Monday, July 29, 2013

Newman Wins the Brickyard 400

 Originally written for CLNS Radio.

After starting on the pole, Ryan Newman won the Brickyard 400 following a mistake on the final pit stops by Jimmie Johnson's crew.
Chris Graythen/Getty Images
Newman had a strong car all day, and led the first 28 laps from the pole.  He didn't take the lead again until there were just 27 laps to go, when Johnson made his final pit stop under green.  Johnson had a slow stop, and it allowed Newman to get ahead of him by seven seconds after his final pit stop.  When the rest of the leaders pitted, Newman took the lead and held Johnson off by three seconds to win the race.

The win was extremely special for Newman, who is an Indiana native.  Newman, born in South Bend, Indiana, grew up dreaming of winning at Indianapolis, and he said he was glad to have a good car to race at his hometown track.

"I knew we had a good car," Newman told ESPN.  "Starting on the pole and winning the race, this is a dream come true for me.  It'll take a week or so for this one to set in."

Johnson had the dominant car all day, leading 73 of 160 laps.  But it was an error on the set of final pit stops that caused Johnson to lose precious time to Newman.  Johnson made up four seconds on Newman, but he ran out of time before he could catch the Stewart-Haas driver.  Johnson said he was obviously disappointed after the race.

"There's definitely some disappointment there," said Johnson.  "But we win as a team and we lose as a team.  I wouldn't have it any other way."

The race was very calm, with long green-flag runs separated by only three cautions.  Newman took the lead when the green flag fell, but Johnson took the lead on lap 31 after the first round of green flag pit stops.  Johnson made his next pit stop on lap 55, and the first caution of the day came out on lap 60 when Timmy Hill slowed on the track.

Johnson led the field back to the green flag on lap 65, and he led until the next caution at lap 80 for a part failure by Jeff Burton.  Johnson lost the lead under the caution, when Brad Keselowski stayed out.  Keselowski led the field to the green flag on lap 87, but his teammate Joey Logano took the lead going through Turn 2.

Johnson took the lead again on lap 97 when Logano and Keselowski made green-flag pit stops.  Johnson pitted with 52 laps to go, and Timmy Hill slowed again to bring out the final caution on lap 114.  Johnson pitted with 27 laps to go, and his team had trouble with the right-rear tire, allowing Newman to get seven seconds ahead of him.  Newman took the lead with 11 laps to go when Keselowski pitted, and he ran away from Johnson to win for the first time at Indianapolis.  

Here are the unofficial results:

1. Ryan Newman
2. Jimmie Johnson
3. Kasey Kahne
4. Tony Stewart
5. Matt Kenseth
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
7. Jeff Gordon
8. Joey Logano
9. Juan Pablo Montoya
10. Kyle Busch
11. Martin Truex Jr.
12. Paul Menard
13. Carl Edwards
14. Kurt Busch
15. Jamie McMurray
16. Marcos Ambrose
17. Aric Almirola
18. Denny Hamlin
19. Kevin Harvick
20. Clint Bowyer
21. Brad Keselowski
22. AJ Allmendinger
23. Mark Martin
24. Greg Biffle
25. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
26. Austin Dillon
27. Casey Mears
28. Trevor Bayne
29. David Reutimann
30. Danica Patrick
31. Travis Kvapil
32. Michael McDowell
33. Landon Cassill
34. David Ragan
35. David Gilliland
36. Bobby Labonte
37. Dave Blaney
38. Josh Wise
39. J.J. Yeley
40. David Stremme
41. Joe Nemechek
42. Timmy Hill
43. Jeff Burton

Next week, the Sprint Cup Series returns to Pocono Raceway for the 400.  The race will be next Sunday at 1:00 p.m. ET, only on ESPN.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Vickers Wins at New Hampshire

For CLNS Radio.

Brian Vickers returned to victory lane for the first time since 2009 after winning the Camping World RV Sales 301from the New Hampshire Motor Speedway on Sunday afternoon.

Jerry Markland/Getty Images
The win was Vickers' first victory since August 16, 2009 at Michigan, and it was the first of the season for the 55 team.  The team has three drivers throughout the season, with the bulk of the races run by Mark Martin.  Vickers said he could understand how it could be difficult to win in that situation.

"That's a testament to the whole team," Vickers told TNT.  "They're doing a great job with all three drivers."
The win marked the end of a comeback to the Sprint Cup Series for Vickers.  After winning and making the Chase in 2009, Vickers was sidelined in 2010 with blood clots.  Once he returned in 2011, he was told that the team he was driving for, Red Bull Racing, was folding at the end of the season.  In 2012 he landed at Michael Waltrip Racing, splitting the ride with Martin and Michael Waltrip.  Vickers said he was thankful for the opportunity.

"I got to thank Ty [Norris] for giving me that call and Michael and Rob [Kauffman] for believing in me," Vickers said in victory lane.  "Thank God for the chance and this team, and Rodney [Childers] for believing in me."

Vickers took the lead on lap 287, and he began to pull away from Tony Stewart.  But a debris caution with just five laps to go set the race up for a green-white-checkered finish.  On the restart, Vickers had to hold off Stewart and Kyle Busch, who combined to lead 137 of the 302 laps.  

Vickers was able to keep control of the lead, while Busch settled for second place.  Stewart, on the other hand, ran out of gas coming to the white flag and finished 26th.  

The bad finish relegated Stewart outside the top 10 in driver's points,  and he fell to 13th.  Due to Stewart's one victory however, he holds the final wild-card spot for the Chase.  

The win helped the 55 team get a wild-card spot in the owner's points standings.  The team is now 13th in points, holding onto the final wild-card spot in the owner's points.  

Here are the unofficial results:

1. Brian Vickers
2. Kyle Busch
3. Jeff Burton
4. Brad Keselowski
5. Aric Almirola
6. Jimmie Johnson
7. Kevin Harvick
8. Carl Edwards
9. Matt Kenseth
10. Jeff Gordon
11. Kasey Kahne
12. Jamie McMurray
13. Clint Bowyer
14. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
15. Greg Biffle
16. Martin Truex Jr.
17. Paul Menard
18. David Gilliland
19. David Ragan
20. David Stremme
21. Denny Hamlin
22. AJ Allmendinger
23. Dave Blaney
24. Juan Pablo Montoya
25. Joe Nemechek
26. Tony Stewart
27. Bobby Labonte
28. David Reutimann
29. J.J. Yeley
30. Ken Schrader
31. Kurt Busch
32. Landon Cassill
33. Marcos Ambrose
34. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
35. Josh Wise
36. Casey Mears
37. Danica Patrick
38. Travis Kvapil
39. Ryan Newman
40. Joey Logano
41. Morgan Shepherd
42. Michael McDowell
43. Mike Bliss

Next week, the Sprint Cup Series has their final off-week of the season, before returning on July 28th.  On that Sunday, the Sprint Cup Series heads to the prestigious Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400.  The race will also be ESPN's first race of the season, and it can be seen at 1:00 p.m. ET.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Johnson Dominates Coke Zero 400

 Originally written for CLNS Radio.

Jimmie Johnson dominated the Coke Zero 400 from Daytona International Speedway on his way to his fourth win of the season.

Scott Halleran/Getty Images
Johnson led 94 of the 161 laps during his dominating performance on Saturday night.  Johnson took the lead on lap 33, and he led for most of the remaining laps.  The win was Johnson's fourth of the year, tying him with Matt Kenseth for the most of any driver.

The win also puts Johnson in elite company.  With the victory, Johnson became the first driver to sweep the two race at Daytona since Bobby Allison did it in 1982.  Johnson said he was happy to be on the same level as Allison.

"That's amazing," Johnson said.  "I watched Bobby Allison, and to do anything that Bobby's done is pretty special."

Johnson also said that he knew he had a strong car all night by dominating the race.

"That's tough to do at a plate track," Johnson said.  "I don't know if I really made a bad move all night.  I'm very proud of the night."

Kyle Busch started on the pole, and he jumped out to the lead on the first lap.  He held off the field until the first caution on lap 24 for a blown engine by Paul Menard.  Busch led on the following restart, but Johnson quickly took the lead on lap 33.

Johnson led until a caution on lap 70 shuffled the field.  Denny Hamlin stayed out under the caution, and he took over the lead when the rest of the field pitted.  Jamie McMurray took the lead on lap 93, and he led when the caution came out on lap 99 for a spin that involved Hamlin, Juan Pablo Montoya, and Martin Truex Jr.

McMurray led on the restart, but Johnson took the lead for the final time on lap 105.  The next caution came out on lap 127 for a wreck that collected Aric Almirola, David Stremme, Greg Biffle, and AJ Allmendinger.
With 11 laps to go, the first big wreck erupted when Hamlin spun in front of the field, and collected Jeff Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Allmendinger, David Reutimann, and Dave Blaney.  The race was red-flagged while the track was cleaned up, but the race went back green with just seven laps to go.

With five laps to go, there was a single-car accident when Marcos Ambrose slammed into Kasey Kahne, causing him to spin into the inside wall.  The caution set up a green-white-checkered finish to end the race.
On the final lap, a wreck erupted in Turn 1.  The wreck collected Carl Edwards, Scott Speed, Bobby Labonte, Joe Nemechek, Ambrose, and Landon Cassill.  Because the wreck happened behind the leaders, the race continued on without a caution, setting up a mad dash to the finish.

While Johnson raced towards the finish line, another wreck occurred around mid-pack.  That wreck collected Danica Patrick, Kyle Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Ryan Newman, Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle, J.J. Yeley, David Gilliland, and Terry Labonte.

Here are the unofficial results:

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Tony Stewart
3. Kevin Harvick
4. Clint Bowyer
5. Michael Waltrip
6. Kurt Busch
7. Jamie McMurray
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
9. Casey Mears
10. Ryan Newman
11. Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
12. Kyle Busch
13. J.J. Yeley
14. Danica Patrick
15. David Gilliland
16. Jeff Burton
17. Greg Biffle
18. Travis Kvapil
19. Terry Labonte
20. Trevor Bayne
21. Brad Keselowski
22. David Ragan
23. Bobby Labonte
24. Landon Cassill
25. Josh Wise
26. Marcos Ambrose
27. Joe Nemechek
28. Scott Speed
29. Carl Edwards
30. David Reutimann
31. Dave Blaney
32. Kasey Kahne
33. Matt Kenseth
34. Jeff Gordon
35. AJ Allmendinger
36. Denny Hamlin
37. David Stremme
38. Aric Almirola
39. Juan Pablo Montoya
40. Joey Logano
41. Martin Truex Jr.
42. Michael McDowell
43. Paul Menard

Next week, the Sprint Cup Series heads to New Hampshire Motor Speedway for a Sunday afternoon race.  The Camping World RV Sales 301 will begin at 1:00 p.m. ET, only on TNT.