NASCAR Race Review: VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200

May 12, 2012 by

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The NASCAR Nationwide Series raced their ninth race of the season, VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway in Darlington, SC. Friday night. Qualifying was earlier on Fast Friday, with Nationwide driver Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on the Pole with a speed of 173.546 mph and 28.336 seconds around this 1.366 mile egg-shaped oval. Sprint Cup driver Denny Hamlin, in the Sport Clips car, starts next to him on the front row. The guys in the booth all pick their favorite Sprint Cup driver to win the race, even though this is a Nationwide race. There are many drivers here at Darlington Raceway for the first time at this track “too tough to tame”. 88 Cole Whitt and 99 Travis Pastrano crashed into the wall during qualifying and will start the race from the rear in backup cars.

6 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. starts the race on the inside and moves past 18 Denny Hamlin to lead from the Pole. On Lap 2 the first caution comes out. 36 Ryan Blaney gets going too fast and slides up into the wall, and sends 51 Jeremy Clements sideways. Others get together behind them.

6 again restarts on the inside and moves up in front of 18. 38 Kasey Kahne and 31 Justin Allgaier race side by side and 38 gets by. 33 Brendan Gaughan and 22 Brad Keselowski race side by side and 22 gets by. 11 Brian Scott drives under 31. 22 drives under 31. 2 Elliott Sadler gets by 3 Austin Dillon for fourth. 18 challenges for the lead and 6 lets him by. 20 Joey Logano drives under 2 for fourth.

The second caution comes out when 01 Mike Wallace blows a tire in front of 6 and heads for the wall with much sparks. 31 makes a pit stop with the hood up. 18 and 20 come out of the pits first and they race for the lead at the restart. 20 takes the lead. 18 drives under 20 to take the lead.

The third caution comes out when 50 T. J. Bell was trying to get between 39 Josh Richards and 31. 39 wouldn’t let him in and 50 hits the outside wall, down the track and into the inside wall. 99 Travis Pastrano gets back onto the lead lap.

At the restart, 18 and 20 race each other for the lead and 54 Kurt Busch drives under them to take the lead. After a few laps 18 takes the lead back. 6 gets by 20 for third. 12 Sam Hornish, Jr. lets team mate 22 by for sixth. 6 gets by 54 for second. 6 gets sideways into a lapped car and 54 gets by. 22 and 6 start Green Flag Pitting. 18 pits and 54 leads. 54 pits and 20 leads. 20 pits and 33 leads. 33 pits and 31 leads. 18 takes the lead driving between a lap car and 31. 22 gets by 3. 2 is overheating.

20 drives under 54 for second as 54 has a tire going down. 54 smacks into the wall, bringing out the fourth caution. 2 takes two tires to lead the race. 20 drives under 18 for second. 08 Matt Frahm is smoking and heads for the garage. 18 and 20 race for second and 18 gets by.

18 challenges 2 for the lead as the fifth caution comes out with ten laps to go when 33 gets into the wall. 41 Timmy Hill gets his lap back. 2 restarts on the inside again as they restart with five laps to go. The sixth caution comes out at the restart. 20 in third, instead of pushing 2 to lead, turns left sending 2 across 18 into the wall. (Once again the Sprint Cup drivers take out the Nationwide championship contenders trying to win a Nationwide race.)

18 was leading at the last loop and is declared the leader, even though 20 took the lead when he crashed 2 out. 99 Travis Pastrano is again the Lucky Dog. This will be a Green White Checker Finish. 22 pushes 20 into the lead and he holds off 18 for the win. 20 Joey Logano wins the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 at Darlington Raceway, his second straight Nationwide victory. (Logano takes Elliot Sadler’s trophy. What a great Nationwide driver Joey is!)

So, Sprint Cup drivers finish the Nationwide race in the first three spots, with Logano winning, Hamlin second and Keselowski third. Sam Hornish, Jr. finished fourth, followed by Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., Brian Scott, (Sprint Cup driver) Kurt Busch, James Buescher and Cole Whitt for the top ten.

Logano’s taking Elliott Sadler out puts him 23 points behind Championship points leader, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. (Hopefully other Sprint Cup drivers will not take him out and he can make up points in races to come.) Austin Dillon remains in third, Sam Hornish, Jr. remains in fourth, Cole Whitt stays in fifth, Michael Annette stays in sixth and Justin Allgaier remains in seventh. Mike Bliss, Joe Nemechek and Danica Patrick each move up a spot for the top ten, as Tayler Malsam falls three spots into eleventh.

And now my commentary. This race only had 43 cars entered. Five of them were Sprint Cup drivers. They say NASCAR race fans only watch Nationwide races if Sprint Cup drivers are in the race. This NASCAR race fan says fans do not come to Nationwide races instead of Sprint Cup races to see the Sprint Cup drivers. The fans that are there for the Nationwide race are fans that are there for the weekend and get to see the Sprint Cup drivers the following day. The Nationwide race should be about Nationwide drivers going for their Championship. Not about which Sprint Cup driver will win the Nationwide race. Nor about which Sprint Cup driver will take out Nationwide drivers to win these Nationwide races. Granted, it would not have been a full race this time without them, but I fail to understand why they have to take out Nationwide Championship contenders to win Nationwide races. Perhaps the Sprint Cup drivers should start these Nationwide races from the rear of the field, instead of taking over the Nationwide races. Joey Logano took out Elliott Sadler to win the Nationwide race. Sadler was leading the race. Had he gone on to win, he would be leading the points. Instead, Logano wins the race and Sadler falls way behind. Perhaps Logano should drop down to Nationwide so he can win races and Championships. I suppose Sprint Cup drivers liven up the Minor League races, but they should not be allowed to take out drivers racing for Championship points to win Minor League races. Have them start from the rear so we can watch these Pros race their way to the front. It’s no fun watching Sprint Cup drivers start out front, lead most of the laps and win these Minor League races. Especially if they take out championship points contenders to do so. Let them take each other out in Sprint Cup, not in the Minor Leagues.This NASCAR race fan would much rather see Nationwide drivers in these races. Perhaps Nationwide owners should find Nationwide drivers to drive their Nationwide cars, not Sprint Cup drivers.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I Love NASCAR racing.

Fast Friday At Darlington Raceway

May 12, 2012 by

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. NASCAR is racing close to home this Mothers’ Day weekend at the Darlington Raceway in Darlington, NC. Darlington Raceway is the “track too tough to tame” and the “Lady in Black”, as this track is shaped like an egg and very narrow. Most drivers end up with a “Darlington stripe” by the end of the race because you have to drive so close to the wall that most drivers get into the wall and get their Darlington stripe. By the end of the race, the wall is all black. At Darlington Raceway, the drivers must race the track and not each other.

The first practice session for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, the Bojangles’ Southern 500 was held on Fast Friday. Kevin Harvick was the fastest in the first practice. He will be the last one out for Coors LightPole Qualifying later on Fast Friday. A. J. Allmendinger was fastest in final practice.

The NASCAR Nationwide Series also had practice for the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 race. Kurt Busch was fastest in the first practice and will go out last in qualifying. 43 cars are entered in this race, so no one will have to go home.Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. captured the Pole position with a speed of 173.546 mph and 28.336 seconds around this 1.366 mile track Denny Hamlin will start next to him on the front row for the race Friday night.

Coors Light Pole Qualifying also took place on this Fast Friday for the Bojangles’ Southern 500 Sprint Cup race. Danica Patrick, who was slowest in the first practice, came out first. Kevin Harvick came out last and had a bad run. Greg Biffle captured the Pole with a speed of 180.257 mph and 27.281 seconds. Jimmie Johnson and Kasey Kahne timed in with the same speed and will start the race in second and third. Mike Bliss, Scott Riggs, Stephen Leicht and Michael McDowell failed to make the race.

The Nationwide race was also run on Fast Friday. I will give a review later. Cole Whitt and Travis Pastrano hit the wall while qualifying and will be starting the race from the rear in back-up cars.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I Love NASCAR racing.

NASCAR This Weekend

May 10, 2012 by

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. This weekend is Mothers’ Day and NASCAR will be racing close to home at the Darlington Raceway. This is a 1.366 mile egg-shaped oval track that is so hard to race, it has been given a couple of nicknames. “The Lady in black” is one of them. The track is so narrow, they drive close to the wall and Darlington Raceway seems to have a magnet to draw the cars to the wall. You aren’t racing if you don’t have your “Darlington stripe”. For most race tracks, you race 42 other drivers. At Darlington, you race the track. Darlington Raceway is also known as “the track too tough to tame”.

Back in “the day” there were two races at Darlington. One in the Spring and the Southern 500 on Labor Day weekend. The Southern 500 was one of the “Crown Jewels” of NASCAR. In it’s infinite wisdom, NASCAR decided to give that Labor Day weekend to California instead, as it was a better market in California. Supposedly NASCAR race fans would rather travel to California than stay close to the East coast. I guess to get more NASCAR race fans to the West coast. That didn’t work out. It turns out NASCAR race fans would rather go to Darlington Raceway, with it’s great racing and unique track.

Darlington Raceway used to be hard on the tires because the track was paved with seashells in it. It has since been repaved so that the tires last longer. Last year Regan Smith won the race by staying out on the track after the last caution and holding off Carl Edwards on old tires. That was Smith’s first NASCAR Sprint Cup victory.

This weekend the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will race the Bojangles’ Southern 500 on Saturday night so the drivers can be with their wives and Mothers on Sunday. NASCAR Nationwide Series will be racing the VFW Sport Clips Help a Hero 200 on Saturday night. Somehow, for this NASCAR race fan, it just isn’t the same as it was on Labor Day weekend. Vivid Seats has NASCAR tickets and tickets for most Sporting Events.

I came across a site that reviews Sports Stadiums. Thought my readers might be interested.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I Love NASCAR racing.

NASCAR Race Review: Aaron’s 499

May 7, 2012 by

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series was in Alabama this weekend for the Aaron’s 499 race at the Talladega Superspeedway. Talladega Superspeedway is a massive 2.66 mile track that lends itself to high speeds with no letting off of the throttle. It also lends itself to multi-car pile-ups because they are going so fast, inches apart. NASCAR mandates a restrictor-plate on the cars to cut horsepower and therefore, speed. They race around in large packs three wide, many deep. Which lends itself to spectacular crashing. The drivers figured out that if you get a partner to push you around the track, you can outrun the pack. NASCAR race fans like their crashing, so NASCAR is doing what it can to bring back the pack racing and not have them racing two by two for very long by changing the opening in the grill so they will overheat sooner. (I have to wonder how they will be able to race in a pack if they will be overheating in the middle of the pack.)

Coors Light Pole Qualifying took place on Saturday and 24 Jeff Gordon tried a different line around the track and captured the Pole with a speed of 191.624 mph and 49.973 seconds around the track. 22 A. J. Allmendinger will start on the front row with him. J. J. Yeley was the lone driver that did not qualify for the Aaron’s 499 race. Every six years on May 6, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. wins the race. This race is on May 6. Can he keep this record up? You don’t want to be leading on the last lap, as the driver pushing you will let go and beat you to the Line. There have been a lot  of first time winners at Talladega Superspeedway. Will another driver win for the first time? They are drying the track as the race is set to start. Comedian Ron White starts the engines.

So, here we go! 24 Jeff Gordon starts the race on the outside, 9 Marcos Ambrose with 39 Ryan Newman pushing gets by 24. 17 Matt Kenseth pushes 14 Tony Stewart to lead the first lap. 39 leads the outside lane. 29 Kevin Harvick is on the outside, moving forward.

The first caution comes out when 78 Regan Smith, running in a tight pack, has the engine let go. 17 and 14 come out of the pits first. 22 A. J. Allmendinger is too fast on pit road. 15 Clint Bowyer stalls the car and has to reset everything to get it going. 38 David Gilliland is caught speeding. 93 Travis Kvapil and 27 Paul Menard each led a lap before heading to pit road.

17 restarts on the outside with team mate 16 Greg Biffle right behind. They move down to lead the race. 9 pushes 14 and 14 drops behind leader 17. They are racing four wide in the pack! 48 Jimmie Johnson is leading the middle line. 9 gets stuck on top with no help. 11 Denny Hamlin pushes 55 Michael Waltrip into the lead. 11 gets out of line and finds himself in 14th place. 39 is overheating and heads for the pits. It is an oil pump, so he goes to the garage. 48 and 55 race for the lead with the two lines coming together. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pushes 48 into the lead and they both move to the inside lane. 17 takes the lead, moves up to 24 and they both go down in front of 48. 11 makes a pit stop by himself. The stop is too slow and he goes a lap down.

Others pit together to start Green Flag Pitting. 31 Jeff Burton leads a lap before pitting. 48 leads after the pitting. 48 is blowing up with another oil pump problem and heads for the garage. 88 leads the way to the delight of the fans. 17 drives under 88 to take the lead. 24 is in the middle of the pack with the water gage flashing. (Looks like trying to get rid of the tandem racing is only causing problems in the pack.)

5 Kasey Kahne takes the lead and they are back to pack racing. 17 takes the lead. 5 takes the lead back. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya takes the lead. 2 Brad Keselowski and 22 pit together to start Green Flag Pitting again. 27 leads a lap before pitting. 29 is leading after the pitting. 16 takes the lead. 51 Kurt Busch in the Ricky Bobby paint scheme takes the lead. (The crew chief announces: new leader, Ricky Bobby.) 17 takes the lead. 16 gets by 51 for second. 51 retakes the lead and moves down. 17 and 16 get by 51 for the lead. 16 gets shuffled back. 29 is on top slowing down. 31 runs out of fuel. They start another round of Green Flag Pitting. 51 is on the apron, out of fuel.

The second caution is The Big One. 47 Bobby Labonte runs out of gas with 18 leading. Everyone bunches up. 43 Aric Almirola is on the bottom and moves up into 36 Dave Blaney and 42. 56 Martin Truex, Jr. gets caught in it and slides down into 24 who is low to avoid the mess. 20 Joey Logano, 32 Terry Labonte, 93, 83 Landon Cassill and 99 Carl Edwards are also caught up in it. 43 was out of fuel on the apron and tried to get back up onto the track. (Are you happy now, NASCAR race fans?) 27 comes off pit road as the caution comes out to lead. 17, 9 and 51 pit before pit road is open and will have to restart dead last.

They restart with 38 laps to go. 2 takes the lead. 11 takes the lead. 17 pushes 13 Casey Mears into the lead. 11 retakes the lead. 13 leads. 11 is back in the lead. 15 takes the lead. 11 takes the lead back. 2 pushes 17 into the lead. The third caution comes out when 13 has a tire going down and wobbles in front of 9, spins and comes down the track and clips 21 Trevor Bayne. 5 manages to get by. 29 Kevin Harvick gets his lap back. 31 stays on the lead lap.

They restart with nine laps to go and 17 leading. 29 pushes 14 on the outside. The fourth caution comes out when 51 gets bumped in the corner by 2. He slides down the infield and into the wall. The caution comes out while he is sliding. He drives down pit road, going the wrong way. The B-post holding the window net on 17 is cracked.

They restart the race with four laps to go and the fifth caution comes out on the restart. 17 is on the outside with 16 right behind. 11 moves to the middle and 22 tries to block, spinning 27. 29 gets into 1 Jamie McMurray. 55 gets into 20. 15 and 55 get together. 88 gets by. 5 once again gets by, his third miss. 2 is worried about fuel and drives on the apron. 11 car is falling apart from a tire rub. 17 has fender damage.

This will be the first attempt at a Green White Checker Finish with 17 leading on the outside. 16 pushes 17 and they both go to the bottom. 18 pushes 2 on the outside past 17 and 16 who get disconnected, so aren’t close enough to each other to try to fight for the lead.

The White Flag comes out with 2 leading. 18 figures he will win, as he is pushing the leader and can pull out at the last second to win. (Like Joey did to him on Saturday.) As they come around the fourth corner, 2 turns left to break the connection and takes off, leaving 18 too far away to challenge.

2 Brad Keselowski wins the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway. No one remembers who finished second. Nineteen cars were taken out in this race. So, I guess it was a great show for the fans. There were sixteen different leaders, with 17 Kenseth leading the most. 194 laps had to be raced, making it the Aaron’s 516!

2 Keselowski was followed by 18 Kyle Busch, 17 Matt Kenseth, 5 Kasey Kahne, 16 Greg Biffle, 15 Clint Bowyer, 34 David Ragan, 21 Trevor Bayne, 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and 31 Jeff Burton for the top ten. In Championship points, Greg Biffle remains in first place, seven points ahead of Matt Kenseth who moved up two spots after leading the most laps and finishing third. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Denny Hamlin each fall a spot to third and fourth, while Kevin Harvick climbs two spots into fifth. Martin Truex, Jr. and Tony Stewart swap sixth and seventh places. Jimmie Johnson falls two spots into eighth. Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer each move up two spots into ninth and tenth. Carl Edwards falls two spots, out of the top ten, into eleventh and Brad Keselowski moves up one place into the top twelve.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I Love NASCAR racing.

NASCAR Race Review: Aaron’s 312

May 6, 2012 by

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The NASCAR Nationwide Series raced the Aaron’s 312 race on Saturday at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. This massive 2.66 mile track is known for spectacular crashing while they race in packs three wide, many deep. Lately, the drivers figured out that if they double up, they can go much faster than the pack can. And that leads to less crashing. So NASCAR made changes to the grill so that the cars would heat up more quickly so that they would not be able to push another car for as long.

Qualifying for the Aaron’s 312 was canceled when rain came on Thursday, leaving more time on the track for practice. The lineup is owner points, putting Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on the front row. There was a short rain before the race so that the start had to be delayed to dry the track. 117 laps around the 2.66 mile Talladega Superspeedway is 312 miles.

So, here we go! 2 Elliott Sadler and 6 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. race for the lead and 2 leads the first lap with 18 Joey Logano pushing. When they make the switch, 33 Kevin Harvick takes the lead with help from 38 Brad Sweet. 54 Kyle Busch pushes 30 James Buescher into the lead. 87 Joe Nemechek pushes 3 Austin Dillon into the lead. 5 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pushes 30 into the lead. 01 Mike Wallace pushes brother 99 Kenny Wallace. 1 Kurt Busch pushes brother 54.99 pushes 01 into the lead.

70 Johanna Long overheats and heads for the pits, bringing out the first caution a few laps later to check the track for fluids. 6 stays out to lead. (Allen Bestwick says this is “the first and only caution so far”!) In the pits 1 takes off with the gas can still attached and has to start in the rear. 6 makes his pit stop after leading a lap and comes out of the pits above the yellow line instead of bellow it.

87  pushes 5 into the lead. 2 pushes 18 between other cars and into the lead. The second caution comes out when 1 turns 11 Brian Scott to spin him and collect 39 Josh Richards, 89 Morgan Shepherd and 81 Jason Bowles. 3 gets stuck in his pit and has to back up to exit. He came in to fix the nose damage. A few drivers come in to top off the fuel.

5 leads with 7 Danica Patrick right behind. 31 Justin Allgaier is the odd man out in the middle and falling back. 2 pushes 18 into the lead while the camera is on 1 coming up through the pack. The top ten are all single file. Team mates 12 Sam Hornish, Jr. and 22 Brad Keselowski are hanging out in the back, to avoid possible crashing. 2 hooks 18 sideways and he makes a great save as no one was there to crash into. 99 pushes 01 into the lead. When they separate, 5 takes the lead.

31 pits as the third caution comes out. 38 spins himself out with 01 behind him, collecting 14 Eric McClure and 24 John Wes Townley. 3 and 88 Cole Whitt are on the front row. 39 Josh Richards gets back onto the lead lap. 31 was caught speeding. 5 pushes 88 into the lead. 99 with 01 takes the lea. 2 takes the lead. 6 pushes 7 into the lead. 87 pushes 5 into the lead. 1 is in the pits with the hood up after overheating to add more water. 54 pushes 33 into the lead.

The fourth caution comes out when 39 blows a tire and spins. 12 stays out to lead a lap. 51 Jeremy Clements takes the wave around. 7 pushes 33 into the lead. 2 pushes 18 into the lead. 99 pushes 54 into the lead. 2 is overheating from pushing. 12 takes the lead with help from 22. When they separate 54 takes the lead by going between them with 5 right behind.

The fifth caution comes out when 2 is pushing 44 Mike Bliss. Damage on the 2 bumper snags 44 and he spins. 2 comes in for repairs. 31, in 16th comes to the pits while the top fifteen stay out. They restart with four laps to go. The sixth caution comes out when 15 Jeffrey Earnhardt gets loose and 4 Danny Efland and 01 spin behind him. 2 manages to maneuver around them. 1 Kurt Busch gets back onto the lead lap. (And they are all talking about how he can now win the race.)

The restart is the first Green, White, Checker attempt. 54 is on the top and 87 on the bottom. Before they get to the White Flag there is a seventh caution. 18 is pushing 54, leading. They block 43 Michael Annett, who turns 33 and collects 23 Robert Richardson, 19 Tayler Malsam and 7. 14 hits hard into the inside wall and has to be extracted from the car and air lifted to the Hospital, after barrel rolling 6 1/2 times and landing on his side. (Is this the kind of excitement the NASCAR race fans long to see?) There is a Red Flag to get Eric out of the car. 18 ran 43 out of  room to start the excitement.

This restart is the second attempt at a Green White Checker Finish. (There can be up to three.) 54 and 87 are leading. 12 runs 7 into the wall. 18 pushes 54 ahead. 12, 87 and 3 get together. 18 gets next to 54 at the tri-oval, 54 goes below the yellow line to try to beat 18 to the Finish Line.

18 Joey Logano wins the Aaron’s 312 by inches over 54 Kyle Busch. 6 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. comes in third, followed by 88 Cole Whitt, 5 Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 1 Kurt Busch, 30 James Buescher, 31 Justin Allgaier, 99 Kenny Wallace and 2 Elliott Sadler for the top ten. In Championship points, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. takes over the lead by 5 points over Elliott Sadler. Austin Dillon and Sam Hornish, Jr. stay in third and fourth. Cole Whitt and Michael Annett trade fifth and sixth. Justin Allgaier and Tayler Malsam stay in seventh and eighth while Mike Bliss and Joe Nemechek trade ninth and tenth.

The NASCAR race fans wanted pack racing and all the spectacular crashing and NASCAR did what they had to, to give it to them. But, as you see, the drivers still raced two by two. The spectacular crashing still took place in the pack. But all the lead changes were two by two racing. So, this NASCAR race fan has to ask. Was it a great race with all the crashing, or a boring race with all the lead changes and only seven cautions?

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I Love NASCAR racing.

 

 


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