Racing Roundup: Jeff Gordon, Ashley Force Make History

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Racing Roundup: Jeff Gordon, Ashley Force Make History
IconIt was another historic weekend on the track, with a number of firsts for women racers. Here, Adam Amick of the Rubbin's Racing Show catches you up on all the latest.

NASCAR — Nextel Cup and Busch Series — Talladega Superspeedway
 
Talladega Superspeedway was once known as "The World's Fastest Speedway." 
 
It still holds that title for stock cars, as Rusty Wallace turned laps at over 221 miles per hour during tire tests in 2004.  During races, though, NASCAR mandates the use of carburetor restrictor plates—which sap horsepower by reducing airflow into the engine and keep top speeds below 200 mph. 
 
Talladega also has a reputation for producing "The Big One"—a crash that can involve anywhere from half a dozen cars to half of the field.
 
Sunday's Aaron's 499 Nextel Cup race looked like it was going to be an exception to the "Big One" rule...for awhile.
 
Jeff Gordon started on his 60th career pole, surpassing Darrell Waltrip for fourth most in NASCAR history. Early engine failures knocked several drivers out of the race, including Carl Edwards and Dale Jarrett, while Tony Stewart drove his way through the field to take the lead in just ten laps.
 
Stewart later got nabbed for a pit road speeding violation, but went on to regain the lap he lost on the penalty during a debris caution—the very same week he blasted NASCAR for "phantom" debris cautions in the 2007 season.
 
A pair of single-car incidents slowed the blistering pace and tightened the field on lap 124 of the 188 scheduled.  Tony Raines later slid into Jimmie Johnson coming off of turn two, forcing Ricky Rudd into the wall.  All three cars were able to continue, but a five-car crash ensued as the drivers behind them tried to slow down. 
 
Kyle Busch, Joe Nemechek, and Jeff Burton (second in points) would be unable to continue.
 
Gordon led the most laps, although a late pit stop put a fresh set of racers at the front of the field.  Fuel became an issue for some of these new leaders when David Reutimann's transmission trouble brought out the caution on lap 185. 
 
Reutimann had been running an outstanding race and was third at the time.
 
Gordon drove his way through traffic in a matter of two laps, taking the lead when Denny Hamlin and Tony Raines stopped for gas. He held that edge as the race went into "overtime" in attempt to finish under green-flag conditions, then pulled away after a bobble by Jamie McMurray's second-place car.
 
The "Big One" finally occurred as the field headed onto the backstretch, effectively ending the race. In a final insult, David Gilliland clipped Tony Stewart well ahead of the wreck, sending Stewart's Home Depot car spinning into the wall.
 
Gordon's win is his second of the year and second in a row, and vaults him past  Dale Earnhardt Sr. in career victories with 77.  Fans at Talladega are staunch Earnhardt supporters, and they showered the track with bottles, cans, and other debris to express their dislike for Gordon.  Police and State Troopers made dozens of arrests. 
 
Johnson finished second, with Kurt Busch third. Gilliland and McMurray rounded out the top five.
 
Gordon now has a 203-point lead over Jeff Burton as the Cup series heads to Richmond, Virginia, for a Saturday night race.
 
In Saturday's Busch Series Aaron's 312, Tony Stewart got help from Harvick teammate Bobby Labonte as he passed Casey Mears on the penultimate lap.  With the finish line in sight, Labonte then used a slingshot maneuver to swing by Stewart and win by the length of his car.
 
Mears finished third, with rookies David Ragan and Kyle Krisiloff in fourth and fifth.  Kyle Busch was lucky to walk away after spinning and flipping his car violently on the backstretch—a testament to the safety standards engineered into today's stock cars.
 
 
NHRA Drag Racing — Summit Racing Equipment Southern Nationals — Atlanta Dragway
 
The opening round of Funny Car eliminations in Atlanta witnessed a first—father versus daughter.
 
Teammates John and Ashley Force squared off for the right to continue, with Ashley getting the drop on the old man at the start and beating the 14-time FC Champion to the finish line. It was the first time in his career Force had lost to a woman—and emotions flowed after the race as expressed his pride in his daughter's accomplishments.
 
John Force Racing's Robert Hight went on to win his seventh Funny Car Final in 14 tries. The victory was his second in a row.
 
Brandon Bernstein won his own second-consecutive final by beating Doug Herbert in Top Fuel, while Greg Anderson won the Pro Stock class and Karen Stoffer took the trophy and the points lead in Pro Stock Bike. It was Stoffer's second win of the year.
 
 
Indy Car — Kansas Lottery 300 — Kansas Speedway
 
Tony Kanaan started on the pole, but it didn't take long for Dan Wheldon to grab the lead in the Kansas Lottery 300. 
 
A pit-road collision with teammate Danica Patrick damaged Kanaan's suspension and relegated him to a 15th-place finish. Patrick went on to finish seventh, her best run of the season.
 
Wheldon led 177 of 200 laps on his way to the win—his first at Kansas. Dario Franchitti finished second, with Helio Castroneves third.  Milka Duno, in her first Indy Car race, finished 14th after starting at the back of the 21-car field.
 
The Indy Car series takes a weekend off before gearing up for the 91st Indianapolis 500.
 
 
Rolex Grand-Am Series — Virginia International Raceway
 
18-year-old Colin Braun set a new track record in winning the pole for Sunday's VIR 400K, but he and teammate Max Papis had to settle for second place as Max Angelelli and Jan Magnussen copiloted Wayne Taylor's No. 10 Suntrust Pontiac Riley to the win. 
 
The victory puts the tandem of Jan and "Max the Axe" on top of the Daytona Prototype class points.
 
In the Grand Touring class, Bryce Miller and Dirk Werner drove the No. 87 Marquis Jet/IPC/Recaro Porsche GT3 to their first win of the season. Points leaders Sylvan Tremblay and Nick Ham came in second, maintaining their advantage in the standings.
 
 
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series — O'Reilly Auto Parts 250 — Kansas Speedway
 
Mike Skinner rode the momentum from three consecutive victories to the pole for Saturday's O'Reilly Auto Parts 250. Erik Darnell would ultimately take the checkers, though—his first win in the NCTS series.
 
Rick Crawford was second, Jack Sprague third, and Johnny Benson fourth. Skinner placed fifth and now has a 108-point lead over defending champion Todd Bodine as the series heads into an extended break.
 
 
AMA Supercross — Amp'd Mobile Supercross — Qwest Field, Seattle
 
James Stewart won both the Amp'd Mobile World Supercross GP and Amp'd Mobile AMA Supercross Series championships at Quest Field this weekend.  It was the 12th victory of the year for Stewart, who has assumed the series mantle after Ricky Carmichael's defection to stock car racing.
 
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