Jimmie Johnson was on a roll on Sunday, holding the lead in 119 laps of the 334 lap AAA Texas 500 and taking the checkered flag. Johnson missed making the list of eight drivers competing in the Eliminator Round of this year’s NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, but his win was his third consecutive victory in the AAA Texas 500 and his fourth in total as he had previously won the event in 2007, 2012 and 2013, each time for Hendrick Motorsports. It was also his fourth win of the 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, his other three being the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway on May 25, the Fedex 400 at Dover Speedway on June 1, and the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway. Johnson’s victory on Sunday also means that none of the eight Eliminator Round contenders – Joey Logano, Kevin Harvick, Brad Keselowski, Jeff Gordon, Carl Edwards, Denny Hamlin, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth – were able to clinch a sure spot in the season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 16, a situation which is likely to keep the competitive spirit at fever pitch.
Matt Kenseth set off in the lead in the AAA Texas 500, but Johnson dominated the race. He was challenged by teammate Jeff Gordon who took the lead for a time, but Johnson surged ahead after the caution flag on Lap 245. With the caution in Lap 260 Brad Keselowski made his way to the front, holding Gordon back for several laps. More caution flags resulted in Kewselowski dropping back and Johnson took the lead after struggling to get past Kurt Busch. In Lap 313 Kasey Kahne spun out, raising another caution, with Johnson reclaiming the lead only to lose it to Jeff Gordon. When Clint Bowyer hit the wall and the 12th caution of the race came out, Johnson took the lead, battling with Keselowski who was passed by Kevin Harvick as the race drew to a close.
The final results in the AAA Texas 500 were:
1. Jimmie Johnson – #48 Chevrolet
2. Kevin Harvick – #4 Chevrolet
3. Brad Keselowski – #2 Ford
4. Kyle Busch – #18 Toyota
5. Jamie McMurray – #1 Chevrolet
Covering a distance of 400.5 miles in 267 laps the Hollywood Casino 400 is the fourth event in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. The 2013 event was won by Kevin Harvick, driving for Richard Childress Racing. Drivers who have won the event twice include Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Greg Biffle, Jimmie Johnson. For more information visit nascar.com
Date: 5 October 2014
Venue: Kansas Speedway
Joey Logano notched up his third win of the season and his first at Bristol Motor Speedway, when he took the checkered flag in the Irwin Tools Night Race on Saturday. Following a late restart and with 45 laps to go, Logano took the lead from Matt Kenseth and held off teammate Brad Keselowski to win the race. Having finished in the top six in five consecutive races, Logano is firmly in the picture for the Chase for the Sprint Cup which starts on September 14 with the MyAFibStory.com 400 at Chicagoland Speedway. Keselowski took second place in the Irwin Tools Night Race, with Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Kurt Busch taking third, fourth and fifth spots respectively.
In a post-race interview Logano was quoted as saying that the past six or seven races have been unbelievable and running up front has “been so much fun”. While acknowledging that he really wanted the victory, Keselowski note that a “Penske 1-2 is something to be proud of.”
There were two big crashes in the Irwin Tools Night Race, fortunately with no injuries. The first crash, between Brian Vickers and Aric Almirola, collected Clint Bowyer and Kyle Busch, but the second crash is the one getting a lot of media attention as it raises the issue of how drivers should handle accidents. On lap 161 Kevin Harvick connected Denny Hamlin, sending him across the track to slam into the inside wall. Dale Earnhardt Jr. also became a casualty of the collision as he tried, and failed, to avoid Hamlin’s spinning car. When Hamlin got out of his car, he threw his HANS device at Harvick as the race continued. Although Hamlin remained in his car until safety crews arrived and was on the apron when he threw the device, it remains to be seen whether he will face a penalty for his action, particularly as on track safety and driver accountability remains under the spotlight following the altercation between Tony Stewart and Kevin Ward Jr. which led to Ward’s death.
With 845 points, Jeff Gordon is currently in the NASCAR Sprint Cup points lead. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is in second place with 818 points, with Brad Keselowski (776 points), Joey Logano (761 points) and Matt Kenseth (751 points) in third, fourth and fifth place respectively.
By taking the checkered flag in the Bojangles Southern 500 at Darlington Speedway Saturday night, Kevin Harvick became the first driver of the season with more than one win. He also became the first NASCAR Sprint Cup driver to win from pole position at Darlington since Dale Jarrett in 1997. In his first season with Stewart-Haas Racing, Harvick won the 2014 The Profit on CNBC500, the second race of the season. This early-season victory was followed by a number of misfortunes for Harvick, include a hub failure at Las Vegas resulting in a 41st place finish; a cut oil line at Bristol resulting in a 39th place finish; a blown tire at Fontana resulting in a 36th place finish; and an engine failure at Texas resulting in a 42nd place finish.
While Harvick started the race in pole position, his win certainly wasn’t a done deal. After the 258th lap caution, Harvick reportedly decided to get four new tires on his next pit stop. Other drivers, including Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmie Johnson took two, giving them a slight time advantage which dropped Harvick to fifth position. By the time Kurt Busch wrecked on the 369th lap, resulting in another caution, Harvick had maneuvered his way into second position. Then, passing Earnhardt on the green-white-checker flag, Harvick held his first place position to the finish line, and it appears very likely that his decision to take four tires when he did helped him to victory.
With the new scoring structure, where ultimately victories have more value than points, Harvick is in the lead for a place in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Jeff Gordon is in the lead with points, but remains eighth in the standings as he has not yet scored a win. The minimum requirement to qualify for the Chase is one trip to Victory Lane, so two such trips has a clear advantage for Harvick.
2014 Sprint Cup standings according to victories and points thus far (in order) are Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Brad Keselowski, Joey Logano and Kurt Busch. The next NASCAR Sprint Cup race is the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway on Saturday, April 26.
This annual event at Charlotte Motor Speedway is a highlight of the Memorial Day weekend and has been since 1960. Drivers will compete over a distance of 600 miles (400 laps) as part of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. Kevin Harvick (Richard Childress Racing) was the winner of the Coca-Cola 600 2013. Who will take the checkered flag this year? For more information visit nascar.com
Date: 25 May 2014
Venue: Charlotte Motor Speedway
State: North Carolina