NASCAR Race Review: AMP Energy Juice 500

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Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. This week the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is at the Talladega Superspeedway for the AMP Energy Juice 500, the thirty-third race of the season and the seventh race in the chase for the Sprint Cup. 26 is former champion Bill Elliott, who had to use a provisional to get into the race. 09 is former champion Bobby Labonte, who got in on speed. 55 is owner/driver Michael Waltrip who is racing in only a handful of races this year. The AMP Energy contest winners told the drivers to start their engines. 188 laps around this 2.66 mile track is 500 miles. Here and at Daytona, the cars have a tendency to exceed 200 mph as they don’t have to lift off the accelerator. In the name of safety, NASCAR gives the cars a restrictor-plate for the carborater. This cuts the horse-power so they can’t go as fast. This race is the wild card in the chase, as anything can happen and usually does. The chosen 12 will have to stay out of the big one and be there at the end.

So, here we go! 42 Juan Pablo Montoya sits on the pole with 33 Clint Bowyer beside him. 33 gets down ahead of 42 to lead the first lap. 87 Joe Nemechek, who started fourth takes the lead. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. takes the lead and the crowd goes wild. 33 takes the lead with help from 42. 42 takes the lead. They are racing four-wide. 42 gets shoved out of the way. 88 takes the lead. The middle row is falling back. 33 pushes 31 Jeff Burton into the lead, then takes the lead. 2 Kurt Busch pushes 12 Brad Keselowski into the lead. 55 pushes 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. into the lead. 17 Matt Kenseth and 31 hook up together and run away from the pack, one pushing the other, then side by side and the other leads. (Quite a sight to see. Two cars can run away from the pack, but one car can’t push for very long or they will overheat. 17 pushes 31, they separate and 31 gets behind 17 to push him. Beautiful racing.)

14 Tony Stewart cuts a tire and goes a lap down. 17 and 31 aren’t quite nose to tail and the pack catches them. 12 Brad Keselowski takes the lead. 31 pushes 33 into the lead. Green Flag Pitting starts. 56 Martin Truex, Jr. leads. 00 David Reutimann leads with help from 47 Marcos Ambrose. 88 pushes 5 Mark Martin into the lead. 77 pushes 11 Denny Hamlin into the lead. 11 and 77 pull away from the pack, then switch places. The pack catches them. (11 and 77 didn’t do that as long as 17 and 31 were able to trade places.) 33 pushes 5 into the lead. 00 pushes 11 into the lead. 31 pushes 88 into the lead. 31 pushes 13 Casey Mears, then goes down to lead, leaving 13 out to dry.

1 Jamie McMurray takes the lead. 00 pushes 29 Kevin Harvick into the lead. 2 Kurt Busch leads. The first caution is for sliding 43 A. J. Almendinger.82 Scott Speed and 83 Kasey Kahne get together and 12 gets into 43, which sends 43 sliding into the infield. 7 Robby Gordon gets back on the lead lap. 29 stays out to lead, then pits. (To prevent 48 Jimmie Johnson from leading a lap.) 1 pushes 17 while 00 pushes 18 Kyle Busch. 18 takes the lead. 00 leads with 18 pushing. 83 takes the lead with 56 pushing. 88 takes the lead with help from 29. They are back to racing three-wide.  1 pushes 42 up the middle, 42 takes the lead and they both move to the outside. 11 looses the draft and is half a track behind, too far away for anyone to fall back and help.

31 pushes 88 into the lead from way back and they pull ahead of 42. The pack catches 11 and puts him a lap down. 00 lets 11 in line in front of him. 00 leads, pushing 11 in front of the pack. 1 pushes 42 into the lad. 31 pushes 17 into the lead. There was almost the big one when 31 touches 1, but 1 saves it. Another round of Green Flag Pitting begins with five cars, then seven cars. 99 Carl Edwards leads. 17 is too fast entering the pits and has to go back through pit road. 9 Aric Almirola leads. 29 pushes 39 Ryan Newman, a lap down to lead. 42 pushes 31 into the lead. 33 takes the lead. (There have now been twenty-two leaders and sixty-two lead changes.) 42 takes the lead. 00 takes the lead. 1 takes the lead. 42 pushes 39, still a lap down, to lead. 33 takes the lead.

The second caution comes out with 54 laps to go. 88 bumps 31 when they weren’t properly lined up and 31 goes down into 1 and then into 88 and the wall. 31 ends up in the infield, gets out and kicks the car. 39 Ryan Newman gets back onto the lead lap. 48 stays out to lead a lap before pitting. 88 goes to the garage for repairs. Both are released from the care unit. 00 leads at the restart. There have been 75 lead changes among 27 different leaders.

The third caution is a big one. 18 makes it four-wide and 33 gets into 47. 47 goes down the track into 29. 26 slides into the inside wall. 11 Denny Hamlin gets back onto the lead lap. 20 Joey Logano leads. 42 pushes 56 into the lead. The fourth caution comes out for debris. The patch on someone’s car fell off. 43 A. J. Allmendinger gets back on the lad lap. 11 takes no tires. 29 stays out. 56 is leading. 20 pushes 42 into the lead. 17 takes the lead. 18 pushes 11 into the lead and they swap positions. 1 pits for damage repairs. 48 pushes 24 Jeff Gordon. 16 Greg Biffle pushes 98 Paul Menard into the lead. 48 pushes 24 into the lead. 24 thinks he is blowing up. 48 takes the lead. 33 takes the lead pulling ahead of 48.

The fifth caution comes out for debris. 14 Tony Stewart gets back onto the lead lap. They restart with 4 laps to go. 33 is on the inside and 48 on the outside. 42 pushes 33 and they take off. They race four-wide. 42 pushes 33 while 00 pushes 29. At the Line, 29 is ahead when the White Flag comes out. And the sixth caution happens behind the leaders. This is the big one. 43 goes flying through the air and collects many other cars. NASCAR doesn’t immediately throw the caution (Waiting for the 43 to come down and keep going?). They are uncertain who was leading-29 or 33- when the caution came out. 33 does a burnout, deciding he was the winner. 33 Clint Bowyer is declared the winner of the AMP Energy Juice 500. (He was the first to do a burnout.) It takes quite some time to decide how the rest of the field finished. The race ends under caution. There were 34 cars on the lead lap. There were 87 lead changes among 25 different drivers!

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR.

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