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!

6/16/2013

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

6/9/2013

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!

Two Years Two Million For Jimmie Johnson

Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet

5/19/2013

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

Martinsville Domination Jimmie Johnson Style

4/7/2013

By: Billy Tewes

Martinsville might have to be renamed “Jimmie Johnsonville” after Jimmie Johnson took home the Grandfather clock at this afternoon’s STP Gas Booster 500.  The mayhem at Martinsville was contained due in part to a dominating performance Johnson. Johnson led 347 of the 500 laps en route to his second win of the year and his 8th career win at Martinsville.

Johnson dominated this weekend from start to finish. Johnson took the pole position in qualifying Friday afternoon with a speed of 98.4 which was good enough for a brand new track record. Very few drivers were able to challenge Johnson and it seemed as if his car was on a rail all day long.

Early on, it seemed as if the Joe Gibbs Racing cars of Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth were going to be the dominating drivers. But after lap 363, Jimmie Johnson would prove to be too much to handle. Johnson and his #48 Lowes team were no lower than fourth position the entire 500 laps of the race. This comes as no surprise as I noted in my last blog, the Hendrick cars have always been extremely good at Martinsville.

Martinsville is generally a one lane race track. It is nearly impossible for drivers to pass and that caused trouble, especially when it came to flat tires. Drivers tried desperately to get to the bottom lane on restarts as well as when trying to pass another driver. In some instances, the cars would collide and one drivers’ fender would dig into the tire of the driver next to them. Drivers had to bump each other out of the way for position and that caused for a lot of beat up cars and dented hoods. This race was old school Martinsville at its finest!

Last week I mentioned that Dale Earnhardt Jr might win his first race of the year. Unfortunately for him, he would end up finishing 24th, worst of all the Hendrick cars. Johnson, Gordon and Kahne would finish first, third and fourth respectively. I also mentioned in last week’s blog that there had been five different winners this year. My thunder was completely ruined this week as Dale Earnhardt Jr did not win and Johnson became the first multi race winner.

I want to talk about one really cool thing that came out of Martinsville that I’ve never seen before. With 15 laps to go, Kurt Busch broke a brake line. The combination of the brake fluid spraying on the hot engine caused a huge engine fire. This video shows the accident and also shows that Kurt Busch reaches into his dash and pushes a button that triggers a fire extinguisher that is inside the engine compartment. This is a really neat feature that was designed with the generation six car that really shows how safety minded the engineers were when they built this car.

With Martinsville in the books, Nascar moves out West to the Texas Motor Speedway where high speeds will be the storyline. Texas Motor Speedway is a mile and a half track with high banked turns that allow drivers to hit over 200 MPH. Will Jimmie Johnson carry the momentum of winning this week into back to back victories? That is quite possible; however my pick for next week is going to be Matt Kenseth. Kenseth is coming off a disappointing finish at Martinsville after leading nearly 80 laps. Kenseth has won twice at Texas and he has truly found his way with Joe Gibbs Racing this year. He has already won at Las Vegas, a similar track and has won Texas twice in his career.

Matt Kenseth’s last victory at Texas in 2011.