Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. This week is the penultimate race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series and in the chafor the Sprint Cup: the next to the last race. The Kobalt Tools 500 takes place at the Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, AZ. 312 laps around this mile track, “The Jewel of the desert” will be 500 K. 99 Carl Edwards sits on the pole with a speed of 136.389 mph and 26.395 seconds. This is a new track record. Ryan Newman has held the record here since 11/2004. This is Carl’s third Pole of the year. (His other poles were at Watkins Glen International and Richmond International Raceway.) 43 A. J. Allmendinger will start next to him on the front row.
81 Terry Labonte had to take a past champion provisional to get into the race. 66 Jason Leffler, 87 Joe Nemechek and 46 Michael McDowell failed to make the race. Carl won the NASCAR Nationwide race here on Saturday. Can he sweep the weekend? All three contenders, Harvick, Johnson and Hamlin need to do well to keep up their hopes of a championship. All three can very well win this race.
So, here we go! 99 leads from the pole. 2 Kurt Busch gets by 43 for second. The first caution comes out on lap two when 71 Brendan Gaughan gets a flat tire and hits the wall. For the restart, 99 chooses the inside. 2 takes the lead. 43 and 16 Greg Biffle battle for second and 43 keeps the spot. 00 David Reutimann drives under 16. 6 David Ragan gets into 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. and 33 Clint Bowyer gets some damage. 2 and 99 battle for the lead but 2 holds onto it. 11 Denny Hamlin drives around 56 Martin Truex, Jr. for eighth. 29 Kevin Harvick scrapes the wall.
99 takes the lead. 24 Jeff Gordon drives around 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. 18 Kyle Busch scrapes the wall. 11 gets by 1 Jamie McMurray and 43 for third. 48 Jimmie Johnson and 16 get together. They both save it. 29 and 16 battle and 29 gets by. 1 drives under 43 for sixth. 14 Tony Stewart gets by 43.
The second caution comes out when 12 Brad Keselowski pounds the wall. The brakes were overheating and that blew the tire. 83 Kasey Kahne misses his pit stall and comes out first but has to come back in to pit. 09 Bobby Labonte led a lap before pitting. 11 leads. 18 and 39 Ryan Newman race side by side and 39 finally gets by. 48 gets by 1. 1 smacks the wall, ripping off the right side of the spoiler. 31 Jeff Burton is up to seventeenth after starting 40th. 39 and 18 battle for sixth while 5 Mark Martin and 16 battle for fourteenth.
The third caution comes out for debris. 1 threw his water bottle out, hitting 48. 1 Jamie McMurray gets his lap back. All three contenders are now in the top 10. 99 picks the outside for the restart. 99 and 11 battle for the lead. 11 takes the lead. 39 gets by 2 for sixth. 29 drives under 2 for seventh. 18 goes around 99 for second. 98 Paul Menard pits, starting Green Flag Pitting. 83 pit crew rests a gas can on the back lid and it gets stuck on the spoiler. He has to come back in to have it removed. After all the pitting, 11 is back in the lead. The gap is shorter because 11 had a long pit. 29 gets by 48 for fourth. 14 gets by 29 for fourth.
The fourth caution comes out when 7 Robby Gordon slides and goes “drifting”. 18 comes out of the pits first but 11 takes the lead. 99 gets by 18 for second. The fifth caution is for 38 Travis Kvapil who slides through the infield. 29 and others mid pack make pit stops. 11 chooses the outside for the restart. 39 and 31 get together. 98 and 77 get together, 77 gets into the grass and comes back to battle 98. 99 catches leader 11. 99 takes the lead. 39 and 48 battle for fifth and 39 takes the spot.
(And here ESPN goes out on my TV.) 11 and 18 make pit stops for fuel. (11 was going to be 12 laps short.) 29 gets by 2 for ninth. 48 is saving fuel and looses positions. 11 unlaps himself. 33 who pitted with 29 runs out of gas. And the drought for Carl Edwards ends in the desert when he wins the Kobalt Tools 500. Carl hasn’t won since the last race in 2008 at Miami-Homestead. 39 Ryan Newman finishes second, followed by 20 Joey Logano, 16 Greg Biffle and 48 Jimmie Johnson for the top five. 29 Kevin Harvick, 17 Matt Kenseth, 5 Mark Martin, 2 Kurt Busch and 1 Jamie McMurray complete the top ten.
After finishing twelfth, Denny leads the points by only 15 over Jimmie and 46 over Kevin. There were six different leaders. (In my opinion, too short of a race. And I don’t understand the need to bring excitement by having the race while the sun is in the drivers’ eyes for a lot of the race.)