Race Blog

The Scoop: Kyle Busch leads the most laps, but fell back to 3rd on final restart. Last week’s enemies Joey Logano (pretty much the 2nd fastest car of the day) and Denny Hamlin (pole-sitter, who drove from 25th after late speeding penalty) took the race to the line. Logano had the Auto Club 400 won, but Hamlin (on fresher tires) caught him in the final two laps and they jostled for the top spot. Hamlin almost had him cleared, but Logano drove deep into the last turns, they touched, Hamlin pretty much turned him into the wall, and then wrecked nose-first into inside wall. Busch, who was closing in on the battle, drove by on their outside as they began to wreck for the win. Logano finished 6th, Hamlin 25th. After exiting the No. 11 FedEx Toyota, Hamlin dropped to the ground and the medics put him on a backboard and took him to the hospital – no word in his condition, but he was alert. Logano blocked Stewart on the final restart, somehow causing Stewart to fall to 22nd at the finish. He blocked Logano on pit road after the race and charged at him, throwing punches. The crews also began fighting and Logano threw a water bottle. There was plenty of sea-saw action through the pack in the late laps as drivers drove from 20th to the top 5 or the opposite again and again. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch were two such drivers and they finished 2nd and 3rd. Earnhardt Jr. now leads the points as previous points leaders Brad Keselowski (23rd) and Jimmie Johnson (12th) had off days.

140 Characters or Less: Dominant Kyle Busch passes wrecking rivals to win at Cali. Stewart latest to teach Logano lesson. Hamlin in hospital. Junior leads points.

Handsome Boy Modeling School Stud of the Race: Kyle Busch – he won by capitalizing on Hamlin and Logano’s errors, led the most Continue...

The Scoop: Kasey Kahne was fast all weekend and survived the attrition of other fast cars, leading 109 laps to claim the win. The No. 5 Great Clips Chevy started 2nd and hung at the front all day, though Denny Hamlin (led race-high 117 laps), Kyle Busch (led 56 laps), Matt Kenseth (led 85 laps), Jeff Gordon (led 66 laps), and Brad Keselowski (led 62 laps) all had significant stints up front. Keselowski and Paul Menard gained several spots each to take the lead on the 2nd-to-last caution by staying out and stretching their fuel to the end. Kahne had the fastest car, but had to clear Menard and then battled very hard with Keselowski to wrestle away the lead. He did, but the No. 2 Ford took it back. On the race’s final restart, Keselowski spun the tires and gave the lead back to Kahne, who drove to his 15th career victory and first Sprint Cup trophy at Bristol Motor Speedway. Busch bested Keselowski for 2nd (after losing the lead early in the race with yet another pit road speeding penalty), with brother Kurt coming back from a green flag pit stop for a flat tire to finish 4th. The rest of the top 10 were Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Menard and Jamie McMurray. Problems plagued contenders: Tony Stewart fell back through the field in the first laps like Bowyer did last week, cut a tire, spun out, and finished 36 laps down in 31st. Gordon cut a tire while trying to hold Kenseth back from stealing his lead, wrecking both of them. Jimmie Johnson cut a tire, hit the wall, and finished 22nd. Joey Logano had a top-5 car, but Hamlin spun him out when he drove in front of him. Logano confronted Hamlin after the race, but a No. 11 crew member kept them from getting too close. Logano drove up to as high as 6th again, but fell back to 17th on the final restart and finished there. Hamlin hit the wall while running top-5 late in Continue...

Kyle Larson’s last-lap, airborne, fence-breaking, fan-injuring crash made national headlines at Daytona International Speedway. But the big crash before it took a heavier toll on a driver. 26-year-old Michael Annett’s No. 43 Pilot Travel Centers Ford snapped head-on into the wall and then got hit on both sides by other wrecking cars. The crash looked similar to most other large restrictor plate racing melees, but Annett knew his impact was something different on the ambulance ride to the infield care center afterwards. After getting quickly out of his wrecked car and into the ambulance, Annett says he felt something wrong with his chest.

“I took my helmet off and my gloves and I could kind of feel some pressure in my chest. So I undid my suit and kind of started feeling around. And the best way to put it, it felt like there was a golf ball right in the middle of my sternum trying to stick out through the skin,” Annett tells News/Talk WSB, while on the way to this weekend’s NASCAR races at Bristol Motor Speedway.

After doctors in the track care center determined the severity of Annett’s injury, they transported him across the street to Halifax Health and Medical Center. Doctors at the hospital immediately began trauma procedures and then took the Richard Petty Motorsports driver for a CT scan. But as Annett’s testing began, the horrifying aftermath of Larson’s crash sent the Halifax staff into high alert.

“As they were getting ready to start the [CT] scan, one of the nurses came in and said, ‘We have got eight traumas coming in and we need some help out here!’ and I knew right away that it probably wasn’t eight drivers hurt, so either it was a wreck on the highway or some fans injured. From there on, they kind of got my injury under control and knew it wasn’t a life or death situation. And at that point I told them, ‘You need to go help the fans – it s Continue...

The Scoop: Matt Kenseth leads the last part of race to win for his first time with Joe Gibbs Racing. Kenseth gains lead by taking no tires on final pit stop and then holds off the day’s fastest car, Kasey Kahne. Kahne led 114 laps, but got jammed up in some traffic on the day’s last pit stop and lost track position. He almost caught Kenseth and finished 2nd. Kenseth becomes the third driver to win on his birthday. Brad Keselowski (on same no-tires strategy as Kenseth) was 3rd, Kyle Busch (busted early in race for speeding on pit road) 4th, and last week’s winner Carl Edwards 5th.  

140 Characters or Less: Kahne leads most laps, but slow in pits/restarts. Kenseth snags lead w/no tires. Dirty air still matters, no matter the car. Happy bday!

Handsome Boy Modeling School Stud of the Race: Kasey Kahne – had the fastest car and really only lost because of having to leave pits later as Tony Stewart entered his stall. He may still have lost the race, as Kenseth beat him and crew chief Kenny Francis on tire strategy. Even still, Kahne overcame slow restarts again and again to keep retaking the lead. He almost did it again with Kenseth, but still ended the day leading the most laps (114).

North Korean Missile Dud: Clint Bowyer – With the starting lineup set by 2012 points after Friday’s qualifying rainout, Bowyer got a prime starting position and should have run well in the race (Toyotas were fast all weekend). Instead, Bowyer dropped all the way outside the top 20 in the first few laps, pitted very early for what he thought was a flat tire and dropped two laps down, and finished a dismal 27th.

Never Fear, Underdogs Are Here: Dave Blaney – A 24th place finish isn’t much to brag about, but this No. 7 Tommy Baldwin Racing tea Continue...

Jeff Burton has seen plenty in this his 20th full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. Sponsors have come and gone, crew chiefs have changed, NASCAR has changed the racecars repeatedly, and Burton himself has switched employers a couple of times. At 45, Burton’s maturity and matter-of-factness are sought out heavily by the media. And this still after an awfully tepid last two seasons at Richard Childress Racing – a couplet that has not seen the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy on TV very often. But 2013 shows hope for Burton, who reportedly is a free agent after the season. After getting wrecked late in the Daytona 500, the Virginia driver ran 10th at Phoenix Sunday – his and the team’s first top 10 since Talladega last October. The new Gen-6 car and structural changes at RCR have left Burton and the whole organization (which had a very mediocre 2012 season) optimistic they can all rebound.

Burton and team are also enthusiastic about a new sponsor for the No. 31 Chevy. Kwikset will serve as the primary sponsor for the car at Daytona in July and as an associate sponsor throughout the season. The black, red, and white paint scheme should fit right in the RCR shop, as those are RCR’s main colors (thanks to Dale Earnhardt and GM Goodwrench) and Kevin Harvick’s sponsorships with Budweiser, Jimmy John’s, and Rheem. Burton, who has often stood for driver safety and the stability of the sport, seems a “lock” to be a successful fit for the door hardware company.

Burton’s take on NASCAR is a must with so much change these days. As he boarded a flight Burton took a couple of minutes (and held up the plane’s takeoff) to talk about the new Gen-6 car and its criticisms.

“Everyone is so quick to jump to conclusions on everything we do in life. We’re not going to have the answer immediately. Daytona was not as exciting of a race as I think that everyone hoped it w Continue...

Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix Race Capsule

The Scoop: Carl Edwards pilots the No. 99 Subway Ford to victory in the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix. Edwards leads twice for 122 of the 316 laps (including the last 78) to win for the first time since Las Vegas in 2011 (70 races). Edwards breaks the streak at the same track he broke a similar streak in 2010. Ken Schrader’s wreck with three laps to go bunched up the field for a green-white-checkered finish, with all the leaders stretching fuel. Dale Earnhardt Jr. restarted 2nd, but spun his tires, bunched the outside line and allowed Edwards to shake away. Brad Keselowski shoved Edwards to the start, but Jimmie Johnson caught him for the spot and Denny Hamlin dive-bombed them both. Johnson and Hamlin finished door-to-door, smoking fenders, with Johnson taking 2nd. Kyle Busch spun early and never recovered. Ryan Newman (twice), Scott Riggs, David Gilliland, Schrader, and (uh-oh) Danica Patrick all blew tires and wrecked. Mark Martin started on the pole, led 75 laps, but got off pit sequence and track-position-wise to finish 21st.

140 Characters or Less: Edwards breaks drought again at Phx. Johnson and Hamlin runner-up fender rubbers. Tires ruin days of several. Passing hard. RaceView sucks.

Handsome Boy Modeling School Stud of the Race: Carl Edwards – Easy to pick the winner, yes, but Edwards didn’t steal the win, led the most laps, came back through the field to take the lead twice, and held off hard chargers at the end. He also broke a perplexing two-year winless streak, though his team (which essentially was the successful No. 17 crew of last year) won three times in 2012 with Matt Kenseth. 

North Korean Missile Dud: Kyle Busch – Got the “Stud” award Saturday, but got anxious and spun early in Sunday’s race, taking himself out of c Continue...