The less than orthodox ending to Sunday’s NASCAR Food City 500 Sprint Cup Race on Sunday apparently did nothing to dampen the high spirits of Carl Edwards, who did his trademark backflip after earning his first win of the season at Bristol Motor Speedway, and his third career victory at this popular NASCAR venue. Second place went to Ricky Stenhouse Jr., followed by Aric Almirola, Tony Stewart and Marcos Ambrose respectively. After leading for 44 laps, Jimmie Johnson entered the pits with tire problems, and with a caution for rain in his team’s subsequent pit cycle Johnson slipped to 39th place, eventually finishing the race in the 19th spot.
With two-and-a-half laps remaining, and Edwards quite comfortably in the lead, the caution lights came on and drivers responded by slowing down. As NASCAR officials tried to figure out what prompted the caution, heavy rain started falling and the race was declared over at 503 laps, with Edwards being declared the winner. While it is agreed that the early finish had no impact on the outcome, it left NASCAR officials with some explaining to do.
Initially it was suggested that the excessive rainfall had shorted the system in some way, but then it was discovered that one of the people manning the flag stand had leaned on the manual override switch for the caution lights and switched them on. In response, the flag man raised the caution flag and the field was frozen from the tower. NASCAR’s vice president of competition and racing development, Robin Pemberton, later described the incident as a “stupid error”. In a post-race interview, Edwards noted that NASCAR officials are called upon to make a lot of tough calls, going on to say that he was “glad to be part of something where they say, ‘Hey, we just screwed up.'”
The standings in the 2014 Sprint Cup series so far are Brad Keselowski in the number one spot, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon, and Jimmie Johnson. With competition this stiff so early in the season, there is plenty of excitement up ahead for NASCAR enthusiasts.
The 500 mile Daytona 500 is a prestigious event that takes place each year in Daytona Beach. With the inaugural event having taken place in 1959, the race consists of 200 laps around the 2.5 mile track. Jimmie Johnson won in 2013, who is going to take the lead in 2014?
Date: 23 February 2014
Time: 01:00pm ET
Venue: Daytona International Speedway
City: Daytona Beach
Las Vegas will once again be the host city for NASCAR’s Champion’s Week – the grand finale of the 2013 racing season. Taking place on 3-6 December the program features a host of events with the highlight being Friday’s celebration with NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion Jimmie Johnson and the rest of the top ten drivers being honored for their achievements at the official closing event of the season. Fans can look forward to mingling with NASCAR drivers and their back up teams, getting autographs, viewing the cars and loading up on all sorts of NASCAR merchandise and memorabilia.
Drivers will have the red carpet rolled out for them to walk through the crowd to the stage when the week’s activities kick off on Wednesday with a FanFest on the Third Street Stage on Fremont Street. All 13 Chase drivers will be participating in the event which is free and open to the public, starting at 1:30pm One of the highlights of the FanFest will be a Deal or No Deal-styled show and six fans are in line to win big prizes as part of the event with the fan paired with the winning team walking off with tickets to Friday’s banquet and other great treats.
Thursday features the Myers Brothers 2013 Awards Luncheon at Encore Las Vegas, during which the Champion Sponsor Awards; Champion Crew Chief Award; Most Popular Driver Award, Myers Brothers Award and Buddy Shuman Award will be presented. Jeff Gordon received the coveted Myers Brothers Award in 2012 for his outstanding contributions to the sport and fans are no doubt keen to find out who the 2013 winner will be.
Starting at Miracle Mile, the NASCAR Victory Lap offers fans the opportunity to interact with drivers while getting a feel for what it’s like to be at a NASCAR start line. Heading north on Las Vegas Boulevard, the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion will perform a burnout at the Spring Mountain Road intersection, followed by the remaining Sprint Cup drivers performing donuts around the turn. Heading south, drivers will make a pit stop in front of the Fountains of Bellagio where members of the Drive for Diversity Crew Development Program will perform pit stop duties. Continuing south to the East Harmon Avenue intersection, all Sprint cup drivers will perform donuts before heading toward the finish line back at Miracle Mile.
Be sure to watch out for the NASCAR vehicles that will be appearing all week throughout Las Vegas, offering free giveaways, interactive video games and other fun auto racing activities as part of the NASCAR Champions Week
Denny Hamlin crossed the finish line in first place at the Ford EcoBoost 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup race on Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, but it was Jimmie Johnson who stole the show by winning his 6th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship in eight years, making him one of the most successful competitors in the history of the sport. Johnson only needed to finish above the 23rd spot to win the championship, and with his only challenge being brief contact with Matt Kenseth following a restart, which put him back in the field, Johnson finished the race in 9th place, beating Kenseth to the Championship title by 19 points.
Driving for Joe Gibbs Racing, Kenseth led for 144 laps of the 267 lap race, finishing the race a close second to teammate Denny Hamlin. Having suffered a fractured vertebra earlier this year, which kept him out of action for more than a month, Hamlin’s victory on Sunday was especially sweet. In a post-race interview, Hamlin noted that racing during the ‘Jimmie Johnson era’ was unfortunate for competitors as Johnson was, in his opinion, the best that there ever was.
Statistics reinforce this viewpoint as Johnson is the youngest driver to win six Sprint Cup Champion titles, beating Richard Petty by 83 days. His record of six titles in the space of eight years is a first in the sport, and his 66 Sprint Cup victories since 2002 put him 30 wins above any other driver in the last eleven years. His crew chief Chad Kraus has a record of 62 wins, all of which have been with Johnson.
Jeff Gordon can be credited for introducing Johnson to Hendrick Motorsports and the Sprint Cup series. He discovered Johnson racing in the Nationwide Series in 2001 and persuaded Rick Hendrick to hire him. Gordon was quoted as saying that as a team – Johnson, Kraus and Hendrick Motorsports – they are “unbelievable”. Many would agree!
The top five places in the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship went to (in order) Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr.
A multi-car wreck on the final lap of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Camping World 500 aided Jamie McMurray in taking the checkered flag at the Talladega Superspeedway event on Sunday, with Dale Earnhardt Jr and Rick Stenhouse Jr taking second and third places respectively. When rookie Austin Dillon lost control of his car on the final lap of the race, the resulting crash ruled out any chance of Earnhardt challenging McMurray’s position, allowing him to cross the finish line in first place for the first time in a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race since 2010 when he won the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Dillon had been running third behind McMurray and Earnhardt when he crashed, with the only other driver involved being Casey Mears.
One of the highlights of Jamie McMurray’s career was his first place spot in the 2002 UAW-GM Quality 500 – a race in which he led 96 of the final 100 laps and beat Bobby Labonte. He was a substitute driver for the event and it was his second Cup start. In 2010, he became one of only three drivers to have won both the Brickyard 400 and Daytona 500 in the same year. In 2003 McMurray focused on the Sprint Cup Series and won Rookie of the Year having had five top-5 finishes and finished 13th overall for the year.
McMurray has been driving the #1 Chevrolet for Earnhardt Ganassi Racing since 2010 – the year he won the Daytona 500 and Brickyard 400. In 2011 McMurray earned four top 10s and finished the season in the 27th spot in points, while the 2012 season saw him earn only three top tens. 2013 started off on a disappointing note as he crashed on lap 33 of the Daytona 500, finishing in 32nd place. His first top ten of the season was at Bristol, with his second being in Martinsville. He finished as runner-up to Matt Kenseth at Kentucky and took 11th place at New Hampshire. Although not part of the Chase, McMurray’s victory on Sunday reaffirms his skill as a NASCAR Sprint Cup driver.
The current Top Ten in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings (in order) are: Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards.