Category Archives: NASCAR

“If You Ain’t First You’re Last!”: NASCAR Sprint All-Star Saturday Preview

"Who Wants to be a Millionaire?"

This weekend is the All-Star Break in NASCAR. What does that mean? Ricky Bobby knows. “If you ain’t first, you’re last!” In other words, this weekend is a little different.

This is a non-points race. The All-Star Race does not count towards the championship. This race is for fun and bragging rights. If you win the race, then you get a million dollars. If you come in second, then you get nothing. Another difference is how you get into the race. Usually the field consists of 43 drivers with the top 35 in owner points being locked in, and the drivers outside the top 35 needing to get in the race on speed. Starting positions are usually determined by two laps of time time trials. However, this weekend there are two races.

"Mad Dash for Cash"

In order to automatically qualify for the All-Star race, a driver must have won a points-paying race this year or in the previous year, must be a past champion of this event in the past ten years, or must be a past series champion in the last ten years. If a driver does not fit any of the criteria, then they must race in the Sprint Showdown. Only the top two-finishers move on to “the show”. Wait there’s more. If a driver does not finish in the top-two, then they must rely on the fan-vote. Now, some people may think the fan-vote winner has no shot at victory. In 2008, Kasey Kahne defied the odds and won the event after getting in by the fan-vote.

The other differences are the lengths of the races, mandatory pit stops, and the fact that the races are divided into segments. The format for the Sprint Showdown is a twenty lap race divided into two ten-lap segments. Meanwhile, the Sprint All-Star Race is a 100-lap race divided into four segments. The first segment is 50 laps and drivers are required to make a green-flag stop at lap 25. Then the next two segments are each 20 laps and no pit stops are required. However, there is a mandatory pit-stop after the third segment, and everyone must take four-tires.

Chaos in Charlotte

The final segment is the “dash for cash”, as it only lasts ten (green flag) laps. Usually, all of the fun occurs in the final segment because all of the drivers push the issue and “lay everything on the line”.

Sprint Showdown Breakdown:


Dale Earnhardt Jr.: NASCAR’s most popular driver is due for a victory.

Jeff Burton: He has won at Charlotte before.

Joey Logano: He performs well at this track, and has finished in the top-ten in the last two All-Star Races (the big show).

Martin Truex Jr.: He is the defending champion and two-time winner of the Showdown.

Others to Watch:

A.J. Allmendinger: He won the Showdown in 2008.

Brian Vickers: He won the Showdown in 2005.

Bobby Labonte: He won the Sprint Cup Championship in 2000. He knows how to win.

Brad Keselowski: Penske has good cars here. Sam Hornish Jr. won the 2008 Showdown, and Kurt Busch won both the All-Star Race, and the Coca-Cola 600 last year.

Dark Horses:

Marcos Ambrose: He has had a strong year so far. Ambrose keeps inching closer to his first career victory.

David Ragan: He usually has fast cars here, and Roush Racing has had success at Charlotte.

Paul Menard: He had a strong start to this season as well. Will he finally win?

Who is moving on? My Picks:

NAPA Know How, NAPA Knows How To Win.

Winner: Martin Truex Jr. He has had fast cars every race, but has been a victim of bad luck. This time his team will get the job done and win back-to-back Showdowns.

Second Place: Joey Logano. He performs well at this track.

Fan Vote: EARNHARDT!!!! No brainer.

All-Star Race Breakdown:


Jimmie Johnson: Johnson has won everything on this track. He used to be invincible here.

Kurt Busch: The defending champion of this race.

Tony Stewart: The 2009 winner of this race.

Kevin Harvick: He has won twice this year and is the 2007 winner of this race.

Others to watch:

Kyle Busch: He has won in every series but the Cup Series at Charlotte.

Jeff Gordon: He has won three All-Star races.

Carl Edwards: He is the points leader, and should have won the last two weeks. Third time the charm?

Matt Kenseth: According to the Motor Racing Network (MRN), he holds the best average finish among current Cup drivers in the field with an average finish of 6.6 in the past ten races. He also comes in with the momentum from his Dover victory on Sunday.

Dark Horses:

Kasey Kahne: He won the 2008 race.

Ryan Newman: He won this race in 2002.

My Pick:

A Trumphant Tony Stewart

Always tough to pick a winner in these races, but I will go with Tony Stewart. He performs well at this track, and he is due for a win.

Images Courtesy of: (Stewart), (Mad Dash and Crash), Charlotte Observer (Fireworks at the top), (Truex Jr.), (All-Star Race Logo)


“Wiley” Matt Kenseth Wins At “The Monster Mile”

"Wiley" Matt Kenseth steals the checkered flag.

The favorite to win the Fedex 400 at Dover was Jimmie Johnson. If Johnson did not win, many fans figured Carl Edwards and Kyle Busch would end up in victory lane. However, neither of those drivers won.

Total Domination? Nope: Johnson (48) and Edwards (99) combined to lead 314 of the 400 laps. Neither of them won.

The fans were not far off though. Johnson and Edwards had the two best cars. Johnson led 207 laps, the most in the race, and Edwards led 117 laps, which was the second most. For the second week in a row, Edwards was on the verge of winning, but a late caution and pit strategy robbed him of another win.

On lap 350, Edwards passed Johnson and was catching Clint Bowyer for the lead. Eleven laps later, Juan Montoya wrecked in front of the leaders to bring out the sixth caution. Once again the race would be decided on pit road. Two tires or four tires? Six drivers went with two tires, one driver stayed on the track, and the rest took four. Mark Martin was the driver who stayed out and led the field at the restart. On lap 368, Matt Kenseth passed Martin for the lead. Meanwhile, Bowyer, Edwards, and Johnson were all battling each other. Eventually, Bowyer and Edwards pulled away from Johnson and tried to navigate through the field. Unfortunately for Bowyer and Edwards, their battle took too long and they were never able to catch the leaders. Back up front, Kenseth led the final 32 laps to win his second race of the season.

Why did Kenseth take two tires instead of four? Kenseth said, “Honestly, I was sitting on the track and thinking that we should stay out and get clean air and try it, because I knew we wouldn’t win if we took four.” According to Kenseth, crew chief Jimmy Fennig was hesitant to make the call, but in the end he gambled and it paid off. Kensth’s Roush Racing teammate Carl Edwards came up short for the second week in a row. Edwards was not angry with crew chief Bob Osborne though. He said, “That’s too tough of a choice to make right there and I don’t blame him one bit. I thought we would be able to arch through there, and I thought the race would be between Clint and I.”


Speaking of Clint Bowyer, he actually was happy with his sixth-place finish. In his last two races, he was the victim of two late crashes. At Darlington, Bowyer was running in the top-ten, when Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick bounced off each other and spun Bowyer out. In Saturday’s Nationwide race at Dover, Bowyer was running third on the final lap when Joey Logano spun in front of him. Bowyer had nowhere to go and his car climbed on top of Logano’s and went airborne. This time Bowyer’s car made it to the finish unscathed.

Fans were disappointed with the “Monster Mile” after Sunday’s race. There were a measly six cautions, and only two were non-debris/rain cautions. Fans were expecting a repeat of Saturday’s chaotic race that had ten cautions and a spectacular multi-car crash at the finish with Bowyer’s car flying sideways through the air. Fans hope for a more entertaining race this Saturday Night, as the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series holds its annual All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.

Images Courtesy of: (Bowyer Crash), (Kenseth crossing the line), (Johnson and Edwards)

Quotes courtesy of:

“Sitting Duck”: Late Caution Costs Carl Edwards The Win And Gives Regan Smith His First

On lap 340, Carl Edwards took the lead from Kasey Kahne. With 15 laps to go, Edwards had pulled away. Unless a caution came out, Edwards was going to win the Showtime Southern 500 at Darlington. However, luck was not on his side.

With ten laps to go, Jeff Burton’s car broke down and smoke spewed out of the back. This forced NASCAR to throw the caution. Edwards did not want to see the caution. Now as Darrell Waltrip said during the telecast, “Carl is a sitting duck.” Now Edwards and his crew chief Bob Osborne were faced with a tough decision. Do you stay out on old tires and watch everyone pit, or do you give up the lead for fresh tires? Edwards and his team decided to pit for fresh tires, as did most of the leaders. Only three cars would gamble and stay out: Regan Smith, Brad Keselowski, and Tony Stewart. This would set up a frantic finish.

Edwards won the race off pit road, and would restart fourth. The field took the green flag with five laps to go. Smith was able to pull away from Keselowski on the restart. In turns one and two, Edwards made quick work of the drivers on old tires, as he knifed through Stewart and Keselowski. Edwards had his sights set on the lead.

Bowyer's night comes to an end.

One lap later, the caution flew again. Kyle Busch, Kevin Harvick, and Clint Bowyer were three-wide coming off of turn four. They all bounced off each other, sending Bowyer spinning into the inside wall. Then, Busch turned down and spun Harvick in turn one. All three of the drivers were running in the top-ten. A frustrated Clint Bowyer emerged out of his car, and slammed his HANS device (a safety harness the drivers wear around their head and neck).

More drama was to follow, as the race would need a Green-White-Checkered Finish (NASCAR’s version of overtime). On this restart, Smith and Edwards were the front row. If Edwards was able to get a good jump, then Smith’s shot at winning was over. The green flag was back in the air. Keselowski pushed Smith into the lead heading into turn one. The leaders sorted themselves out as they exited turn two, and Edwards was able to hold off Keselowski for second. The white flag waved, only one lap to go. Edwards was closing on Smith. He did not want to lose this race now. Neither did Smith. Both drivers overdrove their cars in turn two, but somehow they were able to keep their cars off the wall. Chaos ensued behind the leaders as Marcos Ambrose spun Bobby Labonte and the field had to scramble to avoid him.

The fight for the win

The race stayed green, and the finish would be determined back at the start/finish line. Smith remained in front of Edwards coming off the final turn. Edwards needed to make his move, but he was never able to get close enough. Smith held on to win his first career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race.

Fireworks lit the sky during Smith’s celebratory burnout. However, all eyes were glued to the fireworks on pit road. Kevin Harvick had some unfinished business with Kyle Busch. After the checkered flag waved, Harvick hunted down Busch and chased him on the track (the drivers were still in their cars). Busch tried to dive onto pit road, but Harvick blocked him. They sat on the track for a few seconds. Busch tried to get around Harvick one more time, but it was to no avail. Then, Harvick stopped on pit road and trapped Busch. He climbed out of his car and approached Busch.

Take That!

Harvick took a swing at Busch. Busch just stepped on the gas and wrecked Harvick’s car again to get to the garage area. “But that’s not all folks.” Then, a brawl occurred between the drivers’ crews in the garage area. NASCAR officials had to take action and separated everybody. In addition, NASCAR called the two drivers to the hauler (NASCAR’s version of the Principal’s office). Both drivers are expected to receive penalties on Tuesday.

Number One

Meanwhile in victory lane, Smith celebrated his first career victory. Smith was ecstatic. He said, “I’m not supposed to win this race. I’ve never had even a top-five. I guess in this series, it just shows anyone can win.” On Mother’s Day eve, every drive wanted to win. Smith mentioned that he was disappointed that his mother could not make it to the race, because she was in Alabama helping with the relief efforts for the Tuscaloosa tornadoes. Smith said, “She’s always been there for all my wins, all my races. She doesn’t miss any of them. That got me a little choked up. It does now too.”

Everyone was happy to see Smith win. Keselowski and Greg Biffle came to congratulate him in victory lane. Even Carl Edwards was happy for him, despite being the victim of bad luck. Edwards said, “Gotta congratulate Regan. That’s a huge day for him. I just told him this is a really big deal, and he knows that.” Edwards also mentioned how he wished he could have brought that trophy home, and there would have been “at least six things I would have done differently”.

Edwards controlled his emotions, unlike Harvick. After the race, Harvick said, “I’m really excited for Regan Smith, and I’m sorry you are not there talking to him.” So, what happened in the hauler? Harvick and Busch refused to reveal anything. All they would say is that it was hard racing, and Harvick added, “Things happen.”

For the second week in a row, tempers flared on the race track. Will there be another feud as NASCAR heads to the “Monster Mile” in Dover, Delaware next week. Fans should expect more of the same carnage as they saw last night.

Quotes Courtesy of: ESPN, NASCAR.Com, and Fox Sports

Images courtesy of: (Bowyer), Fox Sports (Harvick Punch), (Smith and Edwards), and (Smith in Victory Lane)

Who Will Tame “The Lady in Black”?: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Preview at Darlington

The Lady's Victims

This week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series visits Darlington Raceway for the Showtime Southern 500. One thing Darlington Raceway is famous for is the “Darlington Stripe”. This is what they call the mark left on the wall after a car hits it. It does not matter how good of a driver you are, odds are you will hit the wall. In other words, the “Darlington Stripe” is inevitable.

In the past five years, there have been five different winners at the track that is known as “The Track Too Tough To Tame”. However, one driver has finished in the top-five in each of the past five races. That driver is Jeff Gordon. He also has seven victories at this track. Obviously, he is one of the favorites to win, but who stands in his way?


Jeff Gordon: Seven victories, and an average finish of 3.0 in the past five races here (the best of all cup drivers).

Kyle Busch: The 2008 winner of this race, and he won the NASCAR Nationwide Series race last night.

Denny Hamlin: The defending champion of this race, and he has the second best average finish in the past five races at Darlington (6.6).

Others to watch:

Greg Biffle: A two-time winner of this race.

Jimmie Johnson: He is also a two-time winner of this race.

Matt Kenseth: He has the third best average finish here in the past five races (7.8).

Mark Martin: He won the 2009 Southern 500.

Jeff Burton: He has an average finish of 9.8 in the past five races at Darlington, and he has won two races here.

Dark Horse:

Kasey Kahne: He won the pole for this race. By the way, he set a new track record on his qualifying run. Kahne also won the NASCAR Camping World Series Truck race here in March.

My Pick:

The Preferred Line

Jeff Gordon. He has the best average finish at Darlington in the last five races, and he has the most of wins of any active driver at this track. Gordon can tame the track “Too Tough To Tame”.

One “Rowdy” Night In Richmond: Kyle Busch Wins Crown Royal 400!


Joe Gibbs Racing continued their dominance at Richmond International Speedway with Kyle Busch’s third straight Crown Royal 400 victory. According to Fox Sports, it was a team effort, as Busch learned a trick from teammate Denny Hamlin that helped him run faster in the race. Busch said, “I learned from Denny Hamlin last fall. I’m not going to say what I learned. He might know, but we did a good job at doing what we needed to do early in the run and once we got and had to go through traffic and stuff like that. Traffic kind of fell our way, so we were able to pick our way through there.”

Busch led the most laps in the race, he led 235 of the 400 laps, and won by almost two seconds over Hamlin. Busch’s teammate regretted telling him his secret. Hamlin said, “Yeah, I opened my mouth. I should have never told him That’s the thing. If I don’t tell him the things I learned on short tracks, and the crew chiefs don’t relay any information, then it’s not a good team.”

Except for Hamlin and Busch, it was a wild night for the drivers in the Crown Royal 400. There were several angry drivers after the race. Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr. ripped their teams over the team radio. Truex turned into Donald Trump and said, “They ought to fire every one of you.”. Meanwhile Kurt Busch basically said that his team was an embarrassment.

Round One

Then, there was Ryan Newman versus Juan Montoya. On lap 106, Newman and Montoya were battling for position. Newman ended up turning Montoya into the wall, and bringing out the first caution of the race.


Well, Juan was angry with Newman. He wanted revenge. Montoya paid Newman back on lap 236, when he spun Newman for the third caution of the race. NASCAR then warned both drivers to settle down.

The highlight of the night came on lap 300 when Richmond’s version of “The Big One” happened. On a restart, the drivers up front made four-wide in turn two. Four-wide usually does not work at Richmond, and that ended up being the case again. Jeff Gordon was spun by Paul Menard, then Gordon clipped Matt Kenseth, which sent Kenseth in front of the pack. Seven cars ended up getting destroyed in the turmoil.

Richmond provided excitement once again for NASCAR Nation. Next week, fans should expect more of the same at the track “Too Tough To Tame”, Darlington Raceway.

“Way to go Joe!” Can Joe Gibbs Racing Win Their Fifth Straight Race at Richmond?: Preview for Crown Royal Presents The Matthew And Daniel Hansen 400

Always Prepared: Whether it comes to football or racing, Joe Gibbs knows how to get his team ready.

There was a man that said, “A winning effort begins with preparation.” That man was hall of fame football coach and two-time championship NASCAR owner Joe Gibbs. When looking at the stats for this track, coach Gibbs is a man of his word. His teams have won the last four races at this track with drivers Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch (two wins each). A lot of time and effort goes into preparing for these races; and obviously the Joe Gibbs Racing teams are doing something right.

However, Joe Gibbs Racing has to watch out for Jimmie Johnson. His team is usually prepared and the five-time defending champ won three of the four races at Richmond from 2007 to 2008. Johnson is tied with Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr. with the most wins at Richmond among all active drivers. Johnson’s team is a threat to win anywhere, as they have proven by winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship for the past five years. They also have momentum heading into this race. Two weeks ago, Johnson edged Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon in the closest finish in NASCAR history at Talladega. As a driver, what gets you more pumped up than that?

Richmond International Raceway has some of the most exciting action you will see in a NASCAR race. However, it is a “Jekyll-Hyde” track. In some stages of the race, you will see drivers two- and three-wide, and bouncing of each other in every turn. Then, once everything settles down, the field spreads out. For example the 2009 Crown Royal 400 had a track record 15 cautions, while last year’s race had only six cautions. Richmond usually provides some late race drama, as five of the last six races have had margins of victories of less than one second. Just look at the finish in the 2008 Crown Royal 400.

Kyle upsets Junior Nation

Denny Hamlin dominated the race only to have a tire go down with 20 to go. Dale Earnhardt Jr. took the lead and was pulling away. With ten to go, Hamlin’s tire finally blew and brought out the caution. That set up a restart with five to go, and Kyle Busch would make one last attempt to get by Earnhardt. With two to go, Busch made his move. He dove low on Earnhardt in turn one, and the two drivers had a drag race down into turn three. Then, Kyle’s car got loose and drifted into Earnhardt. This caused Earnhardt to spin out, and Clint Bowyer passed both drivers to take the lead. Earnhardt’s spin brought out the caution and set up a Green-White-Checkered finish (NASCAR’s version of overtime). However, Busch’s car was never the same after the collision, and Bowyer was able to steal a win.

Favorites to Win:

The Favorites

Kyle Busch: He won two of the last four races at Richmond including last year’s Crown Royal 400. He also has the best average-finish here (5.5) among all active drivers in the past five years.

Denny Hamlin: He has won two of the last four races at Richmond and has the second best average-finish here (8.0) in the last five years.

Jimmie Johnson: He has three wins at Richmond which is tied for the most wins by any active driver at the track.

Other Drivers to Watch:

Juan Pablo Montoya: He was the fastest in final practice and he has finished in the top-ten in the last two races here.

Dale Earnhardt Jr.: He is off to a strong start this year and he has three wins at Richmond as well. Does he end his 101-race winless streak?

Tony Stewart: He is the other driver with three wins here.

Clint Bowyer: He won here in 2008 and he has been the third best driver here in the past five years with an average finish of 9.8.

Dark Horses:

Marcos Ambrose: He has had some good runs this year and he has finished in the top-ten in the last two races at Richmond.

Mark Martin: He has not had a strong start, but he does have the fourth best average-finish here in the last five years.

My Pick:

Victory Lane: A Happy Place

Jimmie Johnson. I’m really going out on a limb with this pick. Not. He ended his winless streak two weeks ago, and now he has momentum coming to one one of his best tracks.

Stats Provided By:, Motor Racing Network, and

Images Courtesy Of: USA Today (Johnson), (Hamlin and Busch), (Gibbs), and (Junior Spin)

History!!! Talladega Makes History for the Second Year In a Row as Jimmie Johnson wins by .002 Seconds!

The Closest Finish in History. Two thousandths of a Second!!!

This was a win that Jimmie Johnson will never forget. With two laps to go, Johnson seemed down and out as he was running 12th. Then, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Johnson’s teammate, said it was go time and latched onto Johnson’s bumper. When the white flag waved, Johnson was back in the seventh and catching the two-car tandem of Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. Edwards led with two to go, but Jeff Gordon had just taken the lead away from him with one lap to go. Meanwhile, up front, there were four drivers in two two-car tandems. Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin, Clint Bowyer, and Kevin Harvick were fighting for the win. None of them saw Johnson coming.

Making their Move

Coming out of turn four, Gordon was still in the lead. When the leaders entered the tri-oval, Bowyer pulled along side Gordon. Earnhardt and Johnson were now right behind them, and Edwards and Biffle were coming fast. In the center of the tri-oval, Johnson made it three-wide for the lead, and now Bowyer was in the lead.

Mad Dash

It was a mad dash to the finish line. Ten feet before the finish line, Bowyer was the leader, but in the blink of an eye, Johnson nipped Bowyer at the line by .002 seconds, and Gordon right behind Bowyer. That margin tied the closest finish in NASCAR history. The win gave Johnson his first of the season and his second career win at Talladega.

Two-car tandems were the story of the day. The 30-car packs were a thing of the past with this new style of racing that was introduced in February. Drivers found a partner and worked with them for most of or the entire race. Teamwork is key now at restrictor-plate races. Johnson and Earnhardt Jr. worked together all day; and in the end, it paid off, as Earnhardt Jr. pushed Johnson the push to victory. Johnson knew he would not have won without the help of his teammate. So after the race, he gave Earnhardt the checkered flag. Johnson said, “Can’t thank Junior enough. They are responsible for this win today.”

Earnhardt’s winless streak now stands at 101 races. However, he was still pleased with the outcome of the race. Earnhardt said, “If I couldn’t win the race, then I wanted Jimmie to win the race because I worked with him all day and he’s my teammate, and I wanted him to the race.”

Bowyer was devastated. He was so close to winning, only to have it taken away from him at the finish line. Bowyer had led the most laps of the race, and was trying to win two cup races in a row at Talladega. A disappointed Bowyer said, “What a bummer. I saw him coming. We (Bowyer and Harvick) did everything we could do. Circumstances man, I saw them coming in the mirror.”

“The Big One” is a crash of ten cars or more and is always associated with Daytona and Talladega. There was no “Big One” this time at Talladega, but that did not mean they did not try to have one. Drivers Jeff Burton and Ryan Newman made spectacular saves in the late stages of the race to prevent the “Big One” from happening. However, there were two little ones.

If there was an award for worst driver of the race, then Kurt Busch definitely won that award. He spun three people out and the wrecks he caused took out eight cars.

Help me Tom Cruise!!!

On lap 90, Busch accidentally turned his teammate Brad Keselowski, and triggered a five-car wreck which also collected Kasey Kahne, David Ragan, Marcos Ambrose, and Daytona 500-winner Trevor Bayne. Kahne ended up with the most damage as his nose was crunched, and his car exploded into flames at the entrance of pit road.

Wrong way, Kyle.

The other little one occurred on lap 140. Teammates wrecked each other again. This time Joey Logano turned Kyle Busch and triggered a four-car wreck which also took out Matt Kenseth, A.J. Allmendinger, and Denny Hamlin (Logano’s other teammate).

Even though Talladega did not produce the big wreck, the race was still entertaining. The Aaron’s 499 was not perfect, but it had its moments. What was boring? Only six cautions and no 30-car pack. What was exciting? The 88 lead changes which tied the all-time record set here last year, the little ones, and the three-wide photo finish, which ended up being only the closest finish in history. Every NASCAR fan will be talking about this finish for the rest of their lives. Talladega always provides excitement. The last eight races at the track have all been decided on the final lap. Enough said. If you are into racing, then Talladega is the place to go.

Images Courtesy of: (Kyle’s spin), (Kahne on fire), (Race-winning move), (Cars coming to the line), (Grandstand Photo Finish Shot), and (Flag Stand Picture of Finish)

Quotes Courtesy of: Fox Sports and ESPN