Elite Form For Matt Kenseth At Darlington

 

5/11/2103

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!

 

Shoot To Thrill! Kyle Busch Runs Roughshod At Texas

4/14/2013

By: Billy Tewes

Kyle Busch was back in victory lane after having a flawless night in his Interstate Batteries Camry. The NRA 500 came down to a battle off pit road between Martin Truex Jr and Kyle Busch. Busch’s team jumped him up one stop but that didn’t even matter because Kyle’s car was superior to Truex’s.  This win marks Busch’s first win at the Texas Motor Speedway and his second of the 2013 season.

Busch led 171 of the 334 laps and it was obvious from his new track record that he had a strong car all weekend. Busch also won the Nationwide Series race the night before in dominating fashion as well. The only other driver to come close to Busch’s level would be Martin Truex Jr who led 142 laps and was leading the race late until the final pit stop. It should be noted that Martin Truex Jr did however fail post race inspection for having the nose of his car too low which was not up to par with the inspection policies. Any penalties for this infraction will come later this week. I wouldn’t be surprised if he was docked some points and his crew chief might get suspended.

There weren’t a lot of drivers who could stick with Busch and Truex who combined led 313 of the 334 laps. One of the drivers that could hang with the cream of the crop was Jeff Gordon, but his day was ended on lap 306 with suspension issues.

The big story out of this weekend comes in two parts. It happened before and after the race was over. Before the race started, the Penske Racing cars of last years champion Brad Keselowski in the #2 Miller Lite Fusion and the #22 of Joey Logano failed pre race inspection for having rear end housing parts that Nascar ended up confiscating. Both ended up racing but Brad Keselowski was fired up after the race:

“The way we’ve been treated over the last seven days is absolute shameful. I feel like we’ve been targeted over the last seven days more than I’ve ever seen a team targeted in my life. My guys keep their heads on straight and they showcased why they’re a winning team and a championship team.”

I sure hope Brad is ready to open up his pocket book. Earlier this year Nascar fined Denny Hamlin for criticizing the generation six car. I would not be surprised to see them fine Keselowski for saying damaging things about the integrity of the sport. I don’t really know what is going on behind the scenes, but I believe he could have handled this much better by saying nothing than opening himself up to Nascar for fines.

My prediction of Matt Kenseth winning the NRA 500 fell short so now I am 0/2 since beginning this prediction segment. Kenseth and crew could not get front grip out of the car and he seemed to be tight off the corner so he could never make significant progress toward the front and would finish 12th. Next week is first of two spots at the Kansas Speedway which is the sister track to Las Vegas. I won’t pick Matt Kenseth again even though I think he’ll be strong like he was at Vegas. My pick instead will be Greg Biffle in the #16 Fusion to get his first victory of the season. Biffle’s won at Kansas twice and the Roush cars are historically strong at 1.5 mile tracks. There is always more excitement instore so stay tuned for the STP 400 post race wrap up!

A glimpse of the potential madness at Kansas!!

A Gift Wrapped Win For Busch; Hamlin Airlifted to Hospital

A Gift Wrapped Win For Busch; Hamlin Airlifted to Hospital

3/25/2013

By: Billy Tewes

In order to take home the trophy for the Auto Club 400, drivers had to survive a twelve lap dash to the finish. Kyle Busch and Joey Logano battled for six of the final twelve laps, until Denny Hamlin challenged the two for the lead with six to go.

What would happen next could not be scripted by the best of writers. With five to go, Joey Logano in the #22 AAA Fusion would be nose to tail with Denny Hamlin’s #11 Fed Ex Camry as both drivers passed race leader Kyle Busch. Denny Hamlin had four fresh tires whereas Joey Logano only took two right side tires. This is signficant because generally speaking four tires grip the track better than two and Hamlin was able to catch the leaders at a much quicker pace. The two battled it out until the final lap where things got really crazy really quick!

Entering turn four, Joey Logano drove the low lane and slid up into Denny Hamlin in the top lane with both losing control of their cars. Logano hit the top wall and continued on to finish 3rd,  while Hamlin spun down the track and hit the infield wall head on. Kyle Busch was stalking the two and just managed to sneak by before they wrecked and won the race.

Denny Hamlin would have to be airlifted to the hospital after his hard hit. Hamlin got out of his car at first, but collapsed shortly after while being attended to by the infield medical crew. Hamlin was taken to the hospital as a precautionary measure and appears he will be ok.

The intensity of this race escalated with the final restart being the key to the mayhem. Joey Logano was wrecked last week by Denny Hamlin at Bristol and vowed he would pay him back.

Joey Logano’s post-race quote does not help his cause, but I think what he said will be taken out of context. Here is the quote:

”He probably shouldn’t have done what he did last week, so that’s what he gets,”

That definitely sounds like someone seeking payback, but hang on a second. I have always believed that people say things they do not mean in the heat of the moment. Logano had a microphone shoved in his face within minutes of the incident and was still upset about losing the race and wrecking his car.

The incident itself was not payback; however it will certainly be misconstrued as Logano intentionally trying to wreck Hamlin. For starters, drivers top 200 MPH entering the turns at California and it is very dangerous to intentionally wreck someone here. Also, Logano and Hamlin were racing for the win and Logano slid into Hamlin and wrecked both of them. If he really wanted to intentionally wreck Hamlin, he would have done it in a way that would have only wrecked Hamlin’s car and not himself in the process.

This race ended in such a crazy fashion that it aboslutely overshadowed Kyle Busch’s dominating performance. Kyle Busch led all but 75 of the 200 laps at California. When all is said and done, this race proved that drivers weren’t afraid to race side by side with each other. This race was hands down an instant classic and one of the best at California, which is generally a snooze fest. The generation six car is becoming extremely competitive and there have been some fantastic finishes so far.

Nascar is off next weekend so look forward to my extremely pre mature review of the first six races of the season.

Kyle Busch Celebrates His 25th Career Sprint Cup Win at California Motor Speedway