That was entertaining. Perhaps even more so for those race fans that tune in to watch NASCAR but don’t dive in to all the nuts and bolts of the news and bits. These are the folks that may have gotten a surprise by watching the opening laps of the Busch Clash. Right hand turns, esses, bus stops and chicanes… It might have been a shock to the system for left turn fans looking for a glimpse of the Daytona 500.

Perhaps they thought someone forgot to take the cones and markers down from that pesky sports care race 2 weeks prior… Whatever the case, it was entertaining. NASCAR cars are heavier than the IMSA cars that ran the ROLEX and it showed with spins and straight line runs off course. Drivers like Kevin Harvick who we’re used to seeing in the top 5 were struggling to stay on the pavement. Some others, such as defending NASCAR Cup Champion Chase Elliott, were taming the turns with a start from the back to the front in the first half of the race.

Lead changes were plenty from straight up racing to pit strategies. Ryan Blaney was on the pole from a random draw. Denny Hamlin quickly took the front a few laps in. Tyler Reddick, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. traded front spots up to the scheduled competition caution at lap 16.

Kurt Busch won off pit road to restart up front but quickly lost it in the first turn. Mid race mishaps included Cole Custer losing power and catching fire around the overheated brakes. The caution put William Byron back on track with a bad tire change that quickly went flat and off the rim.

Kurt Busch won off pit road to restart up front but quickly lost it in the first turn. Mid race mishaps included Cole Custer losing power and catching fire around the overheated brakes. The caution put William Byron back on track with a bad tire change that quickly went flat and off the rim. Truex had missed a turn and had to restart in the back. He came back to the front just to lose it in the dirt and curbs of a chicane and spun the #19 into the garage.

The FedEx #11 of Denny Hamlin might have been the car to beat but he had to pit with half the field with 6 laps to go. Chase Elliott stayed out on older tires and Ryan Blaney took the lead with 2 to go. Elliott wasn’t having and raced hard on the final lap, getting under the #12 in the final chicane. The tires couldn’t hold and he spun Blaney as his own #9 bounced off the curbing. All this allowed Kyle Busch in the #18 M&Ms Toyota to roll past both of them and take the checkers.

Kyle was there when it mattered, ready to roll through the advantage if it presented. With it, he grabbed a second last lap Busch Clash pass for the win. (He did a last lap pass – win in 2012)

Kyle Busch – Busch Clash Winner 2021

The Duels are Thursday. The Daytona 500 is Sunday. ARCA, Camping World and Xfinity run Friday and Saturday. All with standard, left turn Daytona racing. They will remain at Daytona the following week with a full race back on the road course.

If the Busch Clash was any indication, the final February race at Daytona should be a wild one.

Atlanta was a bit more damp, a bit more cold and bit more miserable for some on race day. The fans, of course, likely cleaned out the warm weather gear at Wal-Mart before coming in as Georgia is not known for the cold. Crashes and mechanical failures left some drivers out in the cold as well.

For a few that held it together and stayed clear of the crashes and had luck fall their way the temperature was just another variable to beat. Count race winner Jimmie Johnson in that group. Kevin Harvick, also, for starting in the back with a new engine and making his way to the second spot. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. also made a run finishing third to match the Daytona opener. Joey Logano ran fourth with his Penske Ford after starting on the pole and keeps a points lead following the Daytona 500 win. Matt kenseth was on the front row for the last restart but fell off and still managed a top-5.

It is a few of the mid-pack finishes that caught my eye as the season is off with some of the usual, and unusual, racing drama. As usual, for the past few seasons, the Danica Patrick chatter is there. With several mishaps on the track at Atlanta putting the #10 at risk she managed to get by and around clean. A 16th place finish is not necessarily spectacular but it is still top 20 in a 43 car field.

For the unusual, it is the stand-ins for the Busch brothers putting their borrowed rides in the slots directly behind Patrick. Regan Smith drove suspended Kurt’s #41 Chevy to 17th and David Ragan put injured Kyle’s #18 in at 18th. Kurt Busch is out indefinitely with this domestic court issue and it is likely Kyle Busch could be out for a long recovery after the XFinity crash at Daytona.

For the next race at Las Vegas Stewart-Haas has again put Smith in the #41. It is not yet a solid decision on whose name will be over the window beyond the Kobalt 400. For Ragan, his place in the #18 is just a little bit more solid. Of course it is Kyle’s car when he recovers but for the immediate future it appears Ragan will be dressed in M&Ms colors. Joe Gibbs Racing could put someone else in it before Kyle is given a medical green but pickings are slim. Good results by Ragan in the next couple of races could keep that decision in the desk.

Atlanta also put some big names off with crash damage. Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray and Jeff Gordon were caught up and either in the garage or running laps down at the finish.

Gordon, in particular, is feeling the slips of the season as he was also out at Daytona with crash damage. It’s only two races down but his retirement season is off to a flat start.

The car changes, some of the rules changes and the “win in” CHASE format is still fresh so it is entirely too early to count anyone out. Only the racing will tell.

Martinsville Speedway! Clouds threatened but practices went on and qualifying was run for the STP 500! Kyle Busch grabbed the pole for the race this Sunday. Oddly enough it was Joey Logano who turned the fastest lap but could not follow it up in the second session of qualifying at Martinsville for the Alpha Energy Solutions Pole Day.
The top 10 starting order for the STP 500 is:
Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Carl Edwards, Jamie McMurray and…. (more…)

It was a Toyota day in California for the Auto Club 400.

More or less…

A Toyota started on the pole with Matt Kenseth in the Dollar General #20. A Toyota won it with Kyle Busch in the Interstate Batteries #18.

Between these Toyota landmarks were 27 lead changes and 9 cautions. The final laps saw the caution that set in motion a green-white-checkered finish which also played out in the critical lead change.

It was Jimmie Johnson’s race to loose with a comfortable lead over team mate Jeff Gordon. Johnson’s tires, however, did not have the will to go on and the left front shredded under pressure. He managed to keep the #48 in a straight line and limped to the pits. (more…)

Jimmie Johnson keeps pushing but just can’t seem to cross into the front of the points. He won at Dover and almost had it in Charlotte but still holds a firm grip on second place. There is still enough room in the schedule to gain the points needed to move up but he does have to race better than the current leader, Matt Kenseth.

Talladega is next, followed by Martinsville. These two races offer big chances to move up, not just for Johnson but also for some that are back double digits. Kevin Harvick is 29 points off the front, while Jeff Gordon and Kyle Busch are 36 and 37 points back. Talladega could shake the box quite a bit as the constant threat of a big crash taking out contenders lingers on every lap. The short track at Martinsville has been a winning track for Johnson and Gordon but the last bunch of meetings there have seen others pop into Victory Lane. (more…)

Three races down and on the heels of the fourth. So far it has been a run for Matt Kenseth with Jimmie Johnson squeezing in closer at Dover. Kenseth won the first two away from Richmond.

Dover was an interesting run as Johnson and nine other CHASE drivers filled the Top 10 at the checkers. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. started from the pole but could not overcome an early pit road mistake and was chasing the lead from that point on to finish 2nd. Jeff Gordon, the “Lucky 13th” following the MWR shake-up at Richmond, finished 4th. Kyle Busch finished 5th but remains in the number 3 slot for total points.

Jimmie Johnson and the Hendrick/Lowes #48 moved up to the #2 points slot, now sandwiched between Joe Gibbs Racing Kenseth and Kyle Busch.

Kansas is next up and Kevin Harvick will start from the front. Harvick and Gordon are both 39 points off the lead in 4th and 5th place in The CHASE.

Seven races remain, including Kansas. It is these next few, likely through the tough, little track at Martinsville at the end of the month, that can determine if the Top 3 remain as the main battle. However, luck and nerves can still shake it up. One or two bad races for some mixed with really good runs for others could see more drivers in the points squeeze moving forward. It would make for a good show for the fans if those points gaps tightened!

The race, and The CHASE, is ON! We’re looking forward to seeing it up close as they return to our neck of the woods at Martinsville. Until then, like you, we’ll be keeping an eye on who moves up, and back, over these next weeks.

Go Racing – We’ll see you there!

Chase For the NASCAR Sprint Cup Clinch Scenarios for Richmond

10 Drivers Vie for Five Remaining Spots (Compiled by NASCAR)

 DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (Sept. 2, 2013) – Below are the 2013 Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup clinch scenarios for Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, the final race before the Chase field is set. Six drivers have clinched top-10 spots in the Chase: Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth. Kasey Kahne, on the strength of two wins, has clinched at least a Wild Card spot.

Four drivers control their top-10 clinching destiny. Regardless of the finishes of any other driver… (more…)