Rain and racing. It is not a good mix but Bristol held out and went under the lights for the Food City 500 and the fans that hung in there saw a really good race full of what makes Bristol such a thing.

It is short track racing in a bowl and they mixed it up nicely. Bumps, spins and tangles put some in the garage and everyone that crossed the finish had some kind of battle damage.

The race started a bit late and went 22 laps before a caution and rain during clean up put the covers on and Penske team mates Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski in the garage.

Several hours later the lights were coming on and the laps were being run. At the end of the day, or night, it was Matt Kenseth crossing where he started… In front. Other contenders and front runners were caught up in accidents that put them either off the pace or off the track completely.

Kevin Harvick, out front for a lion’s share, saw his run stop quickly when he caught the aftermath of a Jeb Burton spin which was set off by a touch from Jimmie Johnson. Harvick’s #4 Chevy was heavily damaged and out of the run.

Stewart-Haas team mate Kurt Busch was also putting in a run for the front but a late race pit for fresh tires put him in 6th on the restart and with 8 laps to go was suddenly stopped when Carl Edwards lost it running with Gordon near the front. Busch and the #41 had no place to go but into Edward’s #19.

The remaining Stewart-Haas drivers, Tony Stewart and Danica Patrick, managed to roll out with top 10 finishes.
Jimmie Johnson, despite damage and being well in the back at one point, managed to get back to second place with team mate Jeff Gordon right behind. Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. and Ryan Newman filled the top 5.

Bristol was a boost for many in the field. Danica Patrick continues to run well with this top 10. It was Stewart’s best finish this season. Matt Kenseth has his first win since 2013. Gordon also needed a good run with not so hot performance in his last full season. Newman in the top 5 was a good run following the penalties for his team over tire handling issues.

There was also drama around the #11 and Denny Hamlin. The weather, the starting and stopping or just luck put him in a painful situation with a stiff neck. The long rain delay saw no real relief and the decision was made to put Xfinity driver Erik Jones into the #11 which he had never driven and was set, of course, for Hamlin. Jones finished 26th in his Sprint Cup “trial by Bristol fire” debut.

Now the focus rolls into Richmond. The scheduled night race of the Toyota Owners 400 is ramping up. The Xfinity series runs the night before. Some of the drivers will also be rolling out Thursday night in South Boston for the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown with the area’s top late model locals.

Hamlin should be loosened up and ready for his big charity event at SoBo and Richmon for the weekend.
Go Racing!

The west coast swing, as it was labeled, offered up a final twist in the swing. It was Fontana, CA and the Auto Club 400 which went just a little over with a double-shot green-white-checker finish. It was the 2nd GWC that threw the twist in the end that was almost the first GWC…

They had raced all afternoon and it was, for the largest part, pole-sitter Kurt Busch and team mate Kevin Harvick leading the field. Harvick was after a west coast sweep having already won in Las Vegas and Phoenix. Busch was out to roll momentum into a late start for his season as Fontana was only his second time out in the #41.

The western twist came with pit strategies on late race pit stops. Two or four tires or none at all as many only had 10 or 11 laps on. Race off the line and Stewart and Gordon were left back as the newer tires pushed out front with Harvick chasing down Busch.

Coming up on the scheduled finish Kyle Larson was bumped a bit into scraping the wall and leaving his rear body panel behind which set up the first green-white-chedkered finish. The race out put Kurt Busch out in front again and it looked like his second race of the season was going to put him into Chase contention with a win.

However…

Another debris caution set the stage for the second green-white-checkered run. The debris might have been a piece of car or it might have been an official Auto Club Speedway soda cup. Either way, the restart again put Kurt Busch out front with Harvick close behind.

However…

Brad Keselowski and the #2 came from what seemed like nowhere to get by Harvick and challenge Kurt Busch. Busch went wide and loose driving hard giving Keselowski the line by while Greg Biffle was spinning back in the field. White flag lap and no caution and the race to the line went to the #2 with Harvick in second and Busch regaining a straight line to finish third.

Keselowski in California. The way the day had been for the Stewart-Haas duel of the #4 and #41 having the #2 in Victory Lane wasn’t on the radar.

Until the last lap which, apparently, is the one that really matters.

anc_bk_frnt1

It’s hard to say which generated more heat.
Was it the ABC network not getting the race on air until lap 27?
Or…
Was it the antics of Brad Keselowski post race bouncing on competitors’ cars on the exit?
First… ABC… Really??
Baylor & Texas Christian…? I’m sure it means something that Baylor is ranked #4 on polls but for NASCAR fans tuning in for racing it meant very little. They didn’t care. The comments on the ABC Facebook page were less than kind and understanding.
Throw in that ABC had one race, just one, on the schedule from the sister network of ESPN which was also covered up with college football and it makes it extra silly. Granted, it’s the finish that counts and perhaps that also applies to the football game. However, if you have just one event, and it’s pivotal in the sense of equating to the “playoffs” and it is “do or die” for the CHASE contendors wouldn’t there be some sense of urgency and precedence?
They kicked the start of the Bank of America 500 to ESPN3, which they say is available in 95 million homes. Of course, most of them that do have it only have it because they are subscribed to some “sports” package because they like “ball” sports and NASCAR doesn’t fit their “game”. So ESPN3 having the start is irrelevant.
Split screen… I know it’s available. The very network of ABC promotes “NASCAR NONSTOP” (not “NONSTART”, which they did) and airs the race side by side with sponsor commercials. From the couch, the obvious question was “why not show both on the split screen?”.
Too obvious? Too simple?”
ESPN (partner, sister, brother, whatever with ABC) has the remainder of the CHASE and the season.
…if they can manage to get them to air on time. 2015 is a non-issue as ABC/ESPN doesn’t have the deal.
Brad Keselowski. Kevin Harvick had crossed for the win and the race should be over but Keselowski brought the office home with a tag on Hamlin, and Stewart and brought Kenseth along between haulers. The tension of The CHASE is high but is it enough to bang cars after the checkered has waved?
For the driver of the #2 on this occasion, apparently, it was. How much of this tension is carried to Talladega by the ones who caught the tag of the #2 is yet to be seen. One week may not be long enough for the tempers to cool.
We’ll see…

Kevin Harvick switched teams from a long run with Richard Childress Racing to a new seat at Stewart-Haas for 2014. He brought Budweiser with him to wrap the new #4 Chevrolet. At the season opening Daytona 500 he took the best finish of the rest of the Stewart-Haas group of drivers with 13th place, driving up from starting 38th.

The second race of the season offered the same result as Harvick again finished in front of his team mates but this time the finish was also the win. It’s race two of the season and, for points, the second race for Harvick in the #4.

…And he has already snagged a win.

Whatever time many may take to adapt to new surroundings Harvick seems to have skipped over. At Phoenix the #4 was fast enough through practice and qualifying to put it, and Harvick, on the board as the one to beat. He took it to the track and came off with the win of the Profit Of CNBC 500. (more…)

The year is 2013. On September 13th (Friday the 13th, btw) NASCAR made an unprecedented decision to put Gordon into the Chase as a 13th entry following a week of juggling and penalties concerning Michael Waltrip Racing drivers at Richmond.

Gordon logged his first win of the season in Martinsville at the GOODY’S Headache Relief Shot 500 which has injected new hope into the #24 with three races remaining. He has driven from the 13th points slot to 3rd. However, these next three races may stretch the luck of his drive. He is 27 points off the lead. The mathematics of racing keeps him within the margin but Lady Luck needs to keep smiling on the #24 and turn sour on Hendrick team mate Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth of Joe Gibbs Racing. The #48 and the #20 are tied for the first position following Martinsville. (more…)

Martinsville has always held a bit of a temper. Most of the time, it stays in check as “just racin'” but sometimes…

Such was the case for the Kroger 200 (Camping World Series Trucks). Late in the race the Bass Pro Shops #3 of Ty Dillon got into the Anderson’s Maple Syrup – Kroger #14 of Kevin Harvick.

Spin, wall, crash…

After they were able to move, Harvick began tapping and bumping the #3, moved around Dillon but only to jump and brake towards pit road. (more…)

Road racing. It was a full weekend of road courses from cheap chumps all the way up the ladder to NASCAR.

Grand-Am and American Le Mans were at Road America which is interesting on several levels. The two series are combining for 2014 and running the same weekend showcased both series in action. They were still split over Saturday and Sunday but fans were shown both through the paddock, practices and racing.

NASCAR Nationwide and Sprint Cup were racing Watkins Glen, the second road coarse on their schedule and the last for the season. There is still debate about a road course in “The Chase” but that is likely several laps away.

Grand-Am and NASCAR were given a bit of a shake for these races as Tony Stewart (Stewart-Haas #14) was injured earlier in the week in a sprint car rollover crash. This left the #14 without a driver at “The Glen” and points hole where Stewart was (11th before Watkins Glen). The rush to fill that seat landed on Max Papis who is currently driving Grand-Am but also has time in Sprint Cup cockpits. That left Papis’ seat as a fill-in at Road America which put Kenny Wilden in as a co-driver with Papis’ usual partner, Jeff Segal.

How did the replacements run? Segal and Wilden put the AIM Autosport Ferrari into a GT Class 4th place. Max Papis drove Stewart’s #14 to a 15th place finish which, all things considered, wasn’t too bad as he started 29th.

Kyle Busch won at “The Glen”. BMW was the big winner at Road America as Starworks put theirs in for the Prototype Class and Turner put theirs in for GT. (more…)