Will Power took pole position for the third straight time in the 85-lap GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma this weekend, but it was team mate Ryan Briscoe who took the checkered flag, with Penske Racing claiming first and second place in this popular annual auto racing event. Briscoe crossed the finish line 0.4408 of a second ahead of Power in an exciting battle for first place. Calling his win a ‘confidence builder’, Briscoe was quoted as saying that he has always done well at Sonoma, having earned his first-ever pole position at the track in 2005, and it was great to finally get a win. As the seventh different winner in the thirteen race IZOD IndyCar Series this season, clearly the competition is stiff and the final two races are going to provide plenty of action.
Power had been in the lead for most of the GoPro Indy Grand Prix, but was caught behind slow traffic following his pit stop which cost him precious time. The hold up was as a result of a crash involving Josef Newgarden and Sebastien Bourdais where Bourdais lost control of his car, reportedly due to cold tires, and slammed Newgarden into a barrier. Both drivers escaped serious injury, with Newgarden injuring his left index finger. Briscoe took his pit stop on the following lap, giving him an advantage over Power and from there on out kept first place, noting that he had a ‘great battle with Will at the end’.
Other incidents in Sunday’s race included Alex Tagliani connecting with Ryan Hunter-Reay, spinning him out of the race with only ten laps to go. Hunter-Reay finished the race in 18th place. Driving for Penske Racing, Helio Castroneves finished sixth and picked up a penalty for making contact with Scott Dixon on the opening lap of the race.
The top ten in the IZOD IndyCar Series GoPro Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma were, in order: Ryan Briscoe, Will Power, Dario Franchitti, Rubens Barrichello, Graham Rahal, Helio Castroneves, Simon Pagenaud, JR Hildebrand, Alex Tagliani and Tony Kanaan. The final two races of the season are the Grand Prix of Baltimore on September 2, and the MATV 500 at Fontana on September 15.
On Sunday, 26 June 2011, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series continued with the hosting of the Toyota/Save Mart 350, which took place at the Infineon Raceway. With twenty-three Cup victories behind his name, Kurt Busch showed his worth and determination by delivering a winning road course performance, and snatching the victory away from Jeff Gordon by just under four seconds. The race was driven over seventy-six laps and was a vital moment in the series for the Penske Racing Team, as well as for Busch.
Over the last month, there has been a lot of activity behind the scenes of the Penske Racing Team, struggling to find their feet and making changes to their personnel to try and overcome some of the problems they were facing. On Sunday, all their hard work paid off as Kurt Busch crossed the finish line. The race was not without its own troubles and unfortunate incidents, keeping spectators on the edges of their seats. One of the most notable accidents for the day was between Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart. A small nudge from Vickers sent Stewart heading straight for the tires, and as his spinning car came to an abrupt halt against the tires, he lost the entire rear of his car. This retaliation came from Stewart nudging Vickers earlier, as he felt Vickers was blocking, but his actions did cause a multi car pileup.
Many speculated that the conflict between Busch and his team, due to poor performances, might break the back of the Penske Racing Team. But it seems that the outburst only made the team more determined to get back on track, and over the last few weeks the improvements have been noticeable. After ten starts, Busch was still without a victory and facing a road course was a daunting task. However, Busch and his team were able to pull off a victory, leaving Jeff Gordon to be content with second place.
Third place was taken by Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer crossed the finish line in fourth position. Approximately ninety-three thousand fans turned up to watch this racing spectacular and they were not disappointed, as the race was filled with unfortunate incidents, driver feuds and unexpected victory. No one can argue that Sunday’s race was probably one of the most action packed races of the series so far.
Kurt Busch was born in Las Vegas, Nevada on August 4, 1978 and is well known as a NASCAR driver. In the Nextel Cup Series he pilots the #2 Miller Lite Dodge and on a part time basis drives the #39 Penske Truck Rental Dodge in the Busch Series. The first NASCAR championship that Kurt won was in 2004, and in 2005 he drove the #97 Sharpie/Irwin Industrial Tools Ford for Roush Racing. With a win in the Busch Series he became one of sixteen drivers to win the top three NASCAR divisions.
Kurt Busch gained his first national exposure in 1998 at the Tucson Raceway Park during the Winter Heat Series, and following the tragic death of Chris Trickle who was killed in a drive-by shooting, Busch was accepted into the team where he proceeded to win the 1999 AutoZone Elite Division Southwest Series championship.
In 2000, at the age of 21 years, Busch started racing on the Winston Cup circuit. Here he drove in seven races but had dismal year-ends with no wins, no top five’s or top ten’s, finishing 48th altogether. In 2001 Kurt Busch ran for rookie of the year honors but won no races, however he did receive 3 top 5’s and 6 top 10’s. Kurt also achieved his first pole positioning when he gave the quickest qualifying lap in the Mountain Dew Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway and finished the year in 27th position. Busch almost won the 2002 championship finishing 3rd that year. The next year was inconsistent with good wins and bad losses, and was made worse with his continuing feud with fellow driver, Jimmy Spencer.
In 2004 Busch became the second driver to sweep both races at Loudon in one season. His achievements for the season included three wins, two poles, 10 top-fives, 21 top-tens and winning the inaugural NASCAR Nextel Cup Championship. Midway through 2005, Busch made known that he would moving from Roush Racing to drive the #2 Miller Lite Dodge for Penske Racing South (now Penske Championship Racing). He claimed three wins during 2005, with nine top-fives and 18 top-tens, finishing 10th in the final standings.
Driving for Penske in the 2006 season, Busch scored one win at Bristol Motor Speedway, being his fifth win at the track. He also earned six poles, 7 top-fives and 12 top-tens, finishing 16th in the final standings. In 2007 he qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup, as well as clocking up two wins, one pole, 5 top-fives and 10 top-tens. 2008 saw some reshuffling of points in the Penske team to ensure Busch’s rookie team-mate Sam Hornish Jr clinched a starting spot in the first five races of the season. Busch claimed his fourth win for Penske Racing when he was in the lead of the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 that was called on lap 284 due to rain.
2009 got off to a bad start with a multi-car wreck at the 2009 Daytona 500 in which Busch’s car was damaged. He nevertheless managed to finish tenth. He went on to qualify fourth for the second race of the season at Fontana’s Auto Club Speedway, where he ran in the top five for most of the race, finishing fifth. Later in the year he claimed victory at the 2009 Kobalt Tools 500 after leading 235 of the race’s 325 laps. By March 2010, Kurt Busch had achieved four starts, one win, one pole, one top-five and 2 top-tens for the season, as he continues to drive for Penske Racing alongside team-mates Brad Keselowski and Sam Hornish.