Sunday, April 11, 2010

Newman Takes the NASCAR Sprint Cup Night Race in Phoenix

The first night race for the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup series season, the Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway immediately presented an additional value to the NASCAR race fans. An added 63 laps or 100 kilometers to the 2010 race over the 2009 event opened the possibilities for what racing action could be seen on the one-mile oval. Starting amidst a blazing desert sun delivering a 90 degree Fahrenheit temperature the drop to 76 degrees by the time the race's final laps meant crew chiefs and drivers were bracing for multiple chassis adjustments during an newly-extended Sprint Cup event.

Led off by a pleasant surprise out of NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying of the previous day, AJ Allmendinger in the sentimental favourite #43 car of Richard Petty Motorsports. Allmendinger's Valvoline Ford would lead the first 17 laps before the time the first caution fell for a turn 2 collision between Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne slowed the event. The #11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota driven by Denny Hamlin was also received damage through the incident. Racing just 10 days after knee surgery, Hamlin continued to race the entire race distance. The #11 Toyota came home 30th on the day.

Through the course of yellow flag, pitting cars opened up the lead position to some of the teams desperate to claim or retain top-35 in overall car owner points. The #55 Prism Motorsports car driven by Michael McDowell, the #37 Taco Bell Ford of David Gilliland and the #46 of Terry Cook all lead a lap before it changed hands to Ryan Newman. On the lap 23 restart, the Stewart/Haas Racing #39 Tornados Chevrolet of Newman was bypassed by teammate and car owner Tony Stewart. Having led for 15 laps in the early stage of the Phoenix Sprint Cup race, Stewart's #14 Chevrolet would fall down the running order through the event finishing 23rd.

The initial first half segment of the Subway Fresh Fit 600 saw the #42 Chevrolet driven by Juan Pablo Montoya leading the Sprint Cup cars around the 1 mile oval. Leading 104 of the circuits up to lap 190, the red Target Chevrolet of Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing first grabbed the lead by passing Tony Stewart on lap 42. Helping Montoya maintain has lead was a long green flag stretch lasting 74 laps. While the #17 Ford Fusion of Matt Kenseth took the lead briefly on lap 133, the Roush-Fenway Racing driver surrendered the position back to Montoya after leading the single lap.

Montoya might have led early, but the second half of the Subway Fresh Fit 600 would see two other competitors emerge as dominate forces at the front. The first of these leaders would be 3-time 2010 Sprint Cup winner Jimmie Johnson. After a lap 149 restart, the Hendrick Motorssports #48 Lowes Chevrolet of Jimmie Johnson used a perfect launch on the outside of the double-file start to snatch the lead from the #42 Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing car.

After 2/3rds distance has been run in the 600 kilometer event, some of the top qualifying drivers found themselves deep in the field as their cars gave up handling through the changing conditions at Phoenix. AJ Allmendinger, Tony Stewart and Dale Earnhardt Jr are buried below the top 20. In the case of Earnhardt Jr who started 5th in the race, problems with a damaged front splitter brace caused the Hendrick Motorsports #88 National Guard Chevrolet to mishandle. Running in 26th and last at lap 256, Earnhardt Jr almost fell a lap down as teammate than 1st place Jimmie Johnson was closing on the #88 Chevrolet. Saving Dale Earnhardt Jr, caution was drawn in reaction to David Reutimann impacting the turn 4 wall.

After a round of pitstops occurring through the race's 7th caution for Reutimann's incident, Johnson led the field but stumbled slightly on the lap 261 restart. The sluggish start of the #48 Chevrolet was just enough for the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch to hold close to Johnson. Four laps later, the #18 M&Ms Toyota found his way by Jimmie Johnson to take the first position. As Busch leads, Johnson dropped to second place under attack from an aggressive charge of Juan Pablo Montoya. In a spirited joust, Montoya drew alongside Johnson's #48 car through lap 263 into turn one. Eager to get by the Lowes Chevrolet, Montoya shoved his #42 Target car against Johnson's machine through the second corner. While inflicting damage minor damage on eachother, both Chevrolets surprisingly continued.

As the race entered into the last laps, caution came out with only lap 3 remaining for a stopped #90 Chevrolet in turn 3. Since taking the top spot, Kyle Busch would remain on front for 112 consecutive laps leading through the extended distance of the Phoenix race. However, with the caution flying in the final laps, Kyle Busch led the field to pit lane remembering the conclusion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Martinsville event 12 days ago. As the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota received four tires, seven other drivers including Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Matt Kenseth, in company with their teams, elected to take only two tires.

On the green-white-checkered restart, the #24 car of Jeff Gordon selected the top side position for the double-file restart. Appearing as a sensible move by Gordon judging by early race restarts, the #24 Chevrolet with the #39 of Ryan Newman alongside as the green flew. Accelerating, Newman found all the traction he needed to pass the Dupont-sponsored #24 car. With the gamble paying off, Ryan Newman win the Subway Fresh Fit 600 ahead of Jeff Gordon. Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin and Juan Pablo Montoya crossed the line following Gordon to round out the top-5 finishers.

After holding the 1st place spot in the running order into the final caution, Kyle Busch's four-tire stop failed to produce the result which Denny Hamlin gained at Martinsville. Busch and his #18 Toyota settled with 8th at the finish. While neither Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch won, both drivers held the race's top position for 113 circuits leaving NASCAR to award the tied competitors each 5 point bonus for leading the most laps when the race wrapped.

Newman's win at Phoenix International Raceway marked a series of firsts for the South Bend, Indiana native in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. The victory is Ryan Newman's first at Phoenix, first with Stewart/Haas Racing as well as his first time winning with a Chevrolet. On top of all the before mentioned milestones, this is Ryan Newman's first Sprint Cup victory since triumphing in the 2008 Daytona 500.

In the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup points following the Subway Fresh Fit 600 at Phoenix International Raceway, Jimmie Johnson leads Matt Kenseth by 36 points. Big gainers in point positions are Phoenix race winner Ryan Newman and the #99 Roush-Fenway Racing driver Carl Edwards who both moved up 6 spots. Edwards now sits 8th in points while Newman rises to 16th.

Subway Fresh Fit 600
2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Race Results
1) 39 Ryan Newman      Tornados Chevrolet
2) 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
3) 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
4) 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
5) 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
6) 17 Matt Kenseth No. 17 Crown Royal Black Ford
7) 99 Carl Edwards SUBWAY Ford
8) 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
9) 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
10) 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota
11) 47 Marcos Ambrose Kingsford / Bush's Baked Beans Toyota
12) 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard / AMP Energy Chevrolet
13) 29 Kevin Harvick Shell / Pennzoil Chevrolet
14) 7 Robby Gordon Blake Shelton / Warner Music Nashville Toyota
15) 43 A J Allmendinger Valvoline Ford
16) 12 Brad Keselowski Abyss Dodge
17) 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
18) 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Mobil 1 Dodge
19) 6 David Ragan UPS Ford
20) 00 David Reutimann Best Western Toyota
21) 82 Scott Speed Red Bull Toyota
22) 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford
23) 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot / Old Spice Chevrolet
24) 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet
25) 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
26) 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
27) 71 Bobby Labonte TRG Motorsports Chevrolet
28) 90 Scott Riggs Keyed-Up Motorsports Chevrolet
29) 98 Paul Menard Moen / Menards Ford
30) 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office / March of Dimes Toyota
31) 19 Elliott Sadler Stanley Ford
32) 37 David Gilliland Taco Bell Ford
33) 38 Kevin Conway Extenze Ford
34) 46 Terry Cook Whitney Motorsports Dodge
35) 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
36) 34 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
37) 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
38) 87 Joe Nemechek Petsmart / 21st Century Toyota
39) 9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Ford
40) 13 Max Papis GEICO Toyota
41) 35 Johnny Sauter Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
42) 55 Dave Blaney PRISM Motorsports Toyota
43) 66 Michael McDowell PRISM Motorsports Toyota

No comments:

Post a Comment