NASCAR Race Review: The Kobalt Tools 400

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Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. This week’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race is the Kobalt Tools 400 from the Las Vegas Motor Speedway in Nevada. 17 Matt Kenseth set a new track qualifying record of 188.884 mph and 28.58 seconds on Friday to capture the Coors Light Pole Award. This was his fifth career pole. 9 Marcos Ambrose sits on the front row with him. 6 David Ragan crashed in qualifying and posted no speed. He will start from the rear. 11 Denny Hamlin had to change the engine and will also start from the rear. 92 Brian Keselowski didn’t make the race. Fords have the first four positions.

FYI, Raybestos Brakes has always sponsored the Rookie of the Year Award. They will no longer be doing this. So Sunoco stepped up and we now have the Sunoco Rookie of the Year Award. 24 Jeff Gordon snapped a 66 race winless streak last week at Phoenix International Raceway, giving him 83 wins, tying Cale Yarborough for fifth. Can he make it two wins in a row? The Busch brothers are from Las Vegas, 18 Kyle and 22 Kurt, and are the hometown favorites. Kyle won here in 2009 but Kurt has no wins here. Can either of them win this race? Pole-sitter Kenseth has two wins here. Can he win from the pole? Mark Martin won the first race here, and won the Nationwide race on Saturday. Can he win again in his #5 car?

Ford and Dodge have new noses this year and the splitter in front is all one piece with no braces holding it. Hopefully, that will be better should anyone end up in the infield. There are two pace cars on the track before the Green Flag so that everyone can get a good reading of pit road speed. There are bumps in the lower groove of the track to contend with, so 17 elects to start the race from the outside.

So, here we go! 17 leads from the pole. 16 Greg Biffle gets by 9 for second. 17 and 16 battle for the lead and 16 takes the lead. The first caution comes out on lap 8 when 7 Robby Gordon slides through turn 4, all the way past the entrance to pit road. The leaders pit for fuel. (There is a new fuel can in play this year that eliminates the need for the catch can man. But this new can is harder to use and many are having long pits as a result.)

24 stays out to lead. 14 Tony Stewart takes the lead on the outside. 17 has a flat tire and has to pit. He will go a lap down. The second caution comes out when 34 David Gilliland gets too close to 71 Andy Lally and 71 gets sucked around. 7 Robby Gordon gets the free pass onto the lead lap. A few of the cars make a pit stop.

24 makes it three wide. 00 David Reutimann and 18 get by 24. 2 Brad Keselowski and 1 Jamie McMurray get together. Green Flag Pitting starts and 16 leads. 56 Martin Truex, Jr. leads, then pits. 27 Paul Menard leads. 21 Trevor Bayne is too fast entering and will have to come back in for a penalty. 36 Dave Blaney leads, then pits. 32 Mike Skinner leads, then pits. 14 is back in the lead after it all. 48 Jimmie Johnson is going nowhere. 78 Regan Smith blows the engine and heads for the garage. 48 gets lapped.

The third caution comes out on lap 97 when 18 has a flat tire and gets into the wall. He makes a pit stop and the caution comes out for debris. He gets his lap back, as the caution was not for him hitting the wall, but for debris. The fourth caution comes out when 22 gets loose and goes around, taking 4 Kasey Kahne with him, after contact with 6. The fifth caution comes out when 18 blows an engine and gets into the wall, with flames under the hood. He heads for the garage. 48 Johnson gets the free pass onto the lead lap.

14 is back in the lead. 16 is taking too long to fill the car with fuel and doesn’t get a full tank. 48 and 5 race for position and 5 takes the spot. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. gets by 9, 39 Ryan Newman and 83 Brian Vickers. 99 Carl Edwards gets by 16 for second. 88 gets by 24 for eighth. 21 gets by 17 and 47 Bobby Labonte to be the first car a lap down. 29 Kevin Harvick gets by 56 for fifth. 16, in second, is out of fuel and has to pit. He stalls it trying to get out of his pit stall.

The sixth caution comes out when 34 cuts a tire and gets hard into the wall. 21 Bayne gets back onto the lead lap. 29 was too fast exiting the pits and looses his third spot. 14 exited the pits with the air hose still connected to the car. He is no longer leading. 99 leads them to the restart on lap 268. 48 gets by 24 for ninth. 16 pits for fuel.

The seventh caution comes out when 24 blows a tire and gets into the wall. He heads for the pits and gets stuck on pit road. The pits don’t open until they get him out of the way. 17 Kenseth finally gets his lap back. For the restart, the top five are 14, 42 Juan Pablo Montoya, 56, 99 and 88. 17 nudges 21 to get by. 21 gets into the wall. 11 gets by 39 for seventh. 9 gets by 88 for fifth. 14 starts Green Flag Pitting with 32 laps to go and takes four tires. 42 leads. 31 Jeff Burton overshoots his stall and has to back up before they can service the car. 16 didn’t get a second can of fuel. (Hopefully there will be enough to make it to the end.)

22 leads. 33 Clint Bowyer leads. 20 Joey Logano gets a time penalty. 00 leads before pitting. 99 takes two tires and comes out the race leader. 17 gets by 27 for eleventh.

And 99 Carl Edwards wins the Kobalt Tools 400, his tenth win on a 1.5 mile track. He does his backflip for the fans before getting the Checker Flag. There were thirteen different leaders. (As you’ll recall, Carl had the pole-sitting car last week but was slammed out of the race by Kyle Busch.) This was Carl’s second win at Las Vegas and his nineteenth career win. Tony Stewart now leads the points, tied with Kurt Busch. Carl Edwards is third, followed by Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I Love NASCAR.

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