Sunday, October 31, 2010

By Inches, Busch Beats Almirola in Talladega Truck Race

Photo Credit: Jason Smith/ Getty Images for NASCAR

Fulfilling expectations as an exciting and climatic round for the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series, the final laps of the Mountain Dew 250 furnished a three-way drag race coming to Talladega Superspeedway's start/finish line.

The second of two superspeedway races on the NASCAR touring series' 2010 calender, the truck race came down to the final 5 laps of a scheduled 94-lap distance. Driving his #18 Toyota Tundra, Sprint Cup series regular Kyle Busch propelled himself into the first place position on lap 89 passing the #84 Toyota of Chris Fontaine. Qualifying strong in 6th place, Fontaine enjoyed a storybook career run leading 15 laps at the front of the Mountain Dew 250 but fell would be plagued in the latter stage of the race with an ignition problem. Finishing in 19th place, Chris Fontaine's otherwise front-running performance ended well off the mark.

Having been a relatively tame event with only a handful of race win-contending trucks out of the event, a sizable field remained on track at Talladega Superspeedway through the final sprint to the checkered flag. Busch, Todd Bodine, Aric Almirola, Ron Hornaday Jr's and many other top drivers were in striking position for the Mountain Dew 250 victory.  Pole sitter Hornaday in the #33 Chevrolet led 47 laps in his most aggressive run at Talladega but the Toyotas of Kyle Busch and Aric Almirola would control the lead. Mirroring the battle of the 2009 event at Talladega, Aric Almirola flew to the lead for lap 90 as trucks began to jockey ever more contentiously for positions as the laps ticked away.

Coming down to 2 laps remaining, the #95 Ford F-150 of Grant Enfinger impacted the rear of Todd Bodine's #30 Toyota. Also collecting the #5 Toyota of  Mike Skinner, the #2 Chevy of Ken Schrader as well as the #60 Chevy driven by Narain Karthikeyan, the #33 Chevrolet of Ron Hornaday was most dramatically swept up in the late race big wreck. Turned sideways, the #33 truck was sent airbourne and upside down. Sliding from the Talladega start/finish lane, Hornaday's truck settled after a long travel to the apron of turn 1. Talladega track safety crew (as well as fellow competitor caught up in the crash Todd Bodine) ran over to Hornaday's truck to fortunately find the #33 Chevrolet truck driver unhurt despite the rough ride. Ron Hornaday ended the race in 21st spot ahead of Grant Enfinger. Mike Skinner, Ken Schrader and Todd Bodine were able to continue racing.

Kevin C. Cox/ Getty Images

Requiring a 9 minute, 42 second red flag to clean up the wreckage left by the 6-truck crash, the race restarted with only a green-white-checkered situation meant to decide the Mountain Dew 250. Getting massive assistance from Kyle Busch, leader Aric Almirola was vaulted ahead of other competitors making it appear the 26-year old driver would get his first superspeedway victory. However, as the lead pack flew out of turn 4 on the final lap, Almirola's #51 Toyota skated up the track just enough to open the door for Busch's #18 Toyota setting up a drag race to the line.

As Almirola moved down to tighten the opening for Busch, minor side contact was made giving third place runner Johnny Sauter piloting the #13 Chevrolet an advantage in momentum. Coming to the line, Sauter charged up the outside of the Toyotas making the charge for the Talladega truck series win a three-wide situation. Though #18 Toyota lost some of his drafting 'sling-shot' speed in brushing with Almirola, Kyle Busch edged out the #51 Toyota to win the Mountain Dew 250.

Busch's testified in victory lane that he had intended on remaining on the rear bumper of Almirola but competitors should know better than to expect Kyle Busch to settle for 2nd place. The margin of victory was recorded at a mere 0.002 seconds. This fight for the Mountain Dew 250 win registered as the closest ever finish in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series (in fact, the top-3 NASCAR touring series) since the introduction of electronic timing and scoring.

Finishing 18th place running wounded after suffering damage in the lap 93 accident, Camping World Truck Series leader Todd Bodine is still safely in the top spot but did lost some of his gap over 2nd place Aric Almirola.

2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Mountain Dew 250
Talladega Superspeedway
October 30, 2010
Race Results

  1. 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Tundra/TRAXXAS Toyota
  2. 51 Aric Almirola Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota
  3. 13 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet
  4. 88 Matt Crafton Australian Gold/Menards Chevrolet
  5. 4 Ricky Carmichael Monster Energy Chevrolet
  6. 31 James Buescher Wolf Pack Rentals Chevrolet
  7. 17 Timothy Peters Red Horse Racing Toyota 
  8. 3 Austin Dillon # Bass Pro Shops/Remington/Tracker Boats Chevrolet
  9. 23 Jason White Channel Ford
  10. 46 Craig Goess Jr. Greenville Toyota Toyota 

Montoya Targets Talladega Pole for AMP Energy 500

Jason Smith/ Getty images for NASCAR

Drawing an early run through afternoon time trials, Juan Pablo Montoya placed the #42 Target-sponsored Chevrolet on pole for Sunday's AMP Energy 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Only the 6th car set to take the track, Montoya's Earnhardt-Childress Racing (ECR) Engine benefited with the earlier, cooler conditions to circulate around the 2.66 mile tri-oval in 51.863 seconds or 184.640 miles per hour. Undefeated in competition on NASCAR Sprint Cup restrictor plate races this season, the ECR engine program has yet another reason to celebrate as Montoya and Richard Childress Racing's #33 Chevrolet of Clint Bowyer occupy the front row.

Kurt Busch provided a strong run for the 3rd fastast run in qualifying with his Penske Racing #2 Dodge while Joe Nemecheck provides a minor surprise by rushing his #87 Toyota into 4th place. Saying it's a minor surprise, it is typical on restrictor plate tracks that smaller, underfunded teams like Nemechek's independent effort will take measures to add horsepower which is inadvisable but worthwhile in gaining a higher field presence in the race. Several other cars including the #36 Chevrolet of Tommy Baldwin Racing, the #13 Germain Racing Toyota, a second Nemechek #97 Toyota and the #46 Chevy owned by Dusty Whitney are shaped within the top-15 of the AMP Energy 500.

In relations to the ever-more important Chase for the Sprint Cup as only 3 races remain after Talladega, the top-two drivers in points have taken conservative runs through superspeedway qualifying. Denny Hamlin qualified 17th while Jimmie Johnson is 19th. For the #11 Toyota of Hamlin, his starting spot is the highest for the Joe Gibbs Racing team with Joey Logano placing 25th and Kyle Busch buried early in 32rd spot. In the Hendrick Motorsports stable, Jeff Gordon as well as Mark Martin will start just ahead of Kyle Busch's #18 Toyota in 30th and 31st positions. From the drop of the green flag, revered but embattled superspeedway driver Dale Earnhardt Jr #88 Chevy team leads the Hendrick drivers with a 6th place result after qualifying.

While speeds have been contained under the 185-mile per hour range for single-car qualifying, practice speeds in multiple-vehicle drafting conditions have seen NASCAR Sprint Cup cars flying more than 12 miles per hour faster.

Talladega Superspeedway, the 2.66 mile tri-oval is immediately going allow drivers to gain considerable ground within a span of a single lap. Conversely, the track also presents NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers an invitation to make a smallest mistake which will either cost positions or even their race car. The 'Big Wreck' is always a high probability at Talladega and been known to change everything. Drivers in tight points battles inside and outside of the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup will be on edge for 188 laps Sunday.

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
AMP Energy 500
Talladega Superspeedway
October 30, 2010

Starting Lineup:
  1. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
  2. 33 Clint Bowyer BB&T Chevrolet
  3. 2 Kurt Busch Operation Home Front/Miller Lite Dodge
  4. 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota
  5. 31 Jeff Burton Cat Financial Chevrolet
  6. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. LgndofHllwdegaAMPEnrgyJuice/NtnlGrd Chev
  7. 36 Dave Blaney Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
  8. 39 Ryan Newman U.S. ARMY Chevrolet
  9. 13 Casey Mears GEICO Toyota 
  10. 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Mobil 1 Dodge
  11. 12 Brad Keselowski No. 12 Penske Dodge
  12. 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops Tribute Chevrolet
  13. 97 Jeff Fuller Toyota 
  14. 29 Kevin Harvick Realtree/Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet
  15. 46 Michael McDowell Whitney's Collision Centers Chevrolet 
  16. 83 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
  17. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Freight Toyota 
  18. 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Toyota
  19. 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
  20. 55 Michael Waltrip Aaron's 55th Anniversary Toyota 
  21. 00 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
  22. 71 Chad McCumbee TRG Motorsports/ModSpace Chevrolet 
  23. 99 Carl Edwards Subway Ford
  24. 09 Bobby Labonte Komatsu/TEC Chevrolet 
  25. 20 Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota
  26. 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet
  27. 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Black Ford
  28. 6 David Ragan UPS Ford
  29. 82 Scott Speed Red Bull Toyota
  30. 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
  31. 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont/National Guard Chevrolet
  32. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
  33. 19 Elliott Sadler Hunt Brothers Pizza Ford
  34. 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford
  35. 47 Marcos Ambrose Kleenex/Clorox Toyota
  36. 43 A J Allmendinger Valvoline Ford 
  37.  9 Aric Almirola Budweiser Ford
  38. 98 Paul Menard Serta/Menards Ford
  39. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
  40. 37 David Gilliland Taco Bell Ford
  41. 34 Robert Richardson Jr. A&W All American Food Ford 
  42.  7 Robby Gordon Speed Energy Toyota
  43. 26 Bill Elliott Air Guard Ford

NASCAR's VP of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter Passes at 71

Photo Credit: Getty Images for NASCAR

The NASCAR community have suffered a most notable loss on Friday night with the passing of Vice President of Corporate Communications Jim Hunter. Succumbing to cancer after a year-long battle, the 71 year-old Hunter died in Daytona Beach, Florida.

Prior to holding this pivotal role for NASCAR, Jim Hunter had long-served within either the stock car sanctioning body or the France-founded International Speedway Corporation in public relation roles. Starting his career at Darlington Raceway as the Public Relations Director, Hunter would return to the famed 'Too Tough to Tame' as a popular president for the speedway between 1993 to 2001. During his time as the head of NASCAR's first major speedway, Jim Hunter under saw the modernization of the track which has allowed Darlington Raceway to remain a relevant stop in stock car racing.

An avid sports fan, football and baseball were the original passions for Jim Hunter through high school as well as college. While associating with NASCAR for much of his professional career, he also spent 4 years as a sports writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.  In 2007, Hunter was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement in Sport and Entertainment Award by the International Conference on Sport and Entertainment Business
First involved with NASCAR in 1968, Jim Hunter presence in the sport extended to relationships with everyone in the major stock car racing organization  NASCAR Chairman and CEO Brian France "He loved the sport, but loved the people even more. It seems as if everyone in the sport called him a friend. Jim will forever be missed by the NASCAR community. Our sympathies go out to his entire family.” NASCAR's president Mike Helton also shared feelings of Hunter's. “Jim was a uniquely talented man that cannot be replaced. He was a great friend and mentor to so many in the sport. His influence will remain with and be carried on by so many of the people he touched. This is a sad day for Jim’s family and his extended, NASCAR family.” Helton said.

Outside of the NASCAR head office, the praise for Jim Hunter has flooded the Talladega Superspeedway garage area. Jack Roush remembered how Hunter welcomed him into NASCAR. "As a new team owner from the outside joining NASCAR in 1988, I was welcomed and befriended by Jim and his wife Ann in the early days before I was settled, and as I was getting my feet wet in this sport. Past that, Jim remained a friend of whom I could seek sage advice and badly-needed sympathy on more occasions than I can recall. His departure has diminished us all." Roush said.

His family requests that those wishing to sent gifts of condolences make donations to the NASCAR Foundation or Hospice of Volusia/Flagler County.

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Hornaday Gives Chevrolet First Truck Pole at Talladega

Photo Credit:  Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR

For the second straight week, the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series joins stock car's headline Sprint Cup series for the Talladega Superspeedway race weekend. Friday qualifying for the Mountain Dew 250 set for 3 P.M. Eastern on Saturday afternoon saw Chevrolet performing a first-ever feat in the truck series at the 2.66 mile oval. Wearing the Bowtie logo, the #33 Kevin Harvick Incorporated truck piloted by Ron Hornaday Jr flew to pole at Talladega posting a top qualifying time of 52.839 seconds or the equivalent average speed of 181.230 miles per hour. Hornaday's Chevrolet Silverado outran the #23 Ford F-150 of Jason White through the time trial by more than just 1/10th of a second to give himself as well as his manufacturer a first time pole at the super fast Alabama race track.

Late into the Camping World Truck Series qualifying session at Talladega Superspeedway, Richard Childress Racing rookie Austin Dillon drew a late qualifying run to potentially challenge Hornaday's mark with the #3 Chevrolet. Dillon came short but still produced a 3rd fastest time to start Saturday's Mountain Dew 250. With two of the top-three starting position occupied by Chevrolet Silverados, the Friday qualifying outing was quite a reason to celebrate through the top-10. The #2 KHI Chevy being driven by stock car veteran Ken Schrader secured a front-running 4th spot. 7th through 9th, Turner Motorsports trucks driven by Ricky Carmichael and James Buescher sandwich the another Chevy, the #13 Thorsport Racing truck of Johnny Sauter.

Bucking the usual trend for double-duty drivers during companion races at the same race track leading into the Sprint Cup race, there will only be as many as three drivers planning to run both the truck and cup race at Talladega. Among the most notable, driver and embattled first year truck team owner Kyle Busch will start 18th in his #18 Toyota Tundra. Driving the #9 Ford again for Richard Petty Motorsports after a more than respectable outing in Sunday's NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Martinsville, Aric Almirola runs his season-long campaign with Bill Ballew Motorsports' #51 Toyota. Almirola will start 5th for the Mountain Dew 250 Saturday behind Schrader and ahead of Chris Fontaine's enviable 6th fastest qualifying lap. 

Runaway points leader in the Camping World Truck Series Todd Bodine starts 10th with his #30 Germain Racing Toyota. Holding onto a 282-point lead above Aric Almirola, fortune at Talladega would go a long way to sealing the 2010 championship. After four truck races at Talladega, Bodine comes into the event with stellar history of two wins and a worst ever finish being 4th in 2006.

Though a big qualifying result for Ron Hornaday Jr, Kevin Harvick Incorporated and Chevrolet, qualifying positions will be of little importance once the Mountain Dew 250 at Talladega Superspeedway commences. Guaranteed to be a rough and tumble outing as high-speeds, close quarters as well as drafting is certain to shuffle the field with likelihood of multiple vehicle wrecks looming for 36 competitors.

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Mountain Dew 250
Talladega Superspeedway
October 29th, 2010

Starting Lineup:

  1. 1 33 Ron Hornaday Jr. E-Z-GO 2Five Chevrolet 52.839 SEC / 181.230
  2. 23 Jason White Channel Ford 52.932 SEC / 180.911
  3. 3 Austin Dillon BassProShops/Rmngtn/TrckrBoats Chev 52.942 SEC / 180.877
  4. 2 Ken Schrader Moore's Marinade Chevrolet 52.947 SEC / 180.860
  5. 51 Aric Almirola Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota 53.104 SEC / 180.325
  6. 84 Chris Fontaine Glenden Enterprises Toyota 53.153 SEC / 180.159
  7. 4 Ricky Carmichael Monster Energy Chevrolet 53.262 SEC / 179.790
  8. 13 Johnny Sauter Chevrolet 53.348 SEC / 179.501
  9. 31 James Buescher Wolf Pack Rentals Chevrolet 53.353 SEC / 179.484 
  10. 30 Todd Bodine Valvoline Toyota 53.431 SEC / 179.222
  11. 88 Matt Crafton Australian Gold/Menards Chevrolet 53.435 SEC / 179.208
  12. 95 Grant Enfinger Yates Ford 53.475 SEC / 179.074
  13. 81 David Starr Zachry Toyota 53.547 SEC / 178.834
  14. 60 Narain Karthikeyan SafeAuto Insurance/ Chevrolet 53.549 SEC / 178.827 
  15. 17 Timothy Peters Red Horse Racing Toyota 53.562 SEC / 178.783
  16. 5 Mike Skinner Exide Toyota 53.668 SEC / 178.430
  17. 7 Justin Lofton Toyota 53.711 SEC / 178.288
  18. 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Tundra/TRAXXAS Toyota 53.731 SEC / 178.221
  19. 46 Craig Goess Jr. Greenville Toyota Toyota 53.960 SEC / 177.465
  20. 9 Max Papis GEICO Toyota 54.030 SEC / 177.235
  21. 10 Jennifer Jo Cobb Ford 54.048 SEC / 177.176
  22. 12 Mario Gosselin Accell Cnstrctn/TireMnky/JamesCrtr Att Chev 54.050 SEC / 177.169
  23. 47 Donnie Neuenberger Plan B Techologies Chevrolet 54.067 SEC / 177.114
  24. 6 Jeffrey Earnhardt Firestop/FWI/FuelDoctor Dodge 54.117 SEC / 176.950 
  25. 07 Tony Jackson Jr. ASI Limited/Akzo Nobel Chevrolet 54.124 SEC / 176.927
  26. 39 Ryan Sieg S&W Towing Chevrolet 54.530 SEC / 175.610
  27. 93 Mike Garvey S&W Towing Chevrolet 54.705 SEC / 175.048
  28. 53 Justin Hobgood Alabama Cattlemen's Association Chevrolet 54.872 SEC / 174.515
  29. 57 Norm Benning Norm Benning Racing Chevrolet 55.071 SEC / 173.885
  30. 89 Mike Harmon Lafferty Performance/Blue Ox Ford 55.205 SEC / 173.463
  31. 85 Brent Raymer Blast It All Ford/Ford Drive one Ford 55.327 SEC / 173.080
  32. 28 Andy Lally FDNY Racing Chevrolet 55.474 SEC / 172.621
  33. 72 John Jackson James Carter Att./ Chev 55.515 SEC / 172.494
  34. 48 Bryan Silas Pro Gold Chevrolet 55.930 SEC / 171.214
  35. 00 Dominick Casola Koma Unwind Chevrolet 56.589 SEC / 169.220
  36. 24 Jerick Johnson Lafferty Performance Chevrolet 57.978 SEC / 165.166



Monday, October 25, 2010

Hamlin and Team Hammers a 3rd Straight Martinsville Sprint Cup Win

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images

A 0.526 mile short track oval, many stock car fans accept the NASCAR Sprint cup race at Martinsville Speedway as the essence of the sport. The only track under one-mile presented on the final 10 races, the Martinsville Speedway's Tums Fast Relief 500 pits 43 high-horsepower stock cars in tight quarters.

Looking for an opportunity to steal the championship away from the dominant Chase leader, Hamlin enters a race track which has become his turf on the NASCAR Sprint Cup tour winning the last two Martinsville races. Starting on pole, the #11 FedEx Toyota of Hamlin was positioned immediately to set up a three-peat on the short track. A big qualifying session for Toyota cars, Marcos Ambrose started alongside the Joe Gibbs Racing #11 car.

While Denny Hamlin was able to lead the first 10 leads, his Toyota appeared very vulnerable through the much of the races' early laps once front row starter Marcos Ambrose shot to the lead. Tazmania's Ambrose produced a whirl-wind at the front early holding on to the top spot for 40 laps until the race's first caution for the #38 Ford.

Presenting the excellent chance for the first pit stops at Martinsville, tires and fuel were taken by everyone on the lead lap. With a fast, coordinated pit stop, the #39 Stewart/Haas Racing car driven by Ryan Newman emerged as the leader in front of David Reutimann's #00 Toyota which himself beat Ambrose out of pit road. As the three cars lead the field back to green on lap 53, it is interesting to note Newman, Reutimann and Ambrose would finish nowhere near the top of the Tums Fast Relief 500. Ryan Newman would lead 32 laps but suffered a rear end gear failure right at the halfway point of the Martinsville race. After being a top 5 contender, work behind the pit wall by the #39 crew was needed to repair the Chevrolet. Newman returned to the track to finish 30th place and 45 laps down to the leader.

The Michael Waltrip-backed cars (the #00 of Reutimann and #47 of Ambrose) were both filed to the back of the path with involvement in crashes. Marcos Ambrose was in fact a party in two consecutive cautions on lap 121 and 133. Reutimann lasted up to lap 235 when damaged in an accident with Brad Keselowski. Reutimann could finish 37th while the #47 Toyota would deliver Ambrose home in 34th place.

Leading on 5 different occasions between lap 83 to 228, Jeff Burton's #31 Richard Childress Racing-owned Chevrolet showed the same strength that he showed in the spring race at the track. Moving from 18th to become a front runner, Burton wasn't the only RCR driver enjoying a surge in the Tums Fast Relief 500 at the Martinsville short track. Coming from deep in 36th place, Kevin Harvick climbed into the top 10 quickly leading a lap by the 172nd circuit. One of only 97 laps Harvick would lead, the #29 car needed a good points day and would in fact gain ground on the leader of the Chase points.

Not restricted to the Richard Childress Racing cars, coming from the back became a regular ritual during the Tums Fast Relief all day. Amongst the most popular of the chargers to the front was the #88 Amp Energy Chevrolet of Dale Earnhardt Jr. Orderly moving into the top 10 through the first half of the race, Earnhardt Jr took the lead on lap 285 passing Hendrick Motorsports teammate Jeff Gordon for the top position under green. Leading for a total of 90 laps, JR Nation had a reason to cheer after more than a month since his last top-10 at New Hampshire. Though the #88 Chevy would diminish from being a top-5 contender late, the team had overall experienced a top-10 day leading into the Talladega race that favours Earnhardt.

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images
With 15 cautions occurring through the 500-lap distance at Martinsville Speedway, the close contact mangled not only race machines but the patience of competitors. Enjoying a most productive race, Jeff Burton would leave Martinsville frustrated after the Sunday afternoon action. First criticized by Denny Hamlin for brake-checking on restarts, Burton would himself be displeased with another driver; in fact his teammate Kevin Harvick when the two were making aggressive race contact while at the front. When a caution drew for unrelated issues to the twosome, Harvick mashed his side panels into the #31 Chevy appearing frustrated by Burton's driving. In an immediate post race television interview, Jeff Burton could not rationalize why the #29 car driver is upset of him under the incident musing how his teammate Harvick. "...seems to be the every time it’s a conflict, he’s involved. You would think over the amount of years that he’s done it, that he would get the hint. That he’s always in the middle of it." Burton said. Harvick and Burton's issues disregarded by both drivers on their websites during their post-race reports.

A dramatic display between the Richard Childress Racing drivers, both drivers finished in the top-10. This was not the case for the race's highest-profile coming together which involved the #24 Chevy of Jeff Gordon and the #2 Dodge of Kurt Busch. A lap 386 incident, Busch took exception to getting loosened by Gordon's car bumping the #2 car into turn 3. Coming out of turn 4, Kurt Busch's payback resulted in the #24 Chevrolet being turned on the front stretch. Sliding and making minor contact with the inside retaining wall, Busch sent a firm message to Gordon. Suffering ill effects of the spin, the #24 Chevy went from a top-10 race car to finishing 20th place, 2 laps down.

As the last interruption of the Tums Fast Relief 500 came between lap 399-402 when the #34 Ford spun, a 98 lap run provided the longest green flag run of the afternoon. Into the final stage of the Tums Fast Relief 500, the race came down to Kevin Harvick and Denny Hamlin. As the #11 Toyota regained his race-winning pace. Leading 86 laps between lap 378 to 470, the #29 Chevy of Harvick was reeled in by Hamlin's Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota under a long green flag run passing for the top position on lap 471.

Making an impressive resurgence after a so-so vehicle, Hamlin's run in the #11 Toyota was overshadowed by 51-year old Mark Martin. Driving a #5 Ebay Motors Chevrolet twisted badly by an earlier accident, Martin and his Hendrick Motorsports crew defiantly stayed on the race track. Astonishingly breaking into the top-5 with short track racing battle scars, Mark Martin was realistically the fastest car at Martinsville passing Harvick for the runner-up position in the closing laps.

In victory lane, Denny Hamlin celebrated a 3rd consecutive victory at Martinsville Speedway with the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing team. A 7th win of 2010, Hamlin's prosperity on the Virginia state short track allowed him to close within 6 points of Jimmie Johnson within the Chase.

Following competition on the slowest track, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will race next on the fastest oval on the stock car schedule at Talladega Superspeedway. Called a 'Wild Card' race or even "the lottery" by Mark Martin last year, the AMP Energy 500 runs on Halloween Sunday.

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Tums Fast Relief 500
Martinsville Speedway
Race Results

Top 10:
  1. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota 
  2. 5 Mark Martin ebay Motors / Chevrolet
  3. 29 Kevin Harvick Shell / Pennzoil Chevrolet
  4. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 
  5. 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
  6. 20 Joey Logano GameStop PowerUp Rewards Toyota
  7. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy / National Guard Chevrolet 
  8. 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
  9. 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
  10. 12 Brad Keselowski No. 12 Penske Dodge

Other Notables
11) 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet
12) 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia HDTV Ford
14) 83 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
15) 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Black Ford
16) 2 Kurt Busch Operation Home Front / Miller Lite Dodge
18) 26 Ken Schrader Air Guard Ford
19) 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
20) 24 Jeff Gordon Dupont/National Guard Families Appreciation Chevrolet
24) 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot / Old Spice Chevrolet
30) 39 Ryan Newman Tornados Chevrolet
33) 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford
34) 47 Marcos Ambrose Dollar General Country Million Sweepstakes Toyota
38) 33 Clint Bowyer BB&T Chevrolet

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Through Rain, Wrecks and Darkness, Alonso Wins Korean GP

Photo Credit: Mercedes GP

An inaugural event on the 2010 Formula 1 racing schedule, cars and drivers took to the grid of the Korean Grand Prix amidst a wet track where they are still unschooled on during race conditions. Thanks to wet weather Bridgestones, the Korean Grand Prix readied as a race that almost didn't happen for the 2010 Formula 1 circuit. At the time of the Singapore Grand Prix of late September, buzz surrounded the fact that some of the Korean International Circuit facilities were not ready. Receiving FIA approval on October 11th, (just 11 day before the Formula 1 teams would show up for the grand prix weekend) the Korean Grand Prix was finally set to welcome the country's first F1 event.

Three races remaining for the 2010 Formula 1 season, a 31-point separation exists within the World Driver's Championship places 5 drivers in mathematical striking distance of the standing's lead. At the front after 14 grand prix races, Mark Webber has endured the season so far along with pre-season favouritism of teammate Sebastian Vettel by the Red Bull Racing squad and media. With driver Mark Webber leading the 2010 Driver's points and the Red Bull Racing team leading the manufacturer's points championship, the Red Bull-Renaults fly into South Korea revitalized with a textbook-perfect 1-2 finish at the Japanese Grand Prix.

Rain fell on the 3.49 mile, 18-turn Korean International Circuit, the 24-car Formula 1 grid led by fastest in qualifying Sebastian Vettel waited on the grid 10 minutes before the safety car showed the field around the race track. A track where grip was already at a complaint of drivers, the decision was made by the FIA to not risk a standing, full-speed start. Led around under a safety car period for the first 3 laps, drivers immediately noticed the race track had no usable grip. Even with full wet weather racing tires, running the circuit was difficult deeper in the field. First-year Formula 1 pilot for HRT Bruno Senna less of grip caused him to pit worried something was wrong with his tires. A red flag was thrown as track conditions were too unsettled. Retaking their grid positions, all 24 cars and drivers were attended to by crew members.  

After more than 40 minutes of silence, Formula 1 engines once again came alive in Yeongam as the weather settled enough to rerun the Korean Grand Prix. Working lap 4, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG safety car resumed to lead Formula 1 drivers to the eventual green flag start on the 18th lap. With the Red Bull-Renaults out front, Sebastian Vettel leads teammate Mark Webber as Alonso's Ferrari stalked the duo. By the end of the first green flag lap, Nico Rosberg driving the Mercedes GP race car had set-up the McLaren-Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton taking 4th place on in the running order.

Though the circuit proved race-worthy with standing water and vehicle 'rooster tails' reduced, the slippery track would immediately claim a serious victim which will undoubtedly cause a shockwave through the 2010 World Driver's Championship. One lap following the green flag falling, the Red Bull-Renault of Webber spun when returning to the car's throttle in turn 13 slamming into an inside concrete barrier. Sustaining race-ending damage, Webber's car shot back onto the track ended up in the path of Mercedes GP's Nico Rosberg. The Red Bull-Renault sliding, it clips the Mercedes GP car ending the race for Rosberg in the next turn. Rosberg and Webber left their cars unhurt but the latter driver was left dejected for his 2nd DNF of the season.

The long Red Bull Racing car, Vettel held a gap over now second-place Fernando Alonso. Deeper in the grid, the established rain master of Formula 1 Michael Schumacher battled his way into 5th place by lap 27 passing McLaren's Jenson Button for the position. On the same lap, the race of the Lucas di Grassi ended with his car back into a wall. No safety car was needed.

As the track continued to show a dry line in some parts, cars began to elect intermediate Bridgestone rubber even though some corners were still tricky. As cars like Jenson Button began to pit around lap 28, a third safety car period created when the Toro Rosso-Ferrari of Sebestian Buemi and Timo Glock's Virgin-Cosworth collided in turn 3 offered a chance for the leaders to take new tires. After pitting, Sebastian Vettel's car would regain the lead but Alonso lost 2nd to Lewis Hamilton by virtue of a slow pit stop by the Ferrari team.

Photo Credit: Lorenzo Bellanca/LAT Photographic
 Though Hamilton gained a position through the pit stop, the McLaren driver would lose the position on the restart shooting wide within a corner. Hamilton's teammate Jenson Button experienced a difficult outing buried in 15th place on lap 37. As only one Red Bull-Renault remained circulating, McLaren's chance to capitalize on manufacturer's points was lost.

As running vehicles elect for intermediate tires, the South Korean circuit continues to demonstrate low grip track as Button and Sutil were among those venturing off track briefly but returned to the grand prix action. On lap 41 through turn 18, the Renault of Vitaly Petrov was another unfortunate victim of the wet surface paying a race-ending price. Petrov's out of control car veered into the run-off area colliding hard into the softer barrier. Climbing out of his Renault, the Russian Petrov had overcame a grid place penalty to run 11th place at the point of the crash.

Already becoming an astonishing race, lap 46 saw the entire complexion of the race changed as the leader suffered a surprise fault. Into turn 1, Vettel's car began to slow as the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso crept up and promptly passed the Red Bull Racing vehicle for the lead. Giving up the 1st place position, the Renault engine immediately explodes on Sebastian Vettel. A crushed German driver emerges from his once-strong Red Bull machine losing 4th victory of 2010 as well as a potential World Driver's points lead out of the Korean Grand Prix.

Diving all troubles, Fernando Alonso led the final 9 laps to win the inaugural Korean Grand Prix as darkness of setting daylight consumed the race track at the end. Taking the race winning trophy on top of a well-lit podium, the Spaniard now leads the championship points by 11 points ahead of Red Bull's Mark Webber.

Alonso's Ferrari finished well ahead of Lewis Hamilton's McLaren-Mercedes who, himself, was under pressure from the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa but managed to fend off Scuderia Ferrari's 1-2 finish. Lewis Hamilton's second place allowed him to claim 3rd place under Vettel in the Formula 1 Driver's points.

Beyond the podium, several drivers enjoyed wonderful runs having endured a wild grand prix. Emerging with a 5 position improvement, Michael Schumacher provided the run of his season with Mercedes GP finishing just outside of the podium positions in 4th. Behind Renault's Robert Kubica, Vitantonio Liuzzi hard-charged up 11 positions from the start to survive the Korean Grand Prix with a 6th place spot for Force India.

2010 Formula 1
Korean Grand Prix
Race Results
  1. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
  2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
  3. Felipe Massa Ferrari
  4. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
  5. Robert Kubica Renault F1
  6. Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes
  7. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth
  8. Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari
  9. Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber-Ferrari
  10. Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth
  11. Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari
  12. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
  13. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth
  14. Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth
  15. Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth
  16. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes
  17. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
  18. Vitaly Petrov Renault F1
  19. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth
  20. Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari
  21. Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth
  22. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth
  23. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
  24. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Keselowski Finds Link Pass Bliss to Gateway Victory Lane

Photo Credit: John Sommers II/Getty Images for NASCAR

By Tim Tuttle
Special to the Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

(October 23, 2010)

MADISON, Ill.—Brad Keselowski made a triumphant return to Gateway International Raceway Saturday, passing Mike Bliss with less than two laps remaining to win the 5-hour Energy 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. It was the final NASCAR race at the 1.25-mile track.

Keselowski was 200 yards from victory in the July race at Gateway when he was knocked into the wall by Carl Edwards and finished 14th. Keselowski started in the back of the field Saturday after arriving after qualifying from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series event in Martinsville, Va., but still was able to lead 83 of the 200 laps en route to his second consecutive victory and sixth of the year.

Keselowski was running second to Penske Racing teammate and Illinois native Justin Allgaier with 10 laps remaining when the final caution came out. Allgaier, Keselowski and third-running Edwards pitted and took four tires. When they came out, they were behind Reed Sorenson and Josh Wise, who stayed out, and Bliss and Jason Leffler, who took two tires. Keselowski was fifth, Edwards sixth and Allgaier sixth for the restart on Lap 196.

Sorenson jumped into the lead, but Bliss passed him and had the lead halfway through the 199th lap.

Coming through Turn 4, Keselowski got a strong run on the outside and passed Bliss for the lead within sight of the white flag. Keselowski pulled ahead by a couple of car lengths and won by .227 seconds over Bliss. Allgaier finished third after capturing the pole, followed by Leffler and Edwards.

Keselowski, the NASCAR Nationwide Series standings leader, was unable to clinch the 2010 driver title early at this event, but could do so in two weeks at Texas. Keselowski is 485 points ahead of second-place Edwards and needs to leave Texas with a 391-point lead over second place in order to claim his first NASCAR national series title.

Finally! Veteran Hornaday Wins Martinsville Truck Race

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images


Before the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway, the tour's most decorated driver Ron Hornaday Jr has never won at the historic short track. Despite winning on the almost every under one mile oval the Truck Series have visited (including a multitude of race tracks long since vanished from the modern NASCAR schedule), 16 starts for Hornaday had left the 46-time race winner and reigning series champion snake-bitten. After a green-white-checker finish where Hornaday fended off a determined Toyota driven by Kyle Busch, the driver of the #33 Chevrolet crossed the line first at Martinsville. Leading just 11 laps in the Kroger 200, those laps came at am important time for Hornaday's #33 Chevrolet.

As Hornaday did not present himself until the end of Martinsvile's Kroger 200, the race's lead was initially held by pole sitter Kyle Busch for the first 7 laps. As Sprint Cup regular Busch wanted to fill his trophy room with more Camping World Truck Series honours, his lead was maintained only until another Cup star surged past. The Kevin Harvick drove his #2 truck to what would be 35 laps.

Typical of Camping World Truck Series rounds on the 0.526 mile short oval, cautions came often during the 200 lap distance. A total of 11 yellow flags slowed the field for 59 laps. Two crashes occurring in the last 1/3rd of the Martinsville race proved to most extreme. Swarming into turn 3 on lap 165, the lead lap trucks of Timothy Peters and Matt Crafton made contact.

Getting punted on the restart, Timothy Peters skated up the race track getting bumped by the #23 of Jason White and the #3 of Austin Dillon. Losing momentum, Matt Crafton dived below Timothy Peters into turn 3 as two additional vehicles were matched side-by-side. Four-way into the turn, crowded real estate caused Crafton to touch the #17 Toyota one more time propelling Peter's truck hard into the outside barrier. The wrecked #17 car required almost 9 minutes of red flag time to clean up so the precious late laps of the Martinsville race would wrap up. Crafton continued on the finish 10th but the previous race winner Timothy Peters was forced into retirement due to heavy front-end damage to his #17 Toyota.

While Thorsport Racing's #88 Chevrolet of Matt Crafton fared well in the race's running, the #13 teammate vehicle of Johnny Sauter saw his fortunes turn from good to bad. Leading 49 laps before the halfway point of the Kroger 200, Sauter's day went south after an impact from James Buescher's #31 when the two were fighting for position into turn 1 on lap 159. As the #13 Chevy truck attempted to circulate for a finish, a rear tailgate cover began to lift off and hang loosely on the vehicle's rear causing a serious concern that Johnny Sauter would be black flagged. On lap 183, the Thorsport Racing crew instead to convinced the #7 Toyota of Justin Lofton to knock off the loose body panel under race condition. A trick exploited on several occasions through racing to avoid losing ground on pit road, it backfired this time in this case. As the #7 truck pushed against the rear sheet metal to rub off the tailgate cover of the #13 Chevy, the Toyota launched itself over top of the rear end crushing through Sauter's rear bodywork. 3rd in the 2010 Camping World Truck Series points, Johnny Sauter could do no better than 21st place. Justin Lofton would finish in 13th place but made few friends on the day. Also making contact with Kevin Harvick at the end, the #7 truck driver earned a conversation with 'Happy' Harvick.

Topping the laps led count on with 83 circuits, Todd Bodine convincingly paced the Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway through the second half of the event. However, the #30 Toyota did not have the strength in the final short runs to hold off competitors. As first Kyle Busch's #18 Toyota maneuvered his way around Bodine, it was Ron Hornaday on lap 196 who took the lead and the race win.     

Todd Bodine finished 3rd in the final results and proceeds to lead the 2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series by a giant 282 point gap on Aric Almirola. Next on the tour's schedule is the Talladega event promising to be a wild race on October 30th.

2010 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series
Kroger 200
Martinsville Speedway
Race Results

  1. 33 Ron Hornaday Jr. Armour Vienna Sausage / Kroger Chevrolet
  2. 18 Kyle Busch Toyota Tundra / Z-Line Designs Toyota
  3. 30 Todd Bodine Toyota 
  4.  23 Jason White / Pursuit Channel Toyota 
  5.  51 Aric Almirola Billy Ballew Motorsports Toyota
  6. 5 Mike Skinner International Trucks / Monaco RV Toyota
  7. 81 David Starr Zachry Toyota
  8. 60 Stacy Compton SafeAuto Insurance / Melling Engine Parts Chevrolet
  9. 4 Ricky Carmichael Monster Energy Chevrolet
  10. 88 Matt Crafton Tide / Menards Chevrolet

Vettel Takes South Korean GP Pole

Photo Credit: Mercedes GP

2010 Formula 1
South Korean Grand Prix
Qualifying Results

1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
3. Fernando Alonso Ferrari
4. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
5. Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari
7. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes
8. Robert Kubica Renault F1
9. Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
10. Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth
11. Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth
12. Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari
13. Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber-Ferrari
14. Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes
15. Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari
16. Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari
17. Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes
18. Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth
19. Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth
20. Vitaly Petrov Renault F1 (Qualified 15th but penalized 5 grid positions for Suzuka incident)
21. Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth
22. Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth
23. Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth
24. Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth

Thursday, October 21, 2010

Kasey Kahne's Kicked out of Richard Petty Motorsports #9 Ford

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR

When season end in motorsports, a fair-weathered relationship between a departing driver from their race team usually results as a positive resolution. After all, both parties benefit from the lessons of strong performances heading into a brand new season season. The past NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Charlotte Motor Speedway has shown one example where a driver and team pairing were unable to weather what was 5 remaining races of the 2010 schedule.

Announced by a brief news release by Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM), the #9 driver Kasey Kahne has been told his services are no longer required with the team. Following Kahne's lap 125 accident in the Saturday night race linked to poor brakes on the #9 Budweiser Ford Fusion. When it came time to send a damaged but still speedway-worthy Sprint Cup car to the track for car owner points, Kasey Kahne claimed to be ill. JJ Yeley stepped into the team's #9 Ford to come home in 38th place for RPM and Kahne. The next day, suspicions heated up as Kasey Kahne (apparently too ill to finish the Saturday night NASCAR Sprint Cup race) appeared in excellent shape to run a 5K charity marathon. At that time, it was becoming theoretical that Kahne's devotion to the #9 RPM Ford had digressed. Two races prior at Kansas Speedway, Kahne perhaps showed less obvious but still reckless regard for this team's car. After suffering a flat tire, Kahne proceeded at an ill-advisably high rate of speed causing massive body damage to the team's car.   

Entering the NASCAR Sprint Cup series in 2004, the then-24 year old rookie Kasey Kahne first belted into the red #9 car. En route to a rookie of the year title before winning 11 races in NASCAR's top series, Kahne hung around the #9 car as it proceeded through several ownership structures to the present Richard Petty Motorsports, crew member changes and even a change from Dodge to Ford in 2010. Making a 2012 commitment with Hendrick Motorsports, Kahne prepared to finish the 2010 season with RPM but results were mixed as Kahne currently sits 21st in Sprint Cup drivers points.

In the place of Kasey Kahne, the team will opt for Aric Almirola to fill in at the short track of Martinsville Speedway. Recording 30 career NASCAR Sprint Cup starts, Almirola has been running the majority of his past two seasons in the Camping World Truck Series.

Since Almirola was slated to drive the #83 Red Bull Toyota, the vacant seat is likely to be filled by their 2011 driver who happens to be Kasey Kahne. Waiting out to opening of his Hendrick Motorsport ride, Kahne's plan to run a Toyota for Team Red Bull was already agreed upon by all parties for the 2012 plans.

As for the plans of Richard Petty Motorsports, the team's future is less concrete as 2010 nears an end. As the #9 Ford's sponsor Budweiser announced it was leaving the team, the #98 driver Paul Menard is leaving, along with his sponsorship, Elliott Sadler has only a slight chance to retaining his #19 ride and only AJ Allmendinger remains as the future of the RPM team. 2011 will be a massive building year for RPM and Kahne's release for the remainder of the NASCAR Sprint Cup 2010 tour sets the process in motion early. While Aric Almirola is driving the RPM #9 Ford this weekend at Martinsville, it's unlikely Almirola will be involved with long-term plans since he has already signed with JR Motorsports in the NASCAR Nationwide Series.

With Kasey Kahne losing his #9 Richard Petty Motorsports ride on apparently not-so positive terms, this would not be the first time the driver has parted a team on shaky grounds. In 2003, Kasey Kahne deal to move to the #9 Dodge NASCAR Sprint Cup car for the next season came as he was under contract as a development driver with Ford Racing. Afterwards, Ford attempted to sue Kahne for breach of contract but ultimately lost. Ironically, Kahne would once again drive for Ford when the #9 Sprint Cup car left Dodge.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

NASCAR Running E15 in 2011: Is Ethanol Excellent or a Corny Idea?

Photo Credit: : Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR

While a study commissioned by the FIA motorsports sanctioning body concluded over a year ago that auto racing does not create a significant environmental impact, it was common sense to look into way to set an example for promoting greener technologies. NASCAR is the latest sanctioning body taking a major measure in demonstrating eco-consciousness.

Early in the race weekend at Charlotte, NASCAR took the time to inform race team in the close proximity of most of their home bases of an important announcement for 2011. In the upcoming season, Sunoco will be providing the three major touring series of NASCAR (Sprint Cup, Nationwide and the Camping World Truck Series) with a special ethanol-blended racing gasoline. Sunoco Green E15 has been formulated for 2011 racing competition as a mixture of 85% Gasoline/15% corn-based ethanol.      

Providing details on this new fuel destined to burn within the V-8 engines of purpose-built racing machines, NASCAR and Sunoco have emphasized two major reasons for the adaptation of E15 fuel. Firstly, the major stock car racing body is addressing an environmental move by adapting to a fuel using a percentage of renewable resources. Without doubt, NASCAR's choice to retain basic automotive technology has compelled the thought the environment is of little concern to the sanctioning body. Running leaded gasoline under an EPA auto racing exemption until the 2007 season (leaded fuel had been completely phased out for use United States road vehicles 21 years prior), the usage of V-8 engines which produce the equivalent of between 5-10 miles per gallon doesn't please some groups who believe the activity of auto racing in general is environmentally harmful. The conversion to Sunoco Green E15 race fuel is certain to be one opportunity NASCAR will not rest to promote as their sport gaining modern relevancy.

Pertaining to street cars, many production engines and fuel systems in vehicles built after the 1980s have been equipped to accept up to 10 percent of ethanol within a gasoline mixture. As gasoline stations in Canada and the United States are now required to take advantage of this fact, some states are now pushing initiates to bring the ethanol mixture up to 20 percent which may cause trouble for vehicles built before the mid-1990s.

The second aspect NASCAR with Sunoco made sure to drive home is that the new racing fuel will be United States-derived. Using corn-drawn ethanol, NASCAR boasts that they're encouraging the optimization of a national farmers in partially ridding dependence on foreign oil.

Said to require only nominal costs for race teams of the top-three NASCAR touring series by NASCAR's Green Innovation Managing Director Dr Mike Lynch, he bets on a smooth transition to the new fuel in 2011. "The engine builders have been testing the Sunoco Green E15 for several months, and reports have been very positive.  In fact, many have reported they’re actually getting a little more horsepower with the Sunoco Green E15." Dr Lynch said. In fact, one benefit of ethanol-blended gasoline is the process leaves fuel with a natural octane boost.

Diverse motorsports fans clearly know NASCAR is not the first North American auto racing series to adopt ethanol or green technologies. The IZOD IndyCar Series had been running a fully ethanol fuel since 2007 (actually containing a trace of gasoline in order to avert alcohol rules until this past season) and the the American Le Mans Series features an increasing number of vehicles exploring E10, E85 and even biodiesel fuels.    

Announcement of E15 fuel may not be the last word we'll hear from NASCAR changes to the stock cars in 2011. Ears will still remain on NASCAR for official word when fuel injection will be added to either the Sprint Cup and/or the other two touring series. As the 2010 season ends with the winding down of the headlining Chase for the Sprint Cup, NASCAR is starting to score some major points for a healthy future.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Charlotte Surprise: McMurray Motors Late to Win Bank of America 500

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR
One of the first major speedways to be lit artificially, the race under the stars had the beaming personalities of NASCAR running 500 miles at Charlotte Motor Speedway. 

Marking the midway point of the 2010 NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, the premier stock car series enters Charlotte, North Carolina to play a home game for many of the multi-million dollar teams. The Bank of America 500 at the 1.5 mile Charlotte Motor Speedway presents a Saturday night racing backdrop for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.

Sitting on pole for the first time since fall Texas Motor Speedway event in 2009, the Jeff Gordon #24 Dupont Chevrolet led the field to the start line. As Gordon preserved has lead for the initial green flag laps, caution flew shortly with only 3 laps being completed. Sailing through turn 3 and 4 high, the #39 Chevrolet of Ryan Newman experienced a loss of traction. Backing into the outer wall, considerable damage was done to the right rear bodywork of the Stewart/Haas Racing-owned #39 Chevy. Requiring an extended stay in the Charlotte garage, Newman would return to finish 36th through a long night.

With Ryan Newman's troubles, the Stewart/Haas Racing boss Tony Stewart's #14 car was also not immune to punishment during the Bank of America 500. In avoiding the Newman lap 3 incident, Stewart's Old Spice Chevy also sustained rear damage. As the race progressed, Tony Stewart encountered miscues entering his pit stall. When entering to attention of his pit crew on lap 26, Stewart needed to take evasive action to avoid contact with the #99 Ford of Carl Edwards which was exiting pit road. Overshooting his team's pit area, Tony Stewart was forced to wait until the coast was clear to reverse and enter his pit. With all the complications of the race, Stewart was left with only a 21st place finish to follow-up his win at California's Auto Club Speedway.

Kurt Busch's troubles were the reason for the second caution at lap 25. The winner of the Sprint All-Star and the Coca-Cola 600 races during late May, Busch and his #2 Dodge spun sideways through turn 4. Fighting a loose race car early left Busch and his Penske Racing team struggling in 30th place.

While one Busch brother faced a difficult Saturday night at Charlotte, the younger brother and Joe Gibbs Racing driver Kyle Busch provided a lingering presence at the front of the field throughout the Bank of America 500. Leading 109 of the race's first 127 laps, Busch's #18 Toyota shot to a multiple car-length interval on almost every restart.

In the only multi-car incident of the Bank of America 500, the #9 Ford of Kasey Kahne unsuccessfully fought a loose exit off turn 4 creating a lap 125 caution. Making contact with the #77 Dodge of Sam Hornish Jr, both cars sustained damage to render them out of competition. While the Richard Petty Motorsports crew was able to repair the #9 Budweiser Ford in order to complete more laps, the car by J.J. Yelley instead of Kasey Kahne. While Kahne explained that he was feeling to ill to continue driving for the night, there has been some rumours that Kahne simply left the #9 Ford team after the crash at Charlotte. Going to Red Bull Racing for 2011 with a Hendrick Motorsports ride waiting for him in 2012, some questions Kasey Kahne's dedication to his current race team. It was reported that Kasey Kahne, having left the race track with illness a matter of 8-10 hours prior, ran a 5k charity marathon Sunday morning.    

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images
Kurt Busch was not the only driver left struggling within the Chase following a difficult result. Having led the first 7 laps of the Charlotte night race, pole sitter Jeff Gordon would be robbed from contention of the Bank of America 500. An electrical fault within the #24 Dupont Chevrolet presented itself dramatically during the race when the Hendrick Motorsports car of Gordon appeared to have lost power momentarily on the race track while running as a front runner. Losing positions initially with the brief engine power failure, Gordon's #24 car would continue to the distance but will finish one lap down in 23rd place.

For a race that contained 27 lead changes amongst 19 leaders, the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte Motor Speedway was decided on a lap 313 restart following the race's final caution for debris. Gaining ground from a brilliant pit stop from the Earnhardt/Ganassi Racing crew, 27th place starting #1 Chevrolet piloted by Jamie McMurray surged forward all night to an inside front row start on the final journey to green with Kyle Busch on the outside. Showing superiority all race long during restarts, this particular coming to green saw the #1 Chevrolet of McMurray shoot to command the top position. As the final 31 laps ticked away, Jamie McMurray took the checkered flag more than 1.8 seconds ahead of 2nd place Busch.

Recovering with a front-running performance and finish at Charlotte following the past two races being marred with disappointing results, Kyle Busch plays to win and left the race car largely unsatisfied by missing victory lane. Charlotte Motor Speedway continues to be a track the younger Busch brother had never reigned supreme after a NASCAR Sprint Cup event.

Jimmie Johnson recovered from a lap 35 spin on the backstretch to finish 3rd in a repeat of his result at Auto Club Speedway last race. Running in the lower 20s after his #48 Chevrolet looped around uninjured, Johnson and the Hendrick Motorsports regained their track position by staying out during a caution where leaders pitted. Continuing to show the right stuff for a run at a 5th straight Sprint Cup title, Jimmie Johnson was able to squeak out an additional 5 points over Denny Hamlin. Now 41 points behind after the Bank of America 500, Hamlin's 4th place finish affirms that the #11 Toyota is still in prime pouncing position as the series enters wild card races through the 2nd half of the Chase.

The top-10 of the Charlotte Motor Speedway night race allowed the squads of Joe Gibbs Racing and Roush-Fenway Racing an moment of atonement after misfortunes at California. With Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin scoring top-5 finishes, sophomore driver of the team's #20 Toyota posted a 7th place result for a collectively encouraging night for the Toyota's lead NASCAR Sprint Cup team. Roush-Fenway Racing was led by a 5th place-finishing Greg Biffle as all four of their team's cars finished inside the top-12 which included David Ragan in 10th. 

NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers and teams will next plan for running Martinsville Speedway (2010 Sprint Cup season's last race on track smaller than one-mile). Jimmie Johnson has won 5 of the past 11 races held on the 0.526 mile short oval but Denny Hamlin has won the past two Sprint Cup events at Martinsville.

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Bank of America 500
Charlotte Motor Speedway
Race Results
  1. 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet
  2. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
  3. 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
  4. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota
  5. 16 Greg Biffle Scotch Blue Ford 
  6. 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Black Ford 
  7. 20 Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota
  8. 29 Kevin Harvick Shell / Pennzoil Chevrolet
  9. 00 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
  10. 6 David Ragan UPS-United Way Ford

Other Notables:

11.  42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
12.  99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
13.  78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
17.  33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
20.  31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
21.  14 Tony Stewart Old Spice / Office Depot Chevrolet
22.  10 Bobby Labonte Gander Mountain Outdoors Chevrolet
23.  24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
29.  88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy / National Guard Chevrolet
30.  2 Kurt Busch Operation Home Front / Miller Lite Dodge
35.  21 Bill Elliott JDRF / Motorcraft / Quick Lane Ford
36.  39 Ryan Newman Haas Automation Chevrolet
37.  26 Patrick Carpentier Air Guard Ford
38.  9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Ford

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Right Place at the Right Time: Keselowski takes Dodge to Charlotte Victory

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke/Getty Images

By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

(October 15, 2010)

CONCORD, N.C.—New rubber. Old rubber. It didn’t matter to Brad Keselowski, who ran the final 56 laps of Friday night’s Dollar General 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race on his last set of tires.

Track position, however, proved far more important at Charlotte Motor Speedway, where Keselowski picked up his first NASCAR Nationwide Series win at the 1.5-mile track, his fifth victory of the season and the 11th of his career.

Martin Truex Jr. ran second, followed by Justin Allgaier, Joey Logano and polesitter Clint Bowyer, whose winning chances disappeared with a pit-road speeding penalty on his last stop. Kyle Busch, Reed Sorenson, Aric Almirola, Ryan Newman and Kevin Harvick completed the top 10.

Keselowski widened his lead in the NASCAR Nationwide standings to 450 points over 13th-place finisher Carl Edwards.

“I might be biased, but I thought that was the best race I’ve ever seen in my life,” said Keselowski, who has won two of the four races in the new NASCAR Nationwide car this year. “And I was driving the car, so I can imagine what the fans saw—that was awesome.

“The decision to stay out … we had pitted just five laps before the yellow came out (on Lap 154) and felt really good about it. I knew that Paul (Wolfe), my crew chief, had made an adjustment right there at the end, on the last stop, and my car was just flying.

“We quite honestly weren’t very good on test day (Wednesday) and wasn’t very good the first half of the race, and I’ve got to give credit to Paul. That guy’s amazing. He gave me the car I needed to win with at the end. This Challenger flew.”

Keselowski’s ploy to stay out on old tires after the caution on Lap 154 paid immediate dividends. The driver of the No. 22 Dodge opened a lead of almost a second over Truex before Brian Scott’s spin through the frontstretch grass caused the seventh caution of the race on Lap 182.

On Lap 183, Harvick and Edwards pitted for fresh tires—from fifth and sixth, respectively—and restarted 11th and 12th on Lap 187, but the new tires failed to provide the desired advantage. The green-flag run was short-lived, however, as Steve Wallace turned across the nose of Trevor Bayne’s No. 17 Ford on Lap 188 and slammed into the backstretch wall.

Keselowski led the field to a restart with eight laps remaining and pulled away to beat Truex to the finish line by 1.137 seconds.

Notes: Danica Patrick posted a career-best 21st-place finish in her ninth NASCAR Nationwide start. … The Charlotte race was the fourth and final event with the NASCAR Nationwide Series new car this year, before it’s phased in full time in 2011.

Friday, October 15, 2010

Weekend Racing Weather Forecast: Oct 15th to 17th, 2010

Charlotte, North Carolina, United States
Charlotte Motor Speedway
NASCAR Sprint Cup/ NASCAR Nationwide Series

Friday: Overall, the forecast calls for a precipitation-free weekend for the NASCAR tour in the Charlotte, North Carolina area. Always regarded as an weather sensitive track, Charlotte Motor Speedway's various Friday activities are going to keep drivers and crew members busy chasing variances between temperatures and daylight. With NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying wrapped up, two afternoon practice sessions remain for the 43 cars running Saturday night's Back of America 500 on the 1.5 mile speedway. Temperatures between 67-73 degrees Fahrenheit (19-22 degrees Celsius) is expected as the Cup cars dial in their race cars. Lots of sun is slated to beam on the 1.5 mile track.

The major competition on track Friday will be the NASCAR Nationwide Series. With the series' qualifying for their Dollar General 300 race will run after 3 P.M. Eastern time when ambient temperatures will be a daily high of 74 degrees Fahrenheit (23 degrees Celsius).  A strong West-South West wind is predicted to reach up to 16 miles per hour during the daily time.

At night, the NASCAR Nationwide Series' Dollar General 300 starts past 7:30 P.M. starts on a clear autumn night with a still comfortable temperature of 62 degrees Fahrenheit (17 degrees Celsius). Through the event, expect temps to fall by 10 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale.   

Saturday: No weather activities prior to the NASCAR Sprint Cup event is likely to provide a lower than accustomed to track surface temperature. Replicating Friday skies, Saturday's consistent sun will work some magic in building heat into the asphalt. With temperatures starting at the lows of Friday's final practice (62 degrees Fahrenheit or 17 degrees Celsius), the NASCAR Sprint Cup's Bank of America 500 will lead teams into less known territory as race conditions dip below the mid-50s.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sprint Cup Pepsi Max 400 Results with Fontana Fortune for Tony Stewart

Photo Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR
Hot fun in the fall time! The fourth race of NASCAR's 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup had the big league stock car series returning to California state for the final time of this season. Having a reputation for holding rather dull stock car events, the Auto Club Speedway hosted the Pepsi Max 400.
Led by Jamie McMurray's #1 Earnhardt/Ganassi Racing Chevrolet, 43 cars started the 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup race clean. Because of the wide two-mile configurations, a driver needs to keep their foot on the accelerator on straights and coast through sweeping corners with as little speed loss as possible. With powerplants hovering in sizable RPM ranges, the Auto Club Speedway is known as a race track capable of taking a toll on engines and mechanical components. The first 400-mile NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Auto Club Speedway, it was thought the shortened distance would part failures. Though logical, a shorter race also means teams in the super competitive division could perhaps chance running lighter components than the early 2010 event. 
The first driver bit by a major mechanical bug was the #16 Ford of Greg Biffle. Compounding what would be a hard luck day for Roush-Fenway Racing's entire four-car team, half of their Ford brigade suffered early at Auto Club Speedway. Greg Biffle's gained momentum at the Kansas Speedway race was lost when the engine of his #16 Roush-Fenway Ford early in the event. Completing only 40 laps in the Pepsi Max 400, Biffle finished 41st resulting in a drop to 10th place in the Chase standings. Deeper into the race, Carl Edwards suffered a power loss inside his #99 Ford. Attributed as a distributor issue, the #99 Roush-Fenway crew were able to return Edwards to the race track but lost 14 laps due to the problem. For the duration of the Pepsi Max 400, Carl Edwards' continuation in the event saw the potential Chase runner making up positions due to competitor's withdrawing. Minimizing damage with a 34th place run Edwards still slipped down the Chase running order to 7th overall.


Photo Credit: Jason Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR
While the struggles of Biffle and Edwards would amount to costly non-driver related mishaps for the Roush-Fenway Racing Chase contenders (the team's third Chase eligible driver Matt Kenseth would also suffer late race mechanical issues), almost every driver within the top-12 of NASCAR Sprint Cup points were faced with some form of adversity to overcome. Throughout the running of the Pepsi Max 400, the #24 Dupont car of Jeff Gordon, the #31 of Jeff Burton and Kevin Harvick's #29 Chevy were all assessed penalties relating to pit road errors. 

As many Chase contenders struggled through at Auto Club Speedway, non-Chase runners found opportunity to spoil the Pepsi Max 400. Leading for the most laps on the day, Hendrick Motorsports' #5 Chevy piloted by Mark Martin also held the top position for the longest sustained period during the race with 23 laps. Rallying from a poor result at Kansas Speedway, Kasey Kahne's #9 Ford climbed into the top-10 after starting 21st. On more noteworthy effort in the Pepsi Max 400 was also logged by Ryan Newman. Narrowly missing the 2010 championship Chase, Newman's #39 Stewart/Haas Racing car would be the second impressive run from the team.
Taking the points lead after the Kansas Speedway race the previous week, Jimmie Johnson and his #48 Chevrolet was a race favourite based on a his prior success at Auto Club Speedway. In 9 previous races since 2006, Johnson's average finish is 2.44 with 4 victories which includes the late winter event of this season. Starting 8th in the Pepsi Max 400, the #48 Chevy stayed inside the top-10 through almost the entire day. However, besides for leading 22 laps before the halfway point of the race, Jimmie Johnson settled into a valuable top-5 place.

As the #48 Lowes Chevrolet was able to hover at the front for another strong event finish in the 10-race Chase for the Sprint Cup, another championship-capable racer encountered a second-straight blooper. The #18 Joe Gibbs Racing car of Kyle Busch was running firmly in the top-10 until the Toyota's engine began to gave up after 155 laps. The Pepsi Max 400 ended as another sub-par race as Denny Hamlin  and Joey Logano both finished in the top 11 cars both neither driver was able to lead a lead.

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/ Getty Images for NASCAR
Shaping up the finish of the Pepsi Max 400 at Auto Club Speedway, a trio of Chevrolets battled after the 9th and final caution for a wreck between the #6 Ford of David Ragan and the #2 Dodge driven by Kurt Busch. As the green dropped on lap 198, the #14 Chevrolet of Tony Stewart held on to the lead after a brief threat from Jimmie Johnson. Thanks to the fight waged from eventual race runner-up Clint Bowyer piloting the #33 Chevy, Johnson was occupied definitely allowing the #14 of Stewart to storm for victory at the Auto Club Speedway. After 12 seasons in full-time NASCAR Sprint Cup competition, this win marked a long-fought first place result at the Fontana two-mile oval. The rest of the top 5 consisted in the order of Clint Bowyer, Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman.
Grabbing a 3rd place finish, Jimmie Johnson is able to elongate his point lead to 36 points over Denny Hamlin. Within 100 points of Johnson heading into Charlotte is Kevin Harvick (54 points behind) and Jeff Gordon (85 points behind). Tony Stewart's win gave the #14 car owner/driver a 5 position bounce for his Chase hopes.

Auto Club Speedway provided a more lively than usual event for 2010. Unfortunately, NASCAR has already made the decision this Chase race in sunny California will be vanished for 2011 along with the two-mile track's second date. Selling about 70,000 of the over 91,000 seats, attempts to sell-out the Auto Club Speedway since receiving their second Sprint Cup date were rarely successful. One late March race at the Fontana track remains next year.

The next race for the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup rolls into the Charlotte Motor Speedway Saturday night.

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Auto Club Speedway
Pepsi Max 400
Race Results

Top 10:
  1. 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot/Old Spice Chevrolet
  2. 33 Clint Bowyer The Hartford Chevrolet
  3. 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's/Jimmie Johnson Foundation Chevrolet
  4. 9 Kasey Kahne Budweiser Ford
  5. 39 Ryan Newman Tornados Chevrolet
  6. 5 Mark Martin CARQUEST/ Chevrolet
  7. 29 Kevin Harvick Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet
  8. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota
  9. 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont/Pepsi Max Chevrolet
  10. 00 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
Other Notables:
16) 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet
17) 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet
21) 38 2 Kurt Busch Operation Home Front/Miller Lite Dodge
23) 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
30) 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Ford
34) 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
35) 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
41) 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford

Scott Dixon Wins IZOD IndyCar Finale at Homestead

Photo Credit: Dana Garrett

Finishing off this 17-race IZOD IndyCar Series season of 2010 in Florida state, a 27-car field of North America's top open wheel racing teams assembled for the Cafes Do Brasil 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway. For drivers and teams still wishing for one more major on-track accomplishment in 2010, they were left with 200 laps around the 1.5 mile oval to leave their season on a high note.

Capping what has been a marvelous season for the Penske Racing and Target-Chip Ganassi Racing squads, each team had one driver poised to become the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series Champion. Penske's Will Power and Target Chip Ganassi's Dario Franchitti would battle through the final IndyCar round of 2010 on the oval of Homestead-Miami Speedway. Claiming first blood in qualifying with Franchitti's #10 car taking pole, Target-Chip Ganassi Racing was immediately positioned perfectly coming to green flag of the Cafes Do Brasil 300.

Though a championship race maintained hotly contested through the first-half of the Homestead-Miami Speedway event, the fight on the track among many of the IZOD IndyCar Series teams provided one of the most exciting open wheel races the oval has held. As dusk fell on the speedway for the Saturday night event, sparks coming from the underbodies of Dallara race cars were like fireworks for what would be an exciting finale to this 2010 tour. 

Dario Franchitti led for the first 42 circuits of the Cafes Do Brasil 300 with teammate Scott Dixon pursuing in second place, an active fight took place 3rd place and back. Moving through the field in a hurry, 8th place starter Tony Kanaan flew this #11 Andretti Autosport to 3rd on the 20th lap. Never winning at the Homestead-Miami track, Kanaan has an 7-season long record of finishing the event which compiles to a 6.14 average race result.

Photo Credit: Ron McQueeney

Based on the fact last year's Homestead-Miami Speedway race ran caution-free, the show on the 1.5 mile oval presented very little on-track excitement. However, thanks to five cautions regrouping the field of IZOD Indy cars, the 2010 race at the Florida race track was much more dramatic than the caution-free 2009 event. Mario Moraes' suffered gearbox failure on his #32 KV Racing Technology car brought out the first yellow flag on lap 36 allowing an opportunity for all the lead lap drivers to receive attention of their pit crews. Franchitti retained the lead but the #6 Penske Racing team used a speedy pit stop to vault their driver Ryan Briscoe into 2nd place. Without the security net of his Target-Chip Ganassi Racing teammate, Franchitti was vulnerable to assault from the Penske Racing #6 car on the lap 42 restart.

Using a strong acceleration run, Briscoe blazed by Dario Franchitti to take the lead on the next lap. For what would be part one of this battle between the two, as Franchitti retook the lead the caution flag came out once more when the #24 Dreyer and Reinbold Racing car driven by Ana Beatriz met the turn 4 wall. Only the female Brazilian's 3rd IZOD IndyCar event, Beatriz reported gearbox troubles with her vehicle a few laps prior to the ultimate ending in the Homestead-Miami Speedway's retaining wall.

With the first battle cut short by the yellow flag, when the Cafes Do Brasil 300 was sent back to green on lap 51, Dario Franchitti and Ryan Briscoe had a battle for the race's lead. Swapping the lead 5 times at the start/finish line through 6 laps, the #10 Target car and the #6 Verizon vehicle were inavertedly opening the door for competition for chase down the dicing duel.

Not limited to Franchitti and Briscoe, the lead at Homestead-Miami Speedway turned in an IZOD IndyCar battle royal. Demoted to 3rd after lap 37 pit stops, Scott Dixon shot by his teammate and Briscoe to take the lead just as Tony Kanaan was also positioning himself for a run at front. On lap 69, Tony Kanaan received a reward for his effort as the #11 car surges to 1st place. Lasting only 4 laps, the lead would cycle back to Dario Franchitti on lap 73.

Within a long 85-lap stretch since the caution for Ana Beatriz's crash, the lead changed hands during green flag pit stops rewarding Alex Tagliani with a race lead on lap 98. Keeping the FAZZT Race Team car out front for 3 laps, Tagliani would come for service after a brief playtime leading the Cafes Do Brasil 300. Completing the race in 14th spot after a pit road violation cost the #77 team later in this event, the first-year FAZZT Race Team now has a season of experience with some moments of greatness to build on for 2011.

Ending the long green flag run was an incident which would ulimately decide the 2010 IZOD IndyCar Series championship. After backsliding through the early stage at Homestead-Miami Speedway out of the top-10, the #12 Penske Racing car of Will Power had been running 3rd approaching the last quarter of the race. Having to run a higher line to keep his car competitive, Power would brush the outside wall through turn 3 and turn 4 on lap 129 causing a yellow flag to be thrown a lap later. As the Penske Racing team were unable to effectively repair the #12 car, Power was sidelined into 25th for the oval race.

Fuel played on the minds of many teams through the final stage of the Cafes Do Brasil 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway as some team risked being only a few laps short of going rest of the race distance. Being solace to teams, a yellow flag slowed the field again as Milka Duno spun in turn 4. Impacting the turn 4 wall in an almost similar fashion to the #24 car, Duno too escaped unhurt from a Dallara-Honda race machine. The final caution for Duno secured the chances for all vehicles to make it to the checkered flag.

Making a conservative choice to pit, the #10 Target-Chip Ganassi Racing team brought Dario Franchitti to this pit stall for fuel and tires through the final 18 lap run to the finish. With Franchitti in 9th place on the restart, the #9 Target car of Scott Dixon led the field fending out Tony Kanaan. Stretching out a 2.76 second lead, Dixon cruised to the finish of the Cafes Do Brasil 300. Compiling three wins in 2010, Dixon's Homestead-Miami Speedway victory contributed to the New Zealander's 3rd place in the overall IZOD IndyCar Series.

As Dixon flew to victory, action since the last restart was dominated by a fierce fight that Danica Patrick brought to Tony Kanaan for the 2nd place position. Perhaps hurting one of them a chance of chasing down Scott Dixon's #9 car, the #11 and #26 ran side-by-side through the final distance as considerable ground on 4th place Briscoe assured this was going to be a two-car battle to the end for the runner-up spot. Into the final lap, Danica Patrick timed a perfect move into turn 1 to grab an edge on Tony Kanaan's car for what would be a 0.0111 second advantage. "After I crossed the line, I said it wasn't a win, but it sure felt like one. This was a great way to end the season." Patrick said perceptive the Andretti Autosport late lap dueling pleased the crowd. Ryan Briscoe and Helio Castroneves rounded out the top-5 of the Homestead-Miami finale.

A wonderful end to the season for team owner Chip Ganassi topped with driver Dario Franchitti repeating as IZOD IndyCar Series championship, the season netted 6 wins including the Indy 500 for the Target-Chip Ganassi Racing. Once again bettering the Penske Racing team in the open wheel racing series, the first full-season effort of Will Power and the later year improvements of Helio Castroneves and Ryan Briscoe provided some rich challenge on Target-Chip Ganassi Racing team race-to-race for 2010. As the Homestead-Miami Speedway ends the IZOD IndyCar season, the cars and drivers of the season will rest until the 2011 season opener in St Petersburg this upcoming March.

2010 IZOD IndyCar Series
Cafes Do Brasil Indy 300
Homestead-Miami Speedway
Race Results

Pos # |Car # |  Driver/Country of Origin  | Team

  1. 9 Scott Dixon/New Zealand Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
  2. 7 Danica Patrick/United States Andretti Autosport
  3. 11 Tony Kanaan/Brazil Andretti Autosport
  4. 6 Ryan Briscoe/Australia Penske Racing
  5. 3 Helio Castroneves/Brazil Penske Racing
  6. 14 Vitor Meira/Brazil AJ Foyt Enterprises
  7. 26 Marco Andretti/United States Andretti Autosport
  8. 10 Dario Franchitti/Scotland Target/Chip Ganassi Racing
  9. 4 Dan Wheldon/England Panther Racing
  10. 02 Graham Rahal/United States Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
  11. 37 Ryan Hunter-Reay/United States Andretti Autosport
  12. 19 Alex Lloyd/England Dale Coyne Racing
  13. 20 Ed Carpenter/ United States Panther Racing
  14. 77 Alex Tagliani/Canada FAZZT Race Team
  15. 34 Bertrand Baguette/Belgium Conquest Racing
  16. 36 Sebastian Saavedra/Colombia Conquest Racing
  17. 2 Raphael Matos/Brazil Luczo Dragon/de Ferran Motorsports
  18. 5 Takuma Sato/Japan KV Racing Technology
  19. 8 EJ Viso/Venezuela KV Racing Technology
  20. 06 Hideki Mutoh/ Japan Newman/Haas/Lanigan Racing
  21. 22 Justin Wilson/England Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
  22. 67 Sarah Fisher/United States Sarah Fisher Racing
  23. 78 Simona De Silvestro/Switzerland HVM Racing
  24. 18 Milka Duno/Venezuela Dale Coyne Racing
  25. 12 Will Power/Australia Penske Racing
  26. 24 Ana Beatriz/Brazil Dreyer & Reinbold Racing
  27. 32 Mario Moraes/Brazil KV Racing Technology