Racin’ with Russ - The Roush-Fenway Fords kept up their winning tradition in Texas by capturing not only the top spot by Greg Biffle but fifth and eighth as well. Martin Truex Jr nailed down the pole earlier in the weekend, but it was the Fords of Biffle and Kenseth that showed the pack the fast way around. During the final 50 laps, Jimmie Johnson had the fast car, but not fast enough to hold off the likes of Biffle, winless for nearly two years.
As far as Johnson’s effort, it wasn’t for a lack of trying as witnessed by him tank slapping the car on the outside wall, slowing the car down only slightly and didn’t even lose a spot. The race was rather mundane with only two caution flags, one for a loose hat…yes, I said hat and the other for a minor incident. Other race notables included Jeff Gordon starting deep in the pack yet motored his way to an impressive fourth, elevating the four-time champ four spots in the standings to 17th. Contrary to their impressive finishes last week in Martinsville, the boys of Stewart-Haas, notably Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman, struggled to 24th and 21st respectively, both dropping in the standings as well.
Paul Menard won the pole for the Friday night race and led many laps, but was no match for Nationwide reigning champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. The Ford Mustang driver picked up his second checkers of the season, this one in front of Menard, Kasey Kahne, Denny Hamlin and Austin Dillon. The field was often well spread out on the big track allowing late race charges such as the one from Danica Patrick to earn an eighth place finish, her best finish this year. Stenhouse now sits just a few points away from leader Elliott Sadler in the overall big picture with Sam Hornish Jr and Michael Annett among the top five.
Camping World Trucks
Should the trucks return to The Rock?
The pick ‘em ups made a great first time appearance at Rockingham Speedway, the first NASCAR event since 2004. I’d say the crowd was excellent and the racing very good as Kasey Kahne worked his way from the back of the pack to win his fourth out of five truck features. James Buescher, Matt Crafton, Johnny Sauter and Timothy Peters wrapped up the top five finishers. Nelson Piquet Jr led most of the laps while Kahne was gaining positions by the lap, but a speeding penalty on the final pit stop sent Piquet to the rear. He did manage to claw his way back to a seventh-place finish over the final couple of dozen laps. Peters now leads Justin Lofton and Ty Dillon by the narrowest of margins.
Open Wheel News
The Indy cars took to the Long Beach street circuit for the 38th running of this very popular event. Dario Franchitti started out front due to a Chevy engine situation that set back a dozen Chevy engined entries, some 10 spots on the grid. Franchitti fell back quickly with an ill handling race car while watching Justin Wilson left the pack in his wake. There were others who led, but a careful gas strategy set Will Power out front to hang on to his second trophy of the season and now sits atop the points. Simon Pagenaud and James Hinchcliffe capped the top three with record finishes.
Across the Pond
The Formula One series took to the track for the G P of China where Mercedes Benz drivers Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher swept the front row. The green flag fell and Rosberg said goodbye to the rest of the field, going on to earn his very first win and the first for Mercedes since 1955. Jenson Button would more than likely have won this one had it not been for an errant long pit stop, settling for second right in front of teammate Lewis Hamilton.
Rumors are swirling around concerning the TOP 35 qualifying situation and that NASCAR is taking a serious look at revamping this antiquated, unfair system. Too many times have faster cars gone home because of these rules while other racing series such as World of Outlaw sprints or any drag racing series where if the big boys such as Steve Kinser or John Force have a bad day….they go home! There are no provisionals in either of those series. Man up, make the show or go home. The deal with NASCAR started years ago when drivers such as Richard Petty were getting on in years and the thought of race fans going to a Cup race and not seeing The King were out of the question. I say, the fastest 40 or 42 with only a few provisionals, not seven would straighten this deal out. What do you think? Drop me a line.
That’s it for this week. Next week, RWR will review the NASCAR rounds (Cups and Trucks) from Kansas along with more racing news from around the globe.