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.
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”.
Breaking his 30-race dry spell at Dover on Sunday, Tony Stewart later revealed that as the owner of his team it did cross his mind that pushing for a win might wreck his car, leaving him with repairs to pay for. But with a couple of laps left in the FedEx 400, when crew chief Steve Addington reportedly told him to ‘use it up’, he passed Juan Pablo Montoya to cross the finish line in first place. While it was generally expected among fans that Jimmie Johnson would continue his winning streak, he notched up a penalty for prematurely pulling ahead of Montoya off a restart with just 19 laps to go. Johnson was moved to the back of the field and finished the race 17th. Third place was taken by Jeff Gordon, with Kyle Busch in fourth and Brad Keselowski in fifth.
Johnson voiced his displeasure at the penalty, explaining that he had tried to give the position back to Montoya after the restart, and ran half-throttle for the first half a lap before pushing ahead. Robin Pemberton, NASCAR’s vice president disagrees with Johnson, saying that the penalty was ‘a very easy call’. Up until the penalty it appeared that Johnson had a good chance of taking the victory at the so-called ‘Monster Mile’, despite the fact that he had started 24th and had some difficulty moving up in the field initially. An early pit-stop by Johnson on Lap 71 allowed him to regain lost time before the caution for debris in Lap 80 and after that he moved up rapidly in the field and was in sixth place by the time a caution for debris was called in Lap 160. A seventh caution was called when Denny Hamlin’s tire blew on Lap 382 and Montoya took two tires before beating Johnson to the pit road exit, with Johnson passing the start/finish line ahead of Montoya and collecting the race-changing penalty. While emphasizing that he disagreed with the call, Johnson noted that his team will ‘just come back and try to win in the fall’.
Held annually as part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the FedEx 400 is dedicated to the non-profit organization Autism Speaks and is sponsored by Visa Inc. Last year’s winner was Jimmie Johnson, who also won in 2002 and 2009. For more information visit nascar.com
Date: 2 June 2013
Venue: Dover International Speedway
Country: United States
While Kyle and Kurt Busch dominated the first four segments of the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Saturday night, Jimmie Johnson crossed the finish line in first place, adding another victory to his impressive record which now includes four All-Star victories. Fans turned out in their thousands to watch the race, with millions watching on live television, but although supporting the NASCAR event, there’s a growing consensus that something needs to be done to liven up what has become a predictable race. Even Johnson conceded that some changes need to be made to the race, noting that in the first four segments of the race drivers were using different strategies which made the race exciting, adding that on the last segment options are limited to make the multiple passes needed to win. Johnson also gave credit to his pit crew for their speedy work on a mandatory four-tire pit stop prior to the final segment which put him beside Kasey Kahne for the last green flag.
With the Coca-Cola 600 up ahead, it has been noted that the recent resurfacing of the track at Charlotte changes the handling of the cars. Johnson revealed that the previous track was so familiar to him and his team that they knew what adjustments needed to be made to the car at each stage of the race and time of day, all of which has changed now. Johnson is being cited as the favorite to win the Coca-Cola 600, with other top contenders including Kasey Kahne, Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch and Carl Edwards.
Among the strategies being put forward to liven up the competition for future All-Star events, has been to move the race to Bristol Motor Speedway – quite a drastic step when considering that 28 of the 29 editions of the event have been held at Charlotte. The suggestion to move the race came as a result of a Twitter survey conducted by Clint Bowyer on Sunday. Johnson’s crew chief Chad Kraus offered another possible solution, which he admitted would not likely be seen as viable by Goodyear, and that is to make a softer tire compound to wear more quickly on the track surface at Charlotte, thereby compensating for the track being less abrasive than others.