Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The NASCAR Nationwide Series raced the Aaron’s 312 race on Saturday at the Talladega Superspeedway in Alabama. This massive 2.66 mile track is known for spectacular crashing while they race in packs three wide, many deep. Lately, the drivers figured out that if they double up, they can go much faster than the pack can. And that leads to less crashing. So NASCAR made changes to the grill so that the cars would heat up more quickly so that they would not be able to push another car for as long.
Qualifying for the Aaron’s 312 was canceled when rain came on Thursday, leaving more time on the track for practice. The lineup is owner points, putting Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on the front row. There was a short rain before the race so that the start had to be delayed to dry the track. 117 laps around the 2.66 mile Talladega Superspeedway is 312 miles.
So, here we go! 2 Elliott Sadler and 6 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. race for the lead and 2 leads the first lap with 18 Joey Logano pushing. When they make the switch, 33 Kevin Harvick takes the lead with help from 38 Brad Sweet. 54 Kyle Busch pushes 30 James Buescher into the lead. 87 Joe Nemechek pushes 3 Austin Dillon into the lead. 5 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pushes 30 into the lead. 01 Mike Wallace pushes brother 99 Kenny Wallace. 1 Kurt Busch pushes brother 54.99 pushes 01 into the lead.
70 Johanna Long overheats and heads for the pits, bringing out the first caution a few laps later to check the track for fluids. 6 stays out to lead. (Allen Bestwick says this is “the first and only caution so far”!) In the pits 1 takes off with the gas can still attached and has to start in the rear. 6 makes his pit stop after leading a lap and comes out of the pits above the yellow line instead of bellow it.
87 pushes 5 into the lead. 2 pushes 18 between other cars and into the lead. The second caution comes out when 1 turns 11 Brian Scott to spin him and collect 39 Josh Richards, 89 Morgan Shepherd and 81 Jason Bowles. 3 gets stuck in his pit and has to back up to exit. He came in to fix the nose damage. A few drivers come in to top off the fuel.
5 leads with 7 Danica Patrick right behind. 31 Justin Allgaier is the odd man out in the middle and falling back. 2 pushes 18 into the lead while the camera is on 1 coming up through the pack. The top ten are all single file. Team mates 12 Sam Hornish, Jr. and 22 Brad Keselowski are hanging out in the back, to avoid possible crashing. 2 hooks 18 sideways and he makes a great save as no one was there to crash into. 99 pushes 01 into the lead. When they separate, 5 takes the lead.
31 pits as the third caution comes out. 38 spins himself out with 01 behind him, collecting 14 Eric McClure and 24 John Wes Townley. 3 and 88 Cole Whitt are on the front row. 39 Josh Richards gets back onto the lead lap. 31 was caught speeding. 5 pushes 88 into the lead. 99 with 01 takes the lea. 2 takes the lead. 6 pushes 7 into the lead. 87 pushes 5 into the lead. 1 is in the pits with the hood up after overheating to add more water. 54 pushes 33 into the lead.
The fourth caution comes out when 39 blows a tire and spins. 12 stays out to lead a lap. 51 Jeremy Clements takes the wave around. 7 pushes 33 into the lead. 2 pushes 18 into the lead. 99 pushes 54 into the lead. 2 is overheating from pushing. 12 takes the lead with help from 22. When they separate 54 takes the lead by going between them with 5 right behind.
The fifth caution comes out when 2 is pushing 44 Mike Bliss. Damage on the 2 bumper snags 44 and he spins. 2 comes in for repairs. 31, in 16th comes to the pits while the top fifteen stay out. They restart with four laps to go. The sixth caution comes out when 15 Jeffrey Earnhardt gets loose and 4 Danny Efland and 01 spin behind him. 2 manages to maneuver around them. 1 Kurt Busch gets back onto the lead lap. (And they are all talking about how he can now win the race.)
The restart is the first Green, White, Checker attempt. 54 is on the top and 87 on the bottom. Before they get to the White Flag there is a seventh caution. 18 is pushing 54, leading. They block 43 Michael Annett, who turns 33 and collects 23 Robert Richardson, 19 Tayler Malsam and 7. 14 hits hard into the inside wall and has to be extracted from the car and air lifted to the Hospital, after barrel rolling 6 1/2 times and landing on his side. (Is this the kind of excitement the NASCAR race fans long to see?) There is a Red Flag to get Eric out of the car. 18 ran 43 out of room to start the excitement.
This restart is the second attempt at a Green White Checker Finish. (There can be up to three.) 54 and 87 are leading. 12 runs 7 into the wall. 18 pushes 54 ahead. 12, 87 and 3 get together. 18 gets next to 54 at the tri-oval, 54 goes below the yellow line to try to beat 18 to the Finish Line.
18 Joey Logano wins the Aaron’s 312 by inches over 54 Kyle Busch. 6 Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. comes in third, followed by 88 Cole Whitt, 5 Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 1 Kurt Busch, 30 James Buescher, 31 Justin Allgaier, 99 Kenny Wallace and 2 Elliott Sadler for the top ten. In Championship points, Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. takes over the lead by 5 points over Elliott Sadler. Austin Dillon and Sam Hornish, Jr. stay in third and fourth. Cole Whitt and Michael Annett trade fifth and sixth. Justin Allgaier and Tayler Malsam stay in seventh and eighth while Mike Bliss and Joe Nemechek trade ninth and tenth.
The NASCAR race fans wanted pack racing and all the spectacular crashing and NASCAR did what they had to, to give it to them. But, as you see, the drivers still raced two by two. The spectacular crashing still took place in the pack. But all the lead changes were two by two racing. So, this NASCAR race fan has to ask. Was it a great race with all the crashing, or a boring race with all the lead changes and only seven cautions?
Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I Love NASCAR racing.