Race Review: Amp Energy 500


dg0409TAL_dega_5401Welcome race fans to my NASCAR race review. The Amp Energy 500 takes place at the Talladega Superspeedway in Talladega, AL. The race here is the wild card of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. At this 2.66 mile track, anything can happen, and usually does. In the drivers meeting before the race, the drivers were warned not to get too close to the car ahead in the corners. They could draft on the straight aways, but no in any of the corners. So one will no longer be allowed to push a car all the way around the track. NASCAR wants to “see daylight between the cars in all corners”. I guess so two cars working together cannot race up to the front through the pack. It made for long periods of single file racing. I don’t see what is so great about that.

Qualifying was rained out on Saturday, so they line up according to owner points. This is the 33rd race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and the 7th race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. 96 is Erik Darnell. 09 is Brad Keselowski from the NASCAR Nationwide Series. 71 is Bobby Labonte. 36 is Robert Richardson also from the NASCAR Nationwide Series. 44 teams showed up for qualifying, but only 43 could make it. Which annoys me. Certainly at a track that is 2.66 miles long, there should be room for two in the 22nd row. Tony Raines in the 37 car bowed out of the race so that 78 Regan Smith could get that position. Regan has not entered all the races, being on a limited schedule. It was the sixth time this year that qualifying was rained out, and the second time at Talladega. 48 Jimmy Johnson has never won this race in the Fall. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is the in-race reporter.

So, here we go 48 leads from the pole. 14 Tony Stewart pushes 5 Mark Martin on the inside into the lead. 26 Jamie McMurray is on the high side, falling back. 17 Matt Kenseth leads the outside line. 31 Jeff Burton pulls in front of 17. 2 Kurt Busch takes the lead. 9 Kasey Kahne, who had to start the race from the rear after changing the engine is loosing the draft. They are three wide with 07 Casey Mears on the outside.

The first caution comes out on lap 5, when 98 Paul Menard blows a tire and gets into the wall, with 87 Joe Nemecheck getting collected. Twenty cars pit. 2 leading, chooses the inside. 99 Carl Edwards is on the outside. 99 takes the lead. 16 Greg Biffle pushes 00 David Reutimann into the lead. 2 takes the lead back. They are three wide, eight deep. 99 leads. 00 leads from the middle. 9 got back into the draft. 16 pushes 24 Jeff Gordon into the lead. 07 takes the lead on top. 39 Ryan Newman has trash on his grill, but can’t catch anyone to get it off.

They are single file all around the track. (Great idea, NASCAR, make it a parade.) 07 has trash on his grill and is starting to overheat. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya, 20 Joey Logano and 83 Brian Vickers start Green Flag Pitting. 1 Martin Truex, Jr. is too fast entering the pits. 07 is too fast exiting. They will both have to make a pass through the pits. 19 Elliott Sadler leads. 96 was too fast. 43 Reed Sorenson is pitting by himself. 31 leads. 44 A. J. Allmendinger spins into the pits. 39 leads. 14 leads. 2 spins going into the pits and causes the second caution. He slides along the infield. As the caution comes out, 48, 39, 14 and 24 are about to pit. 24 sees the light go red to close pit road and stays on the track. 48 comes in and pits. 39 and 14 go through pit road, but do not stop to pit. 2 goes two laps down, trying to repair the damage.

19 leads, with 09 beside him. 11 Denny Hamlin leads on the outside. 88 pushes 19 back into the lead, and then takes the lead. 24 takes the lead. 11 pushes 29 Kevin Harvick, then moves up ahead of 24 to take the lead. 88 pushes 29 into the lead. The announcers exclaim what a great race it is, and go to commercials. 44 and 9 get together and 9 goes down the track. 44 had to pit for trash and lost a lap.  17 leads 24 on the bottom. 44 gets a flat, maybe from contact with 9. 88 takes the lead, and they are back to three wide racing. 1 pits. 42 takes the lead. 11 pushes 29 into the lead. 42 pushes 5 into the lead.

And there is Green Flag Pitting once again. 16 has a tire unattended and must come back in. 24 gets into 07 as 07 tries to get to his first pit stall. 47 Marcos Ambrose leads. After the pit stops, 11 is back into the lead. 42 knocks 5 below the double yellow line, but 5 slows to get behind 42, and thus, no penalty.

The third caution is for debris. 16 Greg Biffle gets the free pass and is back on the lead lap. The leaders all pit. 11 takes fuel only and is out of the pits first. 00 and 47 are back in repairing damage. 11 chooses the outside. 7 Robby Gordon takes the lead. 24 pushes 31 into the lead, 31 goes high and 24 takes the lead. 11 pushes 20 Joey Logano into the lead. 88 takes the lead on top. 11 gets warned not to stay on 20’s bumper. 11, behind leader 88 pulls low and then ahead of 88 to take the lead. 24 pulls in front of 11 to take the lead.

11 pushes 18 Kyle Busch into the lead. 18 moves high. 24 pushes 31 into the lead on the bottom. 12 David Stremme leads the middle line. 31 moves high and 24 takes the lead. 2 pushes 88 up the middle. 33 Clint Bowyer gets in front of 31 on top. 29 leads. 12 leads. 07 drives low to take the lead. 88 pushes 09 into the lead.

11 is blowing up and the caution comes out for the fourth time. 2 Kurt Busch gets the free pass and is back on the lead lap. Everyone pits when 11 finally makes it to the garage. Some of the leaders come back in for more fuel. They restart with 47 to go, with 09 on the outside. 12 pushes 24 into the lead. 88 goes to the middle line. 24 on the outside, falls back.  1 takes the lead, but gets into the middle line and falls back. 9 takes the lead on the bottom, then falls back. 19 takes the lead. 42 takes the lead. They are four wide on the track. 29 pushes 31 into the lead. 26 takes the lead on the bottom. They are single file with 26 leading and 29 to go. 88 and 5 move to the bottom. 26 and 17 move to the bottom. 07 pushes 88 into the lead. 88 moves to the top in front of 26. 26 drops below in front of 88 to lead. 12 takes the lead on top. 88 gets stuck on the bottom with everyone going around him on top. 26 takes the lead.

And we get “the big one” with five to go for the fifth caution. 14 and 39 get together. 14 gets into the wall. 39 gets airborne and lands his back end upside down on the hood of 29. 47 and 19 get collected. 39 then slides on his roof up the track into the wall, and back down the track, rolls into the infield the whole time on his roof. They have to turn the car over to get Ryan out. And there is a 12:35 Red Flag for clean up. When the Red Flag is lifted, 14 pits for repairs. Many cars are running out of fuel, and they can’t go Green with all that happening. 24 gets pushed into his pit.

It will be a Green, White, Checker Finish. But as they get to the White Flag, mayhem breaks out. 83 shoves 09 into 2. 2 spins into 82 Scott Speed, 00 and 6 David Ragan. 1 clips 5 and flips him. 48 manages to get by. 26 Jamie McMurray wins the Amp Energy 500 under caution. The top ten ended up being 26, 9, 20, 16, 31, 55 Michael Waltrip, who led a lap, 19, 48(!), 09 and 88. Racing is usually crazy at Talladega, and this one was no exception. Jimmy Johnson stays in the chase lead, now 181 points ahead of Mark Martin, and 195 ahead of Jeff Gordon.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

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