NASCAR Race Review: Wonderful Pistachios 400

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Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series raced the Wonderful Pistachios 400 race at Richmond International Raceway Saturday night, the final race to set the chase. The media had all these wonderful scenarios of what could happen and who could get into the chase and who could fall out and what each driver had to do to get in or stay in. Richmond is a .75 mile short track with more room to race than other short tracks. They called for a lot of beating and banging to pass, but I have to wonder what ever happened to racing? Chasing is the new NASCAR. And “Boys have at it” is the new theme. Personally, I don’t care for follow the pace car racing because the drivers get into one another instead of racing each other.

00 David Reutimann captured the Pole with a speed of 127.382 mph and 21.196 seconds around the track. 1 Jamie McMurray starts next to him on the front row. I don’t expect the announcers to follow these two, as they are not in contention to get into the chase. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and 14 Tony Stewart are in the top ten in points and will have to, well, race to stay there. 2 Brad Keselowski has clinched a wild card spot but will not get his bonus points for his three wins unless he makes it into the top ten in points. 11 Denny Hamlin will have to race to keep his wild card position. Well, this IS a race, isn’t it? Each driver will have to race for position and the win, no? Somehow chasing is more exciting than racing, at least for the media. Anyway.

Mike Skinner, Erik Darnell and T. J. Bell failed to qualify for the race. Denny Hamlin has won the last two fall races here in Richmond. I’m sure  he will be trying for a third in a row. Since the race falls on the eve of the tenth anniversary of 9/11, many cars have American Flags on their cars. NASCAR is very Patriotic.

So, here we go! 1 McMurray leads the first lap, where the first caution comes out. 32 Mike Bliss turns 71 Andy Lally. They go to a commercial and come back after the restart. 00 and 33 Clint Bowyer get together and spin, but the second caution doesn’t come out until several cars get into them and each other because these two were on the track, going nowhere. On laps nine, ten and eleven, there is a moment of silence and the announcers don’t show what happened until the twelfth lap. 88 got into 17 Matt Kenseth when 17 slowed for cars on the track. 11 has damage. 56 Martin Truex, Jr. got into 13 Casey Mears. 7 Robby Gordon is stuck at the entrance of pit road, so pit road is closed while some drivers come in for repairs. (All that crashing sure was exciting! Not.)

48 Jimmie Johnson leads at the restart. 22 Kurt Busch is loose and loosing spots. The third caution comes out when 4 Kasey Kahne spins out. 34 David Gilliland  gets his lap back. 48 leads. 29 Kevin Harvick gets  by 1 for second 56 limps to the pits. There is three wide racing and 9 Marcos Ambrose gets caught in the middle, bringing out the fourth caution. 88 bumps 9 when 9 lifts to avoid 6 David Ragan. 11 Denny Hamlin gets his lap back.

31 Jeff Burton and 43 A. J. Allmendinger race side by side. 39 Ryan Newman, 24 Jeff Gordon and 33 race together. 33 gets by 39 and 24. (33 is racing a damaged car.) 83 Brian Vickers and 4 race side by side with 9 on the outside, forcing 83 and 4 to get together, bringing out the fifth caution. Under caution, 83 runs into 9 and NASCAR sends 83 to the garage until they decide to let him out!

99 Carl Edwards takes two tires and comes out of the pits first, but 22 and 17 stay out to lead. 17 and 22 race side by side for the lead. 2 and 6 race each other. 18 Kyle Busch has a loose wheel and makes a pit stop. 33 drives under 2. 17 and 29 battle for the lead and 29 takes the lead. 6 and 22 race side by side and 6 drives under 22 to get by. 43 and 00 race side by side. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya gets by 99 for second. 31 and 22 race each other with 39 right behind.

The sixth caution comes out when 32 blows a tire and gets into the wall. (One thing I have to say, ABC did not have the ticker at the top so we could see who is where during the race. Instead they showed us where 14 and 88 were in points as they raced.) 48 and 99 race for position. 1 and 43 race each other. 99 drives under 33 for third. They let 83 back onto the track. 31 and 1 race each other and 1 gets by. 18 gets by 17. 11 and 17 race with 2 right behind. 11 gets by 17.

38 Travis Kvapil bumps 88 and 88 turns 38 into the wall, bringing out the seventh caution. There is no Lucky Dog, as 88 was next in line and was involved in the caution. 16 Greg Biffle leads. The eighth caution comes out when 51 Landon Cassill spins by himself. 99, 29 and 16 battle for the lead and 29 takes the lead by driving through the middle. 78 Regan Smith slides up the track and 27 Paul Menard gets into the wall, bringing out the ninth caution. 17 has damage. 9 Marcos Ambrose gets back onto the lead lap.

At the restart, 29 and 99 battle for the lead and 29 keeps the lead. 48 and 22 battle for fourth. 22 spins 48, bringing out the tenth caution. 29 chooses the bottom and leads 99. 39 and 24 race for position and 39 gets by. 6 drives under 24. 2 drives under 24. 99 takes the lead during the commercial and ABC football action coming up. 99 drove under 29 for the lead. 2 and 22 battle for third and 2 gets by. 2 races with 29 for second and 29 stays in second. 2 has four fresh tires and gets by 29. 22 and 29 race for third and 22 gets the spot. 16 and 29 race for fourth. 33 starts Green Flag Pitting.

48 comes onto 22 and tries to spin him out, but only succedes in spinning himself out, along with 99 and 2. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. gets the free pass onto the lead lap. 11 and 36 Stephen Leicht race for position and 11 gets by. The twelfth caution comes out during the commercial. 31 gets a flat tire and backs into the wall. 99, 16 and 2 race for position and 99 clears 16. (1 Jamie McMurray was the Lucky Dog.) 11 and 18 battle for position.

The thirteenth caution comes out when 35 Dave Blaney and 9 get together and 9 spins. 20 Joey Logano is up in smoke and heads for the garage. 24, in tenth, makes a pit stop while the top nine stay out. 43 A. J. Allmendinger gets his lap back. They go Green with 99 laps to go and 99 leading. 51 spins and drives through the grass. No caution comes out. 16 and 22 race for second with 29 right behind.

The fourteenth caution comes out when 00 spins into the wall. 33 got loose into 00. 9 Marcos Ambrose again gets back onto the lead lap. 99 stays out, along with 17 and 36. 36 is getting in the way. 29 takes  the lead. 17 and 11 get together, giving 17 a tire rub. 24 gets by 99 for second. 24 catches the leader, 29 in traffic. 29 and 24 battle for the lead. 29 slips and 24 takes the lead. 18 battles with 99.

The fifteenth caution comes out for 27 Paul Menard. For the restart, the top five are 29, 24, 99, 18 and 6. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. is the Lucky Dog for the third time. 29 leads. 99 and 24 battle for second and 99 takes the position. 24 races with 18 for third and 18 gets by. 24 tries again and gets back by 18. 6 and 22 get by 18.

With only a few laps to go, 99 is catching 29 for the lead, but there is not enough time for him to battle for the lead. And 29 Kevin Harvick wins the Wonderful Pistachios 400, his fourth win this year. Carl Edwards finishes second, followed by Jeff Gordon, David Ragan, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman, Denny Hamlin and Mark Martin for the top ten. So. The chase is now set, with Kyle Busch, having more second place finishes than Kevin Harvick and leads the points. Both have four wins and 2012 points. Jeff Gordon is third, followed by Matt Kenseth, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Brad Keselowski and Denny Hamlin are the wild cards for the top twelve.

This year the chase starts at Chicagoland Speedway, not New Hampshire Motor Speedway like it has been. Kenny Wallace said the chase and wild cards is what the fans wanted. But I have to differ. We did not want the chase at all. We liked the Champion being the best driver after 36 races, not the best in ten races. Ratings have shown fans are not watching the last ten races, since the Season was shortened to 26 races. With 43 drivers still racing every week during this chase, who wants to watch only twelve drivers? No one goes home for the chase. They keep on trying to win, even during the chase.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR racing. Although I’m not crazy about chasing.

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