Racin’ with Russ—The NASCAR Sprint Cup race got underway on Monday morning after Mother Nature halted racing action during the normal Sunday start. At the end of what turned out to be an exciting road race, Australian driver Marcos Ambrose wrestled the lead away from Brad Keselowski to finally win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup race.
The race began with pole-sitter Kyle Busch showing the fast way around during the early laps, alongside A.J. Allmendinger, who led laps as well.
Ambrose got past his teammate to lead for a while, as did Jeff Gordon. Kyle Busch took yet another turn out front while his brother Kurt lost a front tire and crashed out of the race.
Despite driving with a broken foot, Brad Keselowski was also fast on the day, hanging out around the top three. As the laps wore down, it appeared that Kyle Busch was on his way to yet another road course win.
But, Ambrose had other ideas as he tracked Kyle down, only to have the race come down to a green-white-checker after Paul Menard smacked the fence.
The final green flag flew with Kyle Busch out front, Ambrose second and Keselowski third. Busch overcooked it into the first turn, allowing the other two to slip on by. With just one lap remaining, Keselowski took the point, but Ambrose moved on by while a couple of hard licks by David Regan and David Ruetimann brought out the final yellow.
Ambrose was declared the winner with Keselowski, Kyle Busch, Martin Truex Jr and Joey Logano capping off the top five.
Coming into the race, the points leader was Carl Edwards. However, his 13th place finish drops him down one spot to second as Kyle Busch takes over the point lead by only one point.
Kurt Busch subbed for the injured Brad Keselowski by not only taking the Nationwide pole, but also battling his brother Kyle, among others, to nail the checkers at Watkins Glen by the end of the day.
Jimmie Johnson had made a rare appearance in the Nat ranks and wound up hounding Kurt towards the final circuits, but came up second ahead of Joey Logano, Kyle and Carl Edwards.
Road race ace Ron Fellows finished seventh and points leader Ricky Stenhouse, who had a tough time keeping his Roush-Fenway Mustang pointed in the right direction, finished 15th, but good enough to stay atop the current points standings by 10 points over Reed Sorensen.
Open Wheel News
The Indy Car series visited New Hampshire Speedway, something not done for a while and I can understand part of the reason why when I saw the crowd, or should I say, the lack of crowd.
Twenty-seven cars took laps for practice and qualifying put Ganassi driver and points leader Dario Franchitti on the pole. The race started under auspicious circumstances with the threat of rain looming.
The yellow flags flew often starting with Mike Conway spinning on the very first lap, taking out a hapless Graham Rahal. Then, there was Tony Kanaan, Tomas Scheckter and Marco Andretti getting three-wide and out of the show by half way.
Meanwhile, out front was Franchitti having things his way until a late race restart saw him tangle with Takuma Sato and out of the show.
That left Ryan Hunter-Ryea comfortable out front until a late race stop for rain. Despite car owners and drivers pleading not to start the race with the track surface too wet, they dropped the green. As they squeezed the gas pedal coming out of turn four, Danica Patrick spun in the middle of the pack, taking out five cars with her.
More tempers, animated ticked off drivers and owners saw series officials call the race leaving Hunter-Ryea the winner followed by Oriol Servia and Scott Dixon.
Contrary to rumors surrounding changes in the NASCAR Chase, President Mike Helton recently commented the Chase will stay the same...for now. I know I’ve heard such comments as adding a road race to the schedule and a track quite different then the usual 1.5-mile cookie cutter style, such as Charlotte and Kansas.
I say, let’s really mix it up and check talent by adding a half-mile dirt track. Any takers?
Look for Joe Gibbs Racing to enter into a engine building relationship with TRD out of California. Only Gibbs racing has been engineering their own engines and with half a dozen blowups this year, they’re going to plan ‘B.’
That’s it for this week. Next week, RWR will review the racing results from the Cupsters and truck series in Michigan, Nationwide results from Canada along with more racing action from around the globe.