In a race featuring a record-breaking 33 lead changes, Kurt Busch crossed the finish line in first place in the STP 500 at Martinsville Speedway on Sunday, beating Jimmie Johnson to the win by a mere 0.263 seconds. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took third place, followed by Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose. Six races into the 2014 season and six different NASCAR drivers have taken the checkered flag, reportedly a first in Sprint Cup history. Had Johnson won the race it would have been his ninth at the historic Martinsville Speedway, nonetheless he was in the lead for 296 of the 500 laps. While this was Busch’s 25th career victory, it was his first win driving the #41 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing.
An earlier collision with Brad Keselowski nearly put Busch out of the running and cost Keselowski 31 laps, although he returned to the track and gained points. Following the predetermined caution on lap 40 to allow teams to check tire wear, upon leaving the pit lane Keselowski ran into Kasey Kahne as he entered the pits. At that point Keselowski reported damage to the #2 Ford, but things got worse as Kurt Busch, in attempting to pass the two cars, drove into the back of Keselowski’s car, pushing him even further into Kahne’s car. (Kahne went on to finish the race in 22nd place.) Keselowski put the blame for the damage to his car on Busch, but observers have noted that he started the incident by running into Kahne. Once back on the track, Keselowski brake-checked Busch, who retaliated by making contact, only to have Keselowski brush up against him again. In post-race interviews and on-the-spot tweets, it appears that the incident between Busch and Keselowski during the STP 500 may become an out-and-out feud.
Currently, the top five in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings are:
1. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – #88 Chevrolet – 227 points
2. Matt Kenseth – #20 Toyota – 218 points
3. Carl Edwards – #99 Ford – 217 points
4. Jeff Gordon – #24 Chevrolet – 216 points
5. Jimmie Johnson – #48 Chevrolet – 209 points
Persistent rain on Saturday resulted in the Quaker State 400 being postponed to Sunday, and drivers had to factor in that their cars that had been set up for night racing and would handle differently in Sunday’s daytime weather conditions, with its intermittent cloud cover and sunshine. The Kentucky Speedway stadium was packed with fans when the race started on Sunday, and on-track action provided plenty of excitement, with Matt Kenseth crossing the finish line in first place and claiming his fourth victory of the NASCAR Sprint Cup season.
Teammate Denny Hamlin was not quite so fortunate and blew a right front tire – his second blowout in the race – on Lap 147, sending him into the outside wall near Turn 4’s exit. Having missed four Cup races due to a compression fracture of his first lumbar vertebra from a similar wreck in late March this year, Hamlin was no doubt relieved to find that his back was unaffected by this wreck.
Other incidents during Sunday’s race included Kurt Busch hitting a large bump in the asphalt with his No. 78 Chevrolet, knocking Brad Keselowski’s No. 2 Ford into the path of other contestants near the start/finish line. The resulting multicar crash included Greg Biffle, Travis Kvapil and Dave Blaney. While not directly blaming Busch for the accident, Keselowski reportedly commented that everyone is aware of this bump in the asphalt and Busch should not have gone there.
The top ten finishers at the Quaker State 400 on June 30, in order, are Matt Kenseth, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer, Joey Logano, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick. The top ten in the NASCAR Sprint Cup standings, in order, are Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr., Greg Biffle and Joey Logano.
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.
Driving for Font Row Motorsports, David Ragan crossed the finish line in first place in the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday. Ragan was closely followed by teammate David Gilliland in what is widely being described as a “surprising” finish and a “David and Goliath” type battle and victory. Carl Edwards took third place followed by Michael Waltrip and Jimmy Johnson in fourth and fifth places.
Talladega has been the scene of a number of devastating crashes over the years, and Sunday’s race included two crashes which may have changed the outcome of the race, but thankfully didn’t cause any major injuries. The first crash took place 44 laps into the race and involved 16 cars. Kyle Busch’s car tapped the back of Kasey Kahne’s sending him into the wall and resulting in a chain reaction which Busch later accepted responsibility for triggering. The second crash came following a three-hour delay caused by heavy rain and a restart with only six laps to go, raising questions by some as to why NASCAR didn’t just call the race and avoid the last restart, with others supporting NASCAR’s decision. Danica Patrick, Terry Labonte, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman and JJ Yeley were among the drivers involved in the second crash.
The latest NASCAR Sprint Cup standings has Jimmie Johnson (383 points) in the lead, followed by Carl Edwards (342 points), Dale Earnhardt Jr (324 points), Clint Bowyer (316 points), Brad Keselowski (314 points), Kasey Kahne (299 points), Aric Almirola (293 points), Paul Menard (290 points), Kyle Busch (285 points) and Greg Biffle (280 points).
Born on December 24, 1985, in Unadilla, Georgia, David Ragan started racing at the age of 12 in the Bandolero Series. He has been racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series since 2007 when he replaced Mark Martin in the #6 for Roush Fenway Racing. His first career NASCAR Sprint Cup series victory came on July 2, 2011 in the Coke Zero 400 held at the Daytona International Speedway. Sunday’s Aaron’s 499 victory was his second NASCAR Sprint Cup win.
The 2013 Rolex 24 at Daytona offered plenty of racing action over the past weekend, with Juan Pablo Montoyo of the Chip Ganassi Racing Team taking the checkered flag in the 51st edition of this popular annual event. It was Montoya’s third overall win in Daytona, and a fifth for teammate and lead driver, Scott Pruett, putting him on a par with Hurley Haywood’s record for wins in the two-day endurance race. Together with Charlie Kimball and Memo Rojas, Montoya and Pruett proved to be a winning combination crossing the finish line close to 22 seconds ahead of defending champion AJ Allmendinger of Michael Shank Racing.
Run on a 3.56-mile course combining an infield road course with parts of the NASCAR tri-oval, the 24 Hours of Daytona started in 1962 as a three-hour sports car race called the Daytona Continental, with points counting towards the International Championship for GT Manufacturers. The event became the Daytona 2000 in 1964 and the 24 Hours of Daytona between 1966 and 1971 before changing to the 6 hours of Daytona in 1972 because of the fuel crisis of the time as a result of the OPEC oil embargo. The race never took place in 1974, but resumed as the 24 Hours of Daytona in 1975, with the name later changing to include the names of various sponsors, including Pepsi and SunBank. Rolex has been the sponsor since 2002
The off-season timing of the Rolex 24 affords many top drivers the opportunity to participate, and it is generally a star-studded event. With teams consisting of between three and five drivers, world-class participants from other types of racing often sign up for the race. NASCAR drivers have included Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Rusty Wallace, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Kyle Petty, Kevin Harvick and Robby Gordon, while Indianapolis 500 winners to participate include Helio Castroneves, Dan Wheldon, Buddy Rice, Juan Pablo Montoyo, Dario Franchitti and Sam Hornish.