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

Matt Kenseth

 

6/30/2013

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!

 

Harvick Survives To Win At Lowes

Race winner Kevin Harvick, Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet

5/27/2013

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!