Monster Energy Cup Series News (16558)
Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star race will finish with a 10-lap sprint to the checkered flag, but the green flag for the event waves two days earlier at the pit crew competition according to Jeff Gordon.
Gordon, whose wins occurred in 1995, 1997 and 2001, is tied with Dale Earnhardt for most victories in NASCAR’s annual non-points event. If he is to become the first individual to win the event four times, the driver of the No. 24 DuPont Chevrolet knows it will not be a singular effort.
“This event takes a total team effort, and that’s what I love about it,” said Gordon. “We have the pit crew competition on Thursday night that determines the order we choose pits. On Friday, we incorporate the crew into qualifying so it doesn’t matter if you have the fastest car on the track – it’s about a total team effort for qualifying. And then there are mandatory pit stops during the race on Saturday night.
“This race – this whole week, really – shows which teams are strong, and I think that’s really cool to have an all-star event like that.”
With no championship points on the line, risks will likely be taken on – and off – the 1.5-mile track.
“That’s another element to this race that makes it more exciting and interesting,” said Gordon. “We’re not racing for points, so it’s all about the win.
“Drivers are willing to take more risks inside the race cars. The crew chiefs, the engineers and the teams are willing to take more risks in the setups.”
Those risks can pay off Saturday night, and they can pay even bigger dividends later this year.
“Teams are more willing to try something different in this race,” said Gordon. “If you hit on something with the setup, it may help you the following week in the ‘600’ or later on this year.
“Those gambles are just another aspect of what makes this event so exciting. You might fail with them.
“Or you might just succeed.”
Performance Plus/Jeff Gordon PR
Cequent Consumer Products brand Reese Towpower, the leading manufacturer for towing products and DKMS, the world’s largest bone marrow donor center teamed up for three lifesaving events during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series ALL -Star week in Charlotte, NC . The public will have an opportunity to get swabbed and save a potential life by registering to become a bone marrow donor with DKMS. Reese Towpower is a 2011 sponsor of JTG Daugherty Racing and 2000 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Championship driver, Bobby Labonte, who is driving the No. 47 Reese Towpower car in the Sprint Showdown at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Labonte is vying for a coveted spot in the All-Star Race Saturday May 21st by the Sprint Fan Vote or by securing a transfer spot during the Sprint Showdown.
Race Fans can come out, get swabbed to save a life and see the race car and the Reese/ DKMS display during the All Star week- long celebration in Charlotte. The events kick off at The NASCAR Hall of Fame (400 Martin Luther King Blvd. between Caldwell and Brevard near the box office) from 1- 5pm May 23rd and 24th. Labonte’s No. 47 Reese Towpower “getswabbed.org” car will be on display along with the Reese DKMS display. Reese Towpower will also hold a drawing for tickets to a future NASCAR race and DKMS will be registering for potential lifesaving bone marrow transplant donors on site.
One-year-old Ayelet Galena has a rare bone marrow failure disorder and will not survive if she doesn’t have a transplant soon. Ayelet is not alone. Leukemia and other blood cancers are the number one disease children die of in the U.S. Sadly, no one in Ayelet’s family is a match so she has to rely on the kindness of strangers to save her life. Hindy, Ayelet’s mother says, “I know there is some charitable soul out there who can save my daughter. We must find that person, that match. Please do a simple cheek swab to help Ayelet and many other patients to see if you can be that match.”
“This is a perfect opportunity for race fans to support DKMS in the fight against Leukemia and to help educate people that a life can actually be saved just by joining the national registry by swabbing the inside of your cheeks,” said Shannon Ketvertes, Communications Manager, Cequent Consumer Products. “Little Ayelet is new to the world and she and others like her deserve a fair chance at life. Please come to the events and register.”
The partners will also participate in the Fifth Annual Michael Waltrip Racing Fan Fest on May 25th from 4-7 pm held at the race shop 20310 Chartwell Center Drive Cornelius, NC 28031. Bobby Labonte will make an appearance at the autograph session from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Other NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers on site that day will be Michael Waltrip, David Reutimann and Martin Truex Jr. Also, signing will be NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Ryan Truex and K&N Pro Series East driver Brett Moffitt.
On February 12th the Reese Towpower/getswabbed.org car raced in the Bud Shootout to help raise awareness for a six-year-old girl named Jordan Jemsek fighting Leukemia in a Charlotte hospital. After the race, thousands of supporters turned out at swabbing events or registered online for home swabbing kits. Since then, a match was found for the child who is now recovering from a bone marrow transplant surgery.
“Cequent Consumer Products brand Reese Towpower, has done a phenomenal job working with DKMS to raise awareness on how to join the bone marrow registry,” Labonte said. “We had the great fortune of helping spread the word on Jordan Jemsek’s fight. After her bone marrow transplant, she’s doing well."
The awareness that this team created for getswabbed.org has already registered 3,000 bone marrow donors but there are thousands of patients who still have not found their life saving match.
“People from JTG Daugherty Racing, Michael Waltrip Racing, media partners and NASCAR fans got swabbed when they heard Jordan’s story,” said Labonte. “There’s so many others like Jordan. You can go to www.getswabbed.org for more information about DKMS and learn how to register. It’s so simple and I think it is unbelievable the fact that we can make a difference in people’s lives by doing things that are so important, which takes little time away from us.”
You can make a direct impact to save someone’s life by registering as a bone marrow donor at www.getswabbed.org or by visiting the Reese/DKMS display in Charlotte.
Team JTG Daugherty Racing was recently honored with the first quarter NMPA Speedway Motorsports Spirit Award for creating awareness for Bone Marrow Match testing along with partners Reese Towpower, DKMS and Snyder’s-Lance, Inc. who are also committed to saving lives by raising awareness for this cause.
“I’m just really proud of all the hard work that Reese Towpower and the JTG Daugherty Racing team has done with DKMS in helping spread the word on how people can register to be a potential bone marrow donor” said JTG Daugherty Racing co-owner Brad Daugherty. “We’re fortunate to have the opportunity and platform to place emphasis on exposure for something good. We don’t need pats on the backs; we’re just tickled to be able to bring awareness to give back to the community and touch people.”
After the All Star Race, you can catch Labonte driving the No. 47 Reese Towpower car at the Pennsylvania 500 at Pocono Raceway Sunday August 7, 2011.
NASCAR Hall of Fame www.nascarhall.com May 23 & 24th 1-5 pm
Michael Waltrip Racing www.michaelwaltripracing.com May 25 4- 7 pm
JTG Daughtry Racing PR
A number of high-energy, fan-friendly events will ratchet up anticipation for two keynote days on the NASCAR calendar: the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race and the NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Day.
The 2011 NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race is set for Saturday, May 21 at Charlotte Motor Speedway (SPEED, 7 p.m. ET). The second NASCAR Hall of Fame induction class will be formally enshrined Monday, May 23.
But there will be plenty of action in and around the Charlotte area to engage fans leading up to the pair of historic evenings.
"NASCAR Rev’d Up," a six-hour event highlighted by a concert and fan entertainment is back for its third-consecutive year. The event, which is free to the public, takes place Wednesday, May 18 at the NASCAR Hall of Fame in uptown Charlotte from 4 to 10 p.m. The program will feature driver appearances by Kyle Busch, Kasey Kahne, Joey Logano and Regan Smith, NASCAR showcars and interactive displays, and end with a free concert by multi-platinum country artists Gary Allan and Josh Kelley.
Continuing the fan-friendly activities throughout the week, the seventh annual NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman will take place Thursday, May 19 at 7 p.m. at Time Warner Cable Arena (SPEED to televise on delayed basis beginning at 8 p.m.). This competition between the top 24 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series pit crews has become a popular event among the fans and features the "unsung heroes" of the sport. The event’s finishing order determines pit selection for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race. The No. 11 FedEx Toyota is the defending Pit Crew Challenge Champion.
A full schedule of events for both the NASCAR Sprint All-Star week and NASCAR Hall of Fame:
· Wednesday, May 18, 4-10 p.m. at the NASCAR Hall of Fame – "NASCAR Rev’d Up" featuring a concert and interactive fan entertainment (free admission).
· Wednesday, May 18, 6 p.m. at the NASCAR Hall of Fame – NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Dinner.
· Thursday, May 19, 7 p.m., Time Warner Cable Arena – NASCAR Sprint Pit Crew Challenge presented by Craftsman (for tickets go to www.pitcrewchallenge.com or call the Charlotte Bobcats ticket office at 800-745-3000) – SPEED to televise.
· Friday, May 20, NASCAR Day – The NASCAR community will unite with its inaugural NASCAR Day Car Wash For Kids, a national volunteer effort and fundraiser to support children’s charities across the country. More than 30 venues, including 15 NASCAR race tracks will hold car wash events. Proceeds from NASCAR Day Car Wash for Kids will benefit local children’s charities and The NASCAR Foundation. Limited-edition NASCAR Day pins are also available and support the mission of Victory Junction. The pins are available for a $10 donation at The Sprint Experience at-track and at WWW.NASCAR.COM/foundation.
· Friday, May 20, 5 p.m., Charlotte Motor Speedway – NASCAR Sprint Cup All-Star Qualifying (for tickets call 1-800-455-FANS or log onto www.charlottemotorspeedway.com) – SPEED to televise.
· Friday, May 20, 8 p.m., Charlotte Motor Speedway – NASCAR Camping World Truck Series North Carolina Education Lottery 200 (for tickets call 1-800-455-FANS or www.charlottemotorspeedway.com) – SPEED to televise.
· Saturday, May 21, 7:30 p.m., Charlotte Motor Speedway – Sprint Showdown (top-two finishers qualify for the NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race). For tickets call 1-800-455-FANS or www.charlottemotorspeedway.com – SPEED to televise.
· Saturday, May 21, 9 p.m., Charlotte Motor Speedway – NASCAR Sprint All-Star Race (for tickets call 1-800-455-FANS or www.charlottemotorspeedway.com) – SPEED to televise.
· Sunday, May 22, NASCAR Hall of Fame – NASCAR Hall of Fame Inductee Fan Day, featuring Q&A’s and autograph sessions with Hall of Famers Junior Johnson and Richard Petty, and Hall of Fame inductees Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett, Bud Moore and David Pearson. Also in attendance will be Maurice Petty, who will represent inductee, Lee Petty.
· Monday, May 23, 7 p.m., NASCAR Hall of Fame – 2011 NASCAR Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony. Allison, Jarrett, Moore, Petty and Pearson are officially inducted as the second class. The Induction Ceremony is open to the public. The historic event takes place in the Charlotte Convention Center’s Crown Ballroom, which is connected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame. Tickets are available on a first-come, first-serve basis and can be purchased through Ticketmaster or by calling 800-745-3000.
You can also keep up to date with all the week’s events by following @NASCAR on Twitter (Hashtag: #SprintAllStar) and logging onto www.nascar.com/allstar.
Three top legislative leaders will be on hand for the nation's largest Memorial Day celebration as
they serve as race officials for the 2011 Coca-Cola 600. Tennessee Speaker of the House Beth Harwell will be Grand Marshal, South Carolina Speaker Bobby Harrell will be the Honorary Starter and North Carolina Speaker Thom Tillis will host his colleagues from neighboring states at the 52nd running of NASCAR's only 600-mile race at the famed Charlotte Motor Speedway on Sunday, May 29.
Paying tribute to all veterans and active U.S. military servicemen and women, the spectacular show preceding the Coca-Cola 600 includes a military assault demonstration by Special Operations soldiers
from Ft. Bragg, N.C., on-stage recognition of Medal of Honor recipients, the unfurling of a 11,250 square-foot American flag by family members of active-duty soldiers, and an inspiring flyover by military aircraft.
"We are honored to have such distinguished public servants-and three Speakers of the House-serve as race officials for the 2011 Coca-Cola 600," said Lauren C. Steele, vice president, corporate affairs, Coca-Cola Consolidated. "It is great that these top legislative leaders will be on hand to pay tribute to America's servicemen and women at the largest Memorial Day celebration in the nation."
As race officials, the three Speakers will be honored at a pre-race event, attend the official drivers meeting, address the crowd of 140,000 fans, participate in the pre-race spectacular and present the
trophy to the winning driver in Victory Lane. As Grand Marshal, Tenn. Speaker Harwell will ride in the official pace car, while S.C. Speaker Harrell will wave the green flag over the 43-car field to start NASCAR's most challenging race. N.C. Speaker Tillis will direct the 'Speaker Summit' as host of the event.
Beth Harwell was elected as the first woman Speaker of the House in Tenn. history earlier this year. She is currently serving in her 12th term in the Tenn. House and represents part of Davidson County.
She received her bachelor of arts degree from David Lipscomb University, an M.S. degree from George Peabody College, and a Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. She has been an assistant professor of political science at Belmont University. She and her husband, Sam, have three children, Allie, Sam, and Tucker.
"I'm honored to be named Grand Marshal of the Coca-Cola 600, and it will be a privilege to take part in the ceremonies honoring our men and women in uniform at the largest Memorial Day celebration in our
great nation," said Speaker Harwell.
Bobby Harrell has served as S.C. Speaker of the House since 2005, and has represented Charleston and Dorchester in the S.C. House since his first election in 1992. He is a graduate of the University of
South Carolina and owner of several small businesses. He is currently serving as Chairman of the National Speaker's Conference. He and his wife, Cathy, have two children, Trey and Charlotte.
"Over our country's history, great men and women have answered America's call to protect her citizens from the threats of evil," said Speaker Harrell. "In doing so, many have fallen while protecting our way of life. Their sacrifice serves as a reminder to us of the high price of freedom. I am honored to be Honorary Starter for the Coca-Cola 600, which celebrates and honors their great service and sacrifice."
Thom Tillis was elected N.C. Speaker of the House earlier this year after serving two terms in the N.C. House of Representatives, representing District 98. Prior to his election in 2006, Tillis was a former partner at PricewaterhouseCoopers and a management consultant to IBM. He and his wife, Susan, have two children, Lindsay and Ryan.
"Hosting the nation's largest Memorial Day celebration at the Coca-Cola 600 will be an honor. There are no citizens more worthy of recognition than our nation's military, and there is nothing more uniquely North Carolinian than NASCAR," Speaker Tillis said. "America is blessed with the most exceptional military personnel in the world, and North Carolina boasts a motorsports industry that serves as an economic engine providing jobs and private sector capital for our state. It is also an honor to partner with a great corporate citizen like Coca-Cola, and I look forward to hosting fellow Speakers on Memorial Day at the Coca-Cola 600."
Coca-Cola is the Official Sparkling Beverage of NASCAR and the sponsor of the Coca-Cola 600. The Coca-Cola Racing Family includes top drivers Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, Bobby Labonte, Joey Logano, Jamie McMurray, Ryan Newman, and Tony Stewart, as well as alumni drivers Kyle Petty, Michael Waltrip, Dale Jarrett and Ned Jarrett.
Charlotte Motor Speedway PR
Forced to start at the rear of the field in Sunday’s FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks because of an engine change, Kyle Busch immediately went to work on the 42 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series drivers in front of him as soon as the green flag dropped on the 400-mile contest at Dover (Del.) International Speedway.
The driver of the No. 18 M&M’s Toyota Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing (JGR) put in a workman-like performance, using patience and tenacity to bring home a solid fourth-place finish.
“Considering how far behind we were when this weekend started, this was a great finish for our M&M’s Camry,” said Busch, who now has seven top-five finishes in 13 career Sprint Cup starts at Dover. “We had our engine failure in the first practice on Friday and I put it in the fence in the second practice, so I got us behind. It was my fault. The guys did an awesome job with what we had. We put something under it knowing this is how we ran here in the past, and it just didn’t work today.
“It seemed like it was really, really hard to pass, and a lot of guys really struggled with the rubber build-up on the surface, and we did too. If you can make up ground on restarts, you had to try to do the best you could. Fortunately for me, I was in the right lane and I could do that. I made the outside work. The M&M’s Camry for the first couple laps after a restart was pretty good, but then it seemed like you couldn’t go anywhere. We gave it all we had. We came from a long ways back and the guys on pit road helped me out, too. All in all, we’re happy to get out of here with a fourth.”
Even though he started last in the 43-car field, Busch moved up the leaderboard quickly. The talented 26-year old rose to 30th by lap 10, 20th by lap 30, and all the way into the top-10 following a two-tire stop by the M&M’s pit crew on lap 43.
Despite the steady march toward the front, Busch battled an extremely tight handling condition that was compounded by an overall lack of grip. Crew chief Dave Rogers threw everything he had at the M&M’s Toyota throughout the first three pit stops of the day, but to no avail. On the team’s fourth pit stop, Rogers made wholesale changes with air pressure and track bar adjustments, along with removing a left-rear spring rubber.
The changes made an impact. Unfortunately, the car’s handling swung the opposite direction – going from being extremely tight early in a run to being way loose by the end of a run.
Rogers had his next chance to fix what ailed the No. 18 machine on lap 218, using a combination of wedge and air pressure adjustments. While Busch said his M&M’s Camry was as good as it had been all day, it still didn’t handle the way he would’ve liked.
From there, Busch somehow kept his ill-handling racecar within sight of the leaders, and a top-10 finished appeared to be a lock. But a caution on lap 364 sent nearly everyone to pit road and shook up the running order.
Wily veteran Mark Martin elected to stay out, and by doing so, inherited the lead. Everyone else pitted, with a mix of two-tire and four-tire strategies. Busch took four tires, and lined up in 12th place for the final restart on lap 366.
From there, Busch put on a passing clinic, gaining six spots on the opening, green-flag lap and rallying to fourth by lap 369. He held that spot for the final 31 circuits around the 1-mile oval, bringing home his sixth top-five finish this season.
“We took four tires on that last stop and then we kind of worked our way up and passed most of those guys on the restart,” Busch said. “You just had to get as much as you could right then and there on the first two laps of the restart because after that you were pretty much single-file. It was a tough race for us, but we ended up looking really good considering how our weekend was.”
Busch’s JGR teammates – Joey Logano and Denny Hamlin – finished 16th and 27th, respectively.
TSC/Kyle Busch PR
There were a lot of names bandied about this week as contenders at Dover International Speedway – perhaps Kyle Busch, who has run strong at Dover in just about every race here in every circuit the last three years. Perhaps it would be Jimmie Johnson, who had won three of the last four NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at the Monster Mile, and who sat on the pole for Sunday. Maybe Carl Edwards, who won the “5-Hour ENERGY 200” NASCAR Nationwide Series race on Saturday could pull off another win. Perhaps even A.J. Allmendinger, who started second and was coming off a strong run at Dover in the race last fall, or Dale Earnhardt Jr., who hasn’t won at Dover since 2001 but had a strong practice session on Friday.
Not among those names was Matt Kenseth, driver of the No. 17 Wiley X Sunglasses Ford, who started 24th. But he ended up winning the May 15 “FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks” NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, taking the checkered flag on a day that started out cloudy, briefly turned rainy, but was drenched in sunshine by the end – a trifecta of conditions that gave many of NASCAR’s top drivers fits and left them fighting their machines all over Dover International Speedway throughout the day.
Also not among those names, although he can never be counted out at Dover, was Mark Martin – he finished second. Definitely not among those names was Marcus Ambrose, who had never started higher than 20th at the Monster Mile, finished higher than 14th, and who had never led a single lap around at Dover. He still hasn’t, but he finished third.
This upheaval came about with 39 laps to go, when Juan Pablo Montoya spun in Turn 4 and brought out the fifth caution flag of the day. Prior to that, the race was following a completely different script – one that many more people had expected. Johnson dominated early on, but started to falter near the halfway point and spent much of the next hundred-plus miles jockeying with Edwards for the lead. And Clint Bowyer jumped in on the fun on a restart at lap 338, taking a turn up front for 29 laps.
But with Montoya’s mishap and the subsequent pit stops, there were decisions to be made. Two tires or four was the main one. Fuel mileage was another concern, but lesser so. Bowyer, Edwards and Johnson went with four tires. Kenseth took two; Martin took none and just flat-out stayed on the track.
As a result, Kenseth beat the formerly top trio back out onto the track and restarted second, right behind Martin. His fresh pair of shoes allowed him to quickly slide by his old mentor and into the lead, while Johnson and Edwards were stuck in traffic and sitting 10th and 11th, respectively. He opened up a wide margin and was never threatened over the final 32 laps, ending up with a win by 2.122 seconds.
“It was pretty exciting for me to win here at Dover, especially the way we did it,” Kenseth said. “It seems we’ve lost more that way than we’ve won. We came in and I know [crew chief Jimmy Fennig and I] were both thinking about it at the same time. I just keyed the mic and said ‘Jimmy, you sure you don’t want to try two?’ And he didn’t even hesitate. It went smooth almost like we planned it.”
But sudden as the change was at the front of the field, it wasn’t a situation where Kenseth backed into a win. He was being mentioned over the radio by other crew chiefs as the fastest car in the track as early as the first 100 laps. Despite starting 24th, he was in 12th by lap 59 and was in eighth by lap 76, a leap of 16 positions. He reached fifth by lap 136, moved into fourth at lap 150 and was third on a restart at lap 170. But his car started to loosen up as the sun warmed up the track, and he gave up fourth place to pit at lap 284 to try and have the problem corrected. Whatever his crew did, it worked, as he returned to contention quickly afterward.
“There were times in the race where I felt like we had one of the best cars, but there were times where it felt like we had a 14th place car,” Kenseth said. “They were able to make some good adjustments to get it good there at the end. I knew one of the front three cars on that restart would probably win the race, because the rubber was building up and it was almost impossible to pass.”
Car owner Jack Roush had been paying attention, and knew Kenseth could be a threat at the end.
“If anybody was watching their lap trackers, Matt drove from 23rd to the top five,” Roush said. “As hard as it is to pass and deal with this car, when I saw that I figured that the 17 was equal to the cars that were running up front. They didn’t back into this thing – they deserved to be up there. Between the two of them, they made the gutsy call for two tires. As many times as they’ve been burned by that, I was surprised they did that.”
Martin was all smiles after finishing second in his 50th career race at the Monster Mile. He’s finished in the top 10 in 31 of those races.
“It was another great race at Dover,” Martin said. “I love this place. I always get excited about coming here to race. We had a really fast race car. Great call by Lance McGrew and great teamwork. We’ve had great teamwork all year. I’m proud of this race team and proud of these guys.”
It was also a happy day for Ambrose, who was coming off a weekend where he felt he deserved better than his 13th-place finish at Darlington.
“Today I’m really excited about, because we had a really good day at Darlington and it didn’t go our way,” Ambrose said. “We’ve had some terrible luck. I’m really excited that my team is learning me, I’m learning them and I’m learning how these cars work.”
Left to wonder what might have been was Johnson, who has won six times at Dover and would have tied Bobby Allison and Richard Petty for most career wins at the track with a victory, but instead wound up with a ninth-place finish. Afterwards, he was surprised that a four-tire change on the last pit stop wasn’t more effective.
“I guess in our minds we didn’t think that would take place, so many guys taking two [tires],” Johnson said. “At the time, we had done four all day and we saw some two yesterday and it didn’t pan out. I knew we were outnumbered once we came off pit road and saw so many guys who had taken two and one or two that didn’t stop, so at that time I knew we were in trouble. If you just look at the numbers, the four-tire guys just couldn’t get back through there.”
Edwards had similar sentiments after finishing seventh.
“I thought we would be able to march up through there and I thought the race would be between Clint and I,” he said. “I did see a couple cars go fast early on two tires but I really felt we were going to have something. If we had had a caution, who knows what would have happened.”
Johnson led 135 of the first 142 laps before Edwards caught him and the two started more or less passing the lead back and forth. Johnson ended up leading 207 laps, while Edwards was ahead for 117. It’s the fifth consecutive race at Dover where Johnson has led at least 190 laps.
Meanwhile, some of Dover’s usual front-runners were left in the back of the pack, including Kurt Busch (14th), Jeff Gordon (17th), Greg Biffle (19th), Ryan Newman (21st), and Tony Stewart (29th). Kyle Busch also had a rough day by his standards for Dover, even though he finished fourth. He had to start at the rear of the field due to an engine change, which didn’t help, but like many drivers still didn’t have his normal zip on the concrete oval.
“It was a tough race for us, but we ended up looking really good considering how our weekend was,” he said. “We put something under it knowing this is how we ran here in the past and it just didn’t work today. I don’t know that anything would have worked for a lot of guys.”
The average speed was 125.578 mph, which was just behind the pace of the last two NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Dover; however, those three races are the three fastest at the track in the last 12 years. There were 23 lead changes among 11 drivers and just six cautions for 28 laps – one of which was a competition caution and one of which was because of a brief shower that drifted over the track at lap 173.
There was no change among the top five in the points standings, with Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kevin Harvick all maintaining their positions. Kenseth was the biggest mover, jumping from 10th to sixth. Ryan Newman, Clint Bowyer, Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart round out the top 10, while Mark Martin and Greg Biffle sit just outside.
Dover International Speedway PR
A broken track bar mount spoiled Regan Smith's dash to the finish in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Dover International Speedway.
As he completed a strong green flag run on the Monster Mile, which was followed by a solid pit stop, Smith radioed his crew during a caution (Lap 334 of 400) to say that something was seriously wrong with his Furniture Row Chevrolet. He was then instructed by crew chief Pete Rondeau to bring the car to the garage where the broken right-side mount was diagnosed.
Though Smith returned to action after the problem was eventually repaired, he was a number of laps down. He was credited with a 34th-place finish in the FedEx 400 benefiting Autism Speaks.
"What a difference a week makes," said a disappointed Smith, who captured his first NASCAR win in Darlington, S.C. last week. "The frustrating thing is that our Furniture Row Chevrolet was coming to life just before the track bar mount broke. Our car really picked up steam during the second half of the green flag run before that caution came out. We were definitely in position to make a late-race charge and get a nice finish out of this race."
Smith started the race 11th and ran in the top 10 for nearly the first 100 laps. But then his car went through a handling issue and dropped back to 20th in track position. It appeared he was going to get lapped as the race was approaching the 300-lap mark.
But instead of getting lapped, Smith's car kicked into another gear on the all-concrete surface. At the time of the track bar incident, he was running in 16th place and moving forward.
"I could see the lead car behind me and then all of a sudden the Furniture Row Chevy took off," explained Smith. "At that point of the race we were running similar lap times as the leaders and managed to gain four positions (from 20th to 16th) in a short period of time. The potential for a top-10 finish was there, but we let it slip away due to the breakage."
Smith added, "It hurts because we had a good car and wanted to continue the momentum from last week's win in Darlington. But we know we had a fast car today and we will continue to have fast cars. We'll bounce back, and I am very confident about that. This is a good race team."
The next event for Smith and the Denver, Colo.-based team will be Saturday night's (May 21) Sprint All Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It will be Smith's first career appearance in the prestigious event which will pay $1 million to the winner.
"I can't wait for the Sprint All Star Race, that's an event I've always wanted to be part of," stated Smith, who earned the All Star berth as a result of his Darlington victory.
Furniture Row Racing PR
Red Bull Racing Team’s gamble didn’t come at the casino adjacent to Dover International Speedway.
The roll of the dice came on pit road.
No. 83 crew chief Ryan Pemberton called for a two-tire stop under the final caution flag in Sunday’s FedEx 400. Would Brian Vickers’ aging left-side rubber hold up for the last 33 laps? Would he be able to hold off the cars that took four fresh ones? Or would the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota get gobbled up?
Yes. Yes. And definitely no.
After overcoming an early brush with the inside wall and flirting with the top 10 for much of race, Pemberton knew track position was the ticket to a strong showing. Vickers entered pit road for that decisive stop in 11th, restarted fourth and held on for a fifth-place finish — his first top five in a season defined by bad luck.
“I have to thank the Red Bull guys — they did a great job with the car,” said Vickers, who earned his best Dover finish since a sixth in June 2005. “It was definitely a team effort this weekend, both of the teams were working really close together. Ryan and the guys made good calls all day in the pits. Good stops all day. All we needed was track position and that’s why you fought so hard for every spot.”
The top-five also had special significance for the 27-year-old Vickers. The 2010 edition of this 400-miler was the first race Vickers missed due to a blood-clot condition. “It’s a special race for me,” Vickers said. “Last year, I didn’t make it here. Last year, I was lying in the hospital with IVs in both arms when this race was going around. It feels pretty good to finish it — and finish it well.”
Vickers’ teammate, Kasey Kahne, was on target for his third consecutive top five. That was until the engine in his No. 4 Red Bull Toyota quit on lap 331. Kahne came to a stop high in turn two and had to get a push off the track so the team could diagnose the problem. He finished 36th, with his official post-race status being listed as “engine.”
“We had a great Red Bull Toyota. The car was fast,” Kahne said. “I was really loose, and we kept working on it. We got up there and then would fall back on the runs. Early on, it was like there was something wrong on restarts. I over revved it one time, trying to get it to go. I think that had something to do with why the engine let go, and it was probably a little bit my fault. But it wasn’t running. Kind of a bad deal.”
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Matt Kenseth took two tires under the race’s final caution, restarted second, quickly took the lead and drove right into victory lane to give Roush Fenway Racing the weekend sweep in NASCAR’s top two series at Dover International Speedway (Carl Edwards won the Nationwide Race on Saturday). The weekend continued Roush Fenway’s dominance of the track deemed “The Monster Mile.”
“I’m just blessed to be standing here,” said Kenseth, who scored his 20th career Sprint Cup win and his second of 2011. “We were going to do four tires (under the last caution) and we got in the stall and decided to do two and that was the key. I have to thank Wiley X for jumping on the car this weekend and Crown Royal. If Doug Yates were here, I’d probably give him a kiss; we had so much horsepower and it made our job so much easier.”
Carl Edwards, who had one of the field’s most dominate cars and led 117 laps, finished seventh. Greg Biffle had an issue with the throttle early and battled back to a 19th-place finish, and David Ragan - who had an early incident on pit road - finished 28th in the race.
Edwards looked to make a strong bid for the win, but opted for four tires after the race’s final caution on lap 361 of 400. Kenseth opted for two tires and restarted second. He needed only two laps to take the lead from Mark Martin on lap 368 and he never looked back, leading the final 33 laps and taking his second-career checkered flag at Dover and his first there since 2006.
“I didn’t think that many guys would take two,” said Edwards, who won yesterday’s Nationwide race and has recorded three NASCAR wins at Dover. “I thought Bob’s (Osborne) call was a good one, but it just didn’t work out – those guys (who took two) were just screaming fast. Congrats to Matt Kenseth and Wiley X. We had a good weekend over all. It was going really good there for a while and I thought we were going to win the race.”
The win is Roush Fenway’s third in the Sprint Cup Series this season. It is the team’s ninth at Dover in the Cup Series and its 15th overall NASCAR victory at Dover. It marked just the second time (June, 2004) that the team has swept the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series races in a single weekend at “The Monster Mile.”
With the finish, Edwards increased his Sprint Cup points lead to 24. Kenseth moved up to sixth place in the standing; the victory gives him two for the season and all but assures the No. 17 team a place in the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup. Biffle leaves Dover 12th in the points and David Ragan is 21st.
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