As a life-long NASCAR fan that grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, I've often dreamed of covering the drivers I grew up watching on TV. In 2009 I began to do so for Cincinnati TV stations at Kentucky Speedway and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. I am a Mark Martin fan but cover all the fun stories from the garage area and often opine on the sport from a fan and media member's perspective.
Check out my blog at http://adamniemeyer.blogspot.com/ and follow me on Twitter: @adamniemeyer
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Chris Buescher didn’t think he would win his first race in the way that he did at Pocono on Monday afternoon, but due to strategy, luck and a lot of fog, the 23-year-old Texan found his way to Victory Lane for the first time in the Cup Series.
“Honestly it doesn’t even feel real right now,” Buescher said from the makeshift victory celebration indoors at Pocono.
Buescher was in the lead with 28 to go when NASCAR threw a caution flag for fog that had rolled over the 2.5-mile triangle-shaped track in the Pennsylvania mountains. The red flag was displayed with 22 to go and after a nearly 80-minute wait NASCAR officials deemed the race over.
“It’s an agonizing wait but it’s awesome,” said Buescher, who won the 2015 Xfinity Series title, and finished 14th last week at Indianapolis, a career high.
Brad Keselowski finished second, Regan Smith finished third, followed by Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart, Kyle Larson, Denny Hamlin and Carl Edwards. Brothers Kyle and Kurt Busch rounded out the top ten.
This was Buescher’s 27th career Cup start and moved the 2012 ARCA champion within striking distance of qualifying for the Chase for the Sprint Cup. “We’re on the right path right now,” said Buescher, who currently sits six points outside the cutoff for 30th place. If Buescher can get into the top 30 in points he will qualify for NASCAR’s post season. “We’re in the hunt,” he said. “We can handle this.”
The win for Front Row Motorsports was the second in the team’s history. It had been 118 races since David Ragan first put the two-car team in the winner’s circle in a thrilling win at Talladega.
While the weather ended the race, there was plenty of action in the middle of the event between Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon. Both were batting for the lead at the halfway point of the event, each looking to win their first career Cup race, when they got together and slid up the track, allowing Joey Logano to assume the lead.
Logano led 38 laps but got caught up with rookie Chase Elliott after a restart and crashed. Polesitter Martin Truex Jr. hit the wall on lap 20 and brought out a caution. He appeared to have right-side tire issues after a pit stop during the race’s first caution, a competition caution. Later in the race he hit the wall again and would not finish the race. Truex finished 39th.
The race started just after noon due to rain, which postponed the race until Monday. Pocono’s June race was also postponed to Monday after rain showers washed out Sunday’s scheduled race.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will head to Watkins Glen next weekend for the second road course stop for the premiere series.
Pocono has a flair for the dramatic and fuel mileage races are commonplace at the 2.5-mile triangular shaped racetrack in the Pennsylvania mountains. Monday was no different as Kurt Busch stretched his fuel to capture a win in the Axalta We Paint Winners 400.
“It’s tough to balance everything,” Busch said in victory lane. “We had a fast car and an interim crew chief. And we didn't know if we had enough fuel to make it. This was a wonderful win for us. We’ve been so close all year. It’s just so much fun to drive and be up front.”
Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second. “Really we lost the race on the restart. The 24 and me were racing pretty hard. He was really trying to get his lead back, and he knew if he could get the lead, he was going to win the race. He got me loose a little bit. That slowed us up some. The 41 got a good run on him and I didn't do a good enough job holding him off. I could have been a little more aggressively doing some things differently.”
Brad Keselowski, Chase Elliott and Joey Logano rounded out the top five in the race run at noon Monday after heavy rains, fog and misty conditions postponed the race on Sunday. The rookie Elliott led 51 laps, a race high. “We certainly had I feel like one of our best days of the year personally,” Elliott said after the race. “I thought for us to be able to contend and lead laps all day and have a car that could fight for the lead the majority of the day I thought was great.”
Interim crew chief Johnny Klausmeier guided Busch to the win because usual crew chief Tony Gibson was suspended after the Coke 600 due to a lug nut violation in post-race inspection.
“It was nerve-racking, but it all ended up working out really good,” Klausmeier said. “We just knew that we were racing guys on fuel that had the same engine horsepower, Hendrick power as us, so we knew that we should be in the same sequence as them. Kurt did a great job of saving it. We just kind of kept him informed on everything that was going on, and he took it and ran with it, and it was great.”
Kasey Kahne finished sixth with Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards behind him. Kevin Harvick finished ninth and rookie Ryan Blaney finished tenth.
It was Busch’s first win of the season and the first since he won a rain-shortened race at Michigan last June.
“There really wasn't a doubt,” said Busch of saving fuel at the end of the race. “I can honestly say that Klausmeier gave me the confidence. He kept giving me numbers. I kept finding ways to think that I was saving fuel. I kept checking the mirror, kept checking my lap time on the dash. I felt like a cook in a kitchen trying to beat the buzzer and not get chopped at the end of the show with as many things as I felt like I was managing, but the spotter helped, Klausmeier helped, my past experience on saving fuel helped, and it all turned into a win here at Pocono.”
Next week’s race is at Michigan where NASCAR will institute a new rule eliminating rear-end toe “skew” and shortening the rear spoiler to reduce even more downforce. The new rules will also be in effect at Kentucky Speedway in July.
Kyle Busch had never won at Martinsville in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series before this season, and on Saturday night Busch once more checked off a track he’d never scored a win at when he won the Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway. Busch, the defending series champ, outdueled 2014 Cup champ Kevin Harvick with less than 10 laps to go to capture his first win at Kansas.
“This is pretty big,” said Busch in victory lane. “There’s been some rough days in Kansas for us.”
Harvick beat teammate Kurt Busch, while Matt Kenseth finished fourth, his first career top five of the season. Rookie Ryan Blaney finished fifth.
“We overhauled this thing this morning to try to get it close,” said Harvick. “Just have to thank my guys.”
This is Busch’s third win of 2016, making this the seventh season he’s had at least three victories on the circuit.
Austin Dillon finished sixth followed by Ryan Newman, AJ Allmendinger, rookie Chase Elliott and Brad Keselowski who came home tenth.
On a restart with 20 to go Harvick pushed his way into second and pulled right up to Busch’s bumper with 10 laps to go but couldn’t pull off the race-winning pass.
“I thought clean air was best,” Busch said after the race. “I knew we had some laps on our tires but I knew we could hold them off.”
With 27 laps to go Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin made a daring three-wide attempt to pass Brad Keselowski and Kyle Larson for second but it resulted in a four-car wreck off of turn four.
“I was going in there three-wide and I just got loose,” said Hamlin on TV. “Our car was a fast car and didn’t show it because I sped twice on pit lane. I was just going for it there.”
Martin Truex Jr. led a race-high 172 laps but had a loose wheel with 52 laps remaining, forcing Truex to make an unscheduled pit stop and lose a lap.
“Frustrating but that’s how it goes,” said a frustrated Truex after the race. “We’re going to win some for sure.”
Busch now has won at every current racetrack except Charlotte and Pocono.
The Sprint Cup Series will hit the one-mile Dover Speedway next Sunday afternoon.
Kyle Busch had never tasted victory at Martinsville before this weekend, but Busch not only won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday but dominated the STP 500 on Sunday to sweep the weekend in Virginia.
“To win here at Martinsville is pretty cool,” he said after jumping out of his No. 18 car. “I can’t say enough about my teammates, they helped me out a lot at this place.”
It was Busch’s first win in the Sprint Cup Series at the shortest track on NASCAR’s schedule. AJ Allmendinger finished second, followed by Kyle Larson, Austin Dillon and Brad Keselowski.
“I’m trying my butt off. I didn’t like who I was for the team last year. I was frustrated. I wanted to be better for this team,” said Allmendinger, who captured his best finish of the season. “These guys, when they step up make me better.”
Busch led 352 laps in the 500-lap event and became the first driver to sweep weekend events at the track. Busch's 352 laps led were the most since 1998 when Bobby Hamilton led 378 laps to win the April event at Martinsville.
Carl Edwards finished sixth after fighting to get a lap back for most of the race. He was followed by seventh-place Brian Vickers, Paul Menard, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman who rounded out the top ten.
“The team is getting stronger every week,” said Vickers, who is substituting for the injured Tony Stewart in the No. 14 car. “They will be a good, strong team this year.”
Busch won the Camping World Truck Series race on Saturday, much to the dismay of many fans, but he did it for a reason: to learn more about how to be fast on Sunday.
“I’d say it helps when you run other divisions,” he said in Victory Lane. “That’s why I do it.”
Kyle Larson also ran in the Alpha Energy 250 on Saturday. He joked after the race that his third-place finish means he “can see a Grandfather clock in my future.” The clock is the trophy for winners of races at the track.
For the first time all season Kevin Harvick finished outside the top ten. Harvick came home in 17th.
Busch battled with his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth for most of the day, but took off on a restart with 12 laps to go and left Kenseth in the dust. Kenseth was caught on the outside line and got freight trained by most of the lead-lap cars. Kenseth finished 15th.
One of the other Joe Gibbs cars, Denny Hamlin, self-proclaimed himself as his biggest competition for the win on Sunday, and was running fifth on lap 221 when his rear tires locked up heading into turn one, sending his No. 11 car into the wall. Hamlin finished 39th.
“It was a rookie move,” said Hamlin after getting out of his damaged car.
Ryan Blaney was the top finishing rookie in 19th. Fellow Rookie of the Year contender Chase Elliott finished as the first car one lap down in 20th. “We learned a whole lot that we can apply for the fall race here,” said Blaney. “Not the best day but we finished on the lead lap, so that’s something to be proud of.”
Joey Logano started on the pole for the third consecutive race at Martinsville and finished 11th.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Texas on Saturday night for the first night race of the season on FOX.
NASCAR’s new low downforce rules package created more passing at Kentucky Speedway on Saturday night in the fifth annual Quaker State 400. Kyle Busch, who won the inaugural race at the track, scored his second win in three weeks as he adapted to the new package and outraced Joey Logano for the checkered flag.
“I moved around and I found something and it really worked for me,” Busch said of adjusting his late-race laps to catch Logano. “So I just kept doing it. And I kind of thought the 22 would get up there a lot quicker than did he when he saw me coming but he didn't, fortunately and I was still able to have some room there.”
Busch led four times for 163 laps on the evening.
Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth rounded out the top five. Defending race winner Brad Keselowski finished sixth, and Jeff Gordon—in his final race at Kentucky—finished seventh. Kevin Harvick, Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch rounded out the top ten.
The weekend was plagued by rain as Sprint Cup Series teams arrived Wednesday for what was supposed to be extra track time. Both Wednesday and Thursday’s practice sessions were wiped off the board and the field was set by first practice speeds from Friday morning. That 49-minute session was also halted by rain, which cut into the amount of time drivers and teams had to learn how their cars would work with a shorter rear spoiler.
“The cool thing about this package is the cars don't punch as big a hole in the air,” said Busch’s crew chief Adam Stevens. “So you don't lose the nose as bad when you're racing guys. Saw a lot of guys race side by side and swap positions and maybe not get clear and drift up behind them and they didn't fall six or eight or 10 car lengths back, they were still there wasn't racing distance. And I think that that's the advantage this package has right now.”
The package was widely lauded as a step in the right direction. Drivers wanted to see less dependency on aerodynamics and hoped NASCAR would allow the racing to return to the skills of the drivers, not on engineering.
“I thought it was an improvement,” said Logano. “I felt like we can enter behind each other, and the affect of being behind a car wasn't as big. So I think that's good. You're never going to get rid of it completely, we're going too fast. But I think directionally it was correct.”
After the race NASCAR said there were 2665 passes during the race. In the 2014 Quaker State 400 there were only 1147. The 22 green flag passes for lead were a new track record too.
“This is what race car driving's all about,” said Hamlin. “And I feel like now it's back in the driver and crew chief's hands to get their car handling like it's supposed to. Not just an arms race of who it build the fastest cars in the shop.”
“I want to say one more time I had more fun racing tonight than I had on a mile-and-a-half in a long, long time,” said Edwards. “ So to me, that spoiler cannot be small enough. It’s stock car racing.”
Busch is now 35th in the point standings, 87 points behind 30th place. If he reaches 30th in the standings after Richmond in September he will qualify for the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
“I'm not thinking about it exactly,” he said of the deficit. “Obviously it's on our mind, but I'm not thinking about the points gained when we win. When we win, I know we did all we can do. That's awesome. And it is what it is. They lie wherever they lie.”
Harvick has the most points, and there have been 11 race winners so far this year including Busch. Ten spots in the Chase are locked up by ten race winners, so if Busch becomes eligible there are just five spots remaining for drivers to get into the Chase. The next race is in New Hampshire next Sunday.
Jimmie Johnson made history on Sunday by winning the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover International Speedway, his tenth win at the racetrack. Johnson took the lead on a restart with 18 to go and never looked back despite a late-race caution that resulted in the race going 405 laps.
“The 4 and I did just fine [on old tires],” said Johnson, noting that his crew chief Chad Knaus told him he’d have to fend off many drivers who pitted during a late caution to get new tires.
With the win—Johnson’s fourth of the season—he joined Hall of Famers Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt Sr., Darrell Waltrip and David Pearson as the only NASCAR drivers to have notched double-digit wins at a racetrack. Petty has ten-plus wins at five different tracks, Waltrip owns the honor at three tracks and Pearson and Earnhardt accomplished the feat at one track each. Johnson needs two wins at Martinsville and three at Charlotte to get double-digit wins at those tracks.
Kevin Harvick finished second, followed by Kyle Larson, Kasey Kahne and Aric Almirola.
“We didn’t need to see those cautions,” said Harvick of the late-race incidents.
Martin Truex Jr. once again led the most laps in the race, but once again fell short of the victory. The Mayetta, N.J. native led 131 laps but finished sixth. The rest of the top ten was filled out by Jamie McMurray, Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon.
“We had a good car today but it was never right,” said Truex Jr. “We made some gains on it but we never really got it right and eventually it caught up to us.”
Kyle Busch was running third with 25 laps to go when he made contact with the lapped car of Brian Scott in between turns three and four, bringing out a caution on lap 375. Busch, who was in his second points race after returning from a leg injury, appeared to be fine after climbing from his No. 18 car.
“We had a really good run going, we ran in the top five all day long,” said a dejected Busch, who finished 36th.
On the ensuing restart Clint Bowyer spun Denny Hamlin off of turn two. Hamlin spun back into traffic and tagged Kurt Busch, sending the elder Busch brother into the wall between turns three and four.
With 21 laps to go every lead lap driver pitted for tires, except Johnson and Harvick who stayed out. Kahne and Truex Jr. took two tires each and couldn’t get past Johnson on the final two restarts.
“We had a pretty good car, and made good adjustments,” said Kahne after the race.
Harvick kept the points lead. Truex Jr. remains second.
A tire on pit road from Michael Annett brought out the fourth caution of the day. Harvick cycled to the lead after green flag pit stops around lap 250 during that caution period.
The race’s third caution was the first big incident of the race involving three cars: Annett, Trevor Bayne and Justin Allgaier. Bayne came across the nose of Annett as the two exited turn four. Annett got tagged by his HScott Motorsports teammate Allgaier as the pack of cars behind the No. 46 dipped into turn one. Bayne slammed the inside SAFER Barrier, mashing up the hood of his No. 6 Ford. Those three drivers finished in the last three spots. Annett finished 41st, Allgaier 42nd and Bayne finished last.
The early portion of the race was dominated by Hamlin and Truex Jr. Hamlin, the polesitter, led 65 of the first 100 laps.
Next week the Sprint Cup Series will run 400 miles in Pocono. The race will air on Fox Sports 1. CLNS Radio “Race Talk Live” host Kate Moss will be in Pocono covering the event.
Kevin Harvick won last year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship in seeming dominating fashion, having the fastest car on numerous race weekends. He won Sunday’s Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway by dominating the field.
“It’s so cool to win here at Las Vegas,” he said. “It’s good to start off the West Coast swing with a victory.”
Martin Truex Jr. finished second, Ryan Newman came home third, Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished fourth and Denny Hamlin rounded out the top five.
“Really proud of everyone,” Truex Jr. said after the race. “It was a solid weekend, the guys made good decisions and we aren’t having terrible luck. Harvick was so fast all day.”
Harvick led 141 laps, including 65 of first 167. The 141 laps led was three times more than any other driver on the day in his 29th career Cup win. It was his first win at the track.
The race also marked the 6th consecutive race Harvick has finished 1st or 2nd, dating back to Texas last season.
AJ Allmendinger scored another top-ten finish, coming home sixth. Brad Keselowski, Kyle Larson, Matt Kenseth and Daytona 500 champion Joey Logano rounded out the top ten.
There were six cautions on the day.
For the second straight week Jimmie Johnson dominated a portion of the race but had a loose wheel on lap 93 and was forced to pit. Harvick took the lead from there, motoring past the No. 48.
Johnson then had a right front tire issue with less than 100 laps left in the race. The six-time Cup champ knocked the outside wall getting into turn one in a wreck that brought out the race’s fourth yellow. Jeb Burton was also involved as he got hit from behind by Jeff Gordon.
Gordon started on the pole in his final start at Vegas but had to start from the rear of the field after a crash in final practice on Saturday forced his team to use his back-up car. Gordon’s hood was damaged in the incident with Burton. He finished 18th.
“I was right behind Jeb and all the sudden he started checking up and I thought he was going to let me get by him but I got into the back of him,” Gordon said of the incident in the middle of the race.
Trouble wasn’t over for Johnson though. Ten laps later he hit the wall again. Last week’s winner then went to the garage with damage. “Disappointing,” he said to FOXs Matt Yocum while sitting in his car as his team worked on the damage. “We certainly had an awesome race car.”
On the ensuing restart with 74 to go Johnson’s teammate Kasey Kahne and new Joe Gibbs Racing driver Carl Edwards tangled off of turn four. Kahne appeared to get knocked up the track and into the all by Edwards, who was then turned by Kahne as the field swept into turn one.
“It’s completely my fault, I got sucked up into him coming off of four,” said Edwards as his team worked on the car in his garage stall. Edwards wound up 42nd.
This was the first Cup race in Vegas without a Busch in the line-up since 2000. Kyle is still out indefinitely with a broken leg. His brother Kurt, who was exonerated of domestic violence charges earlier this week is still indefinitely suspended from NASCAR.
Harvick took the points lead with the victory. Logano remains second in points followed by Earnhardt Jr., Truex Jr. and Allmendinger.
Harvick, Logano and Johnson should earn Chase berths with their victories this season.
The second leg of NASCAR’s three-week West Coast swing stops in Phoenix next Sunday. That race, the CampingWorld.com 500 will be broadcast on FOX.
SPEEDWAY, Ind.—Carl Edwards will not return to Roush Fenway Racing in 2015 the team announced on Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway before the 21st running of the Brickyard 400. Roush’s 2015 lineup will consist of Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne.
“The only insight he shared with me was a lot about the reality of sports today. Athletes don’t stay with one team for their whole career and I think as he was reflecting on what was going on in other sports when he retires down the road he didn’t want to wonder what it would have been like in another situation,” Roush Fenway Racing President Steve Newmark said outside Edwards’ hauler on Sunday morning. “That was the primary discussion we had and you guys know Carl is an extremely private person and thoughtful and he really kind of evaluated everything that was going on and this was the decision he made.”
Edwards is in his tenth season with RFR in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. He has run for RFR in the Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series as well.
Fastenal, the sponsor of Edwards’ No. 99 Ford will move over to Stenhouse’s car next season the team also announced on Sunday.
Biffle, who was in a contract year, will remain at Roush Fenway Racing, quelling any rumors surrounding his future.
“Our goal when we bring drivers through the system is to start with us, win championships with us and then retire with us,” Newmark said. “If you talk to Greg and Jack they’ll tell you they have some unfinished business.”
Biffle has won the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series title and the NASCAR Nationwide Series title with Roush. He is looking to win the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series title with Roush and become the first driver to win all three national series titles in NASCAR.
Ty Dillon is scheduled to make his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series debut in August at the Labor Day weekend race at Atlanta according to a report from MRN’s Dustin Long.
Dillon, 22 years old, is the brother of NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie Austin Dillon. His father Mike, the vice president of competition at Richard Childress Racing told Long that Ty has done some testing this season with Furniture Row Racing, a team that has a technical alliance with RCR.
“He’s been fast when he’s gone,” Mike Dillon told Long. “Feel like he’ll be fine.”
Dillon will run the No. 33 car for Circle Sport, another affiliate of RCR. Mike Dillon told Long that RCR plans to test at Atlanta next month to prepare for the Labor Day weekend race which is the penultimate race before the Chase field is set after Richmond.
Ty Dillon is a rookie in the Nationwide Series this season. He has 11 top-10 finishes and as the series heads to Chicago this weekend. He is fourth in Nationwide points this season. Dillon has notched three Camping World Truck Series wins in his career.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway will be sponsored by Indianapolis-based Ely Lilly and Company. The third variation of the race, named the Lily Diabetes 250, will be run on Saturday afternoon at Indianapolis.
“We’re proud to announce that Lilly is providing the entitlement sponsorship for the Lilly Diabetes 250 Nationwide Series race at IMS,” said J. Douglas Boles, Indianapolis Motor Speedway president in a statement on Monday. “Lilly is an Indianapolis-based company recognized globally as a forerunner in fighting diseases and making lives better for people all over the world, and we greatly look forward to working with them in promoting diabetes awareness during the Lilly Diabetes 250.”
According to the American Diabetes Association over 700,000 Indiana residents suffer from diabetes, a disease which affects the levels of sugar in blood.
“Diabetes is a serious problem not just in Indiana but around the world. We know the reach NASCAR has and we are honored to join our neighbors at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway to sponsor this race,” said Mike Mason, vice president, U.S., Lilly Diabetes in the statement released by the speedway. “We hope our involvement will provide the awareness that is essential to prevention and management of this disease. By working with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, we hope to get people talking about diabetes with their doctor, as well as their friends and family.”
NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Ryan Reed, who drives the No. 16 Ford for Roush Fenway Racing, drives with Lilly’s sponsorship on his car. Reed has type 1 diabetes and was told when he was diagnosed as a teen that he wouldn’t be able to race. He’s overcome those odds and this is his rookie season in the Nationwide Series.
“I couldn’t be more excited to compete for the first time at the iconic Indianapolis Motor Speedway during the Lilly Diabetes 250,” Reed said. “To have the opportunity to race at the home of Lilly’s corporate headquarters in Indianapolis is a great honor and something I’ll never forget. I’m grateful to everyone at Lilly Diabetes and the American Diabetes Association for the opportunity to join them in promoting diabetes awareness with the hope of someday eliminating this devastating disease.”
Brad Keselowski won the first Nationwide race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway in 2011 and Kyle Busch won last year’s version of the race, formerly called the Indiana 250.