matt Kenseth appears to be on a roll as he took the checkered flag on Sunday at New Hampshire Motor Speedway – his 500th career start – notching up his seventh win of the season, and his second in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, having held the lead in 106 of the 300-lap race. Teammate Kyle Busch crossed the finish line soon after, giving Joe Gibbs Racing the top two positions in the Sylvania 300. Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson and Jamie McMurray took third, fourth and fifth positions respectively.

The Chase for the Sprint Cup, generally referred to simply as The Chase, has had a field of 12 drivers since first established in 2007. This year is an exception to the rule as the field has been expanded to include Jeff Gordon, who had his opportunity to compete in The Chase snatched away in the controversial finish at the Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway on September 7. With only seven laps of the race to go, Clint Bowyer allegedly forced a caution by going into a spin in an effort to help his Michael Waltrip Racing teammate Martin Truex Jr earn the second of the two Wild Card spots in the chase.

After an intensive investigation it was determined that members of the Michael Waltrip Racing team had conspired to manipulate the results of the race and some of the most severe penalties in the history of the Sprint Cup were issued to the team, including probation for the rest of the 2013 season. Citing ‘actions detrimental to stock car racing’, NASCAR docked 50 driver/owner points from all three MWR teams. This knocked Truex out of the Wildcard spot, opening the position up for Ryan Newman.

As the 13th driver in The Chase, Jeff Gordon’s performance is likely to be scrutinized, so his pit road misjudgment at New Hampshire on Sunday was quite widely publicized. In what should have been a routine pit stop, Gordon came to a standstill with the nose of his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet touching the white line of the pit box. To avoid incurring a penalty, the pit crew had to push the car back before servicing it, costing valuable time that put Gordon into 22nd place. He finished the race in 15th place, noting that he was highly disappointed in himself.

The next event in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup is the AAA400 at Dover International Speedway on Sunday September 29. The top five spots in the standings are currently held by (in order) Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle.

Kenseth Claims Fifth Win of the Season

August 26, 2013 by  
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With only two races to go before the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup begins, competition on the track is at fever pitch, making for some nail-biting action for both competitors and spectators. More than 100,000 fans showed up to watch Saturday’s race at Bristol Motor Speedway and saw Matt Kenseth take the checkered flag for the fifth time this season, with Kasey Kahne close behind, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya, Brian Vickers and Joey Logano in the top five places. That Kahne didn’t make first place was not for lack of trying as he repeatedly tried to pass Kenseth in the last twelve laps of the race, but it was not to be as Kenseth pushed ahead for the win.

Some keen followers of the NASCAR Sprint Cup series appeared to anticipate that Kahne may wreck Kenseth in retaliation for being wrecked by him earlier in the season at Watkins glen, but in a post-race interview Kahne noted that he just doesn’t wreck people and tried to pass as clean as he could, voicing some frustration that he had not been able to make it happen. Nonetheless, he achieved a finish, and in a good position, putting him 8th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Standings.

The top twelve in the Sprint cup standings at present are:

1. Jimmie Johnson – #48 Chevrolet – 821 points

2. Clint Bowyer – #15 Toyota – 803 points

3. Carl Edwards – #99 Ford – 768 points

4. Kevin Harvick – #29 Chevrolet – 760 points

5. Kyle Busch – #18 Toyota – 739 points

6. Matt Kenseth – #20 Toyota – 736 points

7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – #88 Chevrolet – 714 points

8. Kasey Kahne – #5 Chevrolet – 701 points

9. Greg Biffle – #16 Ford – 698 points

10. Joey Logano – #22 Ford – 685 points

11. Brad Keselowski – #2 Ford – 681 points

12. Kurt Busch – #78 Chevrolet – 679 points

Newman Scores First 2013 Victory at Brickyard

July 29, 2013 by  
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Describing his Brickyard 400 win at Indianapolis as a “dream come true”, Ryan Newman’s victory could not have come at a better time for the NASCAR driver who found out two weeks ago that there won’t be a spot for him at Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014. While uncertainty about the future remains a concern for Newman, he savored his victory as he carried out the tradition of kissing the yard of bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway with his wife and daughters at his side. Jimmie Johnson was 2.657 seconds behind Newman, with Kasey Kahne, Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Joey Logano, Juan Pablo Montoya and Kyle Busch (in order) making up the top ten winners of the race.

Born in South Bend, Indiana, on December 8, 1977, Ryan Joseph Newman currently drives the #39 Chevrolet SS for Stewart Haas Racing. As with many NASCAR drivers, Newman made his racing debut in midget racing, winning both Rookie of the Year and the All-American Midget Series in 1993. With 100 feature wins and two titles, Newman earned a place in the Quarter Midget Hall of Fame, before moving on to USAC.

In 2004, by finishing seventh in points, with two wins and nine poles, Newman qualified for the inaugural NASCAR Chase for the Cup. In the 2005 Chase he won six of the nine races he entered, of which five were consecutive. With no victories in 2006, Newman finished 18th in points, and his winless streak continued through 2007, despite the fact that he claimed three consecutive poles. Driving for Penske, he won the 2008 Daytona 500, notching up the first Daytona 500 win for the team.

In 2009, Newman left Penske for the newly formed Stewart Haas Racing, and claimed a spot in the Chase, his first since 2005. He won the Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway in 2010 and in 2011 took the checkered flag at New Hampshire in the Lenox Industrial Tools, with teammate Tony Stewart taking second place. The 16th win of Newman’s career came on April 1, 2012, at Martinsville Speedway in the Goody’s Fast Relief 500. Newman scored his first 2013 win at the Brickyard 400 – on his home turf.

Vickers Takes Victory at New Hampshire

July 15, 2013 by  
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Taking the checkered flag in the 2013 Camping World RV Sales 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday, gave Brian Vickers his first NASCAR Sprint Cup win since August 2009 at Michigan. Driving for Michael Waltrip Racing, this was his third career win, with Kyle Busch taking second place, Jeff Burton finishing third, and Brad Keselowski and Aric Almirola in fourth and fifth places respectively. The top five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series are (in order), Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards, Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr.

At the age of 71, Morgan Shepherd became the oldest driver to participate in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series, and while he had started out with every intention of finishing the race, he bowed out after 92 laps. As long as a driver passes the physical at the start of the season, there is no age limit for drivers competing in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event. There were no objections from other competitors to Shepherd competing, even though he was quoted as saying that when he starts hitting the wall or something, it may be time to get out. There were incidents during the race, but none caused by, or involving, this driver who has been competing in NASCAR for more than four decades with a good measure of success.

Following the restart on lap 238, Danica Patrick lost control of her car in a tightly bunched field and slid sideways into Travis Kvapil and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The incident was made even more newsworthy by the fact that Patrick and Stenhouse are a couple. Stenhouse finished in 34th place, with Patrick ending in 37th and Kvapil in 38th place. Patrick claimed responsibility for the crash, noting that they were bunched up on the restart and she was not sure if she misjudged the braking zone, or if the other competitors stopped suddenly in front of her, but in trying to avoid them she went sideways and caught the other two drivers, for which she expressed sincere regret. In a post-race interview, Stenhouse said that he had not yet seen the replay of what happened, but pointed out that crashing other drivers by accident was all “part of it”.

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