Vickers Pilots the Dream Machine to Victory at Loudon

Brian Vickers, Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota



By: Billy Tewes

A big day for Brian Vickers and the dream machine, as he breaks through to victory lane at the Camping World RV 301. Vickers survived a green white checkered and a three wide threat from Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch to snap a 75 race winless streak. Vickers pounded hard out of turn two to get around Stewart. Vickers led 16 laps and like Stewart was also very close on fuel as he ran out doing celebratory burnouts! This race is Vickers third career win and first with Michael Waltrip Racing!

The race day at the New Hampshire International Speedway began with the #22 of Joey Logano sailing off into turn one on lap 4 and pounding the wall. His day was effectively ruined and would eventually finish 40th. The mayhem would continue just ten laps later where Marcos Ambrose and Kevin Harvick were racing hard for position. Harvick was upset with Ambrose and simply dumped him to which he claimed he “just got into him” and that he (Ambrose) is a hazard every week.

The carnage carried on at lap 225 when Kurt Busch dove into turn one and slid up in front of Matt Kenseth. It appeared as if Busch was racing like it was the last lap because he had nowhere to go. Kenseth bumped into Busch and sent Busch sailing into Ryan Newman. Newman would end up finishing 39th and Busch would get back out on track but would finish 31st.

Kenseth would come to pit road multiple times for four tire stops and valiantly tried to race his way back to the top 10. Amazingly, Kenseth finished 9th after racing from the back half of the top 20 multiple times due to the four tire pitstops. Kenseth led the race at one point and looked poised to be in position to get his fifth win, but due to the aforementioned tangle with Busch and Newman, Kenseth will be happy to salvage a top 10.

Tony Stewart and team made a track position decision to make their final stop with 98 to go and it came up short due to the green white checkered. Stewart ran out of fuel while contending for the win at the gwc and ended up finishing 26th. He will take a huge hit in the points. Their team really ran the risk and I think he should have pitted in sequence with the rest of the field. They were too focused on the win and this race might end up crushing their chances at a chase berth.

Teams that did not suffer from strategy mishaps were the teams of Jeff Burton and Aric Almirola. Burton earned his first top 5 since Richmond earlier this year winding up 3rd and Almirola proved that he could hold his own in the top 5 by finishing 5th. Points leader Jimmie Johnson wrapped up a controversial weekend by finishing 6th after having to start the race in the 43rd position due to being penalized in qualifying.

Vickers win proves that Michael Waltrip racing is catching on with some of the bigger teams in Sprint Cup. MWR has two wins this year and is quietly becoming a threat for contending for a title. I hope that Vickers gets a full time ride in the 55 as I think he will be the most consistent chance at putting this car in victory lane multiple times next year.


Ratcliff’s Gamble pays off as Kenseth a winner at Kentucky

Matt Kenseth



By: Billy Tewes

Matt Kenseth flexed his muscles late and Jason Ratcliff put him into position late to win the Quaker State 400 at Kentucky. The final pit stop which came out for Brian Vickers’ flat tire with 26 to go, put Kenseth in the lead as Ratcliff called for no tires while everyone else took two. On the final restart Johnson got loose entering turn one and spun out. Kenseth held off a late charge by Jamie McMurray who seemingly came out of nowhere to challenge Kenseth. Had he not been slightly held up by Clint Bowyer, he may have passed Kenseth for the win!

This race was supposed to take place last night, but was rained out for Sunday morning which may make it one of the only Kentucky races to ever be ran during the day as opposed to night. Kenseth got his first Kentucky win in three tries and this win marks the fourth win on the 2013 season. Huge championship implications as Kenseth is going to try to win as many races as he possibly can to separate himself from the rest of the field come chase time.

Kenseth stated in victory lane that he thought Ratcliff was “slightly crazy” for making the call. I have been very critical of Jason Ratcliff this season as I think he has cost Kenseth a win at Lowes and a few top 10s due to poor strategy call. But when I heard Ratcliff was going to put Kenseth in clean air, I knew he made the right call. Clean air is king with this gen 6 car and the gamble paid off.

Race dominator Jimmie Johnson ended up finishing 9th after spinning himself out. Johnson complained about Kenseth’s restart. Kenseth was slightly slow on the restart; however, he still leads them to the green flag. Johnson has nothing to cry about here as he knows the rules. And like Kyle Petty said in today’s broadcast, “I hate to be a smartaleck, but I’m going to be, let’s just let Jimmie write the restart rules on how to do it because nobody does it right, everybody else does it wrong, he’s the only one who gets it because he’s complained  all year about restarts.” Basically Jimmie, let NASCAR take care of the rules, they’ve been in the business longer and have been pretty fair in governing the sport.

A controversial point in today’s race came when Kurt Busch swept down to the apron to gain momentum on Brad Keselowski and ended up clipping his left rear quarter panel which sent Keselowski down the apron and back up into the track. Keselowski collected Greg Biffle and Dave Blaney in the process. All drivers were ok but Keselowski’s chase hopes took a hit as fell out of the top 10 to 13th.

All of the Cup series excitement heads down to Daytona for the 4th of July weekend Coke Zero 400. The 400 miler is the final wild card before the chase and it will be a game of survival for some of the drivers like Kahne, Gordon, Keselowski and Kurt Busch who are right on the edge of making it in to the chase.

According to driver ratings, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth are the most powerful drivers at Daytona. Both were incredibly strong during the 500 this year and if it weren’t for blown motors within a lap of each other, one of them may have very well been in victory lane. Now that the gen 6 car has been to two plate races this year, we’ll be able to see if drivers race a little harder with that gained knowledge.

The Mayhem under the lights at Daytona!


Truex Jr Sensational In Napa Valley

Martin Truex Jr., Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota



By: Billy Tewes

The Toyota SaveMart 350 was conquered by a second consecutive Michael Waltrip Racing driver as Martin Truex Jr won his second career Sprint Cup race in dominating fashion. Truex made it look effortless as he weaved in and out of the eleven turns of Infineon Raceway.

Truex Jr snapped a 218 win-less streak at Sonoma and this should come as no surprise to anyone as he has been successful on road courses before. In the Busch Series (now Nationwide), Truex Jr. won his first career road course race at the Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez course in Mexico City.

This race is extremely important to Truex Jr’s chase chances. He is now sitting in 10th, with an eight point lead over 11th place Paul Menard and this win could play into a potential wild card scenario if Truex is not able to stay in the top 10.

It appeared as if only three or four drivers had a serious handle on their cars all day. Kurt Busch looked poised to win and dominated early until he set himself up to be off pit sequence to try to make it on only two stops. Busch fumbled the race away by speeding on pit road not once, but twice! In a miraculous comeback, Busch would wind up finishing 4th. I’m still convinced that Kurt Busch will be in victory lane this year with the completely underrated Furniture Row race team.

Jeff Gordon’s team made the right adjustments throughout the race and got his car to sail through the turns like a hot knife through butter. But Truex Jr’s car was so good down the stretch that once he pulled away from Juan Pablo Montoya, he was able to take care of his tires and save enough fuel to make it to the end. This was not the case for Montoya as he ran out of fuel, coasting to a disappointing 34th place finish.

Also disappointing were the runs of the Joe Gibbs Racing drivers. The only driver that possibly saw some light at the end of the tunnel was Matt Kenseth in the 20. Kenseth stayed upfront for majority of the race except for when most of the field was off pit sequence with the few leaders that stayed out for strategy purposes. Kenseth’s day took a dive when crew chief Jason Ratcliffe decided to keep him out and try to stretch him on fuel. This gave Kenseth track position but put him at an extreme disadvantage as he had to go over 40 laps on a run. Kenseth was able to save enough fuel to finish but slipped from 3rd to 19th where he would finish. It was a rough day for Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin as well as both were involved in accidents and finished

The three drivers I had picked to look out for at Sonoma were Marcos Ambrose, Matt Kenseth and Brian Vickers. All three were at one point in the top five but the only one who looked like he could have mounted a serious challenge was Ambrose who finished 7th. I will tip my hat to Vickers though who started 40th due to racing the Nationwide race at Road America and missing qualifying. Vickers raced his way to a 13th place finish.

Nascar will go east to the Kentucky Speedway for some Saturday night action! Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski have won the only two races here and Keselowski could definitely use a win to turnaround his season. It will be interesting to see how important qualifying will be as the two races at Kentucky have been won from the pole and 8th place. Will there be a repeat winner, or will we see a first time winner at Kentucky this weekend? Tune in Saturday night as Kentucky has yet to disappoint!


Biffle Proves Roush Still King At MIS

Greg Biffle, Roush Fenway Racing Ford

Greg Biffle wins 19th career cup race and 4th career race at Michigan!


By: Billy Tewes

It was a very Happy Father’s Day for Greg Biffle as he won Ford Racings 1,000th Nascar race by holding off a late race charge from Jimmie Johnson to win the Quicken Loans 400.  Biffle took over the lead late and bested Kevin Harvick after the second place car of Jimmie Johnson cut a left front tire in turn two with less than five to go.  Today’s race marks the second consecutive Michigan race that Greg Biffle won (won fall race of 2012) and the Quicken Loans 40o is Biffle’s first of the 2013 season.

The Quicken Loans 400 began with Kurt Busch pressuring Carl Edwards for the lead. On a slick race track, Busch slid up into Edwards, causing Edwards to back out of the throttle which sent Kurt Busch to the lead. The first caution of the race would come when the 51 of Bobby Labonte spun out in turn 2 and collected Jeff Gordon in the process.

Leader Kurt Busch held onto the lead until lap 29 where he would snap loose off turn two and back into the wall. Early on many drivers were wrecking loose off the treacherous turn two. The next two cautions would be caused by debris while the Hendrick cars of Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr took turns leading the race.

Kasey Kahne looked to be the most dominant car of the race until he cut a right front tire and pounded the wall. Kahne would be ok but his day was ruined. This caution handed the race lead back to Dale Earnhardt Jr who sped away from Matt Kenseth on the restart. Jr’s reign as leader came to a quick halt as he would drop a cylinder and eventually blow up at lap 131.

Jimmie Johnson made quick work of Earnhardt Jr’s motor going sour. Once the caution came out for Jr’s motor exploding, Johnson’s crew chief Chad Knaus decided to take four tires whereas the rest of the leaders took two. This put Johnson back to 19th in the running order. Carl Edwards would win the battle off pit road. Edwards would hold off a charge from Joey Logano but couldn’t however hold off teammate Greg Biffle as he blew past him.

The final green flag pit stop began with the second place car of Carl Edwards pitting for four tires. Race leader Greg Biffle came down to pit road but just as Biffle was completing his stop, Jamie McMurray blew a right front tire on lap 168 and brought out a caution. Edwards would be trapped a lap down but Biffle would luck out and come back around to take the lead. Edwards got burned and fell all the way back to 24th.

Biffle held off Kevin Harvick until Jimmie Johnson raced up and passed Harvick. Johnson’s flat tire made it four for four when it came to problems for Hendrick Motorsports. Biffle’s victory proves that even though Roush Fenway Racing appears to have taken a step back this year, they are still the team to beat at their home track of Michigan. Nascar heads out west to the Sonoma Raceway, which is one of the two road courses Nascar visits every year. Sonoma is definitely a wild card on the Sprint Cup Schedule and one to be sure to tune in for as the past eight races at Sonoma have yielded eight different winners!

Kasey Kahne, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

Kasey Kahne catching air at Sonoma!

Johnson Celebrates With a Party at the Poconos


By: Billy Tewes

The Party at the Pocono’s will continue in victory lane for Jimmie Johnson dominated another race this year. This time, Johnson was able to avoid any restart penalties as he completely covered the field this afternoon to win the Party At the Poconos 400. Johnson led all but 32 of the 160 laps as he took home his 63rd career victory and third at Pocono.

The pole for the tricky triangle was awarded to Jimmie Johnson due to qualifying being rained out and Johnson would prove that the pole award was the only thing handed to him. The first lap of the race saw Kasey Kahne fall way off the pace and this was due to a drivetrain issue. Kahne would eventually make his way back to the track but would finish 36th and 19 laps down.

The first set of laps would see Johnson’s only hiccup of the day as Carl Edwards would take the lead from second. However, it would not take Johnson long to regain the lead and run away from the field.

Throughout the race and especially early on, drivers complained of extremely loose race cars. Drivers such as Matt Kenseth, Clint Bowyer and Greg Biffle slightly fell back because of extremely loose race cars. The first few sets of pit stops would come under green until debris brought out the first caution. For majority of the second half of the race, the 39 car of Ryan Newman was off pit cycle from the leaders. At first this appeared to be a bad deal for Newman as most of the leaders had to make only one final pitstop and Newman had to make two. But a series of late cautions aided Newman’s fuel mileage gamble and he would end up finishing 5th, his second top five of the year.

The first accident of the day came when Matt Kenseth began to slide back. In the tunnel turn (turn 2), Juan Pablo Montoya tried to take advantage of the slower Kenseth, but got loose and washed up into Kenseth, taking out both. Kenseth would never be the same and went on to finish 25th, Montoya would finish a respectable 14th. A similar situation happened with Brad Keselowski and Tony Stewart. On a restart, in the exact same tunnel turn, Keselowski slid up into Tony Stewart but both drivers had awesome saves. Tony Stewart would race on to finish in the top 5 whereas Keselowski slid back to finish 16th.

Johnson’s domination overshadows great runs by Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr and as I mentioned earlier, the fuel strategy run by Ryan Newman. These drivers had a shot at challenging Johnson for the lead on restarts, but that was about the only time they could come close to the back bumper of Johnson’s car.

Race fans its the time of the year for Nascar to head to Brooklyn, Michigan, the site of the 2 mile oval and first stop at the Michigan International Speedway. Another track that cracks the 200 MPH mark and one that always turns out classic finishes. The first Michigan race of 2002 was one of my favorite races as Dale Jarrett nearly passed the field in trying to chase Matt Kenseth down for the win. Kenseth would hold off Dale Jarrett but it was really amazing to see what fresh tires can do. My pick for the Quicken Loans 400 is going to be Jimmie Johnson. He is going to win back to back races and show the Hendrick Motorsports has a firm grip on producing great cars with this new gen six package.

Michigan International Speedway. Beautiful, but an absolute pain to get out of after the race!

Stewart Runs Down Montoya To Conquer The Monster

Race winner Tony Stewart, Stewart-Haas Racing Chevrolet celebrates
By: Billy Tewes

Tony Stewart mounted a charge in the closing laps to beat Juan Pablo Montoya and end a 30 race winless streak, by conquering the Monster Mile at Dover. Stewart came out of nowhere after the final caution and ran down Montoya, passing him with three to go to win the FedEx 400.  This win at the Monster Mile is Tony Stewart’s 48th career Sprint Cup victory and first of the 2013 campaign.

The race began with early domination by the Joe Gibbs drivers of Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth. Even Toyota driver Martin Truex Jr appeared incredibly strong early on. Hamlin, Kenseth and Busch led majority of the first 250 laps. Kenseth’s day would be ruined by a blown engine, which has plagued Toyota Racing Development all season. Kenseth was chasing down leader Kyle Busch and came over the radio saying he had blown up. Another Toyota driver, Martin Truex Jr, suffered a similar fate to Kenseth as his day was cut short due to engine failure.

The final caution of the race came out when Denny Hamlin cut a tire and grazed the wall. Juan Pablo Montoya came out of the pits in front of Jimmie Johnson, who looked poised to run away from the field after leading 143 laps prior to the pit stop. Montoya starting first as opposed to second was crucial because coming to the green flag, Johnson jumped Montoya on the restart. Johnson was in front of Montoya in the restart box and was black flagged and called to pit road. Johnson’s had the responsibility of giving back the lead to Montoya and he failed to do so. Johnson would finish 17th a lap down.

Montoya would end up finishing second after valiantly fighting off Stewart up until the final three miles. Montoya was discouraged yet again, as he would lose his second race of the season in the closing laps (Richmond was the other). Stewart’s win marks his third career win at Dover. Today’s race could very well play into Tony Stewart making the chase as he currently sits 16th in the standings and is on the outside looking in for the chase.

Nascar heads to the Pocono Raceway where drivers prepare for long straights and only three turns as opposed to four. The race is 400 miles instead of 500 like it was for many years. Last year was the first year they tried a 400 miler and in my opinion the racing has been much better. The extra 100 miles is very hard on engines and sometimes drivers end up stretched out and the action is MIA. Last years race was rain shortened and awarded to Jeff Gordon. Pocono is rich in history as it has been known for many close quarter finishes. One that comes to mind was the 1998 Pocono 500 where Jeremy Mayfield bumped legend Dale Earnhardt Sr. out of the way in the final corner to win.

Mayfield quoted Earnhardt in that he was “just trying to rattle his cage a bit”, something that Earnhardt did to many drivers over his storied career. For next weekends race, I am going to go with Denny Hamlin to win. He looks as if he is fully healed from his crash earlier this year and is a four time winner at Pocono. I wouldn’t be surprised if any of the Gibbs drivers (barring engine failure) end up competing for the trophy next week.

Pocono’s unique configuration as seen from aerial view!

Harvick Survives To Win At Lowes

Race winner Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet


By: Billy Tewes

A full moon was clear indication of the mayhem of the longest race of the year, The Coca Cola 600. Kevin Harvick survived all of the craziness that is the Lowes Motor Speedway to take home the checkered flag. Harvick’s 21st Cup Series victory came after a KaseyKahne decided to stay out when a caution waved with 15 laps to go. With fresher tires, Harvick blew past Kahne and never looked back. This win is Harvick’s second Coca Cola 600 win and second of the 2013 campaign.

The race started with a frenetic pace as drivers quickly got spread out and Kasey Kahne looked to be the class of the field. Kyle Busch then emerged as a strong challenger but a very unusual incident happened as Busch took the green flag after a caution. A nylon wire that held up one of the Fox broadcast cameras snapped and damaged both the cars of Kyle Busch and Marcos Ambrose as well as ten spectators. The first of two red flags were brought out and halted the action. Luckily all of the fans are ok and did not get seriously injured.

Kyle Busch surveying the damage after hitting Fox’s nylon camera cable

All drivers were able to pit after this red flag and both Busch and Ambrose were able to fix their cars under that red flag. Unfortunately for Kyle Busch,  his night would be ruined as he had a “catastrophic engine failure” on lap 257.

As the sun began to drop, it became evident that the 20 car of Matt Kenseth would become the dominant driver of the race. Kenseth took control of the race and led 112 laps before his crew chief made a huge error and did not bring him to pit road when the rest of the field pitted. Jason Ratcliffe claimed that he did not hear much radio chatter and that is why he kept Kenseth out in hopes of keeping his track position.

Initially this did not doom Kenseth as he held his own after being passed by Kasey Kahne for the lead. Kenseth pitted at lap 300 which then forced the hands of the rest of the lead lap cars. This would have worked except for the fact that Kasey Kahne stayed out long enough to take advantage of a caution for debris which trapped Jeff Gordon and Matt Kenseth one lap down.

Kenseth would eventually get back on the lead lap but when trying to race his way back to the front, Jimmie Johnson lost control of his car and Juan Pablo Montoya slammed into Kenseth. Kenseth’s car was never the same and he would end up finishing 15th.

The last 100 laps proved to be a wreck fest as Ricky Stenhouse Jr clipped Danica Patrick who then crashed into last years champ Brad Keselowski. The final big wreck happened when Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Aric Almirola were going three wide into turn one. Martin clipped Almirola who then slammed into Jeff Gordon.

This caution would end up causing heartache for Kasey Kahne. Kahne was the only driver to stay out when everyone else pitted. One is the loneliest number and that was exactly how Kahne felt. Kahne was able to hang on to finish second but this allowed Harvick to steal his second win of 2013.

Next week Nascar heads to the monster mile another incredible track for great racing. It’s really difficult to predict a winner of Dover. Jimmie Johnson has won four of the last ten Dover races and Matt Kenseth would be a safe pick as it seems that he has been a contender for every race this year. However I am going to pick Martin Truex Jr. to get his first win since his very first career victory at this very track.Don’t miss this race Nascar fans as it is sure to be action packed and full of thrills!

Miles the monster in all of his glory!

Two Years Two Million For Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet


By: Billy Tewes

Jimmie Johnson coasted to his fourth All-Star race victory last night after a quick pit stop gave Johnson prime track position. Johnson held off a mounting charge from Joey Logano to win the million. Johnson won last years All-Star race as well and has always had a firm grip on Lowes Motor Speedway.

The action started with Sprint Showdown, the qualifier for drivers who did not initially qualify for the big show. Jamie McMurray in the Bass Proshops Chevy led both 20 lap showdown segments and transferred into the five segment all-star race. In addition to McMurray and second place finisher Ricky Stenhouse Jr, a fan vote determined one final entry and that would be none other than Danica Patrick. Drivers like Martin Truex Jr and Paul Menard were more worthy as they were competitive and actually challenged for the lead in the showdown.

This year had a new twist that Nascar implemented to try to make things more interesting. In addition to the one million that drivers take home for winning the final segment, if one driver were to win all five segments, they would take home an additional million. Its pretty safe to say that this will never happen and it did not happen last night. The five segments were broke into four 20 lap segments and one final 10 lap segment to win it all.

Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch (my pick to win it) started on the front row for segment one due to the competition qualifying session that took place the night before. Brad Keselowski broke a transmission on lap 3 effectively ruining his night.  Kurt Busch led every lap of segment one to win it and the first segment saw two red flags for a small shower that passed through.

There was plenty of hard racing as this is a non points paying race and every driver wanted to win that million dollars. Three wide racing down the backstretch and speeds approaching 200 MPH could have been a major recipe for disaster. Luckily for all involved, the only accident was a single car spin by Mark Martin in which he barely managed to avoiding hitting the slowed car of Danica Patrick at the start finish line.

Kyle Busch would end up winning the second and third segments and first segment winner Kurt Busch won the fourth segment.

The final 10 lap shootout put Kurt Busch in the prime seat to win and prove that I could be right with my picks two weeks in a row. Unfortunately for Kurt a slow final pit stop cost him valuable time and gave eventual race winner Jimmie Johnson the track position and he capitalized like he and his team usually do.

Johnson’s victory at Charlotte marked his record fourth All-Star victory and 10th overall in Sprint Cup Series competition. It is very clear that Johnson and company have this track figured out and will be hard to handle next week for the 600.

Next Sunday’s race is one of my favorite weekends for racing. There is 1,100 miles of racing between the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca Cola 600. I think that Kyle Busch will win after a grueling 600 miles. If the racing of the All-Star race is any indication of what is to come next sunday, I think we are going to see a fantastic race. I will also add that I will be watching the Indy 500 and am pulling for Takuma Sato to win his first Indy 500 after last years debacle where he nearly won it. It is sure to be an exciting weekend for race fans!

2012 Coca Cola 600 Winner Kasey Kahne

Elite Form For Matt Kenseth At Darlington



By: Billy Tewes

Once a year, one lucky driver is able to say they conquer “The Lady In Black”. The track that is often too tough to tame was handled by one man tonight. That man was Matt Kenseth. After running in the top 5 for majority of the race, Kenseth’s crew made a late race adjustment on the final caution and passed race leader Kyle Busch with 13 laps to go to win the Bonjangles Southern 500. The Southern 500 is Kenseth’s 27th win and his very first at Darlington!

This race meant the world to Kenseth. “Honestly, I’ve only dreamed about winning the Southern 500,” Kenseth said. “This to me feels to me probably bigger than any win of my career. Kenseth who started 7th, ended up leading a total of 17 laps. Kenseth led the final 13 laps and faced no challenges after he blew past Kyle Busch who said he had a tire going flat.

The Lady In Black was manhandled by Kyle Busch tonight. Busch led 265 of the 367 laps. With 35 laps to go, Busch took the air off the left rear quarter panel of the 5 car of Kasey Kahne as Kahne tried to pass him on the high side. Kahne got loose and slid up into the wall which caused the final caution. . This is last caution where the Husky Tools #20 team made the right adjustment to make Kenseth’s car the superior one. If Kahne had not spun and if there was no caution, I don’t think Kenseth’s team would have been able to put him in position to win. Not to mention that Kyle Busch was the class of the field and Kenseth lucked out with Busch getting a flat around 15 laps to go. Somehow Kyle Busch was able to hang on to finish sixth

This race was relatively clean for a Darlington race. There were only five cautions and there was plenty of green flag racing. Talladega race winner David Ragan would end up finishing 39th with a blown engine.

There were only two lap leaders other than Kenseth and Busch. Kyle’s brother Kurt who qualified first led 69 laps and Jeff Gordon, who started his 700th career race, led 16.

For Kenseth and crew this win was giant. Kenseth’s crew cheif Jason Ratcliffe was suspended for only 1 race after Joe Gibbs Racing appealed the bogus penalty that was handed to Kenseth and co. after their Kansas victory earlier this year. Originally Kenseth was penalized 50 points and his crew chief Jason Ratcliffe was going to be suspended for six races. The Nascar appeals process changed this penalty to 12 points and only a one race suspension for Ratcliffe. Tonight, interim crew chief Wally Brown took over and won his first race as a crew chief!

For the first time all year I was correct in picking the race winner. He didn’t lead the most laps, but he did win the race! Next week is the Spint Cup Showdown (formerly known as the All-Star race) which is one of the most fun races to watch. The winner gets $1,000,000 and there are three different segments throughout the course of the night. Due to the nature of it being a non points paying race and that the winner takes home $1,000,000, this race has intensity written all over it. In a wacky turn of events, I see Kurt Busch taking home the victory for Furniture Row Racing!

Jimmie Johnson celebrating his all-star victory in last years Sprint Cup Showdown!


Fearless David(s) Beat The Goliaths At Talladega


By: Billy Tewes

The script was played out exactly how we expected it for the entire course of the Aarons 499 at the Talladega Super Speedway. There was a wreck, two of them actually, that destroyed over half of the fields chances at winning. There was a leader who looked as if he had a death grip on Talladega and was not going to let go. And then, there was a surprise winner.

Enter Front Row Motorsports. The two cars of David Ragan and David Gilliand paired up to mount a final charge for the ages that put Front Row 1 and 2 as they crossed the start finish line. This race saw two rain delays that lasted well over 3 hours and pitted drivers against damp conditions as well as a disappearing sun. The 2.56 mile track does not have lights around it, so time was of the essence as the sun faded.

Once again, the dominant car at a restrictor plate track did not win the race. Matt Kenseth led 142 laps and was poised to get his third victory of the season until the final major pileup forced a green white checkered finish. Kenseth would get passed by Carl Edwards with one to go and would try to follow him into turn one where David Ragan and David Gilliand were beginning to mount their charge. Kenseth slipped to the high side believing he would latch onto Edwards draft and try to pass him by himself. Kenseth stated in his interview that he felt that if he blocked Ragan, he would have wrecked the entire field. Ragan and Gilliland jettisoned into the lead down the backstretch and never looked back.

Those two driver for Front Row Motorsports which is one of the underfunded “small” teams in Nascar. They managed to stay out of two wrecks after hanging out in the back of the pack most of the day and chose the right time to make their final push. Ragan won his second Cup series race and first since he was pushed to victory at the summer Daytona night race a few years ago.

The first of two major pileups would be caused by Kyle Busch when he fanned out to the high side and thought he could pass the 5 car of Kasey Kahne. What ensued was Busch clipping Kahne, sending him into the wall and collecting drivers like Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and many others.

Kurt Busch Flipping Over On Top of Ryan Newman

The real controversy surrounding this race came in part to the final giant pileup that saw Kurt Busch flip his car on top of the car of Ryan Newman. Both Newman and Busch were very critical of the conditions they were racing in, especially the darkness. I was quite surprised that Nascar did not shorten the race at least 15 laps after the second rain delay. They put drivers in a compromising situation. Here is what Newman had to say about the race conditions:

“I wanted to make sure I get that point across. Y’all can figure out who ‘they’ is. That’s no way to end a race. Our car was much better than that. That’s just poor judgment in restarting the race, poor judgment. I mean, you got what you wanted, but poor judgment and running in the dark and running in the rain.”

I completely agree with Newman. It was foolish for Nascar to keep racing after they knew how dark it would get. They ran into the same situation with the nationwide race the night before as that race was also delayed due to rain and had to be shortened. Nascar dropped the ball. I think the perfect compromise as I just mentioned would be to shorten it from 60 laps to 45 and that gives drivers about 15 more minutes of sunlight to work with as opposed to it being too dark. When it comes to driver safety, I can’t believe Nascar compromised driver safety to satisfy whatever remaining fans that stayed through all of the rain delays.

Next week the cup boys head to the “Lady In Black” at Darlington. Darlington has been known to eat up drivers as it is incredibly diffcult to navigate the 1.5 mile track. The turns are different lengths and the banking makes it difficult to enter the corners, thus drivers end up smacking the wall. The walls are painted white, but by the time all of the races are done, it will be marred with hundreds of different color combinations. Last year, the Furniture Row racing driver Regan Smith (who was on older tires) shocked the Nascar world and held off Carl Edwards to win his first career Sprint Cup Series race. I don’t think there will be the same magic this weekend. It is so hard to predict races this year especially one at Darlington where anything can happen. If I had a choice, I would say Matt Kenseth and here is why. He is so fired up after leading the most laps in the past two weeks and not winning that he will not only lead the most laps at Dralington, but he will win his third race of the year! Enjoy the carnage that Darlington brings and I will be back with a post race wrap up of all the action!

Texas Terry Labonte’s Final Career Victory At Darlington in 2003