This past weekend’s races were nothing short of exciting.
September 20, 2012
Everyone thought that Parker Kligerman was the man to beat this weekend during the Truck Series race after being first in practice and starting on the pole. Kligerman led 107 laps before he spun out twenty-one laps before the end of the race – flattening both right side tires, ending up twenty-third, three laps down.
Saturday night might have been one of the most memorable nights in Ryan Blaney’s life. Ryan made only his third Camping World Truck Series start in the No. 29 Dodge Ram for Brad Keselowski Racing; the truck previously driven by Saturday night’s pole sitter, Parker Kligerman. The eighteen-year, eight month, and fifteen-day-old Blaney led the last fifty laps of the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway to go on to become the youngest winner in the Camping World Truck Series and the twelfth different winner in the series this year. In Victory Lane, Blaney said, “This is pretty incredible; it’s unbelievable. Hopefully, we can get us a few more here.”
After Timothy Peters and James Buescher had troubles during the course of the race, Ty Dillon is now leading the point standings by eight points over second-place Peters and eleven points over third-place Buescher.
Saturday afternoon’s Dollar General 300 ended with Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. in Victory Lane for the fifth time this season – second to Joey Logano’s (who was the polesitter) six wins.
After being plagued by a stalled car on pit road and an adjustment that affected the handling of the car negatively, Stenhouse rallied back to lead the final twenty-one laps to cross the Start/Finish line 2.402 seconds ahead of second-place Kyle Busch.
Unfortunately for Elliott Sadler, he finished eighth and lost his points lead, which he had previously held for twenty-one weeks in two different stretches this season. However, fortunately for Stenhouse, he was able to grab the points lead with nine points over Sadler and thirty-four points over Austin Dillon.
Sunday’s GEICO 400 was full of great racing action, as everyone expected. In his 116th career start, Brad Keselowski beat out Jimmie Johnson to take the checkered flag for the eighth time. After leading 171 laps, Jimmie Johnson lost the lead to Brad Keselowski once the pit stops cycled through. Once clenching the top spot, Keselowski led the last twenty-six laps, amassing a lead of 3.171 seconds over the second-place Jimmie Johnson.
When all was said and done, it was anything but an ideal day for Jeff Gordon; he had the worst finish out of all the Chase drivers – 35th. However, for teammate Dale Earnhardt, Jr., it was quite a good day. Dale Jr., who started the race from the 42nd position due to an engine change, finished the GEICO 400 eighth. And, for race winner Brad Keselowski, he emerged from his car in Victory Lane with a three point lead over Jimmie Johnson.
We can only imagine what the next nine races have in store for us. Will they be boring? Will they be the most exciting races we’ve ever seen? Who knows; I guess we have to wait and see!
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Insights from a long time NASCAR fan
February 28, 2012
We know NASCAR is unpredictable and this weekend has been exactly that. Being only the first weekend back after the three-month hiatus, I think we all expected it to be a little bit calmer – we were extremely wrong.
Friday night, the Camping World Truck Series (CWTS) returned after ninety-seven days and graced the surface of Daytona International Speedway for the NextEra Energy Resources 250. After Miguel Paludo qualified on the pole, he showed us within the first forty laps why he was there, to win, by leading all the laps. By lap eight, their speeds were already up to 191 miles per hour, going three-wide into turn three. The first wreck of the 2012 Camping World Truck Series season was on lap twenty when Rookie of the Year contender, Paulie Harraka, got loose and collected the No. 18 of Jason Leffler. On lap sixty-one, John King bounced Cale Gale sideways into the wall, where he collected his Eddie Sharp Racing (ESR) teammate, Mike Skinner. With two of the three ESR trucks out of contention, Justin Lofton in the No. 6 College Complete Chevrolet was ESR’s only hope for winning the race. Fifteen laps later, pole sitter, Miguel Paludo got loose and spun out, hitting the inside wall with extreme force. This is when the wrecks started: when going three-wide, Parker Kligerman was sandwiched and spun out, collecting David Starr and Dusty Davis; Clay Greenfield spun Brad Keselowski and collected rookie, Max Gresham, and Rick Crawford along the way; John King unintentionally got into the back of leader, Johnny Sauter, sending him spinning into David Starr, Brendan Gaughan, Grant Enfinger, Parker Kligerman, and Matt Crafton; finally on the third Green-White-Checkered, James Buescher got into the back of Joey Coulter, sending him into the catch fence, allowing John King to win the race.
While all of this was going on, I can guarantee that Justin Lofton was extremely pleased that he was running in the front of the pack, specifically in the top-ten, for a good majority of the night. After qualifying fifteenth, the No. 6 team was unsure of how they would perform during the race after a broken shock plagued them during practice on Thursday. The No. 6 team only making three pit stops during the course of the race helped gain valuable positions on the track. At the final restart of the night, Lofton knew it was time to move. He rallied through the trucks like it was nothing, crossing the line in the third position – a career best. The last time he finished third was during his rookie season in 2010 at Dover International Speedway. With such a great start to the year, this will be the motivation the team needs to get ready for the next CWTS race on March 31 at Martinsville.
Saturday brought on its fair share of wrecks and surprises in the Nationwide Series Drive 4 COPD 300. After winning the pole and leading the field to the Green Flag, Danica Patrick quickly fell back, and by lap forty-nine, she was virtually done for the day after being tapped by teammate, Cole Whitt, which sent her into the wall. Forty-eight laps later, Danica was able to return to the track, and finished thirty-eighth. On lap 104, there was a huge accident, collecting twenty cars, when David Ragan unintentionally turned Sam Hornish. On the last lap of the race, just when we all thought it was over, there was another wreck, only this one took out the top-ten drivers, including: Tony Stewart, Trevor Bayne, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Joey Logano, Elliott Sadler, and Kurt Busch. James Buescher proved that anything can happen – especially being eleventh and winning. After the top-ten crashed, Buescher soared past the wreckage and won the race.
Sunday afternoon left us all sitting on the couch, waiting for the Daytona 500 to begin – one problem, it was pouring in Daytona. By five o’clock, it was announced that the race would begin on Monday at noon; unfortunately, that didn’t happen either. The race was finally held at seven o’clock Monday night. We were all thinking it, the racing action wasn’t as great as we saw in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series races, but other factors were interesting to say the least. On lap one, everyone was surprised to see a multi-car wreck, caused by Elliott Sadler bumping Jimmie Johnson, in which Danica Patrick, Jimmie Johnson, David Ragan, and Trevor Bayne were involved. The rest of the race was pretty calm with only a few accidents, until Juan Pablo Montoya “set fire to the track,” to semi-quote an Adele song. With forty laps remaining, a piece of the suspension broke on Juan Pablo Montoya’s No. 42, sending him straight into the jet dryer on the track. The next thing everyone saw was a burst of orange light – Montoya’s car had made a hole in the jet dryer, and the 200-gallon diesel fuel tank erupted into flames. Both Montoya and the jet dryer driver, Duane Barnes, are fine. After two hours and five minutes of sitting under the Red Flag, the field was back under the Green Flag. Dave Blaney, who was leading before the Red Flag came out, had to come to Pit Road, diminishing his chances of winning the race. In the closing laps, Matt Kenseth became the first repeat Daytona 500 in the past ten years after holding off teammate, Greg Biffle, and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.
Many NASCAR fans were wondering why the jet dryer erupted into flames. The jet dryer, from Michigan International Speedway, was at Daytona because of all the rain. Since it’s the biggest race of the year, why not have a few jet dryers handy, just in case? The jet dryer, introduced into NASCAR in 1976, is composed of a jet engine to clear the track of debris and water, but never has it exploded into flames – then again, it’s never been involved in an on-track accident. If NASCAR fans learned anything on Monday night during the race, it was that anything can happen and NASCAR will be prepared. The firesuit, the helmet, the HANS device, the SAFER barrier, are just a few of the safety precautions that NASCAR takes every weekend. This weekend, we saw how the helmet was effectively used. When Montoya got out of his car, he told the media that his helmet was melted in one spot; just think about it, if he didn’t have that helmet on, he would have suffered from major burns to his head and face.
All-in-all, it was a very exciting – and strange – weekend for all of the NASCAR fans around the world!