Saturday night’s STP 300 Nationwide race at Chicagoland Speedway saw drivers roll over the finish line to victory, powered by momentum and a whiff of gas. The last four laps of the race turned into a duel between Carl Edwards and Justin Allgaier. With Carl Edwards in the lead, Justin Allgaier was close behind as Edwards’ car ran out of fuel. Recognizing the tell-tale wobble of a car with no fuel, Allgaier grabbed the opportunity to pass Edwards. Although his car ran out of fuel soon after passing his opponent, Allgaier managed to cross the line in first place, with Edwards coming in second and Trevor Bayne taking third spot.
Both Allgaier and Edwards were travelling at a speed of around 50 mph as they crossed the finish line. Given the high-speed competition of the first 199 laps of the 200-lap race, the climax was described as “almost surreal” by a NASCAR reporter. Edwards acknowledged that he was disappointed in the result, especially as he had anticipated having sufficient fuel to complete the race. For most of the last 50 laps Edwards was competing with Elliott Sadler for first place, pushing into the lead with 25 laps to go. Seeing Allgaier moving up into second place, Edwards pushed his car to the limit – and ran out of gas. As Allgaier passed Edwards, he too ran out of fuel, but managed to coast over the finish line with a 1.719 second advantage.
Following a six-week absence from racing as he recovered from a mystery illness, eventually treated as Lyme’s Disease, Bayne was delighted with his third place in the race. Proving his talent as a driver, Bayne moved his way to 10th place within 23 laps, before crossing the finish line third. Elliott Sadler, who had been dueling with Edwards earlier in the race, finished in 11th place, after being forced to make a pit-stop when his right front tire lost air pressure. Aric Almirola took 4th place, with Jason Leffler in 5th.
Having finished in 10th place in the Indianapolis 500 last week, Danica Patrick returned to the NASCAR Nationwide Series following a nine-race break, taking 10th place at Chicagoland Speedway. The next race is at Michigan International Speedway on June 18 – don’t miss it!
The very first NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race took place in 1985, and was hosted by Lowe’s Motor Speedway, which is known today as the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It was however named The Winston till the year 2004, after which it became the Nextel All Star Challenge until the year 2007. The drivers of this event consist of the winners of the previous season, as well as the winners of the Cup Series from the last ten years. Drivers are submitted to a qualifying race after which it is pure racing action and excitement on the big day. Thousands of fans Flocked to the Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday, 21 May 2011, to watch the $1 million race.
Usually, the All Star Race is filled with legendary smashes, risky maneuvers that take the audience’s breath away, but this year, the drivers were safe, and drove their four segment race without any incident. During the first segment of the All Stars Race, Greg Biffle took the lead and won the first segment, even though Kyle Busch had pole position at the start. But that did not deter Carl Edwards, as he kept Jimmie Johnson at bay to take the win on the second segment. Taking the lead on the third segment was Kyle Busch, after getting away well on the restart, but a caution within the segment saw Carl Edwards edge his way into second position and with five laps left on the segment, Edwards was able to pass Busch taking the victory in the third segment as well. A mandatory tire change saw all the cars go into the pit lane and Edwards’ team were fast and efficient giving him a very favorable restart, putting great distance between himself and Kyle Busch who was chasing in second position.
After the checkered flag flew into the air, making Carl Edwards’ victory official, Edwards decided to celebrate his win on the grass of the Charlotte Motor Speedway, which led him to hit a drainage device and damage the front of his car. He apologized to the crew chief as he climbed out the car window and then did his traditional backflip, for his victory at the 2011 NASCAR Sprint All Star Race.
The Las Vegas Motor Speedway is home to the annual Kobalt Tools 400 that was inaugurated in 1998. The race is held over a distance of four hundred miles, or six hundred and forty kilometers. Kobalt became the main sponsors for 2011. The race was known as the Shelby American from 2008 to 2010 and before that, from 2001 to 2008, it was known as the UAW Daimler Chrysler 400. On Sunday, 6 March 2011, the Kobalt Tools 400 was in full swing, and the biggest smile on the podium belonged to Carl Edwards – this year’s winner.
During the qualifying rounds held during the week, the Roush Fenway Racing team performed well and seemed to be a very strong team. Even one of their drivers, Matt Kenseth, broke the record at the track. But it was Carl Edwards who stole the show on race day. Tony Steward’s team let him down a little in the pits, which gave Edwards the edge, as his team did not put a foot wrong throughout the race. Strategy also plays a huge role in these events, and Edwards went into the pits for his last stop five laps later than Steward, with fuel and two tire changes that took him the rest of the distance.
Sunday was a nineteenth career victory for Edwards, and the first for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series for 2011. Edwards praised his team by giving them the credit for his victory, saying, “These guys are unbelievable. It means a lot coming off Phoenix. I went home last week and didn’t know how things were going to go. You don’t get a good race car like that often. We had another one today.”
The CEO of Roush Yates Engines, Dough Yates, was also very pleased with the victory, commenting after the race: “This is an exciting win for Roush Yates Engines. We ran great all week long. I think this says a lot about our program and how we plan to run at 1.5 mile tracks throughout the 2011 season. I want to thank Ford again for their support as we continue to excel with the FR9 engine.”
Thumbnail image by Royalbroil
Every year some of the world’s greatest drivers gather together to enjoy a relaxing and entertaining bit of racing – the annual Race of Champions event. The race has been described as being “like racing go-karts in your living room” by Jenson Button (Formula One) and it certainly seems to be an apt description of this enjoyable event.
The Race of Champions was started in 1986 in Paris as a battle of international rally drivers. Now it is one of the best off-season auto racing attractions in the world. There are two parts to the competition – the two-man teams and an individual shootout. The drivers entered into the race start side-by-side in opposite lanes as they get ready to tackle the almost 1-mile lap that will take them back to the starting line. The lap takes the various drivers on separate paths and there are two laps. There is a team event which follows a best-of-three format, while the individual portion of the race works on a win and advance system. Both of the different races involve bracket racing and to keep things interesting, there are five types of cars that are rotated during the four-hour event. The prize for the teams is glory for your country and a great day of stress-free racing. According to seven-time Formula One Champion Michael Schumacher, â€˜The World doesn’t go bad if you lose. It just means you get to have a drink earlier.’ Drivers come from both sides of the Atlantic to compete and fun is the main focus of the day. Some of the cars used this year included an Audi-powered KTM X-Bow track machine, a World Rally Championship Ford Focus, an Abarth 500 Assetto Corse, an open-wheel buggy that looks like a sprint car and another open-wheel vehicle resembling something more ungainly – like a praying mantis. Certainly such a selection of vehicles keeps drivers on their toes and helps to even out the playing field.
And that is exactly what they did do. Carl Edwards attended the event in London for the first time this year to see what all the fuss was about. He found himself inspired by a great day of racing and hopes to return soon. He did quite well, managing to reach the semi-finals in the individual driver’s category, even beating Michael Schumacher in a head-to-head race. Understandably, that was the highlight of Edwards’ trip. In the end it was the German team of Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel who took the team trophy for the second consecutive year. Sebastian Loeb proved to be the ultimate individual winner yet again, taking home the trophy for the third time. He did, however, get stiff competition from David Coulthard who went home with bruised hands from some intense driving but a big smile on his face.
Until now, there’s always been a question of “what if?” when it comes to the Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards scenario. Though Johnson has been in the lead for some time now, a couple of bad races and interesting finishes have put a stop to any claims that he is completely unbeatable this racing season – until now that is.
When the cars crossed the finish line at Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday, any possibilities of Edwards beating Johnson in the series were put to an end. Jimmie Johnson absolutely dominated the Checker O’Reilly Auto Parts 500, taking the checkered flag and enjoying his 40th career victory. He led for 217 of the possible 313 laps in his No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet. The win was his third straight triumph on the track and his seventh so far this season. It gave him a commanding 141-point lead over his chief rival, Carl Edwards. Johnson is so far ahead now, that he’d have to finish below 36th in the big season finale next weekend in order to lose it. For someone who has been dominating the track since the beginning of the season, that’s very unlikely. So many people now consider Johnson winning the series to be just a formality. When he takes to the Homestead-Miami Speedway in just one week’s time, he’ll not only be winning the championship, he’ll be clinching his third championship so far. If everything goes according to plan, Johnson will become the second driver in NASCAR‘s history to win three straight titles, after Cale Yarborough.
But Edwards and his team haven’t given up just yet. Mathematically speaking, Edwards still has a sliver of a chance if Johnson runs into some bad luck and ends up at the back of the pack. Edwards remarked: “It’s possible, not real probable, but I guarantee that’s not going to change the way we do business. We’re going to go to Homestead with everything we’ve got and be aggressive and try to win the race.” During the course of Sunday’s race, Kurt Busch had as many as five opportunities to challenge Johnson’s lead. Instead he ended up watching Johnson’s skill in awe. He remarked: “It was unbelievable to watch that type of display and it’s something pretty special.”