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Bryan Nicodemus

Bryan Nicodemus

My name is Bryan Nicodemus.  I'm from Pittsburgh, PA, and I am currently a sophomore at Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania.  I am majoring in Public Relations, and I hope to work in NASCAR someday.  Follow me on Twitter: @mmarkaholic55

Tuesday, 07 May 2013 13:02

David Ragan Wins at Talladega

                                                                                 

Photo credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images

 

It looked like Carl Edwards would win the Aaron's 499 after he took the lead before a lengthy red flag for rain.  But NASCAR was able to get the race restarted to run the final 60 laps.  Edwards found himself in first on the final lap, but David Ragan was able to get around him and, in what can simply be called a David vs. Goliath story, win the race for his small team.

Edwards started on the pole for the Aaron's 499 after qualifying on Saturday was rained out.  Edwards started on the bottom line, and the field fanned out 3-wide behind him.  Martin Truex Jr. led the first lap, and Edwards quickly fell to eighth.  Edwards decided that his car needed to run on the top of the track, and the bottom line continued to fall back.  

On lap 6, Matt Kenseth was able to work his way around Truex for the lead.  On lap 20, Dale Earnhardt Jr. brought his car down pit road after making contact with Travis Kvapil on the racetrack.  Kvapil got into Earnhardt's left-rear, and Earnhardt had to come down after his left-rear tire went flat.

On lap 22, the first caution of the day came out for a blown engine by Trevor Bayne.  The field came down pit road, and Kenseth won the race off pit road.  Under the caution, Denny Hamlin and Brian Vickers made a driver change in the No. 11.  Hamlin started the race so that he could receive championship points, but Vickers took over to allow Hamlin one more week of rest.

The race restarted on lap 28, and Kenseth was able to get a jump on the field while Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne raced for second.  Kenseth got too far ahead of second place, and Jeff Burton took the lead on lap 30.  Kenseth was able to retake the lead after getting a big push from Johnson on the next lap.

On lap 43, the big one hit in Turn 1.  Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch switched lanes coming out of the trioval.  They made contact, and Busch got into the back of Kahne, sending him into the wall and back in front of the rest of the field.  The wreck collected Kahne, Busch, Ambrose, Vickers, Kevin Harvick, Jamie McMurray, Tony Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch, David Reutimann, Greg Biffle, Jeff Burton, Casey Mears, David Stremme, and Scott Speed.

The leaders came down pit road, and Kenseth was able to beat Johnson off pit road after taking only two tires.  

The race restarted on lap 52, and Kenseth was able to take the lead going into Turn 1.  On lap 57, Ryan Newman brought Brad Keselowski and Edwards to the front, and they took the lead.  Kenseth was able to work his way around Keselowski and Edwards, and he and Johnson were once again the leaders of the outside line.

Kenseth was able to work his way around Newman on lap 59, and he raced side-by-side with Kurt Busch for the lead.  Kenseth, with a push from Johnson, was able to get around Busch for the lead.  The top 5 quickly got into a single-file line, and they ran like that until green-flag pit stops on lap 89.  

After stops had cycles around, Kenseth was once again the leader, and the Top 14 cars were within a second of each other.  On lap 116, the Fords that were running up front got together on the high side and worked their way to the front.  Johnson jumped up in front of the line, and he was able to get around Kenseth for the lead with help from Ricky Stenhouse Jr.  On lap 120, Stenhouse took the lead when Johnson was hung out on the low line, and was passed by everyone on the high side.  

The caution came out on lap 122 for rain at the racetrack.  Edwards jumped out of line and pulled up alongside Stenhouse right as the caution came out.  NASCAR went back to the last scoring loops, and Edwards was ahead of Stenhouse when the caution came out, meaning Edwards was the leader.  Edwards brought the field down pit road, and  the red flag came out to stop the race.  

After a red flag of 3 hours and 36 minutes, the track was finally dry enough for the drivers to race.  The cars re-fired just before 7 p.m. EST, and they were ready to go back racing.

Bobby Labonte, who didn't pit under the caution, led the field back to the green flag on lap 130.  He was able to hang on to the lead to lead the first lap after the caution.  On lap 133, Kenseth, who had lost the lead before the red flag, worked his way up through the pack to get to second place.  Kenseth was able to take the lead on lap 134.

On lap 158, Edwards got out of line going down the frontstretch, and he dropped to the back of the pack.  That allowed the top line to reach the back bumper of Kenseth, who had to start blocking both Johnson and Stenhouse to keep the lead.

On lap 166, Kenseth brought a handful of cars down pit road to make their final pit stops for fuel.   Johnson was able to beat everyone off pit road, and he was followed by Michael Waltrip.  Following pit stops, Stenhouse and Martin Truex Jr. were caught speeding and had to serve a pass-through penalty.  

After stops had cycled around, Johnson was the leader, and he was followed by Waltrip and Kenseth.  The caution came out on lap 173, after Michael McDowell blew a right-front tire.  

Johnson led the field back to the green flag on lap 178, and he got a big push from Kurt Busch to clear Kenseth for the lead.  On lap 179, Kenseth started to get a big run on the high side, but he didn't have enough to get around Johnson for the lead.  

On lap 180, Regan Smith got a huge run on the high side thanks to a huge push from Dave Blaney, and he moved up to second.  Blaney was able to get alongside Smith, but Smith got a huge push from Kenseth to take the lead.  On lap 182, Smith got stuck in the middle, and Kenseth was able to take the lead.

While all of that was happening, a wreck erupted near the front of the pack.  Stenhouse squeezed J.J. Yeley down the track, and it caused Yeley to spin down across the track and into Busch.  Busch flipped upside down, and he landed on top of Ryan Newman.  The wreck collected Yeley, Busch, Newman, Bobby Labonte, Terry Labonte, Clint Bowyer, Danica Patrick, Ambrose, and Jamie McMurray.

After an extended cleanup, the race was set up for a green-white-checkered finish.  NASCAR decided that because of the diminishing daylight at the track, there would only be one try at a green-white-checkered finish.  

Kenseth took the green flag with two laps to go, and Johnson gave Kenseth a big push going into Turn 1.  Going down the backstretch, Edwards got a huge push from Aric Almirola, and he was able to get around Kenseth heading into Turn 3.  Johnson got underneath Kenseth for second, but he was able to get around him to stay in second.  Going into Turn 3, David Ragan was able to get around Edwards for the lead with help from teammate David Gilliland.  Edwards tried to fight back on the outside, but he wasn't able to get alongside Ragan, who went on to win the race.

Here are the unofficial results:

1. David Ragan

2. David Gilliland

3. Carl Edwards

4. Michael Waltrip

5. Jimmie Johnson

6. Regan Smith

7. Martin Truex Jr.

8. Matt Kenseth

9. Scott Speed

10. Aric Almirola

11. Jeff Gordon

12. David Stremme

13. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

14. Marcos Ambrose

15. Brad Keselowski

16. Dave Blaney

17. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

18. Clint Bowyer

19. Josh Wise

20. Bobby Labonte

21. Michael McDowell

22. Landon Cassill

23. Jamie McMurray

24. Casey Mears

25. Juan Pablo Montoya

26. Paul Menard

27. Tony Stewart

28. Jeff Burton

29. Terry Labonte

30. Kurt Busch

31. J.J. Yeley

32. Ryan Newman

33. Danica Patrick

34. Denny Hamlin

35. Joey Logano

36. Greg Biffle

37. Kyle Busch

38. Travis Kvapil

39. Joe Nemechek

40. Kevin Harvick

41. David Reutimann

42. Kasey Kahne

43. Trevor Bayne

Matt Kenseth led 142 of 192 laps at Talladega driving for Joe Gibbs Racing.  Jimmie Johnson ran up front most of the day driving for Hendrick Motorsports.  Carl Edwards was the leader on the final lap heading into Turn 3 driving for Roush-Fenway Racing.  Those three drivers race for what are arguably the three strongest and biggest race teams in the Sprint Cup Series.  But David Ragan and David Gilliland of Front Row Motorsports were able to beat them all in an unlikely victory in the Aaron's 499.

Next week, the Sprint Cup Series rolls into the "Track Too Tough to Tame," Darlington Raceway.  The Bojangels' Southern 500 can be seen next Saturday at 6:45 p.m., only on FOX.

Sunday, 28 April 2013 04:26

Harvick Wins at Richmond

Kevin Harvick has been facing questions all season as to whether this would be a lame-duck season for the driver of the No. 29 car.  Harvick will be moving over to Stewart-Haas Racing in 2014, but he showed everyone Saturday night that he still has some winning left to do at Richard Childress Racing after he won the Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Matt Kenseth won the pole for the Toyota Owners 400, and he was able to beat Brian Vickers out of Turn 2 to take the lead.   Kenseth led until lap 37, when Clint Bowyer caught him in lapped traffic to take the lead.  The caution came out on lap 40 for a spin by Josh Wise.  Under the caution, the leaders made pit stops, and Kenseth was able to beat Bowyer off pit road to regain the lead.

The restart came on lap 47, and Kenseth was able to beat Bowyer through Turn 1 to take the lead.  Halfway through the run, Kenseth began to complain about something that may have broken in the rear-end housing, but he was able to continue without any more problems.   On lap 110, the caution came out for Marcos Ambrose.  Ambrose was experiencing engine issues, and he coasted to pit road.  The leaders came down pit road, and Bowyer and Vickers were able to beat Kenseth out of the pits.   The race restarted on lap 116, and Bowyer was able to jump out ahead of Vickers for the lead.  Kenseth was able to take second place away from Vickers.   The third caution of the day came out on lap 147 for debris.  The field came down pit road, and Bowyer won the race off.     Bowyer led the field back to the green flag on lap 154.  Kenseth spun his tires on the restart, and Bowyer was able to get the lead going into Turn 1.    The caution came back out on lap 157 for Brad Keselowski, who blew a right-front tire going into Turn 1.  Under the caution, one of the track's sprinklers started going off, causing the caution to go longer than anticipated.   Bowyer led the field back to the green on lap 158, and he was able to clear Kenseth for the lead coming out of Turn 2.  On lap 219, Kenseth was able to work his way around Bowyer for the lead.  Bowyer lost the handling on his car, and he quickly dropped to fifth place.   On lap 232, Greg Biffle brought out the caution when he spun down the frontstretch after getting loose off Turn 4.  The field came down to pit, and Kenseth was able to beat Kurt Busch off pit road.   Kenseth led the field to the green flag on lap 240,  and he was able to clear Kurt Busch coming off Turn 2.  After racing side-by-side, Kyle Busch was able to take second away from his brother.   On lap 254, Kyle Busch was able to pass Kenseth for the lead after following closely behind for a handful of laps.    The caution came out on lap 293 after Travis Kvapil got into the wall.  The field came down pit road, and Kurt Busch was able to beat Kyle Busch off pit road for the lead.    The race restarted on lap 297, and Kurt Busch was able to get a good run into Turn 1 to take the lead.  Kurt brought Carl Edwards with him, and Edwards took second away from Kyle Busch.    Edwards got alongside Kurt Busch for the lead, but he wasn't able to complete the pass.  On lap 309, Kvapil blew his engine, and his car briefly caught on fire.  Under the caution, Kurt Busch, Edwards, and Kenseth stayed out while the rest of the field came down to make pit stops.    Kyle Busch was penalized for a pit line violation, and he had to go to the back of the pack.  He was set to restart 28th, but after review, NASCAR said he was legal, and they rescinded the penalty.  Busch was able to restart sixth.   On lap 320, Kurt Busch was able to beat Edwards through Turn 1 to take the lead on the restart.  Kyle Busch quickly began falling back through the pack, and he ran into the back of Jimmie Johnson, pushing in the front of Busch's car.    On lap 327, the caution came out for a spin between Tony Stewart and Johnson.  As Johnson spun down the racetrack, Kyle Busch got into the front of Johnson's car.  Under the caution, the field came down pit road, and Kurt Busch was able to win the race off.    The green flag came back out on lap 333, and the first six cars stayed out, and Juan Pablo Montoya was the leader.  He and Harvick raced side-by-side for a lap, but Montoya was able to win the race for the lead.    On lap 338, Kasey Kahne got into Mark Martin coming off Turn 2, and they both spun, bringing out the caution.  As Martin's car spun down the track, Vickers made hard contact with Martin's car.    The race restarted on lap 343, and Montoya was able to beat Martin Truex Jr. down into Turn 1 for the lead.  The caution came back out on lap 345 after Kurt Busch spun Truex going into Turn 3.    The race restarted with 51 laps to go, and Montoya was able to clear Kurt Busch for the lead.  With 19 laps to go, Harvick was able to get around Busch for second place going into Turn 1.  With only 6 laps to go, Vickers got into the outside wall to bring out the caution, pushing the race to a green-white-checkered finish.   Jeff Burton stayed out under the caution, and he was able to beat everyone into Turn 1.  Coming out of Turn 4, Harvick was able to pass his teammate for the lead.  Bowyer got around Burton for second, but he wasn't able to catch Harvick.     After the race, Kurt Busch got together with Matt Kenseth and Tony Stewart.  On the restart, Busch got into Stewart, sending Stewart out of the groove and it caused Stewart to lose a lot of spots.  Coming to the checkered flag, Kenseth gave Busch a bump, causing Busch to lose 2 spots coming to the finish. 

Here are the unofficial results:

1. Kevin Harvick

2. Clint Bowyer

3. Joey Logano

4. Juan Pablo Montoya

5. Jeff Burton

6. Carl Edwards

7. Matt Kenseth

8. Aric Almirola

9. Kurt Busch

10. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

11. Jeff Gordon

12. Jimmie Johnson

13. Paul Menard

14. AJ Allmendinger

15. Ryan Newman

16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

17. Martin Truex Jr.

18. Tony Stewart

19. Bobby Labonte

20. David Ragan

21. Kasey Kahne

22. David Reutimann

23. Dave Blaney

24. Kyle Busch

25. Landon Cassill

26. Jamie McMurray

27. David Gilliland

28. Josh Wise

29. Danica Patrick

30. Casey Mears

31. David Stremme

32. J.J. Yeley

33. Brad Keselowski

34. Timmy Hill

35. Brian Vickers

36. Greg Biffle

37. Travis Kvapil

38. Mark Martin

39. Joe Nemechek

40. Brian Keselowski

41. Michael McDowell

42. Marcos Ambrose

43. Mike Bliss

Kevin Harvick showed everyone Saturday night that he was not going to end his time at Richard Childress Racing quietly.  He will lead everyone to NASCAR's largest track, Talladega Superspeedway.  The Aaron's 499 promises to be an exciting race, with what is most likely to be an exciting finish.  The race can be seen next Sunday at 1 p.m., only on FOX.

 

Sunday, 21 April 2013 21:43

Kenseth Cruises to Victory at Kansas

Earlier in the season, Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne had a hard race for the win at Las Vegas.  In that race, Kenseth was able to hold off Kahne to win his first race of the season.  At Kansas, Kenseth started on the pole and dominated the race all day.  But at the end of the day, he had to hold off another hard charge from Kahne in the final laps.  Once again, Kenseth was able to hold off Kahne to take his second victory of the year.

Kenseth won the pole for the STP Gas Booster 400, and he led the field to the green flag.  Kenseth was able to get ahead of Carl Edwards for the lead after electing to start on the outside line.  On lap 5, Kyle Busch spun coming out of Turn 2 to bring out the first caution.

Kenseth was able to take the lead when the race restarted on lap 9.  As the field was coming to the green, Brad Keselowski was on pit road with a fuel pick-up issue.  Keselowski was able to get off pit road right before the field took the green flag.

Kurt Busch brought his car down pit road for an unscheduled pit stop after complaining about a vibration in the right front.  Busch's team realized that he had a loose wheel from the beginning of the race. 

Busch needed the race to cycle through green-flag pit stops so that he could get his lap back, but on lap 38, Dave Blaney blew a right-front tire to bring out the second caution of the day.

Kenseth brought the field down pit road under the caution, and he was able to win the race off pit road to stay in the lead. 

Kenseth was able pull ahead of Mark Martin when the race restarted on lap 44.  Martin only took two tires under the caution, and he quickly backed up through the field.  He finally settled back in 11th.

On lap 72, the caution came out for debris.  Kenseth once again won the race off pit road after leading everyone down to make another round of pit stops. 

The green flag came back out on lap 77, and Kenseth was able to take the lead going into Turn 1.  Kenseth led the race until the caution on lap 86, when Elliot Sadler got loose and spun up into the outside wall.  Under the caution, most of the leaders stayed out.

The race restarted on lap 91, and the field fanned out 4-wide for the lead, but Kenseth was able to beat them all off Turn 2 to keep the lead. 

The caution came out on lap 104 for a big crash between Kyle Busch and Joey Logano.  Busch got loose in Turn 3 and spun in the corner.  Busch spun down the track, and his car was slammed into by Logano who had gone low to try and avoid the wreck. 

After an extended cleanup, the pits were finally opened and Kenseth brought the field down pit road.  Kenseth won the race off pit road, but four cars stayed out under the caution.

Martin Truex Jr. got a push from Keselowski to take the lead on the restart.  Mark Martin restarted in third, and he almost spun Jamie McMurray when McMurray went down to try and block Martin.  McMurray ended up back at the end of the field, and Martin fell all the way to 15th.

On lap 146, McMurray, Keselowski, and Martin made green-flag pit stops.  Truex gave up the lead on lap 147 to make his pit stop.  They didn't pit under the last caution, so they had to pit before everyone else did.

Truex's pit stop handed the lead over to Jimmie Johnson.  Kenseth started fighting with Johnson for the lead, but Kenseth pitted on lap 156 to make his green-flag pit stop, and Johnson pitted on lap 157 for four tires and fuel.  After stops had cycled around, Truex was leading Johnson once again.

On lap 173, Brian Vickers spun coming off Turn 2.  The field came down pit road, and Johnson was able to win the race off pit road.

Carl Edwards stayed out under the caution, and he was the leader when the race restarted on lap 178.  Edwards had to hold off a hard charge from teammate Ricky Stenhouse Jr. on the restart, but he was able to lead until the caution came out again on lap 181.  Marcos Ambrose got loose coming out of Turn 2, and he spun.  Sam Hornish Jr. made contact with Ambrose while he was sideways, and it caused Hornish to get into Casey Mears.

The race restarted on lap 186, and Edwards was able to grab the lead again.  On lap 190, Stenhouse and Kenseth both passed Edwards for first and second. 

With 50 laps to go, amid green-flag pit stops, the caution came out for debris that flew off of Keselowski's car.  Most of the leaders came down pit road, and Kenseth was able to beat Truex off pit road. 

The race restarted on lap 224, and Kenseth was able to use the high side to get ahead of Truex heading into Turn 1.  With about 15 laps to go, Kasey Kahne started closing on Kenseth, and it seemed that the race was destined to be a repeat of Las Vegas.  At Vegas, Kenseth beat Kahne after outrunning him over the final laps. 

Kenseth began running into some lapped traffic, and that allowed Kahne to get to Kenseth's back bumper.  Kahne closed with two laps to go, but Kenseth was able to hold him off to win his second race of the season.

Here are the unofficial results:

1. Matt Kenseth

2. Kasey Kahne

3. Jimmie Johnson

4. Martin Truex Jr.

5. Clint Bowyer

6. Brad Keselowski

7. Jamie McMurray

8. Aric Almirola

9. Mark Martin

10. Paul Menard

11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

12. Kevin Harvick

13. Jeff Gordon

14. Ryan Newman

15. Kurt Busch

16. Dale Earnhardt Jr.

17. Carl Edwards

18. Jeff Burton

19. Greg Biffle

20. Marcos Ambrose

21. Tony Stewart

22. Regan Smith

23. David Gilliland

24. Bobby Labonte

25. Danica Patrick

26. Josh Wise

27. Juan Pablo Montoya

28. David Reutimann

29. Landon Cassill

30. David Ragan

31. Brian Vickers

32. David Stremme

33. Timmy Hill

34. Casey Mears

35. J.J. Yeley

36. Travis Kvapil

37. Sam Hornish Jr.

38. Kyle Busch

39. Joey Logano

40. Elliot Sadler

41. Mike Bliss

42. Michael McDowell

43. Dave Blaney

Matt Kenseth took the same car to Kansas that he won with at Las Vegas.  He once again had a strong run, and he was able to lead 163 of 267 laps on his way to his 26th career victory.  He looks to take his momentum to Richmond next Saturday night.  The race may also be the return of Denny Hamlin, who hopes to return to the No. 11 in his home state of Virginia.  The Toyota Owners 400 can be seen Saturday at 7:30 p.m., only on FOX.

Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Thursday, 28 March 2013 20:49

Martin to Replace Injured Hamlin

Mark Martin will replace Denny Hamlin in the FedEx Toyota while Hamlin is injured, according to Joe Gibbs Racing.[caption id="attachment_59353" align="alignleft" width="300"]Mark Martin will drive for Joe Gibbs Racing for the next 6 weeks. (Courtesy Getty Images) Mark Martin will drive for Joe Gibbs Racing for the next 6 weeks. (Courtesy Getty Images)[/caption]Martin, who currently drives the No. 55 car for Michael Waltrip Racing, will drive the No. 11 car for JGR starting at Martinsville on April 7th. The move will add one more race to Martin's part-time schedule. He was not originally scheduled to run at Martinsville or Talladega. A source close to the situation told USA Today that Martin will not run the Talladega race for Joe Gibbs Racing. Though it has not been officially announced, Brian Vickers will most likely take over Martin's races in the No. 55. Vickers is the top candidate to drive the car full-time in 2014, so this is a good opportunity for MWR to get him more seat time. Michael Waltrip will drive the No. 55 at Talladega as was originally scheduled. Hamlin was injured in a last-lap crash at California in Sunday, and it was announced on Tuesday that he will miss at least six weeks due to a fractured L1 vertebra. While Hamlin is obviously upset about not being able to race, he knows that the No. 11 car is in good hands."Like everyone in NASCAR, I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mark and I know he will keep that FedEx Camry up front until I get back behind the wheel," Hamlin said in a statement.The move will reunite Martin with former teammate Matt Kenseth. Kenseth now drives for JGR, but he and Martin were teammates at Roush-Fenway Racing from 2000 through 2006.Martin is a 31-year veteran of the Sprint Cup Series, and he has 40 Sprint Cup wins. His last victory was on September 20, 2009 with Hendrick Motorsports. He is also second on the all-time wins list in the Nationwide Series with 49. Martin drove one Nationwide race for Joe Gibbs in 2012, finishing second at Las Vegas.   
Tuesday, 26 March 2013 23:22

NASCAR: Hamlin Out 6 Weeks

Denny Hamlin will miss at least 5 races following his injury Sunday during the Auto Club 400, according to Joe Gibbs Racing.Hamlin was injured following a last-lap crash at California, when he and Joey Logano got together coming out of the final turn coming to the checkered flag. Hamlin was airlifted to a local hospital following the incident, and was kept overnight for observation. Hamlin was diagnosed with a fracture to his L1 vertebra, and he was discharged from the hospital Monday night wearing a thick back brace.Hamlin visited with neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty on Tuesday, and Petty gave Hamlin the bad news. Petty deemed that while Hamlin did not need surgery, he would need around six weeks to heal, according to a Joe Gibbs Racing news release.[caption id="attachment_59220" align="aligncenter" width="533"]Hamlin hits the wall at California (Jeff Gross/Getty Images) Hamlin hits the wall at California (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)[/caption]Dr. Petty will have to clear Hamlin to race. The Sprint Cup Series has a week off this Sunday, so Hamlin will miss at least the next five races. Hamlin will miss the races at Martinsville, Texas, Kansas, Richmond, and Talladega. Martinsville is arguably Hamlin's best track, with four of his 22 wins coming at the half-mile track.Hamlin hasn't missed a race since the October 9, 2005 race at Kansas, a streak of 264 races that will end at Martinsville. Hamlin was disappointed with the diagnosis. "I wish I got good news today.. I didn't," Hamlin said on his Twitter page.If it were up to Hamlin, it seems that he wouldn't be taking these next few weeks off."If me getting back in a car was based on pain tolerance then I would be in the car next week. There's just more to it that I can't control," Hamlin said via Twitter.No replacement has been announced, but it is expected that JGR Nationwide Series drivers Brian Vickers and Elliot Sadler will fill in for Hamlin during his absence. Vickers is already signed up to run the Martinsville race for Michael Waltrip Racing.This will likely be the end to Hamlin's title hopes. He will most likely miss the Chase for the Sprint Cup, NASCAR's version of the playoffs. After 26 races, the top 10 drivers make the Chase, as do the two drivers with the most wins from 11th-20th in points. Hamlin currently sits 10th in points, just 27 points ahead of Casey Mears in 21st.This is the second time in the past year that a top contender will miss multiple races. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took himself out of the car last October for two races after sustaining two concussions within six weeks. The time out of the car took Earnhardt out of title contention.
Last week, Denny Hamlin wrecked Joey Logano after Logano cut him off. Logano vowed to get Hamlin back. This week, Hamlin and Logano were racing for the lead when they got together coming out of the final corner, wrecking themselves and allowing Kyle Busch to take the victory.[caption id="attachment_59079" align="aligncenter" width="526"]Kyle Busch bows after his victory (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Kyle Busch bows after his victory (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)[/caption]Denny Hamlin won the pole for the Auto Club 400, and he led the field to the green flag. Hamlin chose to start on the outside, and he was passed going down the backstretch by Matt Kenseth for the lead. On lap 11, Kyle Busch got around his teammate to take the lead. Busch led his Joe Gibbs Racing teammates until the caution came out on lap 29 for a spin by David Stremme. The leaders brought their cars down pit road, and Busch won the race off pit road.The race restarted on lap 34, and the field went four-wide. Busch was able to stay ahead of Hamlin to take the lead. On lap 37, Timmy Hill blew an engine, bringing out the second caution. After he blew an engine, Kurt Busch, Mark Martin, Brad Keselowski, Kasey Kahne, and Clint Bowyer got into the wall after driving through the oil. All of them had to bring their cars down pit road to fix the damage.The race restarted on lap 43, and Joey Logano pushed Busch into Turn 1. Logano tried to get under Busch, but they stayed side-by-side for a lap before Logano was able to take the lead. Logano hit pit road on lap 68, and that handed the lead to Kyle Busch. Busch pitted one lap later. Tony Stewart was the leader until he pitted on lap 76, and that handed the lead back to Kyle Busch. During the pit stops, Kurt Busch and Kevin Harvick were caught speeding, and they had to serve pass-through penalties.The third caution of the day came out for debris on lap 90. Busch brought the field down pit road, and this time Denny Hamlin won the race off pit road.The race restarted on lap 96, and Busch and Hamlin raced side-by-side, and Busch was able to take the lead coming out of Turn 4. On lap 117, the fourth caution came out for Joe Nemechek, who hit the wall coming out of Turn 2. Busch led the field down pit road again, and he was able to beat Hamlin out of the pits.[caption id="attachment_59081" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Busch races with Logano for the lead (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images) Busch races with Logano for the lead (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)[/caption]The race restarted on lap 121, and he was able to beat Busch through the first turn to take the lead. The fifth caution came out on lap 130, when Marcos Ambrose cut down a left-rear tire. The field came down pit road, and Tony Stewart beat Clint Bowyer off pit road after they both took two tires.Stewart led the field back to the green flag on lap 136, and he was able to hold off Clint Bowyer for the lead. Busch had to restart ninth, but within one lap he quickly worked his way up to third. He and Kevin Harvick raced side-by-side for a few laps, allowing Stewart to pull out front. Busch finally got around Harvick for second and set his sights on Stewart.Busch finally passed Stewart on lap 145, and Harvick followed him to take second. On lap 162, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Mark Martin came down pit road to make their final green-flag pit stops. Busch pitted with 34 laps to go, and he remained the leader after the stops had cycled around. On lap 169, Marcos Ambrose blew another left-rear tire, bringing out the sixth caution.The race restarted on lap 174, and Busch was able to beat Harvick into Turn 1 after Harvick didn't get going on the restart. On lap 176, the seventh caution came out for a spin by Mark Martin. Martin broke a trackbar coming out of Turn 2, and he turned down in front of David Gilliland. Under the caution, Ryan Newman and Denny Hamlin brought their cars down pit road.The race restarted on lap 180, and Busch was able to stay ahead of Logano and Stewart. On lap 185 Clint Bowyer blew an engine and then spun in his own oil, bringing out the eighth caution. Under the caution, Hamlin began complaining about his car overheating, with the water temperatures going above 300 degrees.The race restarted with just 11 laps to go, and Busch was passed by the first few cars, but he was able to fight back and get around Logano for the lead. Kurt Busch started fighting Logano for second, and then Carl Edwards and Hamlin also joined the fight. Logano was able to get underneath Busch with seven laps to go, but Busch was able to hold him off.Coming out of Turn 4, Hamlin got alongside Busch, but then Logano got into the back of Hamlin to take the lead. With two laps to go, Hamlin gave Logano a bump coming out of Turn 4. Hamlin and Logano raced side-by-side down the backstretch. Going into Turn 3, Logano got loose and got into Hamlin. They both got extremely loose, and that allowed Busch to get around to take the win. Logano got into the wall, and Hamlin was sent flying into the inside wall. Hamlin's car hit the inside wall hard, and once he got out of the car he was attended to by medical personnel. Hamlin was put onto a spine board and loaded into an ambulance.Hamlin was taken to the infield care center, where he was evaluated by track physicians. He was awake and alert, but they airlifted him to the nearest hospital as a precaution.[caption id="attachment_59082" align="aligncenter" width="525"]Hamlin's car comes to a rest after a hard hit with the wall (Jeff Gross/Getty Images) Hamlin's car comes to a rest after a hard hit with the wall (Jeff Gross/Getty Images)[/caption]Here are the unofficial results:1. Kyle Busch2. Dale Earnhardt Jr.3. Joey Logano4. Carl Edwards5. Kurt Busch6. Greg Biffle7. Matt Kenseth8. Paul Menard9. Kasey Kahne10. Ryan Newman11. Jeff Gordon12. Jimmie Johnson13. Kevin Harvick14. Aric Almirola15. Casey Mears16. AJ Allmendinger17. Jeff Burton18. Martin Truex Jr.19. Jamie McMurray20. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.21. Dave Blaney22. Tony Stewart23. Brad Keselowski24. David Ragan25. Denny Hamlin26. Danica Patrick27. J.J. Yeley28. Bobby Labonte29. David Gilliland30. Landon Cassill31. David Stremme32. Joe Nemechek33. David Reutimann34. Travis Kvapil35. Clint Bowyer36. Marcos Ambrose37. Mark Martin38. Juan Pablo Montoya39. Timmy Hill40. Josh Wise41. Scott Riggs42. Michael McDowell43. Mike BlissThis week, Joey Logano once again showed everyone that he was not afraid to make waves. After a questionable block on the final restart, Tony Stewart got into a fight with Logano on pit road after the race. For the second week in a row, the winner was overshadowed by an on- and off-track altercation involving Logano. Kyle Busch won the Auto Club 400 after running very strong the past few weeks. The Sprint Cup Series is taking a week off for the Easter holiday, and the next race will be in two weeks. The STP Gas Booster 500 from Martinsville Speedway can be seen April 7th at 1:00 p.m. EST, only on FOX.[caption id="attachment_59083" align="aligncenter" width="570"]Kyle Busch celebrates (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images) Kyle Busch celebrates (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)[/caption]
Sunday, 17 March 2013 17:47

NASCAR: Kahne Dominates Food City 500

Last week, Kasey Kahne had the best car of the weekend, but he was beaten by Matt Kenseth after Kenseth used pit strategy to gain an advantage. Kahne came into Bristol looking to win after missing his chance last Sunday, and he was able to take the lead on a late restart and hold off the rest of the field to win his first race of 2013.[caption id="attachment_58732" align="aligncenter" width="466"]Kasey Kahne celebrates at Bristol. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Kasey Kahne celebrates at Bristol. (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)[/caption]Kyle Busch led the field to the green flag, and he was able to clear Kasey Kahne for the lead heading into Turn 1. On lap 8, Tony Stewart slowed, and got out of line. The next lap, his left-rear tire went down and he spun in Turn 3 to bring out the first caution.The race restarted on lap 16, and Busch was able to get ahead of Kahne again. By lap 35, Busch caught lapped traffic, and that allowed Kahne to catch up. On lap 54, a bunch of cars got together, causing the field to stack up. Jeff Burton ended up in the wall, and Carl Edwards and Marcos Ambrose also received damage. The field came down pit road, and Kahne was able to beat Denny Hamlin out of the pits for the lead. Busch was caught speeding, and had to restart at the end of the field.The race restarted on lap 63, and Kahne was able to get the lead heading into Turn 1. Hamlin was able to make the bottom line work, and he took the lead from Kahne on lap 64. On lap 70, Jamie McMurray spun in Turn 4, and brought out the third caution of the race.The race restarted on lap 78, and Hamlin was able to get ahead of Kahne for the lead. Kurt Busch got around Kahne for second, and set his sights on the leader. On lap 143, Kahne, Busch, and Jeff Gordon caught Hamlin while he was fighting lapped traffic. On lap 147, Kahne was able to work around Hamlin for the lead, and Gordon was able to get second. David Gilliland got into the wall on lap 151, and he brought out the fourth caution of the day. The field came down to make pit stops, and Hamlin was able to win the race off pit road, beating teammate Kyle Busch.The race restarted on lap 159, and Hamlin was able to beat Busch into Turn 1 to take the lead. One lap later, Bobby Labonte blew an engine, and he took his car to the garage. Kahne was able to catch and pass Hamlin on lap 191.On lap 236, Landon Cassill hit the wall and brought out the caution. The leaders came down pit road, and Matt Kenseth was able to beat Hamlin and Busch off pit road to take the lead.The race restarted on lap 242, and Kenseth was able to clear Hamlin for the lead. Johnson was also able to get around Hamlin for second. Aric Almirola got into the wall on lap 245, but he was able to get to pit road without bringing out a caution. Almirola pitted and went back out onto the track, and he spun in Turn 4 on lap 249, bringing out the sixth caution.[caption id="attachment_58740" align="aligncenter" width="489"]Denny Hamlin leads Matt Kenseth (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images) Denny Hamlin leads Matt Kenseth (Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images)[/caption]Hamlin spun his tires when the race restarted on lap 258, and that allowed Kenseth, Kahne, and Kevin Harvick to get around him. The seventh caution came out on lap 320 for Dave Blaney, who hit the outside wall after blowing a right-front tire. The field came down pit road, and Jeff Gordon won the race off pit road after taking two left-side tires.Gordon led the field back to the green flag on lap 328, and he was able to clear Kahne to take the lead. Joey Logano was fighting with Gordon for the lead on lap 337, and allowed Hamlin to catch them. Logano cut Hamlin off coming off the corner, so Hamlin spun Logano on lap 347, bringing out another caution.The restart came on lap 354, and Hamlin was able to stay alongside Gordon through the corner. Coming out of the corner, Hamlin got extremely loose and he quickly dropped back to sixth. On lap 390, Gordon drove off into the corner and blew a right-front tire. Kenseth was running in the high line, and he drove right into Gordon's car. The leaders came down pit road, and Kahne made a two-tire stop to win the race off pit road.Brad Keselowski and Paul Menard stayed out under caution, and they led the field back to the green flag on lap 403. Keselowski was able to clear Menard heading into Turn 1 to take the lead. With 74 laps to go, Kahne had caught Keselowski, and he was running right on the bumper of Keselowski. Kahne raced alongside Keselowski for the lead for over 10 laps, and that allowed Hamlin to catch the leaders.On lap 446, Kahne was able to get around Keselowski for the lead, but Keselowski got the lead back two laps later when Kahne got caught up with lapped traffic. On lap 454, Jimmie Johnson brought out the 10th caution of the day when he blew a right-front tire and hit the wall.[caption id="attachment_58739" align="aligncenter" width="490"]Kyle Busch races beside Kasey Kahne (John Harrelson/Getty Images) Kyle Busch races beside Kasey Kahne (John Harrelson/Getty Images)[/caption]Brad Keselowski led the field to the green flag on lap 460, and he spun the tires and was run into by Hamlin. Kahne was able to take the lead, but Kyle Busch began racing him for the lead. Keselowski was able to get under Busch and they began fighting for second. Busch and Keselowski fought side-by-side for second place, and Clint Bowyer and Kurt Busch were able to get close to them.Kurt Busch was able to get under Bowyer for third with 10 laps to go. With eight laps to go, Hamlin pounded the outside wall, and it bent the suspension. Hamlin's car would no longer turn and he was just bouncing it off the wall to stay in the race.Kyle Busch was able to separate himself from Keselowski and Kurt Busch, but he didn't have a good enough car to catch Kasey Kahne. Kahne was able to win the Food City 500, the 15th win of his career. Here are the unofficial results:1. Kasey Kahne2. Kyle Busch3. Brad Keselowski4. Kurt Busch5. Clint Bowyer6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.7. Ryan Newman8. Brian Vickers9. Paul Menard10. Jamie McMurray11. Greg Biffle12. Martin Truex Jr.13. AJ Allmendinger14. Kevin Harvick15. Casey Mears16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.17. Joey Logano18. Carl Edwards19. Marcos Ambrose20. David Stremme21. David Ragan22. Jimmie Johnson23. Denny Hamlin24. David Gilliland25. Terry Labonte26. Josh Wise27. J.J. Yeley28. Danica Patrick29. Joe Nemechek30. Juan Pablo Montoya31. Tony Stewart32. Jeff Burton33. Landon Cassill34. Jeff Gordon35. Matt Kenseth36. Dave Blaney37. Aric Almirola38. Travis Kvapil39. David Reutimann40. Scott Speed41. Bobby Labonte42. Michael McDowell43. Mike BlissKasey Kahne sent a message to the rest of the field at Bristol. He had the best car two weeks in a row, and he was finally able to pick up a victory. He should be strong next week, when the Sprint Cup Series rolls into California. And with speeds around 210 mph, the new Gen 6 cars will be pushed to their limits. The Auto Club 400 can be seen next Sunday at 2:30 p.m. ET, only on FOX.[caption id="attachment_58735" align="aligncenter" width="275"]John Harrelson/Getty Images John Harrelson/Getty Images[/caption]
Matt Kenseth had never driven for a team other than Roush-Fenway Racing before 2013. But Kenseth moved over to Joe Gibbs Racing for the 2013 season, and he quickly showed that he was going to have a strong season. After working great pit strategy, Kenseth was able to hold off Kasey Kahne to win the Kobalt Tools 400 in Las Vegas.[caption id="attachment_58216" align="aligncenter" width="566"]Kenseth celebrates his victory at Las Vegas (Nick Laham/Getty Images) Kenseth celebrates his victory at Las Vegas (Nick Laham/Getty Images)[/caption]Qualifying was rained out on Friday, so the starting lineup was set by 2012 Sprint Cup Owner's points. Brad Keselowski led the field to the green flag, and Keselowski was able to pull away from Clint Bowyer, who started second. On lap three, Bowyer got alongside Keselowski in Turn 3, but he got extremely loose, and he fell back and was passed by Kasey Kahne. On lap seven, Kahne caught Keselowski, but Kahne could not complete the pass for the lead. On lap 11, Kahne was able to make his car stick in Turns 1 and 2, and he was able to take the lead.By lap 12, Bowyer had fallen to 20th, and was complaining about his car being extremely loose. That led Bowyer to pit on lap 16, because he believed he had a tire going down. He quickly fell two laps down. Kyle Busch caught Keselowski on lap 35, and was looking to pick up second place after starting the race 13th.On lap 38, Greg Biffle brought his car to pit road, about ten laps before everyone would have had to pit. His team needed to make a big swing at the car, after he was running very loose at the beginning of the race. On lap 44, Kahne brought his car down pit road to make his green-flag pit stop. That gave the lead to Kyle Busch, and he pitted on lap 46. Busch was penalized for being too fast entering pit road, and he had to come down for a pass-through penalty.[caption id="attachment_58219" align="aligncenter" width="549"]Kasey Kahne leads at Las Vegas (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images) Kasey Kahne leads at Las Vegas (Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)[/caption]By lap 49, pit stops had cycled through, and Kahne was once again the leader. Kahne was about to put Kyle Busch a lap down when the caution came out on lap 65 for debris on the backstretch. Kahne brought the leaders down pit road on lap 67, and everyone made two-tire stops. Keselowski was able to beat Kahne off pit road. Greg Biffle was penalized for an uncontrolled tire, and he had to restart in the back of the pack.The race restarted on lap 70, and Kahne was able to pull ahead of Keselowski for the lead. On lap 74, Jimmie Johnson caught Kahne, and he pulled up alongside him for the lead coming to the start/finish line. Kahne held with him until they went into Turn 3 on lap 75 when Johnson pulled away from him for the lead.On lap 111, Keselowski pitted before everyone else because he had a tire going down. On lap 115, the leaders began to make another round of green-flag pit stops. Johnson gave up the lead on lap 118 to make his pit stop. During pit stops, Denny Hamlin was penalized for being too fast entering pit road, and he had to make a pass-through penalty.After the stops had cycled around by lap 122, Johnson was once again the leader. Keselowski was in third place after stops because he was able to make up a lot of time after getting four fresh tires before everyone else.On lap 138, Kahne was able to get around Johnson heading into Turn 3 to take the lead. Within eight laps, Kahne had pulled two seconds ahead of Johnson.Kahne was leading when the caution came out on lap 130. Marcos Ambrose went into a four-wheel slide trying to get to pit road, but he was able to save it before it went around. The leaders came down pit road, and Johnson was able to beat Kahne off pit road to take the lead. Keselowski had a lug nut fall off during his stop, and it dropped him all the way to 13th.Johnson led the field back to green on lap 265, and Kyle Busch went three-wide under Kahne and Johnson to take the lead. With 96 laps to go, Kahne was able to get around Johnson for second place, but they were still over a second behind Busch. On lap 180, Kahne was able to catch Busch and pass him for the lead.[caption id="attachment_58217" align="aligncenter" width="501"]Busch leads Kahne during the Kobalt Tools 400 (Jerry Markland/Getty Images) Busch leads Kahne during the Kobalt Tools 400 (Jerry Markland/Getty Images)[/caption]On lap 187, Busch was caught by Johnson for second, after Busch began complaining of how loose his car had gotten. Busch was able to stay ahead of Johnson, and on lap 194 the third caution of the day came out for a spin by Bobby Labonte. The field came down for pit stops, and most of the teams only took two tires. Kahne was able to beat Busch and Johnson off pit road to keep the lead.Kahne was able to hold off Hamlin and Busch to take the lead when the race went back green with 69 laps to go. Coming through Turn 4, Busch pulled around Kahne to take the lead. On lap 208, Kahne was able to reel in Busch to take the lead once again.On lap 233, Travis Kvapil blew an engine, bringing out the fourth caution. The caution was ill-timed for Hamlin, who had just pitted after staying out under the last caution. Kahne led the field down pit road, and Matt Kenseth and Keselowski won the race off pit road after opting not to take tires.The race restarted on lap 230, and Kenseth was able to clear Keselowski for the lead. With 33 laps to go, Ryan Newman blew an engine, bringing out another caution. The leaders didn't pit when the pits opened, but Biffle and Hamlin, who were running in the back, made pit stops.The race restarted on lap 241, and Kenseth was once again able to clear Keselowski. Kahne was able to get around Keselowski for second, and he quickly pulled up to Kenseth's bumper.Kenseth began to pull away from Kahne, but Kahne quickly cut the deficit to .2 seconds. Kahne was running behind Kenseth, but Kahne couldn't find a way around the No. 20. While Kenseth was working his way through lapped traffic, Kahne was able to pull alongside him in Turn 4 with five laps to go. But Kahne drove it into the corner too hard, and he couldn't make it stick. Kenseth was able to hold him off to win his first race for Joe Gibbs Racing. Here are the unofficial results from Las Vegas:1. Matt Kenseth2. Kasey Kahne3. Brad Keselowski4. Kyle Busch5. Carl Edwards6. Jimmie Johnson7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.8. Martin Truex Jr.9. Kevin Harvick10. Paul Menard11. Tony Stewart12. Joey Logano13. Jamie McMurray14. Mark Martin15. Denny Hamlin16. Aric Almirola17. Greg Biffle18. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.19. Juan Pablo Montoya20. Kurt Busch21. Austin Dillon22. Marcos Ambrose23. Trevor Bayne24. Dave Blaney25. Jeff Gordon26. Jeff Burton27. Clint Bowyer28. David Gilliland29. Casey Mears30. Bobby Labonte31. David Ragan32. David Stremme33. Danica Patrick34. David Reutimann35. Josh Wise36. J.J. Yeley37. Ken Schrader38. Ryan Newman39. Travis Kvapil40. Joe Nemechek41. Scott Speed42. Landon Cassill43. Michael McDowellKenseth made a statement at Las Vegas, showing everyone that he hasn't lost a step in his move from Roush-Fenway Racing to Joe Gibbs Racing. This weekend was also the first real test of the new Gen 6 car, which ran on a 1.5 mile track for the first time this season. Next week, the Sprint Cup Series will race on the half-mile short track at Bristol Motor Speedway. The Food City 500 can be seen next Sunday at 1 p.m., only on FOX.[caption id="attachment_58218" align="aligncenter" width="233"]Courtesy Todd Warshaw/Getty Images Courtesy Todd Warshaw/Getty Images[/caption]
[caption id="attachment_57661" align="aligncenter" width="531"]Justin Edmonds/Getty Images Carl Edwards celebrates in Victory lane (Justin Edmonds/Getty Images)[/caption]Carl Edwards' last victory came at Las Vegas in March 2011. That year, he almost won the championship, losing a tie-breaker to Tony Stewart at Homestead. In 2012, Edwards' team fell off the rails, finishing inside the Top 5 only three times. At Phoenix, Edwards and new Crew Chief Jimmy Fennig worked their pit strategy the right way, and Edwards was able to win his first race in almost two years.Mark Martin won the pole for the 56th time in his career, and he led the field to the green flag for the Subway Fresh Fit 500. Martin was able to pull ahead of Kasey Kahne heading through Turns 1 and 2 and was able to lead lap one. Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin had to start in the back of the pack after engine changes before the race. By lap 10, both Joe Gibbs Racing drivers had cracked the Top 30.The caution came out on lap 21 for Scott Riggs, who cut down a right-front tire in Turn 3 and hit the wall. Some of the drivers in the back of the pack pitted, but the leaders stayed out under the caution.The race restarted on lap 28, and Martin was able to keep the lead after clearing Kahne. Jimmie Johnson restarted third, and he was able to work his way past his Hendrick Motorsports teammate for second place. On lap 36, Kurt Busch cracked the Top 10. Busch wrecked his primary car in qualifying and had to start in the back after he switched to a back-up car.On lap 48, Kyle Busch spun through Turn 2 after getting loose, bringing out the second caution of the day. Busch's team brought the car down pit road, and Busch lost a lap while they worked to get his car repaired. Busch made contact with the outside wall when he spun, and it caused his splitter to drag. The leaders came down pit road, and Kasey Kahne was able to beat Mark Martin off pit road after taking two tires. While on pit road, Clint Bowyer made contact with Travis Kvapil trying to exit his pit stall. Bowyer had to come back in to make repairs, and he would restart in 35th.The race was about to go back to green, but Martin Truex Jr.'s car suddenly slowed, and he coasted down pit road with a broken rear-wheel axle. The race finally restarted on lap 56, and Juan Pablo Montoya restarted first after not pitting. He picked the inside line, and Greg Biffle was able to hang with him on the outside until he made the pass for the lead on lap 57. When Montoya was passed, Aric Almirola almost made contact when he tried to look under Montoya.Biffle had pulled away from Montoya, but by lap 63 Montoya had caught up to him. On lap 64, Martin hit pit road for an unscheduled stop, and his crew changed right-side tires. Martin had radioed in that he had a vibration. On lap 65, Montoya was able to complete the pass for the lead.The caution came out again on lap 66 for Dave Blaney, who was spun by David Stremme in Turn 1. Under the caution, Martin hit pit road again because he was complaining of having a possible loose wheel. Martin would restart 36th.The race restarted on lap 70, and Montoya was once again the leader on the restart. Biffle was able to beat him coming out of Turn 2, and Almirola was trying to pas him as well. Kevin Harvick tried to work his way past Montoya, but he was able to pull ahead to keep his position. On lap 79, Kahne was able to get around Montoya for fourth, and he set his sights on the leaders.The caution came out again on lap 98 for Ryan Newman, who blew a right-front tire in Turn 4. The leaders came down pit road under the caution, and Carl Edwards won the race off pit road.Under the caution, Mark Martin stayed out and he was the leader when the race went back green on lap 104. Martin was able to clear Edwards heading through Turn 1. Brad Keselowski was able to clear Edwards as well, and he moved up to second.On lap 127, Keselowski was able to get to the back bumper of Martin, and Martin let him underneath him. On lap 141, Ryan Newman pounded the outside wall in Turn 2, again for a right-front tire. The caution was good news for Martin, who was going to have to pit before everyone else because he didn't pit under the last caution. The field came down pit road, and Carl Edwards led the field off pit road, again only taking two tires.The green flag came back out on lap 147, and Edwards was able to clear Jimmie Johnson heading into Turn 1. Edwards began to complain of his car overheating on lap 162, and his team saw that he had a sandwich wrapper stuck to his grille. Edwards was able to use the lapped car of Joe Nemechek to get the wrapper off his car and get more air to his engine.On lap 185, Danica Patrick blew a right-front tire coming out of Turn 4, and she headed straight to the outside wall. After hitting the wall, she came back down across the track and hit David Ragan, ending both of their days and bringing out the sixth caution of the day.[caption id="attachment_57664" align="aligncenter" width="526"]Danica Patrick's wrecked car is taken to the garage (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images) Danica Patrick's wrecked car is taken to the garage (Jared Wickerham/Getty Images)[/caption]The wreck left a lot of debris all along the frontstretch, and the pace car took the field down pit road to avoid cutting down anyone's tires. When the pits finally opened, most of the drivers only took two tires, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. got off pit road first.The race restarted on lap 194, and Earnhardt was able to clear Edwards for the lead. Johnson got around Edwards for second, and was looking to get the lead from his Hendrick teammate. Johnson stayed on Earnhardt's bumper until around lap 215, when Earnhardt began catching lapped traffic and pulled away from Johnson by a few tenths of a second.Matt Kenseth started to catch Johnson with less than 80 laps to go, but he wasn't able to get around him because the caution came out again on lap 237. David Gilliland cut down a right-front tire coming out of Turn 2, and slammed into the outside wall. The field came down pit road for what would be their final pit stops of the race. Edwards once again came off pit road first, and was followed by Earnhardt and Johnson.The race went back to green on lap 242, and Earnhardt spun his tires, allowing Edwards to shoot away into Turn 1. Johnson also got around his teammate to move up to second. With 65 laps to go, Kyle Busch and Kurt Busch slowed. Kurt got loose and hit the wall, and Kyle slid up the track while trying to avoid hitting his brother.With 36 laps to go, Brad Keselowski was able to get around Earnhardt for third, and set his sights on Johnson in second. With 30 laps to go, Johnson began catching Edwards for the lead, but many believed that Edwards was backing off to save fuel to make it to the end. While that was happening, Keselowski was able to knock off a lot of time between he and Johnson.With ten laps to go, Keselowski caught Johnson, and began fighting for second place. With four laps to go, Joey Logano slowed on the track, and took his car to the pits.With three laps to go, Ken Schrader hit the outside wall, and brought out the caution. Most of the leaders were told to shut off their cars, as most of them were very close on fuel. Pit road was open, and only a few drivers took the opportunity to pit, including Mark Martin.Edwards led the field to the first green-white-checkered. Edwards was able to get ahead of Johnson with a shove from Keselowski. Johnson got alongside Keselowski, and was working on the high side. Hamlin caught up to the duo, and dove onto the apron going along the backstretch to take second place on the final lap. Edwards was able to save enough fuel and win his first race of the season.Here is the unofficial finishing order:1. Carl Edwards2. Jimmie Johnson3. Denny Hamlin4. Brad Keselowski5. Dale Earnhardt Jr.6. Clint Bowyer7. Matt Kenseth8. Tony Stewart9. Jeff Gordon10. Jeff Burton11. AJ Allmendinger12. Juan Pablo Montoya13. Kevin Harvick14. Casey Mears15. Aric Almirola16. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.17. Greg Biffle18. Marcos Ambrose19. Kasey Kahne20. Paul Menard21. Mark Martin22. Jamie McMurray23. Kyle Busch24. Bobby Labonte25. David Reutimann26. Joey Logano27. Kurt Busch28. JJ Yeley29. Travis Kvapil30. David Stremme31. Joe Nemechek32. Landon Cassill33. Dave Blaney34. Ken Schrader35. Josh Wise36. Martin Truex Jr.37. David Gilliland38. David Ragan39. Danica Patrick40. Ryan Newman41. Scott Speed42. Mike Bliss43. Scott RiggsCarl Edwards' first victory in almost two years came down to the final laps, in a nail-biting fuel mileage finish. But Edwards was able to hold off the five-time champion Jimmie Johnson and defending champion Brad Keselowski for the win. Next week, Edwards will return to the site of his last win when the Sprint Cup Series heads to Las Vegas for the Kobalt Tools 400. The race can be seen next Sunday at 2:30 p.m., only on FOX.[caption id="attachment_57665" align="aligncenter" width="528"]Carl Edwards celebrates with his signature back flip (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images) Carl Edwards celebrates with his signature back flip (Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images)[/caption]
The 55th Annual Daytona 500 will always be remembered as the first points race with the new Gen 6 car, as well as the first race with Danica Patrick as a full-time Sprint Cup Series driver. But Jimmie Johnson decided to make history of his own. By winning the Daytona 500 he joined a list of drivers, one that includes Lee Petty, Richard Petty, David Pearson, Dave Marcis, and Dale Earnhardt, who won in their 400th career starts.Danica Patrick made history before the race even began when she became the first woman to win the pole for a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, and she led Jeff Gordon and the rest of the field to the green flag to begin the Daytona 500. Heading through Turn 2, Gordon was able to get a side draft off of Patrick to take the lead. Kevin Harvick was trying to make the inside line work, but for the first few laps the high line prevailed, with the top five cars running single file. By lap six Harvick got the inside line working, and had worked his way up to third. He was looking to challenge Gordon and Patrick for the lead, but he couldn't stay there and the inside line once again fell back.By lap 12, the top nine cars had broken away from the pack and were running single-file. After about two laps, however, the rest of the field caught up to the pack and the whole field began running single-file. On lap 15, David Gilliland pulled his car onto pit road so his team could take a look at his engine. He had fallen off the pace, and his engine sounded like it was down on power.On lap 20, Gordon began complaining of his engine temperature rising to above 240 degrees. As he was leading, the field caught up to the lapped car of Joe Nemechek, and Gordon tried to use him to get the debris off of his car. The closing speed was too great, however, and he couldn't get it off without having to give up the lead. On lap 26, Gordon got the break he needed when a caution came out for debris on the backstretch. Gordon led the field down pit road, and most of the teams took only two tires. Gordon won the race off pit road, and was followed by his Hendrick Motorsports teammate Kasey Kahne. Patrick, who came down pit road in second, came out in ninth place.[caption id="attachment_56989" align="aligncenter" width="387"]Courtesy Matthew Stockman/Getty Images Courtesy Matthew Stockman/Getty Images[/caption]The race restarted on lap 31, and Gordon was able to keep the lead after restarting on the high side. But heading through Turn 2, another Hendrick Motorsports driver, Jimmie Johnson, was trying to get the lead away from Gordon with help from Matt Kenseth. Going through Turns 1 and 2 on lap 32, Johnson got a good run, and was he able to get around Gordon for the lead, and he brought Kenseth with him. Coming through the trioval on lap 33, Kahne got turned by Kyle Busch in front of most of the field, and Kahne got turned into Juan Pablo Montoya. The wreck also collected Jamie McMurray, Casey Mears, Kurt Busch, Brad Keselowski, Tony Stewart, and Kevin Harvick.The race restarted on lap 37, and Johnson and Kenseth were able to pull ahead of Patrick to take first and second. Coming through Turns 3 and 4, Kenseth jumped out of line and was looking to take the lead away from Johnson. He lead the lap at the line, while he and Johnson were still side-by-side racing for the lead. On lap 38, Kenseth was able to jump in front of Johnson to complete the pass. On lap 40, the inside line, led by Clint Bowyer, was looking to take the lead from Kenseth, but he couldn't stay beside him and the inside line began falling back again.By lap 44, the lead pack had gotten single-file, with Kenseth still the leader. On lap 54, Kenseth began to tell his team that he had a vibration, and it may have been a loose lug nut, which would be disastrous at Daytona. Kenseth stayed out about ten laps, and the team decided that it wasn't a loose lug nut, so they stayed out until pit stops.On lap 70, rookie Austin Dillon pitted by himself, and then the next lap Keselowski and Mark Martin pitted. On lap 72, a group of leaders that included Johnson, Patrick, and Gordon made their green-flag pit stops. On lap 73, Kenseth brought the rest of the leaders down pit road. While pitting, Kyle Busch's car fell off the jack, and he lost a lot of track position.After the round of pit stops, Denny Hamlin and Martin Truex Jr. were scored as the leaders, while Kenseth was third after pitting with the lead. On lap 78, Danica Patrick, who fell back to eighth place after pit stops, began to complain of a vibration.On lap 85, the caution came out for debris in Turn 3. Hamlin brought the field down pit road, and Patrick was able to win the race off pit road. Patrick restarted second when the race went back green on lap 89. Michael Waltrip didn't pit under the caution, and he was the leader. But Patrick was able to get the lead, and pulled Clint Bowyer up into second place.On lap 92, Hamlin was able to pull up alongside Patrick heading into Turn 3, and he was able to take the lead with help from Kenseth. On lap 93, Kenseth was able to pull ahead of his teammate to retake the lead. By halfway the field had once again gotten into a single-file line as everyone was content to ride along and wait to make a move.On lap 123, Waltrip brought his car to pit road. Waltrip had to pit before everyone else because he didn't pit during the lap 85 caution. On lap 126, some of the leaders pitted, handing the lead over to Patrick. On lap 129, Patrick brought her car down pit road, along with Johnson. Gordon also came in, and he had fallen back due to his engine overheating. After pit stops, Kenseth was able to regain the lead.The caution came out on lap 138 for a multi-car accident. Keselowski got bumped from behind by Trevor Bayne when the field stacked up in front of them. Keselowski was able to save his car, but Bayne spun down in front of Carl Edwards. The wreck also collected Austin Dillon, Josh Wise, Terry Labonte, David Ragan, and David Gilliland.The race restarted with 54 laps to go, and Kenseth was able to pull up in front of Hamlin to take the lead. With 52 laps to go, Kenseth's car began smoking, and it looked like he had a tire rub. But with 51 laps to go, Kenseth pulled out of line and he brought his car to pit road. The team went under the hood, and diagnosed it as a drivetrain issue. Kenseth took his car to the garage, ending his chance at a third Daytona 500 win. With 48 laps to go, Kyle Busch, Kenseth's teammate, pulled onto pit road after his engine also blew up.[caption id="attachment_56996" align="aligncenter" width="472"]Courtesy Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images Courtesy Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images[/caption]While his teammates were blowing up, Denny Hamlin was the leader of a pack that was running single-file. With 28 laps to go, most of the leaders pitted for what would be their final green flag pit stop. The rest of the leaders pitted on the next lap, led onto pit road by Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Regan Smith.With 25 laps to go, Martin Truex Jr. reported that his engine was blowing up. Truex was the third Toyota driver using TRD engines to have a problem. With 24 laps to go, Jeff Burton pounded the outside wall, bringing out the fifth caution. The caution caught Scott Speed in the lead, as he was one of the only cars who had not pitted. When Speed pitted under the caution, it handed the lead over to Brad Keselowski, who had been involved in the lap 33 accident.The race restarted with 19 laps to go, and Keselowski was getting pushed by Greg Biffle down the backstretch, helping the first five cars of the outside line get past Johnson, who was on the bottom line. With 17 laps to go, the inside line began to catch the leader, as Johnson was able to pull up alongside Gordon in fourth. Johnson was able to pull up alongside Keselowski going into Turn 3 on lap 186, and he was able to lead the lap. With 12 laps to go, the field started stacking up 3-wide behind the top six cars. With 11 to go, Keselowski was able to pull ahead of Johnson, and he was by himself in the lead.With 10 to go, Johnson began pulling up alongside Keselowski in Turn 2, but he was able to stay ahead of the 48 after a push from Biffle. On lap 191, the sixth caution came out for debris in Turn 2, resetting the field.The race restarted on lap 194, and Johnson was able to pull ahead of Keselowski as the leader. Johnson was getting pushed by Biffle, who was getting pushed by Patrick. The top three cars were able to clear the bottom line, and they were trying to bring Earnhardt and Martin with them. Keselowski was finally able to find a space in line, and he pulled in behind Martin in sixth.On the final lap, a wreck erupted in back of the pack in Turns 1 and 2, but the race stayed green. Heading down the backstretch, Martin gave Earnhardt a huge push heading into Turn 3, but Johnson was able to pull down in front of them to block. Johnson would cross the line first to win his second Daytona 500. Dale Earnhardt Jr. finished second, and Mark Martin was third.Brad Keselowski's battered Ford Fusion was able to finish fourth, and Ryan Newman finished fifth. Greg Biffle was sixth, and Regan Smith was seventh. Danica Patrick finished eighth, and became the highest-finishing woman in Daytona 500 history. Michael McDowell finished ninth with Phil Parsons Racing, and J.J. Yeley finished tenth driving the No. 36 for Tommy Baldwin Racing. Clint Bowyer finished 11th, and Denny Hamlin finished 14th. Jeff Gordon fell behind late, and he finished 20th. Michael Waltrip, running a Sandy Hook Elementary School Memorial paint scheme, finished 22nd. Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch finished 33rd and 34th, respectively. Kasey Kahne returned to the track after his accident, and he finished 36th. Matt Kenseth finished 37th after leading 86 laps. Tony Stewart was 41st and Kevin Harvick was 42nd.The Daytona 500 is in the books, and both Jimmie Johnson and Danica Patrick made history. A new season has begun, and with it, it brings about change. But some things never change, and Jimmie Johnson is once again atop the Sprint Cup Series standings. Johnson hopes to continue his quest for a sixth Championship next week at Phoenix, where he always runs well. The Subway Fresh Fit 500 will be next Sunday at 3 p.m., and can be seen only on FOX.[caption id="attachment_56995" align="aligncenter" width="292"]Courtesy Chris Graythen/Getty Images Courtesy Chris Graythen/Getty Images[/caption]