The very first race, the Daytona 500, was quite a surprise. The drivers all raced two by two! They found out that they could go faster if they paired up, instead of driving in a big pack. This gave the fans many lead changes. However many fans liked the pack racing, rather than the couple racing. In any event, when it came down to the final restart, 6 David Ragan had been leading with 21 Trevor Bayne pushing.They found themselves side by side for the restart. The plan was for 6 to go down in front of 21 and continue onto the win. NASCAR has a rule that you may not change lanes on a restart until after you cross the Start/Finish Line. 6 moved over in front of 21 too soon and was Black Flagged and moved to the rear. This put Bayne, a Rookie, in the lead and he went on to win the Daytona 500! In only his third Cup start. He was driving for the Woods Brothers, who have been in NASCAR since almost forever. The Cinderella story of the year.
Next came the Subway Fresh Fit 500(K) race at Phoenix International Raceway. 24 Jeff Gordon won his first race of 2011 and his 83rd career win. Then on to Las Vegas for the Kobalt Tools 400, where Carl Edwards won his 19th career win. Next up was Bristol, Tn. for the Jeff Byrd 500 and Kyle Busch’s 20th win in Sprint Cup. At Auto Club Speedway and the Auto Club 500, Kevin Harvick managed to come up from behind to lead the last lap and win his 15th race. He followed that up with a win the following week at Martinsville in the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500. In the Saturday night race at Texas, the Samsung Mobil 500, Matt Kenseth captured his first win of the season.
Next was another restrictor-plate race at Talladega, with the drivers pairing up once again in the Aaron’s 499 . The finish was wonderful with three drivers inches away from each other at the finish. Dale Earnhardt, Jr. pushed Jimmie Johnson to the win on the bottom of the track while two other pairs raced for the win. Jr. finished fourth. In Richmond, Matthew and Daniel Hanson, Military people were honored in the 400 lap race, with Kyle Busch winning his second race of the year. Next up was the Southern 500 at Darlington. The Lady in Black was not too tough for Regan Smith to tame and he won his first Sprint Cup race.
Next up was Dover, the race I always attend, the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks where Matt Kenseth won his second race of the year. In Charlotte, for the longest race of the year, the Coca-Cola 600, Kevin Harvick won his third race, getting it done, once again, in the closing laps. The media dubbed him “the Closer”. On to Kansas, for the STP 400 where Brad fKeselowski wins his second career race and the first of 2011. Jeff Gordon wins his 84th career race at Pocono, tying him for third all time in wins with Bobby Allison and Darryl Waltrip in the -Hour Energy 500. Denny Hamlin wins his first race this year in Michigan in the Helluva Good! Sour Cream Dips 400 race after winning 8 last year, the most in 2010. Kurt Busch wins the road race at Infineon in the Toyota/Save Mart 350, his first win of the year.
Back to Daytona and “tandem racing, Matt Kenseth pushes David Ragan to the win, his first career Sprint Cup win. The inaugural race at Kentucky was much of a disaster, with many fans unable to get to the track for it’s first Cup race. Kentucky was host to Camping World Trucks and Nationwide races and Kyle Busch wins the Quaker State 400 with all his experience in the Minor Leagues, his third win. Then onto New Hampshire for the Lenox Industrial Tools 301 where Ryan Newman wins from starting on the pole. Paul Menard wins his first Cup race at Indianapolis in the Brickyard 400. Back to Pocono, Brad Keselowski breaks his ankle while testing at Road America and wins the Good Sam’s RV Insurance 500! On to Watkins Glen, Marcos Ambrose wins the road course race, his first Sprint Cup win. Back to Michigan and the Pure Michigan 400, Kyle Busch wins his fourth of the year.
In the Irwin Tools Night Race 500 at Bristol, Brad wins again with his broken ankle, making him in contention for the Wild Card to get into the chase. In Atlanta, Jeff Gordon wins the Advo Care 500, giving him third place overall in wins by himself. Back to Richmond for the final race to set the chase, Kevin Harvick wins his fourth race in the Wonderful Pistachios 400. This puts him tied with Kyle Busch in first place heading into the chase.
Tony Stewart, winless in the regular season, wins the first two races in the chase, the Geico 400 in Chicago, the new addition to the chase, and the Sylvania 300 in New Hampshire. Kurt Busch wins the AAA 400 at Dover. Kansas gets a second race this year and Jimmie Johnson wins only his second race of the year in the Hollywood Casino 400. Matt Kenseth wins the Bank Of America 500 at Charlotte, the only night race in the chase. More couples racing at Talladega in the Good Sam’s Club 500, with Clint Bowyer pushing Jeff Burton and then leaving him to win the race. Tony Stewart wins the Tums Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville, rain shortened. He backed up the win with another win in the AAA Texas 500, his fourth win in the chase. Kasey Kahne finally gets a win while racing for Red Bull before going to Hendrick in 2012, the Kobalt Tools 500(K) in Phoenix. As they head to the final race in Homestead-Miami, Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart are tied for the lead in points. Tony wins the Ford 400 after many times being forced to the rear. The two end up tied in points with Carl finishing second and Tony wins the championship with his five chase wins. He won five out of ten races!
While Tony was busy winning in the chase, the Busch brothers were busy having meltdowns. Kyle, thinking he should be the only Truck driver allowed to win in the Camping World Truck Series, ran championship contender, Ron Hornaday, up the track and into the wall during the caution where Ron got loose and got into Kyle. The both could have gone to pit road for repairs and both could have been in contention by the end of the race to win, but Kyle decided payback was the answer. He was parked for the rest of that race and the Nationwide and Cup races at Texas. It is my opinion that he always melts down by the end of the year, but this was worse than most years. Meanwhile, his brother Kurt was annoyed at everyone and everything in the final race in Homestead after transmission trouble early in the race, gave the finger to the car that held the First Lady and swore at the media while they were attempting to interview him. Kurt was fired. Kyle sat out the races in Texas and M&M’s pulled their sponsorship for the last two races. I have heard the NFL players have meltdowns as well. Read more here.
Brought to you by Sheila Hawley. I love NASCAR racing.