Racing Roundup: Kanaan Breaks Through, Kurt Busch Is The "Rain Man"
The NASCAR Nationwide Series was in the Granite State for the Camping World RV Sales 200 presented by RVs.com at the recently re-named New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Landon Cassill scored his first career NNS pole but would wind up in the wall and finished 34th. Tony Stewart started eighth and marched to the front, leading the most laps on the way to his fifth win of the year in the Nationwide Series.
This was the ninth win of the season for the 20 car of Joe Gibbs Racing. Stewart was followed by his JGR teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch, the latter driving for a mourning Braun Racing team. Clint Bowyer finished ninth and has a 182-point lead in the standings.
The Craftsman Truck Series was flying solo at Memphis Motorsports Park, running the O’Reilly 200 on the three-fourths–mile D-shaped oval. Polesitter Johnny Benson would lead early until relinquishing the position to Ron Hornaday. Benson’s number 23 truck would drop out after the transmission stuck between gears, and Hornaday would cruise to victory. Stacy Compton was the only other truck to lead a lap, and that was under caution.
Defending series champion Hornaday assumes the points lead by 27 over Matt Crafton, 54 over Todd Bodine, and Benson slips to fourth, 56 points back. The trucks get a couple of weeks off before they roll into Kentucky on July 19th in a double-header weekend with the ARCA/ReMax Series.
IndyCar raced on another short track in the tight three-quarter–mile confines of Richmond International Raceway Saturday night. Andretti-Green Racing’s Tony Kanaan has had an up and down season, but he was right on taking both the pole and win in the Suntrust Indy Challenge. Over half of the 26-car field would fall out due to accidents or mechanical issues, with only 12 cars on track at the checkered flag.
Helio Castroneves would finish second, points leader Scott Dixon third, Dan Wheldon was fourth, and Oriol Servia the best former Champ Car racer fifth. Dixon’s point lead is 43 over Helio, with Wheldon 52 points behind his Target Chip Ganassi Racing teammate.
The IndyCar series goes road racing this weekend at famed Watkins Glen, New York, in the Camping World Indy Grand Prix at the Glen.
Sunday NHRA Drag racing fans gathered at Norwalk, Ohio for the second-annual Summit Racing Equipment Nationals. Doug Herbert would take the win in Top Fuel, dedicating it to his sons Jon and James, who tragically lost their lives in a car crash last January. Tony Pedregon defeated Robert Hight in Funny Car, taking over second in the standings from Ashley Force. Greg Anderson carried the event sponsor’s name to victory in the Pro Stock class, and Hector Arana rode his Buell past Craig Treble’s Suzuki to take honors in Pro Stock Motorcycle.
Fans of Moto GP saw defending World Champion Casey Stoner race his Ducati to another win, this time at Assen, Netherlands. Valentino Rossi wiped out on the first lap, and early leader Dani Pedrosa could do nothing to stop Stoner and would finish second. This result and Rossi’s misfortune would vault Pedrosa into the points lead.
The ARCA/ReMax Series went north of the border for the inaugural Cayuga ARCA/ReMax 250 at Cayuga Motor Speedway in Ontario, Canada. Justin Allgaier would spin early but race his way to the front to take the victory. Frank Kimmell finished second, and points-leader Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. drove home third. Stenhouse’s lead is now 130 points over Scott Speed, who finished eighth.
NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series was also at the “Magic Mile” in New Hampshire for the Lennox Industrial Tools 301. Rain interrupted qualifying Friday, but quick work by the track crew allowed the field to be set on speed, rather than owner points. This was to the benefit of Gillett-Evernham’s Patrick Carpentier, who ran fast lap, but would have been relegate to 35th starting position had qualifying been canceled. He dropped anchor after leading the first lap, and would finish 31st.
Tony Stewart was looking for the weekend sweep, and the Home Depot Toyota was setting the pace for the majority of the distance. In a bizarre occurrence, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was nailed by Jamie McMurrary as the 88 of Junior ducked for the pits. McMurrary’s spinning car would then hit Roush teammate David Ragan taking both out of the race. Junior would remain on track after repairs and finished 24th, Ragan was 40th, and McMurrary 41st in the final results.
Pit strategy came into play late as weather threatened. Stewart and a number of other front-runners ducked in for service. This would put Kurt Busch on the point, and the rains couldn’t come at a better time for the blue deuce as Busch took his first win of the year, and only second top-five following the season-opening Daytona 500. Michael Waltrip was second and J.J. Yeley third in desperately needed results for those two drivers.
Points-leader Kyle Busch had an on-track meeting with Juan Pablo Montoya, and the damage dropped the otherwise struggling 18 car to 25th on the score sheet. The result, combined with Jeff Burton finishing 12th, would cause a closing of the points. Busch’s margin over Burton is now 64, with 144 back to Dale, Jr. Matt Kenseth would slip eight points out of the top-12 after finishing 18th, and Clint Bowyer moves back in, five points ahead of his Richard Childress Racing teammate Kevin Harvick, who now holds onto the final “Chase” position in the standings.
The Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Rolex Grand Am series will all take to the World Center of Racing at Daytona Superspeedway this holiday weekend, and famed Silverstone will host the F1 British Grand Prix.
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