Racin’ with Russ—After watching the prior 495 laps of Sunday afternoon’s NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville Speedway, it would have appeared to most that a Hendrick car would finally land in victory lane for their 200th win.
Newman thought he’d give Bowyer a shot in the bumper to propel him ahead of the two Hendrick Chevy’s, only to surprise Bowyer with such a move and shove aside the top two into wild spins and utter chaos in the first turn. The final green-white-checker restart found Newman on the pole, AJ Allmendinger on the outside and that’s how they finished as Johnson pitted for fuel and repairs and Gordon ran out of the go-juice on the racetrack.
Newman picked up his first checkers of the season and first at the paperclip under extraordinary conditions, read luck. Actually the luck probably started with the reason for the restart in the first place as the race was halted right after Gordon just passed Johnson for the lead with only four laps remaining setting up what should have been a wild ending between teammates.
Instead, hapless David Reutimann stopped on the front stretch bringing out the yellow flag, just after putting around the track for four laps with serious mechanical issues well below any reasonable speed. Many feel the driver was instructed to stick it out to the checkers to gain as many points to keep the car among the top 35, giving fellow driver Danica Patrick a guaranteed spot during qualifying.
Whatever the reason, Reutimann’s stopping on the track robbed the Hendrick boys of a possible win and the crowd a heck of an ending to a long day at the diminutive half-mile track. The final 100 laps were way more exciting than the rest of the race as Gordon dominated the race by leading the most laps with a very strong race car.
Others among the top five finishers included Dale Earnhardt Jr, Matt Kenseth and Martin Truex Jr.
The overall race went quickly with very few cautions and not the usual beatin’ and bangin’ we’ve come to enjoy. Several drivers had days to long forget such as Kyle Busch smacked the wall early with mechanical problems, dropping him 80 laps down and a 36th place finish. And then there was Kasey Kahne. If it wasn’t for bad luck, this driver wouldn’t have any luck at all.
First, there was a engine issue, they appeared to put some kind of band-aid on it, return to the track, only to bail out shortly thereafter with severe catastrophic failure…translated…he done blow’d ‘er up. Kahne’s record this year in a word is dismal. His average finish is just shy of 30th and current points standing at 31st, just 27 points away from being out of the top 35.
The latest results finds 13th place finisher Greg Biffle still atop the points by six over Earnhardt and 12 over Tony Stewart.
Camping World Trucks
On Saturday, the only full-time Cup driver Kevin Harvick stomped the truck competition by leading a record breaking 248 out of 250 laps in earning his latest checkers, this one over Ty Dillon, James Beuscher, Justin Lofton and Timothy Peters. To say the race was lackluster would not be an understatement. There were several restarts, but after each restart, Harvick simply motored away into checkerland. Points leader John King finished ninth and still sits out front, but only by one point over Timothy Peters and Lofton.
Open Wheel News
Round two of Indy Car competition saw a good race at the beautiful Barber Motorsports Park won by Penske hot shoe Will Power. The first half was led by his teammate Helio Castroneves and later by Ganassi driver Scott Dixon.
Good pitwork and a fast car saw Power take over at the point and never looked back to his first win of the season. Castroneves stays on top of the points, but only by two markers over Dixon.
Have I mentioned how much I like the new cars overall appearance? They look like Indy Cars from the front and sports cars from the side and back. A welcome change.
Bristol Speedway owner Bruton Smith will make an official announcement over the next few weeks, but it does appear he is listening to the fans in changing the track back to the pre-progressive banking days. This should bring back some racing excitement and more butts in the seats.
From the Penske camp, Nationwide driver Sam Hornish Jr. is scheduled to make two Sprint Cup Series starts at Kansas in April and Talladega in October with SKF as the backer.
That’s it for this week. Next week, RWR will preview the next NASCAR rounds from Texas along with more racing news from around the globe.