Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series held their Kobalt Tools 500K race at the Phoenix International Raceway on Sunday. This race was touted as the wild card in the chase for the Sprint Cup. Phoenix International Raceway, in Avondale Arizona, has a new look to this one mile track. So none of the teams had any notes as to how they would proceed with adjustments. However, the penultimate race in the chase was new to one and all.
There was lots of racing on this new track on Saturday. And the track owner used former drivers and machines to put rubber on the track prior to practices. But Mother Nature had other plans for the Sprint Cup race. Rain washed away all their efforts on Sunday morning. NASCAR will throw a competition caution around lap 40 so they can check the tire wear. Should there be a caution before lap 40, the teams can pit, but will not be able to take fuel.
Bad boy Kyle Busch, in his #18 car with Interstate Batteries on board, had to change the engine just into the first practice. He qualified 34th and will start the race from the rear. In the driver meeting before the race, they were asked not to use the apron in the dogleg to gain position, as it was not very helpful for the drivers in the previous races on Saturday. This race is 312 laps (and miles) for 500 kilometers. Scott Riggs, David Stremme and Andy Lally failed to make the race.
17 Matt Kenseth starts the race from the pole with a speed of 137.101 mph and 26.258 seconds around the mile track. This was his third Pole this year. Speed TV had a poll of who will win the Sprint Cup: Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart or other. Overwhelming response was for Tony Stewart. Carl has been consistent, but Tony has four Chase wins. Looks like we fans prefer winning to consistency.
So, here we go! 17 Kenseth leads from the Pole. 56 Martin Truex, Jr. drives under 43 A. J. Allmendinger into second. 6 David Ragan and 78 Regan Smith get together and spin out, bringing out the first caution. They restart on lap 6. 17 and 56 race for the lead and 17 stays in the lead. On lap seven 36 Todd Bodine looses it on top and spins out, bringing out the second caution. He doesn’t hit anything and no one hits him. 6 David Ragan gets his lap back.
17 again leads the way at the restart. 22 Kurt Busch and 27 Paul Menard get together while racing. 22 got loose. They both go on. (On the top of the screen, they show the points as they run for the two points leaders!) 14 Tony Stewart drives under 56 for second. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya gets sideways and 1 Jamie McMurray gets by. 43 drives under 9 Marcos Ambrose. 17 and 14 split lap car 36 to race for the lead and 14 takes the lead.
The third caution, the competition caution, comes out on lap 42. Thirty-three cars are on the lead lap. 17 comes out of the pits first with his first pit stall. The Green Flag comes back out on lap 46. 14 takes the lead, sliding off the corner. 99 Carl Edwards is up to third. 17 and 99 race side by side for second and 99 gets the spot. 17 has a vibration and is falling back. 31 Jeff Burton gets by 22 as 36 gets in the way. 29 Kevin Harvick drives under 5 Mark Martin. 43 gets by 99 for second.
The fourth caution comes out during the commercial. 4 Kasey Kahne spins the slow moving 36 and gets him out of the way. 35 Dave Blaney gets back onto the lead lap. 17 and 14 are on the front row for the restart. 14 takes the lead. 39 Ryan Newman dives onto the apron for position. 48 Jimmie Johnson gets loose and 4 gets by. 42, 22 and 83 Brian Vickers race three wide and 42 gives way. 18 dives onto the apron under 48 to get by. 22 and 00 David Reutimann race side by side and nearly get together. 29 drives around 42. 29 gets a vibration and makes a pit stop. Others follow to start Green Flag Pitting. 14 and 17 race for the lead. 17 drives under 14 to take the lead.
The fifth caution comes out when 36 blows a tire and heads for the garage. (Perhaps he should have pitted sooner and not been in the way.) 00 drops a lug nut. 17 and 2 Brad Keselowski are out first. Those who pitted under Green take the wave around to stay on the lead lap. 99 and 17 race for the lead. 17 gets loose and 99 takes the lead. 17 falls back.
The sixth caution comes out when 84 Cole Whitt spins with help from 56. Those who took the wave around may now make a pit stop. 24 Jeff Gordon pits with damage to his splitter. 48 Jimmie Johnson gets back onto the lead lap. 99 and 14 race for the lead and 99 takes the lead. They are four wide with two on the apron! 00 drives under 17. 17 is on top and losing ground.
The seventh caution comes out when 83 pushes 17 into the wall. (Perhaps Vickers should have been parked.) 48 comes in for adjustments. 99 chooses the inside. 14 takes the lead. 22 and 18 (brothers) race for third. 18 is blowing up and heads for the garage. 43 drives under 22. 24 has brake issues. The eighth caution comes out during side by side commercials. 7 Robby Gordon lost his brakes and got into the wall. 24 comes in to check the brakes. 33 Clint Bowyer gets back onto the lead lap.
22 and 27 restart up front and 22 takes off. 14 and 4 race for third. 4 drives under 14 to take third. 43 is sliding back. 22 is out of fuel, makes a pit stop and can’t get the car started. Green Flag Pitting starts again for more fuel. 4 pits from second. 2 gets by leader 99 to get his lap back. 99 pits and 14 leads. 14 pits for fuel only and 2 leads, then pits. 4 is now leading after the pitting and is running away with the lead. 99 can’t catch leader 4. 14 gets by 31 for third.
4 Kasey Kahne wins the Kobalt Tools 500K race at Phoenix International Raceway, his first win in eighty-one starts. There were seven different leaders, with Tony Stewart leading the most laps. Carl Edwards finishes second, followed by Tony Stewart, Jeff Burton, Ryan Newman, A. J. Allmendinger, David Reutimann, Marcos Ambrose, Paul Menard and Clint Bowyer for the top ten.
Carl Edwards remains in the lead in points by three points over Tony Stewart. They will battle it out next week at Homestead-Miami Speedway for the grand finale race in the chase. Kevin Harvick remains third in points. Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson move up a spot into fourth and fifth, while Matt Kenseth falls two spots into sixth. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. remains in seventh. Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman move up a spot into eighth and ninth. Denny Hamlin remains in tenth. Jeff Gordon falls three spots into eleventh. Kyle Busch falls a spot to twelfth.
Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR racing.