Posts Tagged ‘Lowes Motor Speedway’

NASCAR Racing: Charlotte Motor Speedway

May 21, 2010

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. The next couple of weeks NASCAR will be at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. When I first started watching NASCAR, this 1.5 mile track was called CHARLOTTE. That’s right, capital letters. The track is that wonderful. Several years ago, Lowe’s bought Sponsorship rights to the track  and it became known as Lowe’s Motor Speedway. Their contract was over at the end of 2009 and they chose not to renew. So it is now back to Charlotte Motor Speedway. While it was Lowe’s, Jimmie Johnson, who drives the Lowe’s sponsored car, made Lowe’s his Home! “Humpy” Wheeler was the Track president and the Track was very popular. Humpy had a falling out with SMI owner Bruton Smith and is no longer running the track. I don’t know for sure, but this may have had some baring on why Lowe’s did not renew sponsorship.

Charlotte is the hub of NASCAR. Most of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Teams are located in the Charlotte area. So, if you ever go to a NASCAR Track, Charlotte should be on the top of your list. The track is located in Concord, NC. And if you ever go there, there is much to see. The NASCAR Hall of Fame recently opened here and there is much to see about the history of NASCAR. The first class of five will be inducted this weekend.

And every year about this time NASCAR holds it’s All-Star race. All winners from last year and so far this year are eligible to be in the race. Any previous winners of the Sprint/Nextel/Winston All-Star Challenge within ten years are also eligible and past Cup Champions within ten years are also eligible. It is a 100 lap, no holds barred, non-points race for $1 Million.

Another way to get into the race is by winning the Sprint Open, or coming in second. That is the race before the Race. All the current drivers who have not won the previous year and are otherwise ineligible, race each other to get into the All-Star Challenge. And the last way to get in, is to be the fan favorite. Fans can cast their votes for who they want to get into the All-Star Challenge. The driver who has the most votes and did not otherwise get in gets to start the race from the rear of the field. Two years ago, Kasey Kahne was the fan vote, started last, and won the All-Star Challenge! Now he is in for ten years, even if he doesn’t win any races.

Qualifying for this race is different than any other qualifying. Because this race is a Team effort, the drivers eligible must make a pit stop during qualifying. So, not only do they have to run fast around the track, but their pit crew has to be perfect also. It’s a great qualifying to watch. The Sprint All-Star Challenge will be on Saturday evening.

The NASCAR Camping World Truck Series is in Charlotte this weekend. They will be racing Friday evening. Next week, on Sunday before Memorial Day, will be the longest race of the year, the Coca Cola 600. Always a fan favorite. On Thursday NASCAR held the Pit Crew Challenge. The pit crews compete against each other to see who has the best and fastest pit crew. Last year Jeff Burton’s #31 Team won. This year they got all the way to the final round before Denny Hamlin’s #11 Team won it all. Individuals team members also compete to be the best at their positions. Another great event to watch while in the Charlotte area.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

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NASCAR’s 2009 Top 12

December 21, 2009

And the winner is….Jimmy Johnson! Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog and the 2009 NASCAR Top 12. Finishing first in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup, is Jimmy Johnson. This is his fourth Championship in a row! Something that has never been done before. Last year, he tied Cale Yarborough with three Championships in a row. This year he makes history.

Jimmy has won eight races during the Chase, including four straight in 2007.  The man simply knows how to race in the Chase. Jimmy and crew chief, Chad Knous know how to get it done in those last ten races. And Jimmy is considered the favorite going into the Chase. He has 43 career wins before the chase, six chase appearances, and finished first 2006-2008.

Johnson’s worse track is Talladega, finishing there 30th or worse five times. This year he drove near the rear of the field through most of the race and avoided trouble. In the end, he stayed out of trouble and managed an eighth place finish. Not really racing, you say? Maybe not, but the strategy worked.

Johnson had three wins in the regular season, seeding him in third in the Chase. He won for the second time this year at Dover International Speedway. This year Jimmy won four times in the chase, at Dover, Auto Club Speedway in California (his home track), Lowe’s Motor Speedway (his sponsor), and Phoenix International Raceway. One must win races in the Chase to win the Championship, and Jimmy sure did that.

In Texas, however, Johnson crashed out on lap three. Sam Hornish, Jr. spun him around and he hit the outside wall and the inside wall. The car was mangled. But Johnson never gave up. He stayed in the car while all of Hendrick Motor Sports rallied to fix his car enough to get back on the track. Having the crash so soon in the race, should have left him finishing in 43rd, but Johnson managed a 38th place finish. That kept him in the lead in the points.

After that miserable race in Texas, Johnson rallied to win in Phoenix. Going into the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, Mark Martin was his only challenger for the Sprint Cup Title. Johnson needed to finish 26th or better. After what happened in Texas, he couldn’t just drive around. Johnson has never won at Homestead-Miami. Maybe because he has never had to!

Let’s look at Johnson’s numbers in the Chase. He had nine top tens, seven top fives and four wins. Ten races, and he only got into trouble once! They say you need more than just good driving skills to win a Championship, you also need luck. And Johnson certainly had luck on his side this year and the previous three years. If anyone wants to knock him out of another Title, they will have to out-perform him. Something that is not easily done.

I’m going out on a limb here and giving my opinion. If the points system that is in place now continues, with the same ten races on the same ten tracks  determining the Title, Jimmy Johnson will win his seven Championships (like Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt) all in a row.

This leaves me to wonder if the Chase is the best way to determine the Championship. If the points system had not changed in 2004, Jimmy would not have four Championships, let alone four in a row. The Chase came into play when Matt Kenseth won the Championship in 2003 having only one win. NASCAR wanted a play-off system instead of accumulated points through 36 races. But in doing so, Kurt Busch won the first Chase, after starting it in ninth place. Tony Stewart proved he was good at the last ten tracks, and won in 2005. And then along came Jimmy!

In my opinion, the points should go back to the way it was. The Chase was supposed to create excitement in the last ten races. But I have to say, I liked it better when drivers were racing to get in and stay in the top ten in points. With the Chase, only 12 drivers are even mentioned. Is this good for the fans? Many fans will not watch if their driver will not be mentioned. And Sponsors are reluctant to sponsor cars not in the top 12. If there was no Chase, ALL the fans would be watching, instead of just the fans of the top 12. And ALL sponsors would be mentioned, not just the chosen 12. Maybe a better way would be to give more points (say 25) for a win, instead of 10 points in the Chase.

Just my opinion, and probably another NASCAR blog topic. I like Jimmy Johnson. I think he is a great driver who knows how to race. But do we really have to crown him Champion every year?  I think not. But, hey, I’m just a NASCAR fan.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

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NASCAR’s 2009 Top 12

December 20, 2009

Welcome NASCAR race fans to my NASCAR blog. I’m reviewing the finishers in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Finishing in second place is #5 Mark Martin. Mark retired several years ago. Or, so he said he was going to. He was driving for Jack Roush and decided he was going to retire at the end of the season.  He was going to retire, along with Rusty Wallace. Wallace went on to form his own Nationwide Series teams. Martin stayed another year with Roush. Then competed in a part time schedule with Dale Earnhardt Inc. At the end of last year, Rick Hendrick talked Martin into joining his organization. Martin felt this would be his best chance to drive a great car and win races, if not Championships.

With four wins going into the chase, tied with Kyle Busch for most wins, Mark starts the chase in first place. At 50 years old, Mark would be the oldest Champion. And is considered to be a serious threat for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. He has 39 career wins, four appearances in the Chase and one win in the chase. Mark has won at all the Chase tracks except the opener at New Hampshire Motor Speedway and the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

So, what does Mark do in that first race? Win, of course! Followed by three top tens, two being top fours. A little trouble at Lowe’s Motor Speedway in Charlotte, with a 17th place finish. And a flip in the final lap at Talladega, with a 28th place finish, were his only bad races in the chase.

Again, Mark has never won at Homestead-Miami, but if he could have done it this year, he might have won the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship. Sadly, for all Mark Martin fans, he only finished 12th. He was the only driver heading into that last race who still had a chance to win the title.

Mark finished second for the fifth time in his long career, 141 points behind this year’s winner, Jimmy Johnson. Mark will be competing with Hendrick at least until 2011, so maybe he can win next year.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

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Race Review: NASCAR Banking 500

October 18, 2009

56825352Sprint ShowdownWelcome race fans! The NASCAR Banking 500 brought to you by Bank of America is the 31st race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season and the fifth race in the Chase for the Sprint Cup. Weather was a factor on Thursday. Practice for Sprint Cup and NASCAR Nationwide Series were shortened, but they managed to get qualifying in on Thursday night.

Jimmy Johnson qualified on the pole with a speed of 192.376, setting a new track record. The 48 team was also the fastest in both practices. 5 Mark Martin starts second. This race is the only race in the Chase held on Saturday night under the stars.

71 this race is Mike Bliss, who also raced in the Nationwide race Friday night. 02 is David Gilliland in an extra Joe Gibbs Racing car. 21 is Bill Elliott, running a partial schedule. He got in on speed. 08 is former Champion Terry Labonte, who had to use his provisional to get into the race. 36 Michael McDowell, 09 Sterling Marlin, 66 Dave Blaney and 37 Travis Kvapil failed to qualify.

47 Marcos Ambrose is the in-race reporter. Brian France, Theresa Earnhardt, Richard Petty and Junior Johnson started the engines. If you’ll recall, this past Wednesday, the first five inductees to the NASCAR Hall of Fame were decided upon. The five were Bill France, Sr. and Jr., Richard Petty, Dale Earnhardt and Junior Johnson. (See previous post) Thus they started the race. The race is 334 laps for 500 miles on this 1.5 mile track, at Lowes Motor Speedway in Concord, NC.During the pre-race festivities the blowers were out drying the track. But they got underway on time.

So, here we go! 5 Mark Martin leads the first lap. The first caution comes out on lap three when 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. bottoms out with sparks flying and spins out. Luckily, no one gets into him. 5 chooses the outside for the restart. 48 Johnson takes the lead. 18 Kyle Busch, in pink for breast cancer awareness month, tries to get by 25 Brad Keselowski, but can’t do it.

The second caution comes out again for 77 who slides into pit road. He comes out ahead of the pace car with right rear damage, but stays on the lead lap. 48 chooses the inside and stays in the lead. 39 Ryan Newman and 9 Kasey Kahne battle side by side for third. 20 Joey Logano joins in, but 9 pulls away. 20 and 42 Juan Pablo Montoya (in a blue Lysol car) battle for sixth, but 42 can’t get by. 20 finally gets by 39 after racing side by side for several laps. There is precipitation in the area. 39 and 11 Denny Hamlin battle for sixth. 17 Matt Kenseth gets into the battle.

The third caution comes out for rain. It’s just a drizzle, and they stay on the track. When they pit, 17 takes two tires to lead the race. 20 follows 9 onto pit road, gets too close and slides past his pit stall. They have to back him up. 55 Michael Waltrip stays on the track to lead a lap, then pits. 08 T. Labonte stays out to lead, and pits just before the Green Flag. 17 and 48 battle for the lead. 48 gets loose and 17 stays in the lead. 5 and 48 battle for second. 83 Brian Vickers and 9 race side by side. 48 takes the lead.

39 in a Transformers car with Optimus Prime on the hood battles 24 Jeff Gordon in another Transformers car with Mega Tron on his hood. 11 gets by 17 for third. 11 takes the lead while the broadcasters show us 07 Casey Mears and 42 battling. The Transformers cars are racing each other hard. 18 and 48 battle, with 18 getting by. 42 drives around 48. 42 flies by 18. 48 gets by 18. 07 and 42 battle and 18 goes between them to take the position.

17 starts Green Flag Pitting. 39 fumbles the lug nuts. And 17 is back in the lead after all the pitting. 48 and 18 battle, with 48 getting by. 42 drives by 18, with 18 nearly getting into the wall. The fourth caution comes out for 18 getting sideways in front of 9. 7 Robby Gordon is the Lucky Dog and gets back on the lead lap. 24 takes two tires to lead. Five cars get waved around before the Green Flag. 5 and 42 battle. 88 dale Earnhardt, Jr. is slowing down with transmission problems. 6 David Ragan pushes 42 past 5. 11 and 16 Greg Biffle battle for second, with 16 getting by. 11 gets back by 16. At the restart, 42 gets into 33 Clint Bowyer and 5 gets into 42 with 83 also having damage. 83 comes into the pits to fix the car. 42 falls way back. 5 has a hole in his nose. 33 can live with back bumper damage. 9 and 17 battle for fifth, with 9 taking the spot. 9 gets by 16 for fourth. 42 goes a lap down. 2 Kurt Busch gets by 1 Martin Truex, Jr. for ninth. 5 is falling back. 42 is way too loose and many cars drive by him.

The fifth caution comes out for 42 spinning into the pits. He was to be the Lucky Dog, but he caused the caution. Instead, he looses two laps. 42 comes back into the pits to put a red Target quarter panel on the car. 11 comes out of the pits first to lead, and chooses the outside. 24 takes the lead. 17 gets by 11 for second. 33 a black car with Count Chocula on the hood, 47 and 6 David Ragan are three wide, and 47 tucks in behind 6.

The sixth caution comes out when the Target patch falls off 42. 02 David Gilliland gets the free pass and stays on the lead lap. In the pits, the 5 team is using a blow torch on the nose patch. 11 drops a valve and has to head to the garage. 17 comes out of the pits first and chooses the inside. 24, in third pushes 17. 2 and 9 both get around 33 in the middle. 99 Carl Edwards is pitting with a loose wheel. 24 and 9 battle for third, with 9 getting by.

48, leading, has trash on the grill. 9 gets by 48, to take the lead but pulls away before the trash can fly off. 48 gets behind lapped car, 42 to get the trash off. 00 David Reutimann pits with a vibration. 31 Jeff Burton drives around 14 Tony Stewart. 18, 1 and 48 start Green Flag Pitting once again, with 9 leading. 2 leads when 9 pits. After it all, 9 is back in the lead. 08 and 7 were too fast.

48 gets by 17 for second during the commercial. 2 and 20 get by 24. 2 and 20 battle for  fifth. 16 is fighting leader 9 to stay on the lead lap. The seventh caution caution comes out when 13 Max Papis blows the engine. 12 David Stremme had gotten by 5, and is the first car a lap down. 16 stayed ahead of the leader and stays on the lead lap. 48 chooses the inside for the restart. 17 dives below 24 and they battle for third. 24 takes the spot.

The eighth caution comes out when 02 gets loose and gets hard into the wall. 5 Mark Martin is the Lucky Dog, and back on the lead lap. There is a quickie pit stop, where all cars may pit at the same time. The leaders stay out. The ninth caution comes out when 99 blows up, dropping fluid on the track, with 31 laps to go. 24 got by 9 for second. 25 and 20 battle with 25 taking the spot. 9 gets by 17 for third. They are racing four wide! 12, 16, 39 were three wide. 14 makes it four wide. 39 backs off.

The tenth caution comes out when 12 gets into the wall and into 16, who spins into the grass. 48 and 24 battle for the lead. 48 gets loose, but saves it. 24 takes the lead. 9 goes by 17 for third. 48 and 24 battle for the lead. 9 goes by 24 on the top for second. 17 gets by 24 for third. 33 and 20 battle for fifth. 9 and 17 battle for second. 17 finally gets by. 20 and 24 battle for  fifth, with 24 keeping the position.

And 48 Jimmy Johnson wins the NASCAR Banking 500. This race is the last one with Lowes as the sponsor of the track. And Jimmy wins with Lowes on his hood. No winner of this race has gone on to win the Championship. Let’s see of Jimmy can be the first and claim his fourth Title in a row!

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

Race Review: The Coca-Cola 600

May 25, 2009

Welcome race fans to the longest race of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Season. It turned out to be a whole day longer than planned. And still ended because of rain before the 600 miles were completed! I call it the Coke 340.5 because only 227 laps were completed. Rain was on the Lowes Motor Speedway the whole weekend, including Memorial Day.

12 Ryan Newman started on the pole with a speed of 188.475. 18 Kyle Busch started second. The race was scheduled for 5:00 PM on Sunday to cap off a great day of racing. But Mother Nature didn’t want the race to be the last race of the day. It rained all night and the cars never did take to the track. It was postponed to Monday, Memorial Day at noon.

09  Mike Bliss, who won the rain-shortened NASCAR Nationwide race, qualified in the top ten. As did 21 former Champion Bill Elliott. 87 Joe Nemecheck starts eleventh. 66 Dave Blaney, 71 David Gilliland, 13 Max Papis and 36 Scott Riggs also made the race. 36 Riggs will start last. Failing to qualify were: 41 J. J. Yeley, 73 Mike Garvey, 64 Todd Bodine and 06 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver David Starr.

Rain is still in the area, so everyone is discussing whether or not the race will go all 600 miles. 39 Newman elects to start from the outside pole. 39 leads from the pole. And 18 takes the lead. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. has an ill-handling car and drops back.

The first caution comes out while 20 Joey Logano and 87 Nemecheck battle for position for rain, on lap 8. The sun comes back out and they go back to Green on lap 12, with several drivers electing to pit first. 29 Kevin Harvick and 77 Sam Hornish, Jr. get together, causing damage to 29. The second caution comes out for the tire of 29 coming off the car. Kevin made it to the pits, but the tire didn’t.

The restart is on lap 20. 20 Joey Logano gets by 24 Jeff Gordon. 39 and 5 Mark Martin battle for second. 9 Kasey Kahne battle for position. 2 Kurt Busch battles with 20. The third caution is the “Competition Caution”, since it rained all day and night and some this morning. NASCAR decided it would come out on lap 40. 29 pits before pit road was opened so he could make some repairs. He will start from the rear. 39 Newman had to come back in for loose lug nuts. 34 Tony Raines, substituting for John Andretti, who was in the Indy 500 on Sunday, stays out to lead.

The Green Flag comes out on lap 45. 19 Elliott Sadler, 21 Elliott, 82 Scott Speed and 14 Tony Stewart are four-wide. We go to commercial with 18 and 5 catching the leader, 48 Jimmy Johnson. 18 gets by 48 and 5 gets by 48 during the commercial. 48 is loose and falls to sixth. 96 Bobby Labonte and 24 battle for fifteenth. 96 gets by. 48 gets loose. 83 Brian Vickers gets by 2 for third.

The fourth caution is for sprinkles. 18, 99 Carl Edwards, 00 David Reutimann and 26 Jamie McMurray come out of the pits first. A tire from 5 gets loose into the infield. And the race is Red Flagged for 56 minutes and 36 seconds. 7 Robby Gordon, 55 Michael Waltrip and 36 Riggs each led  laps. 83 Vickers leads and Green Flag Pitting begins. 34 may be out of gas. 20 Logano leads, 66 Blaney also leads before pitting. When it all cycles out, 18 is back in the lead. He had a better pit than 83. 9 drives by 48 for fourth. 83 catches up to leader 18, and takes the lead.

14 gets by 99 for ninth. 48 and 9 battle for fourth. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya and 18 battle for second. 42 gets by. They battle again, but 42 won’t let 18 by. The fifth caution comes out on lap 165. It is 3:00 and time to honor the Vets with a moment of silence.  God Bless America. 6 David Ragan is the Lucky Dog and gets his lap back. They all pit and stay under caution for rain. On lap 177 they go to the pits for the Red Flag because of rain. This Red Flag lasts 20 minutes and 30 seconds.

20 and 42 battle for position, and 48 and 9 battle. 2 and 00 get together. 42 and 17 Matt Kenseth battle for sixth. 17 gets by. 14 gets by 83 for tenth. 99 gets by 9. 2 gets a vibration and pits for a loose wheel. 24 and 42 battle for seventh. And they make it to half-way. 9 gets by 48 for second. 99 gets by 48 for third. 20 gets by 48 for fourth.

9Kahne is catching 18 for the lead when the sixth caution comes out on lap 221 for rain. Before 9 could take the lead. 47 Marcos Ambrose is the Lucky Dog. 00 Reutimann stays out to lead. 39 Newman and 7 R. Gordon also stay out. 71 Gilliland  stays out to be on the tail end of the lead lap. The Red flag comes out on lap 227. And the rain just doesn’t let up. After 2 hours, 3 minutes and 44 seconds, NASCAR declares the race is over.

00 David Reutimann wins his first race, the Coca-Cola 600. He took a gamble that it would keep on raining, and it did. Mother Nature just didn’t want to cooperate.

Brought to you by Sheila Hawley

Hope you enjoyed  my review.