As the season’s final race, the Ford Eco Boost 400 is set to offer plenty of nail-biting action. Last year’s event was won by Tony Stewart, and it’s anyone’s guess as to who will take the checkered flag in 2012. Homestead’s Sprint Cup Race Record of 131.888 was set by Matt Kenseth on 18 November 2007, with the Sprint Cup Qualifying Record of 181.111 being set by Jamie McMurray in 2003.
Date: 18 November 2012
Venue: Homestead-Miami Speedway
Country: United States
The AdvoCare 500: NASCAR Sprint Cup race will take place at Phoenix International Raceway on 11 November 2012. The tri-oval track at Phoenix International Raceway covers a distance of one mile. The Sprint Cup Race Record of 118.132 was set by Tony Stewart in November 1999, and the Sprint Cup Qualifying Record of 137.279 was set by Carl Edwards in 2011.
Date: 11 November 2012
Venue: Phoenix International Raceway
Country: United States
Matt Kenseth took first place in the Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway on Sunday, with Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch coming in at second and third place. But it was the twenty-something car pileup caused by Tony Stewart that took all the attention, with drivers blaming restrictor plate racing for the mayhem, and a number voicing their concerns regarding this NASCAR rule which results in cars bunching up and unable to get away from one another. As the field headed for the finish line, it was four lanes deep with no place for maneuverability when Stewart moved in front of Michael Waltrip, triggering the pileup.
Initially implemented for safety reasons, restrictor plates are used at superspeedways such as Talladega and Daytona, and more recently New Hampshire, to effectively slow cars down. Consisting of a square aluminum plate with four holes drilled into it, the size of which is set by NASCAR, a restrictor place is placed between the carburetor and the intake manifold with the aim of reducing the flow of fuel and air into the combustion chamber of the engine, thereby reducing horsepower and speed. With improved aerodynamics and technology of racecars over the past ten years or so, they have become capable of reaching speeds exceeding 225 mph (362 km/h), which experts believe is too dangerous for both drivers and spectators. When Bobby Allison crashed into a retaining fence at Pocono Raceway on 19 June 1988, he was traveling at a speed of 210 mph (338 km/h). The crash nearly killed him and endangered the welfare of hundreds of fans.
While traveling at slower speeds may be to increase safety, it also levels the playing field to an extent, causing all the cars in the field to be bunched up and leaving little space for top drivers to pull away from the pack, or to work their way out of the bunch. Having all the cars bunched together traveling at speeds of 190 mph around a track presents safety issues of its own, as one poor decision can cause multiple-car crashes – and this problem was resoundingly illustrated in Sunday’s race at Talladega.
Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan International Speedway saw Dale Earnhardt Jr. cross the finish line in first place, breaking his dry spell of 143 races without a win. His last Sprint Cup victory was also in Michigan, almost four years ago to the day. With 25 laps of the 400-mile race to go, Earnhardt pulled away in his No. 88 Chevrolet and held the lead to cross the finish line ahead of Tony Stewart by 5.393 seconds.
Earnhardt’s 11 top-ten finishes this season put him second in the points standings as the race began, but there were mixed opinions as to whether he would take the checkered flag, particularly after a four-year break from that achievement. To say that loyal fans of Dale Earnhardt Jr. were delighted with the win, would be an understatement, and the fact that he has a loyal fan-base was certainly not lost on the triumphant drive. In a post-race interview he noted that the victory was for his fans who had stuck behind him over the years, adding that he and his team wouldn’t have made it back to Victory Lane without their support.
With an average speed of 139.144 per hour, Dale Earnhardt Jr. earned 48 points for his Quickens Loans 400 Sprint Cup Series win. Tony Stewart (#14 Chevrolet) took second place, with Matt Kenseth (#17 Ford) in at third, followed by Gregg Biffle (#16 Ford) and Jimmie Johnson (#48 Chevrolet). The current top ten standings for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series are:
1. Matt Kenseth – #17 Ford – 565 points
2. Dale Earnhardt Jr. – #88 Chevrolet – 561 points
3. Greg Biffle – #16 Ford – 548 points
4. Jimmie Johnson – #48 Chevrolet – 532 points
5. Denny Hamlin – #11 Toyota – 514 points
6. Kevin Harvick – #29 Chevrolet – 504 points
7. Martin Truex Jr. – #56 Toyota – 497
8. Tony Stewart – #14 Chevrolet – 491
9. Clint Bowyer – #15 Toyota – 481
10. Brad Keselowski – #2 Dodge – 458 points
The next 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup race will be the Toyota/Save Mart 350 on June 24 June at Sonoma, followed by the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky on June 30.
Matching the records held by Hall of Fame superstars Bobby Allison and Richard Petty, Jimmy Johnson took the checkered flag on Sunday in the FedEx 400 at Dover International Speedway, bringing his total wins on the track to seven. The five-time Sprint Cup champion led the field a total of 289 of the 400 laps on the track where he last won on 26 September 2010. Hendrick Motorports had plenty to celebrate with a four-race winning streak under their belts – Kasey Kahne’s victory in the Coca Cola 600 on Memorial Day, along with Johnson’s Southern 500 win at Darlington Raceway, and his non-points All Star race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. While saying that he had never thought of himself as “the guy who’d build up any cool stats”, Johnson is currently fifth in points and is considered to have a good chance of scoring a sixth Sprint Cup championship – although the championship driver was reported as saying that it was “way too early to talk championship”.
Some of the obstacles drivers had to overcome on Sunday included a thirteen car wreck coming out of turn two – better known as Calamity Corner. Last year’s champion Tony Stewart was caught up in the wreck, running into the back of Landon Cassill’s car. Following a red flag stop, Stewart rejoined the race, finishing 25th. Showing just how unpredictable racing can be, Stewart started the season well, but has had three bad finishes in his last four races, finishing 24th at Talladega, and 25th at Charlotte. Carl Edwards voiced his disappointment at having to leave the race after crashing on lap 165 due to a flat tire, saying that he was really frustrated that the day had been cut short and that he loved racing at Dover.
Finishing 2.550 seconds behind Johnson, Kevin Harvick of Richard Childress Racing is enjoying a good season, and is considered to be one of the top contenders for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. No doubt he is hoping to claim the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship for his team, which last held the cup title with Dale Earnhardt’s victory in the 1994 championship. Third place in Sunday’s race was taken by Matt Kenseth, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr, Clint Bowyer, Aric Almirola, Martin Truex Jr, and Joey Logano. With the 13th of 36 races complete, there is still plenty of action ahead for auto racing fans. The next race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series is the Pocono 400 on 10 June.