Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Hendrick Hubbub: Reorganization in Major Cup Team Sees High-Profile Personnel Change

Photo Credit: Hendrick Motorsports

The Hendrick Motorsports #48 Lowes Chevrolet was again piloted to the NASCAR Sprint Cup highest honours by now 5-time consecutive champion Jimmie Johnson. Picking up 6 wins through the process of the 2010 season, it appears on the surface that Hendrick Motorsports has a reason to celebrate.

Despite all of the success of the #48 team, the other three teams in the popular Chevrolet-powered organization endured a very tough 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. The Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr left this year winless on the Sprint Cup schedule finding solace in much smaller non- victory victories. In a radical move to turn the #5, #24 and the #88 teams around, Hendrick Motorsports is prompted just two day after the end of the 2010 Sprint Cup season to swap crew chiefs for 2011.

For the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, the following team complexion will disturb every team with exception to the championship-winning #48 team:

  • #5 Team: driver Mark Martin is partnered with former #88 crew chief Lance McGrew
  • #24 Team: driver Jeff Gordon will be working with Mark Martin's crew chief of 2009 and 2010 Alan Gustafson
  • #88 Team: Dale Earnhardt Jr will be partnered with the #24 car's crew chief Steve Letarte

Photo Credit: Hendrick Motorsports

Matching crew chiefs with new teams, Hendrick Motorsports is also repositioning the team's amongst the two race shops. Moving, the #88 cars will join the #48 team while the #24 team will now be positioned with the #5 crew. Team Owner Rick Hendrick commented on the personnel change saying "This will improve us as an organization, across the board,".

Concluding the year, the #5, #24 and #88 Hendrick Motorsports teams experienced mixed results. In 2010, Jeff Gordon was able in the Chase for the Sprint Cup hunt thanks to 10 top-5 finishes after the first 26 races. Maintaining 3rd prior to the Chase points realignment, Gordon was dropped to 8th starting the 10-race championship playoff. Through the 2010 Chase for the Sprint Cup, the #24 Chevrolet compiled only a single top-5 finish. Two additional DNFs in the final ten races left Jeff Gordon in 9th in the Chase after the Homestead-Miami finale.

Photo Credit: Hendrick Motrsports

Winning 4 times in 2009 with his first season at Hendrick Motorsports, Mark Martin extended the time period between his planned retirement through this year and into the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup tour. Starting the season strong with his #5 Chevrolet by winning the pole for the Daytona 500, Martin and team were sent through a feast and famine campaign for 2010 resulting in 7 top-5s but suffered 12 finishes outside of the top-20. After only a slight chance of making the 2010 Chase, Martin missed the top-12 in points field but held on to 13th place in NASCAR Sprint Cup overall points.  

As for the #88 Chevrolet team of Hendrick Motorsports, the trouble plaguing the team and driver Dale Earnhardt Jr was evident. With a 2010 season which resulted in 21st in the overall points, this year adds to the frustration felt within the #88 team as well as among Earnhardt Jr's considerable fan base. Well-documented, the only win Dale Earnhardt Jr has achieved with the Hendrick Motorsports #88 car was at Michigan in June of 2008. Rounding off the season in 27th at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the writing was on the wall for Lance McGrew's departure after 16 finishes of 22nd or worse in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Another rough year for Earnhardt Jr, some positive Sprint Cup moments this season involved a front row start and 2nd place finish at the Daytona 500 as well as leading 90 laps most recently during the Martinsville event. The #88 Chevrolet also left the 2010 season without a single DNF. Dale Earnhardt Jr has most recently been complementary to McGrew for advances made with the #88 team but knew a change was approaching.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Edwards Takes Ford 400 at Homestead, Johnson Claims 5th Sprint Cup Championship

Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/ Getty Images for NASCAR

Shaping up the final race for the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, the Ford 400 plays host to what has been a season where we have seen some pleasant surprises. The major success is the tight Chase for the Sprint Cup which has placed Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick within 46 points. By the end of 400 miles at the Florida 1.5 mile oval, the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion would be celebrated by one driver.

For all competitor making the 43 car field for the Ford 400, there were personal as well as team honours at stake. Concluding at the Homestead-Miami Speedway, the achievements of 35 earlier races have yet some drivers hungry for more success or thirty to revive a season sporting misfortune.
Involved in a fair amount of bad experiences in 2010, Kasey Kahne's future has been the biggest story than his current season. In reaction to Kahne's 2011 and 2012 plans, 2010 was impacted when he departed his #9 Ford early for the Red Bull #83 Toyota. For the Ford 400, Kasey Kahne was able to place his Toyota on pole for what will be the last NASCAR Sprint Cup pole for almost three months.
Kasey Kahne led the first 4 laps of the Ford 400 until the Phoenix race winner Carl Edwards driving his Roush-Fenway Racing-owned #99 Ford muscled past the #83 Toyota for the lap 5 lead. Losing the lap just briefly during a lap 20 pit stop under the race's first caution for Devid Reutimann's wall impact on turn 4, Edwards would retake the lead in time for the restart back to green flag conditions.
As the field began to race again on lap 23, a second caution came swiftly. A critical incident for the 2010 Chase for the Sprint cup the #16 Ford of Greg Biffle made contact with title leader Denny Hamlin. Hamlin's #11 Toyota was forced into the in-field grass in order to regain control. Both cars were able to continue in contention but the Joe Gibbs Racing crew spent several pit stops to repair the mingled front end of the #11 machine.
Showing part of Ford's late season resurgence in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing for 2010, a challenger did present himself in the Ford 400. The #56 NAPA Auto Parts Toyota piloted by Martin Truex Jr posted a significant appearance in the final race of 2010. Taking the lead on the first time on lap 73, Truex Jr initial time ahead of the field lasted for 26 circuit. As the #99 Ford of Edwards emerged as a dominant car early, Martin Truex Jr's #56 Toyota provided the fiercest fight through the first half of the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami.
On lap 88, Jeff Gordon's #24 Chevrolet began slowing as the four-time Cup champion reported an engine misfire. Down on power, the #24 car of Gordon fell to 24th place just 3 laps later. Hendrick Motorsports crew were optimistic the problem was limited to a disconnected spark plug. Unfortunately for the #24 crew, a pit stop during the third caution would leave the team in a more somber mood as the engine's lack of power appears to be a more terminal issue.
The problems of Denny Hamlin early left the Chase for the Sprint Cup interesting through this finale By lap 120, Kevin Harvick was leading the Cup contenders on track in 5th place. Jimmie Johnson was close behind in 8th while Denny Hamlin was recovering nicely from the lap 25 incident. The #11 Toyota crept up to 20th on the race track.
Caution flew just past of the mid-way point of the Ford 400 as the #47 Toyota of Marcus Ambrose impacted the wall on turn 4. After pit stops, the Michael Waltrip Racing #56 Toyota preserved the lead but Carl Edward sailed back to the lead as the drivers continued a see-saw battle.
Juan Pablo Montoya and Joey Logano were parties involved with a three-wide scenario which quickly results in the #42 of Montoya touching the #20 Toyota. The contact triggered the #20 of Logano into the wall to suffer massive front end damage. Joey Logano's race season ended with a crushed Toyota and an emotionally-crushed Joe Gibbs Racing Home Depot crew leaving competition before the checkered flag. Juan Pablo Montoya and Bill Elliott also sustained damage but continued to race the duration of the Ford 400 event.
With 100 laps to go, only 7 points separated the top-3 drivers in the Sprint Cup championship fight as the Ford 400 was led make to green by Carl Edwards. Denny Hamlin, one position behind Jimmie Johnson on the Homestead-Miami race track following pit stops, achieved a marvelous restart passing Johnson quickly as the Joe Gibbs Racing driver charged his way forward. Five laps later, the #11 Toyota of Hamlin has launched himself into the top-ten runners.
Kevin Harvick made a dramatic surge to lead the field back on to the Homestead-Miami race track. Regrettably, Harvick and the Richard Childress Racing crew had a short-lived triumph as NASCAR deemed speeding on pit road.
An 8th caution with 73 laps to go slowed the field as the #38 Ford of Dave Blaney hit hard between turn 3 and 4 striking the retaining wall. At the restart, the #56 Toyota slowed developing a flat tire. The driver held on to the #56 Michael Waltrip Racing but the deflated tire ruined the day for Martin Truex Jr. Little more than a lap following Martin Truex Jr's tribulations, caution came out for oil on the race track. Jeff Gordon's #24 Chevrolet wounded run ended as the Hendrick Motorsports engine gave up.
Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick pitted on lap 239 for fuel as well as tires under green bracing for the final run to the finish ahead of Jimmie Johnson. After the leaders pitted, caution came out just a few laps later spoiling their title charge effort. The race's 10th yellow flag on lap 243 flew for a scary incident involving the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch. Racing with Kevin Harvick for track position, the #29 Chevrolet connected with the #18 of Busch. Smashing the wall hard with his Camry's front end, Busch found smoke and flames building up in and around his #18 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota. Kyle Busch was thankfully unhurt but was left disappointed he was unable to sweep the final race weekend. Busch had won the Camping World Truck Series and the Nationwide Series finales for the Ford Championship Weekend at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Photo Credit: Chris Graythen/Getty Images

From the resumption of the race after the final caution, Carl Edwards held onto the led while Jimmie Johnson took a firm grip of an important 2nd place position. With Kevin Harvick following Johnson in 3rd and Denny Hamlin buried deep outside of the top-10 through the final laps, the #48 Lowes Chevrolet was in the ideal spot to take an unprecedented 5th straight Sprint Cup title.

Crossing the finish line, Carl Edwards' #99 Ford maintained an 1.609 second lead over Johnson's #48 Chevrolet. After winning in Phoenix, Edwards capped a nearly two-year long winless streak which dated back to victory at Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2008. Carl Edwards waited only one week to gain a second victory to round out the 2010 season. Another outstanding performance for Ford, Edwards led 190 of the races 267 laps.

As Jimmie Johnson finished second, he became the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Champion. Coming into the NASCAR Sprint cup finale, Johnson was unaccustomed to being on the outside of the championship lead from his experiences for the first four titles.

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/Getty Images for NASCAR

Coming up short on the year, Kevin Harvick finished 3rd in the Ford 400 and 3nd overall (41 points off of Johnson) in the Sprint Cup Chase standings. Due to NASCAR Sprint Cup's Chase format, Harvick gave up a healthy points margin in exchange for this points payoff. Having entered the season with few questions on Kevin Harvick's driving ability, questions surrounded whether his time was best spent at Richard Childress Racing. With 3 wins and 26 top-10 finishes (the most of any driver in 2010), the Californian driver returns in 2011 as a bona fide Sprint Cup contender.

NASCAR Sprint Cup points runner-up in 2010 Denny Hamlin season ended with a 14th place run at Homestead, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver's Chase points totaled to a 39 marker deficit to Jimmie Johnson.

With Ford prevailing in the race bearing their corporate name, Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) cars round out the top-5 behind Harvick. A career-high finish for Aric Almirola of 4th place was accomplished by the young, part-time driver of the #9 Ford while RPM's potentially brightest star for 2011 AJ Allmendinger brought the #43 Ford home 5th.

With all 36 races in the books for 2010, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series will next celebrate the season that was leading up to the NASCAR Sprint Cup Banquet. For another year, Jimmie Johnson will be the guest of honour. Congratulations!

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Ford 400
Homestead-Miami Speedway
Race Results

Pos #  | Car #  | Driver  | Sponsor/ Car Make

  1. 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
  2. 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
  3. 29 Kevin Harvick Shell / Pennzoil Chevrolet
  4. 9 Aric Almirola Budweiser Ford
  5. 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia HDTV Ford
  6. 83 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
  7. 39 Ryan Newman U.S.Army Chevrolet
  8. 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot / Old Spice Chevrolet
  9. 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Ford
  10. 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford
  11. 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
  12. 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
  13. 12 Brad Keselowski No. 12 Penske Dodge
  14. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota
  15. 21 Bill Elliott Motorcraft / Quick Lane Ford
  16. 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
  17. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
  18. 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
  19. 98 Paul Menard Mastercraft / Menards Ford
  20. 6 David Ragan UPS Ford
  21. 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet
  22. 09 Bobby Labonte C & J Energy Chevrolet
  23. 82 Scott Speed Red Bull Toyota
  24. 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Mobil 1 Dodge
  25. 37 David Gilliland Taco Bell Ford
  26. Marcos Ambrose Clorox / Kleenex Toyota
  27. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard / AMP Energy Chevrolet
  28. 19 Elliott Sadler Stanley Ford
  29. 71 Andy Lally Anderson's Maple Syrup Chevrolet
  30. 7 Kevin Conway  ExtenZe Toyota
  31. 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
  32. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
  33. 13 Casey Mears GEICO Toyota
  34. 34 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
  35. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
  36. 38 Dave Blaney A&W All American Food Ford 
  37. 24 Jeff Gordon Dupont Chevrolet
  38. 00 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
  39. 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota
  40. 64 Landon Cassill Empire Steel Buildings Toyota
  41. 87 Joe Nemechek Young Eagles / Toyota
  42. 36 J J Yeley Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
  43. 66 Mike Bliss PRISM Motorsports Toyota

Kyle Busch Nets 13th NASCAR Nationwide Win of 2010

Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/ Getty Images for NASCAR

By Reid Spencer

Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

(November 20, 2010)

HOMESTEAD, Fla.—Kyle Busch pulled away from Kevin Harvick during a 23-lap run to the finish to win Saturday’s Ford 300 Nationwide Series season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Harvick ran second, followed by 2010 series champion Brad Keselowski, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Trevor Bayne.

With his 13th victory in 29 starts this season, Busch extended his single-season win record. The victory was his 43rd in the Nationwide Series, leaving him five behind all-time leader Mark Martin.

Danica Patrick qualified fifth, pitted early and led four laps—her first of the season—by staying out while others pitted under caution on Lap 24. Soon after a restart on Lap 28, however, she dropped back to 21st in the running order. She finished a career-best 19th in her 13th start in the series.

After winning the owners championship in his own No. 18 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series on Friday night, Busch secured the Nationwide owners’ title for Joe Gibbs Racing on Saturday. Stenhouse clinched Raybestos rookie of the year honors.

Notes: Keselowski scored his 26th top-five finish of the year, a single-season record. … The victory was Gibbs’ 49th in the past three seasons. Busch has 31 of those. ... Busch led 153 of 200 laps.

NASCAR Nationwide Series
Ford 300
Homestead-Miami Speedway
Race Results 
Pos #  |  Car #  | Driver | Sponsor/Car Make
  1. 18 Kyle Busch Z-Line Designs Toyota
  2. 33 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Chevrolet
  3. 22 Brad Keselowski Discount Tire Dodge
  4. 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. # CitiFinancial Ford
  5. 17 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Ford
  6. 60 Carl Edwards Ford
  7. 20 Joey Logano GameStop / MASTIFF Toyota
  8. 62 Brendan Gaughan Aspen Dental Toyota
  9. 98 Paul Menard Richmond / Menards Ford 200
  10. 10 Jason Leffler ABF U-Pack Moving Toyota
  11. 12 Justin Allgaier Verizon Wireless Dodge
  12. 99 Martin Truex Jr. Out! Pet Care Toyota
  13. 42 Parker Kligerman / Bandit Chippers Dodge
  14. 32 Reed Sorenson Dollar General Toyota
  15. 66 Steve Wallace 5-hour Energy Toyota
  16. 11 David Reutimann Rexall / Dollar General Toyota
  17. 84 Cole Whitt Red Bull Toyota
  18. 09 Brian Scott Shore Lodge Toyota
  19. 7 Danica Patrick Chevrolet
  20. 23 Robert Richardson Jr. R3 Motorsports Chevrolet
  21. 26 Sam Hornish Jr. Alliance Parts Dodge
  22. 05 David Starr Cash America Chevrolet
  23. 34 Tony Raines Chevrolet
  24. 15 Michael Annett Toyota
  25. 49 Mark Green Anderson's Maple Syrup Chevrolet 
  26. 21 Morgan Shepherd Victory In Jesus Racing Chevrolet
  27. 35 Jason Keller TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet
  28. 28 Kenny Wallace Federated Auto Parts Chevrolet
  29. 16 Colin Braun Con-way Freight Ford
  30. 01 Mike Wallace Suncore Industries Chevrolet
  31. 40 Mike Bliss Westerman Companies Chevrolet
  32. 88 Aric Almirola GT Vodka Chevrolet
  33. 27 Chase Mattioli / Ford
  34. 92 Brian Keselowski K-Automotive Motorsports Dodge
  35. 87 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet
  36. 70 Shelby Howard Chevrolet
  37. 24 Eric McClure Hefty Odor Block Ford
  38. 38 Kasey Kahne Great Clips Chevrolet 
  39. 04 Jeremy Clements Boudreaux's Butt Paste Chevrolet
  40. 91 David Gilliland D'Hondt-Humphrey Motorsports Chevrolet
  41. 56 Kevin Lepage Sunshine Plumbing/MitchellSwabackCharities Toyota
  42. 96 Dennis Setzer K-Automotive Motorsports Dodge
  43. 36 Jeff Green TriStar Motorsports Chevrolet

Lotus Blooms as 2012 IndyCar Engine Supplier

Photo Credit: Chris Jones

For the second time in two weeks, the esteemed press and observers of the IZOD IndyCar Series were enlightened to yet another encouraging sign for the future of the open wheel organization. Surprising many with an announcement, Lotus Cars has officially become the 3rd engine supplier slated to be powering the upcoming 2012 IndyCar Series vehicles.

Revealed Friday at the 2010 Los Angeles Auto Show in the presence of IndyCar Series CEO Randy Bernard, Lotus Cars CEO Dany Bahar and IndyCar racing legend Parnelli Jones, the announcement involved not only the admittance to supplying engines but also confirming a previously-stated intent to offer a body kit to the Dallara chassis in 2012.

Since the formulation of the new car rules, it was more than likely Lotus was clamouring for a greater role in the IZOD IndyCar Series. Throughout this year, Lotus had a technical cooperation with the KV Racing team. In part of that agreement, the green and yellow colours of Lotus had been worn through the 2010 campaign by KV Racing's #5 car of Takuma Sato. Of course most notably, Lotus Racing has also reactivated as a Formula 1 competitor as one of three new teams joining the grand prix grid this past season. 

Through the 1960s, Team Lotus founder Colin Chapman launched an all-out charge to take the world's greatest oval racing event. Making a first stand at the 1963 Indy 500, the rear-engined Lotus race cars piloted by Formula 1 legends Jim Clark and Graham Hill would both have their pictures mounted on the Borg-Warner Trophy. Clark brought Lotus to the first ever victory at the Brickyard for a rear-engined open wheel car in 1965 with Graham Hill repeating for Chapman's team in 1966.

While Lotus' victory at the Indy 500 quickly led to complete adoption of rear-engine configuration on Indy cars, a two-year stint of 1967 and 1968 saw technology which would never again visit the Brickyard. Running a gasoline-powered turbine Indy car, Parnelli Jones almost won the 1967 race if it had not been for a late race mechanical failure. In 1969, Mario Andretti charged to the Indy 500 in a four-wheel drive Lotus but the car was lost in a crash prior to the 500-mile race. Andretti won the 1969 Indy 500 in a modified Brawner-Hawk chassis.

A part of such a rich racing past, Dany Bahar provided details on why Lotus has decided for a return to North American open wheel racing. "We believe in the series. We believe the series is developing very, very well. I think it fits perfectly very well our activities and strategies in the U.S., which is our biggest market."

With KV Racing being a likely client of the Lotus engines and aero kits, it is too early to identify which teams will opt for the components of the British-based organization but it will certainly not be an exclusive deal. Rules set out by the IndyCar ICONIC committee behind the 2012 race machine was to require any aero kits to be available to other teams.

While supplying chassis parts is not new for Lotus, it remains interesting to ponder how Lotus will develop an engine in just one year. As a sports car builder, many of Lotus' powerplants for production cars were harvested and modified from other company designs (The Lotus Elise and the upcoming 2013 Esprit borrow engines from Toyota Motor Company). Lotus does have experience as well as resources in building their own production powerplants (the Lotus 900 and the twin-turbo used on the Esprit V-8 are two examples).

Looking forward to about 15 months time, Lotus' Bahar states "We want to compete. We would like to design our own cars and hopefully maybe other teams can profit from our design capabilities. That's why we start already from today investing money and also capacities in developing the right aero kit and engine for 2012".

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Kyle Busch Takes Camping World Truck Finale; KBM Takes Owner's Championship

Photo Credit: Sam Greenwood/Getty Images 

By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service
(November 19, 2010)


Kyle Busch ran away from Ron Hornaday Jr. after a restart with four laps left in Friday night’s Ford 200 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at Homestead-Miami Speedway and won the race by .577 seconds over last year’s series champion.

In winning for the eighth time in 16 starts this season and the 24th time in his career, Busch locked up the owners’ championship for his No. 18 Toyota in his first year as an owner in the series.

"This is so cool, to come out here and win in our last race the way we did," said Busch, who is still looking for sponsorship to sustain his truck team next year. "(Crew chief) Eric Phillips made some great calls and got my head back in the race."

Johnny Sauter ran third, followed by 2010 truck series champion Todd Bodine and Aric Almirola, second in the standings this year.

Busch was running in the top five when Sauter’s No. 13 Toyota pinched him into the outside wall on Lap 102 of the 134-lap race. The right front tire on Busch’s Toyota blew shortly thereafter, causing the fourth caution of the race. That turned out to be a minor hurdle between Busch and the victory.

Busch stayed on the lead lap and restarted 21st on Lap 111. By the time John Jackson’s wild slide into the sand barrels protecting the entrance to pit road brought out caution No. 5 on that same lap, Busch was running 14th. NASCAR red-flagged the race while the barrels were replaced.

Hornaday took the lead after a restart on Lap 115 and held it until Elliott Sadler’s spin off Turn 4 caused the sixth and final caution and set up the decisive four-lap run to the finish.

Kevin Harvick, Hornaday’s owner, urged his driver to take the outside on the final restart. Hornaday tried to hold Busch down to the inside, but to no avail. Hornaday said it wouldn’t have mattered which lane he picked.

"No, it didn’t matter—we were just too tight up through the middle, and his truck was free enough where he kept the momentum going," Hornaday said. "I just wish Johnny had hit him a little harder when he squeezed him against the fence over there, so he didn’t have such a good truck to come back and beat me."

Kasey Kahne Clobbers Cup Field for Homestead Pole

Photo Credit: Jason Smith/ Getty Images for NASCAR

Homestead is the home stretch for the 36-race NASCAR Sprint Cup series of 2010. A 1.5 mile true oval track, the Homestead-Miami Speedway plays host to one of the closest three-way points battles since the Chase for the Sprint Cup format was innovated by NASCAR in 2004. With Hamlin, Johnson and Harvick separated by only 46 points entering the final race, the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup appears have the potential of needing all of the event's 267 laps.

Breaking a two-race pole streak Ford Motor Company products in the NASCAR Sprint Cup season, Kasey Kahne stormed to the Ford 400 pole his #83 Red Bull Toyota. Rounding the 1.5 mile in a time of 30.525 to take the final pole of 2010, Kahne and the Team Red Bull narrowly nicked Phoenix race winner Carl Edwards by a margin of just 0.031 seconds on the track. As qualifying concluded and the grid was set for the Ford 400 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, less than 7/10th of a second separates Kasey Kahne's lead time with the slowest race entry speed posted by 40th place Juan Pablo-Montoya.

Kahne's 4th pole of this season, this is the driver's first top time since making an early entrance into Team Red Bull Racing. Having parted ways with has long-time Sprint Cup team (the #9 car existing within Richard Petty Motorsports) after the fall Charlotte event, Kasey Kahne is spending some early seat time inside the #83 Toyota preparing for a full season for 2011. 

The Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing #1 Chevrolet of Jamie McMurray starts 3rd in this final event in afairy tale season for a driver many motorsport insiders wrote off prior to his victory at this year's Daytona 500. Bill Elliott is another continuing to make notable appearances in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series. The Dawsonville, Georgia 1988 NASCAR Cup champion positioned the #21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford in 4th. The #43 Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) Ford driven by AJ Allmendinger allowed 3 of the top-5 vehicles starting at the front of the Ford 400 to display a Blue Oval badge. A solid top-5 for Allmendinger within the uncertainty of RPM's 2011 operation, a bright spot for the embattled Ford team is qualifying where at least one team car started in the top-10 for 8 of the final 10 races.

In regards to the much anticipated final showdown Sunday for the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup, second place in the points Jimmie Johnson starts in the best spot. Qualifying his #48 Lowes Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports 6th for the Ford 400, Johnson's so-called "drive for five" championships has the driver favoured (at least for the beginning of the event) to repeat the title victory which he's achieved the past four seasons.

Buried in 37th, current Chase for the Sprint Cup points leader Denny Hamlin #11 FedEx Toyota will be need to pick up considerable ground over the 400 mile distance to complete the eagerly-awaited spoiling of Jimmie Johnson's Sprint Cup series dominance. A difficult job, breaking through the field of the Homestead-Miami Speedway NASCAR Sprint Cup race is a custom for Hamlin having never started better than 25th in previous qualifying attempts at the 1.5 mile oval. Last year, the #11 Toyota of Denny Hamlin won the season's final event starting 38th on that day.  

Third 2010 Sprint Cup contender Kevin Harvick will also be required to make up some race distance after a lackluster time trial run. Starting better than Denny Hamlin in 28th place, Harvick's #29 Chevrolet will attempt to regain the series point lead honours which were stripped from the Richard Childress Racing pilot due to the Chase reformatting after Richmond. 

With engine set to roar at 1 P.M. Eastern for the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup series finale Ford 400, expectations are to see a competitive event amongst the 43 who all have something to prove prior to the checkered flag.    

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Ford 400
Homestead-Miami Speedway
Starting Lineup

# Pos  | Car #  | Driver| Sponsor/ Car Make
  1. 83 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
  2. 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
  3. 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops / Tracker Boats Chevrolet
  4. 21 Bill Elliott Motorcraft / Quick Lane Ford
  5. 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia HDTV Ford
  6. 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
  7. 00 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
  8. 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
  9. 6 David Ragan UPS Ford
  10. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
  11. 24 Jeff Gordon Dupont Chevrolet
  12. 19 Elliott Sadler Stanley Ford
  13. 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Ford
  14. 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
  15. 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
  16. 98 Paul Menard Mastercraft / Menards Ford
  17. 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
  18. 12 Brad Keselowski No. 12 Penske Dodge
  19. 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota
  20. 47 Marcos Ambrose Clorox / Kleenex Toyota
  21. 36 J J Yeley Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
  22. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard / AMP Energy Chevrolet
  23. 39 Ryan Newman U.S.Army Chevrolet 
  24. 9 Aric Almirola Budweiser Ford
  25. 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
  26. 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Mobil 1 Dodge
  27. 16 Greg Biffle 3M Ford
  28. 29 Kevin Harvick Shell / Pennzoil Chevrolet
  29. 87 Joe Nemechek Young Eagles / Toyota
  30. 66 Mike Bliss PRISM Motorsports Toyota
  31. 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot / Old Spice Chevrolet 
  32.  09 Bobby Labonte C & J Energy Chevrolet
  33. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota 
  34. 13 Casey Mears GEICO Toyota
  35. 71 Andy Lally Anderson's Maple Syrup Chevrolet
  36. 38 Dave Blaney A&W All American Food Ford
  37. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Express Toyota
  38. 37 David Gilliland Taco Bell Ford
  39. 34 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
  40. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet 
  41. 82 Scott Speed Red Bull Toyota
  42. 7 Kevin Conway ExtenZe Toyota
  43. 64 Landon Cassill  Empire Steel Buildings Toyota

Sunday, November 14, 2010

2011 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Schedule Announced

Photo Credit: Christopher Nagy/XSL Speed Reporter

Released on Wednesday, the 2011 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series shows off another balanced diet of stock car racing on ovals as well as street circuits and road courses.

Starting at the Mosport Speedway 1/2 mile oval on May 28th, the series concludes at Kawartha Speedway on September 24th. Many favourite tracks return next year including Delaware Speedway, the Honda Indy of Toronto race weekend event, a dice on Circuit Gilles Villeneuve and the closing race at Kawartha Speedway. Consisting of 7 ovals and 5 road courses, the 2011 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is one of the few North American stock car series featuring such diversity.

A new addition in 2011 is a June 5th round on the 1.86 mile (3 kilometer) Circuit ICAR road course.  An ASN and FIA approved road course from an airport 20 minutes outside of Montreal in Mirabel as part of a multi-purpose motorsport complex. The Circuit ICAR has played host to the Castrol Canadian Touring Car Championship and Canadian Superbike championship events. This race for be the NASCAR Canadian Tires Series' inaugural run on the track.

Removed from the schedule is, of course, the event at the Edmonton City Airport. Cancelled along with the IZOD IndyCar and Firestone Indy Lights cars, the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series had a long-stemming history on the temporary course dating well into the mid-1990s when the division ran under the CASCAR Super Series guise. Since the Motoplex Speedway race has been scheduled into the spot for where the Edmonton road course round was scheduled, NASCAR Canada might have been less optimistic concerning the probability a race even had a chance on the airport next year.

Also missing on the 2011 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series is the Autodrome St Eustache race which was held early in the 2010 season. The ICAR Circuit road course race in Montreal appears to be a direct replacement to the former Quebec oval event.  

Running only 12 events in 2011, I have to admit I'm a little disappointed the Canadian NASCAR schedule is not giving the fine stock car talent more opportunities to slam fenders and dice for victories. Personally, I would like to see at least 15 rounds of competition for this stock car series which is enjoying an increasing acceptance in Canada. The popularity of some tracks in fact could justify a second date.

2011 NASCAR Canadian Tire Series Schedule

May 28    Mosport Speedway (0.5-Mile) Bowmanville, Ont.
June 5      Circuit ICAR (1.86-Mile road course) Montreal, Que.
June 11    Delaware Speedway (0.5-Mile) London, Ont.
June 26    Mosport Int'l Raceway (2.459-Mile road course) Bowmanville, Ont.
July 9       Toronto Exhibition Place (1.765-Mile road course) Toronto, Ont.
July 23     Motoplex Speedway (0.5-Mile) Vernon, B. C.
July 27     Auto Clearing Motor Speedway (0.333-Mile) Saskatoon, Sask.
Aug. 7     Circuit de Trois-Rivieres (1.53-Mile road course) Trois-Rivieres, Que.
Aug. 20   Circuit Gilles Villeneuve (2.709-Mile road course) Montreal, Que.
Sept. 10   Barrie Speedway (0.333-Mile) Barrie, Ont.
Sept. 17   Riverside Int’l Speedway (0.333-Mile) Antigonish, N. S.
Sept. 24   Kawartha Speedway (0.375-Mile) Peterborough, Ont

Second Straight Nationwide Victory for Edwards at Phoenix

Photo Credit: Jason Smith/ Getty Images for NASCAR

With Brad Keselowski settling the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series title last weekend at Texas Motor Speedway, the main focus through the final two races of this middle-level stock car tour was the racing action. The one-mile oval of Phoenix International Raceway supplies a quaint-essential mix of large track speed and short track competition.

Setting up 200 laps of Saturday afternoon action on the desert, Joey Logano secured the WYPALL 200 pole in morning qualifying. Breaking out to a lead through the first 24 race laps, Logano relinquished the first place position during pit stops made during the event's earliest caution for fluid originating from the #70 Chevrolet of Mark Green.

As several top vehicles pitted for fresh tires and fuel at this point of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race, the #35 Chevrolet of Tony Raines remained on track to lead when the WYPALL 200 resumed on lap 30. At a clear disadvantage on older tires, Raines was no match for the cars behind him on the restart. Aric Almirola was the first car to pass the #35 Chevrolet elevating the JR Motorsports #88 car to the front at Phoenix International Raceway.

Lasting for just 8 laps, Almirola's run with JR Motorsports (in preparation for a full campaign in the #88 Chevrolet in 2011) went far better than the drive of teammate Danica Patrick. Still learning the finer points of racing a stock car through her off time from the IZOD IndyCar Series, Patrick spent much of the race hovering in the low to mid-20s on track in the #7 Chevy. While running respectively, an incident between the #7 Chevrolet and the #27 Ford of Alex Kennedy got into a shoving match on-track. While Kennedy got into the car of Patrick on lap 133, the IndyCar star demonstrated her knowledge of the fine art of payback on the following lap. While mostly harmless to both vehicles, Danica Patrick's contact with the wall 24 laps later. The #7 Chevrolet would finish 7 laps down in 32rd place.

On several occasions, Carl Edwards held a lead of multiple seconds over second place runners.
With Edwards' Roush-Fenway Racing #60 Ford in a class of his own throughout the WYPALL 200, Kyle Bucsh was holding down the runner-up place for much of the race distance. While able to lure the lead of the Phoenix event for 10 laps total on the day, this Saturday afternoon race would not be Busch's 13th victory on the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide calender.

Fighting for best of the rest for the event, Busch's hopes for a good run was deflated (literally) by a softening tire on his #18 Toyota. Three laps after radioing the problem, Busch pitted on lap 163 to receive four fresh tires from his Joe Gibbs Racing crew. The #18 crew returned the driver quickly but Busch would drop one lap down to the leader. Some additional concern surrounded the #18 Toyota in the late laps as light smoke was pluming from the Joe Gibbs Racing vehicle. Fortunately, the smoke dissipated through the final circuits of the WYPALL 200 and would not present any problems as Busch used the advantage of new tire to hard charge back up to the lead lap for 16th place.

Coming across the line 5.12 seconds ahead of Kevin Harvick, Carl Edwards easy ride in Phoenix ends with his 4th win of the 2010 NASCAR Nationwide season. Out front for 153 of this race's 200 laps, the impressive performance of the #60 Ford even surprised the driver.

Rounding out the top-5 for the WYPALL 200 at Phoenix International Raceway, 2nd place Kevin Harvick was followed by Joey Logano, Brad Keselowski and Reed Sorenson. In 6th place, Aric Almirola ended the NASCAR Nationwide Series backing up the 5th place finishing result after Friday's Camping World Truck Series event.

Almirola's effort in the #88 car did result in one critic, the driver of the #12 Dodge Justin Allgaier. While the #12 Penske Racing Dodge appeared destined to a strong top-5 effort running second early in the WYPALL 200, Allgaier realized his race car's performance faded in the last 50 laps. Dropping down the field but fighting to retain a top-10 result, the #88 Chevrolet of Almirola rushed the Penske Racing car of Allgaier in lap 193 into turn one. Sizing up the #12 Dodge on the inside, the #88 Chevrolet leaned on Allgaier while making the pass. Unhappy with the pass, contact after the checkered flag resulted with the #12 and #88 cars. Justin Allgaier did not appear outspokenly mad at Almirola but he was disappointed the driver of the #88 Chevy could not race him clean.

Next week, the NASCAR Nationwide Series tour will combat for the last time in 2010 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. The Ford 300 is set for late Saturday afternoon.     

NASCAR Nationwide Series
November 13, 2010
Phoenix International Raceway

Race Results

  1. 60 Carl Edwards Copart Ford
  2. 33 Kevin Harvick Rheem Solar Water Heaters Chevrolet
  3. 20 Joey Logano GameStop/Afterglow Toyota
  4. 22 Brad Keselowski Discount Tire Dodge
  5. 32 Reed Sorenson Dollar General Toyota
  6. 88 Aric Almirola GT Vodka Chevrolet
  7. 16 Colin Braun # Con-way Ford
  8. 12 Justin Allgaier Verizon Wireless Dodge 
  9. 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. # Blackwell Angus Beef Ford
  10. 66 Steve Wallace 5-hour Energy Toyota
  11. 09 Brian Scott # Shore Lodge Toyota
  12. 40 Mike Bliss Westerman Companies Chevrolet
  13. 98 Paul Menard Richmond/Menards Ford
  14. 17 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Ford
  15. 84 Cole Whitt Red Bull Toyota
  16. 18 Kyle Busch NOS Toyota
  17. 23 Coleman Pressley R3 Motorsports Chevrolet
  18. 15 Michael Annett Pilot Flying J Coffee Toyota
  19. 35 Tony Raines Chevrolet 
  20. 28 Kenny Wallace Iron Horse Jeans Chevrolet
  21. 10 Ricky Carmichael Monster Energy Toyota
  22. 11 James Buescher # Great Clips Toyota
  23. 99 Ryan Truex Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
  24. 27 Alex Kennedy Power Ford
  25. 05 David Starr Super Pawn Chevrolet
  26. 81 Michael McDowell Red Line Oil/Drive Reply Dodge
  27. 62 Brendan Gaughan Alliance Parts Toyota
  28. 87 Joe Nemechek Chevrolet
  29. 01 Mike Wallace Suncore Industries Chevrolet
  30. 83 John Borneman III Nicky Rottens/Borneman Plastering Ford
  31. 21 Morgan Shepherd Victory In Jesus Chevrolet
  32. 7 Danica Patrick Chevrolet
  33. 38 Jason Leffler Great Clips Toyota
  34. 00 Martin Truex Jr. Travis Pastrana Toyota
  35. 79 Tim Andrews 2nd Chance Race Parts Ford
  36. 49 David Green Jay Robinson Racing Chevrolet
  37. 90 Danny O'Quinn Jr. D'Hondt Humphrey Racing Chevrolet
  38. 70 Mark Green Iron Horse Jeans Chevrolet
  39. 91 David Gilliland D'Hondt Humphrey Racing Chevrolet
  40. 34 Charles Lewandoski Tri-Star Motorsports Chevrolet
  41. 26 Brian Keselowski K-Automotive Motorsports Dodge
  42. 92 Dennis Setzer K-Automotive Motorsports Dodge
  43. 36 Jeff Green Tri-Star Motorsports Chevrolet

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Pole Position for Vettel in Abu Dhabi GP

Photo Credit: World Lorenzo Bellanca/ LAT Photographic
Arranged in a four-way battle for the World Driver's Championship, the 2010 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will resolve whether it will be the Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, the McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, or one of the Red Bull Racing pilots consisting of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel who will take Formula 1 racing's great honour.

Qualifying for the final 2010 Formula 1 race on the Yas Marina circuit started with Alonso's Ferrari blasting to Q1 fastest time with a 1 minute, 40.170 second time ahead of the Mercedes GP car of Nico Rosberg. The Red Bull-Renaults held close to the top times less than two-tenths of a second off the Q1 session leader.

As Q2 session begun, the Toro Rosso-Ferrari of Sebastien Buemi was eliminated on virtue of Q1 times along with the new-for-2010 Formula 1 teams. The last race of the year to be declared as rookie organizations, Lotus Racing, Virgin GP and HRT have regrettably been feeding off the bottom of the Formula 1 grid almost exclusively this season without a single F1 constructor point scored so far in 2010. Battling amongst themselves, Lotus Racing has prevailed as the top runner of the three teams finding Virgin GP as a worthy adversary for many events. While lackluster results in the standings, these teams have been the constant focus off the track with news and rumours for the 2011 season. 

Sebastian Vettel's Red Bull-Renault would take the Q2 session lead into Q3 where he would earn the pole for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix with a 1 minute, 39.394 second lap around the 3.541 mile track. Running the least laps in all of the top-10 drivers, the German driver Vettel hammered in his 10th Formula 1 pole of 2010 far outreaching any other competitor. Vettel's run also tallies the 15th pole position in the 19-race Formula 1 tour for Red Bull Racing team as a whole. 

Behind Vettel, Lewis Hamilton shot up 4 grid positions from his Q2 time to place his McLaren-powered Mercedes-Benz on the front row. Fourth place in the points championship, Hamilton is very much a long-shot for the 2010 driver's title. Since the McLaren driver is 34 points behind the lead entering the final grand prix, the only scenario which will allow Lewis Hamilton to celebrate the 2010 Formula 1 driver's title is a catastophe to his rivals for the championship.

Starting 3rd is points leader Fernando Alonso who ran his Ferrari just under 4/10th of a second short of Vettel's pole time. The second McLaren-Mercedes driven by 2009 Formula 1 Driver's Champion Jenson Button slots 4th beside Alonso's Ferrari. Suffering a massive fall-off from previous the previous qualifying sessions of the day, Mark Webber could only muster a 5th fastest time at the end of Q3 placing the closest challenger to Fernando Alonso's lead safety behind the Ferrari prior to the race's start.

2010 Formula 1
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Qualifying Order

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

Carl Edwards Captures Phoenix Sprint Cup Race Pole

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/ Getty Images for NASCAR

The second to last race in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season, the Kobalt Tools 500 at Phoenix International Raceway will be highlighted by a tight three-driver points battle for the championship. After 8 races in the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup, Denny Hamlin holds a 33-point advantage on reigning champion Jimmie Johnson. Only 59 points out of the lead, Kevin Harvick (who led the points for much of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season leading up to the Chase) is still well within striking range of the Sprint Cup championship.

With 46 cars vying for the 43 positions during Coors Light Pole qualifying at Phoenix International Raceway, Carl Edwards emerged in the late proportion of the time trial session to obtain his 3rd 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup pole. Piloting his #99 Roush-Fenway Racing-backed Ford Fusion, the effort of Edwards defeated fellow Ford camp occupant AJ Allmindinger's #43 car. Lapping the one-mile desert oval in a record time of 26.395 seconds, Carl Edwards' margin of pole victory over the #43 Ford was just 0.027 of a second. 

As Allmendinger shot around the one-mile oval, he provided the second straight week for where a Richard Petty Motorsports (RPM) Ford will start on the front row of the NASCAR Sprint Cup main event. Leading off with Elliott Sadler's pole at the last race in Texas, this late season performance is for sure offering a much-needed morale boost for the troubled race organization. The entire week leading up to Phoenix has been consumed with innuendo and rhetoric on the state of RPM believing the team is week-to-week. While plans for the 2011 season is still a big question mark for what form RPM will take in NASCAR Sprint Cup, the team has assured NASCAR fans their four-car stable will be present for the finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway. In a press release, AJ Allmendinger bid strong kudos to the team behind his #43 Ford. “No matter what happens I’m just proud of everybody at Richard Petty Motorsports. There’s no secret of what we’re going through right now and it’s a tough time. All the crew guys here and all the guys at the shop listening and watching, they’re amazing people because it could easily tear this team apart." Allmendinger said.

Coming close to victory at Texas Motor Speedway last week, the Roush-Fenway Racing's #16 car driver Greg Biffle placed 4th fastest on the day to present three Fords in the top-4. Breaking a sweep was Kurt Busch and his #2 Dodge Charger. While Ford again shows some serious speed in qualifying, all four manufacturers were reasonably well represented with Jamie McMarray starting 5th on Sunday in an Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing Chevrolet and a #00 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota piloted by David Reutimann 6th.

A one-mile track, Phoenix International Raceway's flat-banking and configuration lends itself in comparison to many smaller tracks which Sprint Cup drivers would cut their racing teeth on as they progressed through the ranks. A few surprise qualifying runs came from some less familiar stars of NASCAR. Starting 8th, Regan Smith and the #78 Furniture Row Chevrolet flew around the Phoenix race track. One position below Smith, Aric Almirola took 9th place in the #9 Ford after only a handful of starts with the Richard Petty Motorsports team. In post race, Almirola commented "I was actually surprised at how fast it went for how bad it drove, to be honest."

As for the three drivers entering the Kobalt Tools 500 under the Chase points microscope, the best effort was posted by top-ranked Denny Hamlin in the qualifying session. Placing 17th in the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota for a less than impressive time, Hamlin is starting at least four positions ahead his point rivals. In 21st place, Jimmie Johnson starts in the #48 Chevrolet and the #29 car of Kevin Harvick is seated in 29th place leading up to the flag Sunday. 

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Phoenix International Raceway
Kobalt Tools 500
Starting Lineup

  1. 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
  2. 43 A J Allmendinger Insignia HDTV Ford
  3. 2 Kurt Busch Miller Lite Dodge
  4. 16 Greg Biffle 3M Scotch Ford
  5. 1 Jamie McMurray McDonald's Chevrolet
  6. 00 David Reutimann TUMS Toyota
  7. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
  8. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
  9. 9 Aric Almirola Budweiser Ford
  10. 20 Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota
  11. 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Toyota
  12. 6 David Ragan UPS Ford
  13. 47 Marcos Ambrose Little Debbie/Safeway Toyota
  14. 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
  15. 17 Matt Kenseth Valvoline Ford
  16. 77 Sam Hornish Jr. Mobil 1 Dodge
  17. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota
  18. 39 Ryan Newman U.S. ARMY Chevrolet
  19. 98 Paul Menard Peak/Menards Ford
  20. 14 Tony Stewart Old Spice/Old Spice Chevrolet
  21. 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's/KOBALT Tools Chevrolet
  22. 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
  23. 19 Elliott Sadler Paralyzed Veterans Of America Ford
  24. 13 Casey Mears GEICO Toyota
  25. 83 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
  26. 09 Bobby Labonte C & J Energy Chevrolet
  27. 82 Scott Speed Red Bull Toyota
  28. 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
  29. 29 Kevin Harvick Shell/Pennzoil Chevrolet
  30. 12 Brad Keselowski No. 12 Penske Dodge Dodge
  31. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. Diet Mntn Dew Paint 88/Natl Guard Chevrolet
  32. 36 Dave Blaney Tommy Baldwin Racing Chevrolet
  33. 26 JJ Yeley Air Guard Ford
  34. 7 Robby Gordon Polaris Toyota
  35. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet
  36. 55 Mike Bliss PRISM Motorsports Toyota
  37. 37 David Gilliland Taco Bell Ford
  38. 38 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
  39. 64 Landon Cassill Empire Steel Toyota 
  40. 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
  41. 71 Brendan Gaughan South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet
  42. 34 Tony Raines A&W All American Food Ford
  43. 81 Terry Labonte Red Line Oil Dodge

Clint Bowyer Blasts to Truck Win at Phoenix; Bodine Locks Up Championship

Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/ Getty Images for NASCAR

By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

(November 12, 2010)

AVONDALE, Ariz.—Clint Bowyer didn't lose his touch during a three-year hiatus from NASCAR's Camping World Truck Series.

Driving Kevin Harvick's No. 2 Chevrolet, Bowyer won Friday night's Lucas Oil 150 at Phoenix International Raceway in his first start in the series since Oct. 20, 2007 at Martinsville.

Todd Bodine also had reason to celebrate. With a 12th-place finish at Phoenix, Bodine wrapped up his second truck series championship. He leads Aric Almirola by an insurmountable 202 points entering next Friday's season finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Bowyer beat race runner-up Kyle Busch to the line by 1.039 seconds. Johnny Sauter finished third, followed by Matt Crafton and Almirola.

"Everybody back at the shop did such a great job building this thing," Bowyer said. "They were excited about it before we came down here, and any time these guys get excited about building a truck back at the shop, you know as a racecar driver that you're going to have a good hot rod, and we certainly did.

"I love this series, and I think this is some of the best racing we have in NASCAR. It's fun to be back in it."

Bowyer had the dominant truck in the early going. After taking the top spot from polesitter Austin Dillon following a restart on Lap 24, Bowyer opened a lead that reached 6.626 seconds before NASCAR called the second caution of the race on Lap 53 because of fluid on the track.

Busch led 25 laps in the middle of the race, but Bowyer reasserted his superiority after beating Busch out of the pits for a restart on Lap 67.

Bodine added the 2010 crown to his 2006 truck series title.

"Along the way, we had a lot of good luck," Bodine said. "Along with good performance, along with hard work, you've got to have good luck, and we had it this year. We did that. But the old adage is 'You make your own luck,' and this team has done a great job all year of doing that."

Note: Busch, who drives his own No. 18 Toyota, holds a 120 point lead over Bodine's No. 30 Toyota, fielded by Germain Racing, in the battle for the owners' championship.

Friday, November 12, 2010

Chevy Rejoins IndyCar Series in 2012

Photo Credit: Daniel Incandela

On Friday, a press conference was initiated at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway's Hall of Fame Museum for what would be an important announcement regarding a new manufacturer to the 2012 season. The fact this event was taking place within such a close vicinity to motor racing heritage gave an impression that the orchestration would relate to a new return of an old name. Sure enough, word spread on the intentions of 104-time IndyCar-type race winner and 7-time Indianapolis 500-winning engine manufacturer Chevrolet coming back to IndyCar racing. Following speculation first brought to light by Peter M. De Lorenzo at, the announcement was initially dismissed by the IndyCar Series as a mere rumour. Obviously with the Friday morning gathering, the rumour was true.
Convening on the museum, the notables appearing in front of a sizable press deligation, IZOD IndyCar Series' CEO Randy Bernard, the project manager of the upcoming 2012 IZOD IndyCar Series car Tony Cotman, U.S. vice president of Chevrolet marketing Chris Perry and General Motors vice chairman of global product development Tom Stephens formalized the future partnership between the series and the auto company. Beyond the representatives of IndyCar and GM, other figures present for the announcement included IZOD IndyCar team owner Roger Penske along with his Penske Racing drivers Helio Castroneves and Will Power, Simona de Silvestro and Firestone Indy Lights driver Martin Plowman.

Active in NASCAR and Grand-Am road racing, Chris Perry sheds light on why now Chevrolet has decided to add the IZOD IndyCar Series back into the brand's portfolio. "There are several reasons. First this series opens up a new, distinct fan base for Chevrolet in the motorsports community. These fans are passionate about IndyCar and the technology that drives the sport and these teams. A return provides an important opportunity to expose our product and our technology to this well-educated, highly desirable audience.". Perry also added the series' skyrocketing growth of appeal to the younger male market as well as the utilization of modern day engine technologies as lures back to IndyCar racing for 2012. Reentering Indy-style racing lets us take our advanced engine technology to the upper bounds of what's possible. GM's Tom Stephens supported the latter point saying "It will provide a dynamic training ground for our engineers who will transfer the technologies we develop for racing to the products we sell to our customers." echoing the auto company's commitment to reducing employing high-technology in production-based powerplants to improve engine efficiency, CO2 emissions and take advantage of Ethanol-based fuels.

Chevrolet's participation in IndyCar-style racing is reflected within two stints, the first between 1986-1993 and the second time when Chevrolet replaced General Motor's discontinued Oldsmobile name in the IRL for 2003 to 2005. Having left open wheel IndyCar-style racing for the second time in 2005, it was doubtful if the bowtie branding would ever be worn on the nose cone of an open wheel racing car again.
As Chevrolet enters the IZOD IndyCar series in 2012, there will once again be an engine rivalry in North America's premier open wheel racing organization. Honda Racing Development (who has been the exclusive powerplant provider for the series since Toyota pulled out after the 2005 campaign) was the first company to conform to the new engine requirements for 2012 and beyond. 
Chevrolet's entrance back to IndyCar racing comes as a result of the ICONIC Advisory Committee that has spent much of this year constructing what the future will bring to the North American open wheel racing tour. With all competition cars running on Dallara chassis modified with a selection of aerodynamic body kits, some IndyCar fans felt betrayed that the series will not feature technology in competition with other technology. IndyCar's Randy Bernard recognizes that point saying "The one thing that we have heard time and time again from fans and everyone involved in the IZOD IndyCar Series is, "We want competition." Today is a new day. The IndyCar is excited about the opportunities that lie ahead." The promise of engine rivalry provides some colour to the upcoming 2012 starting order.

Bracing for extensive testing of the Ilmor-based racing engine built to the 2.4 liter turbocharged V-6 specs, Chevrolet project staff will be working through the first half of 2011 to ready the powerplant in preparations to sign-up teams into the 2012 season. "Our goal, no matter which series we enter, no matter which track we compete on, is to power Chevrolet drivers to Victory Lane. That's our goal here, as well. It will be great to compete on the track in IndyCar once again." Perry said.

Weekend Racing Weather Forecast: Nov 12th to 14th, 2010

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates
Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
Yas Marina Circuit
2010 Formula 1

Friday: Forecasts call for no precipitation during Formula 1 practice at Yas Marina Circuit. Daily high temperatures will shoot for 29 degrees Celsius (84 degrees Fahrenheit). Though absolutely sunny, gusty winds of 10-20 miles per hour will sweep through from west-northwest.
Saturday: Ideal qualifying conditions, Yas Marina circuit will be under weather mirroring the Friday sessions. 29 degrees Celsius (85 degrees Fahrenheit) will be the daily high temperature.
Sunday: Weather will heat up just as the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the 2010 Formula 1 finale, is set to run the deciding race for the driver's title. While the grand prix is starting late in the afternoon for lower temperatures, the scorching hot track with a 32 degree high (90 degrees Fahrenheit) temperature, is likely to still effect the start. The full sun beams on the track surface guaranteed to try drivers for grip and their engines for durability.

Avondale, Arizona
Phoenix International Raceway

NASCAR Camping World Truck Series/ Nationwide Series/ Sprint Cup Series

Friday: A full place of action from NASCAR's top-three series is ready to be served up at the one-mile oval on the outskirts of Phoenix. Like Texas, temperatures will swing drastically from daytime highs to nightly lows. The mercury will top-out at 23 degrees Celsius (73 degrees Fahrenheit) while the lows will head down to just 6 degrees (43 degrees Fahrenheit). Typical Arizona skies, sun will be plentiful Friday and for entire race weekend at Phoenix. NASCAR Sprint Cup qualifying is set for the warmer noon time period while the Camping World Truck Series event will start past 8 P.M. Eastern time where temps should fall into the mid-teens after the green flag drops. The second to last race of the season, Todd Bodine can officially lock up the 2010 Camping World Truck Series championship.
Saturday: As sun reigns over the track, high temperatures will reside at 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) but will fall to 7 degrees (45 degrees Fahrenheit) once sun sets. The NASCAR Sprint Cup series have two practices during the morning as well as one during noon time. The NASCAR Nationwide Series will qualify in the morning hours between the Sprint Cup series track sessions and will race at 4 P.M. Eastern time
Sunday: Repeating weather from Saturday, temperatures will once again climb to 24 degrees Celsius (75 degrees Fahrenheit) as the major race for the NASCAR Sprint Cup series rolls.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Remembrance Day/ Veteran's Day: Lest We Forget

In Flanders Fields by John McCrae

In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.

We are the Dead. Short days ago
We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders Fields.

Take up our quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders Fields.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Kyle Busch's Expensive Bird: NASCAR Penalizes Driver for Obscenity

Photo Credit: Chris Trotman/Getty Images

Finishing 32nd place in the AAA Texas 500, it is evident the Kyle Busch and the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing did not experience a noteworthy third-last race of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. However, actions conducted by the #18 Toyota team's driver would not allow this poor finish to be forgotten. Tuesday following the event, Kyle Busch was assessed a monetary penalty of $25,000. Along with probation for the final two races, an incident deemed by NASCAR Rule Book as a violation of section 12-1 called actions detrimental to stock car racing comes as a result of an obscene gesture.

On the 159th lap of the 500 mile race, the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch was spun on track. Without suffering any damage but requiring pit road service, Busch attempted to beat the pace car who was coming up to lap the M&Ms Toyota. Racing off pace car for what originally appeared to be a small victory for the Joe Gibbs Racing team, NASCAR determined the #18 car was speeding out of pit road. Unhappy, Kyle Busch and Co. was called back to the pit stall to receive a 1-lap penalty. It was in serving this penalty  In actions many saw as brazen show of disrespect, Kyle Busch flipped off a NASCAR official while serving a pit road penalty during Sunday's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motors Speedway. Unimpressed, NASCAR handed the driver a 2-lap penalty within the race. Without the concept of double jeopardy, NASCAR proceeded to reprimand Busch two days later with this recent fine.

Known by the nickname of "Rowdy" after mirroring the firey, fictional character in Days of Thunder years ago racing a #51 truck at Charlotte, Kyle Busch's 'play-to-win' persona has brought art to life. Such a driven racer, the younger Busch has shown at times lacking patience with other competitors and on occasion being discourteous particularly to media. However as of late, the 27-year old Joe Gibbs Racing was showing a more mature side up until the Sunday afternoon incident.

On Kyle Busch's Facebook page, the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing driver issued a statement calling himself out for his actions.

“I accept NASCAR’s penalty and realize what I did during Sunday’s race at Texas was inappropriate.

“Even in my relatively short time here in NASCAR, it’s pretty obvious to everyone that I wear my emotions on my sleeve. Sometimes that passion has allowed me to find that little something extra I needed to win, and other times it’s made me cross the line. Sunday at Texas was one of those days.

“I lost my cool, plain and simple. It’s not acceptable, and I know that. I apologize to NASCAR, its fans, all the partners who support Joe Gibbs Racing, and all the people who work so hard to give me a racecar that’s capable of winning races every week. All of those people deserve better from me, and I owe it to them to keep my emotions in check.”

While the driver has sufficiently spoken on his conduct, the Joe Gibbs Racing website neglected to share any details of the actual incident. Kyle Busch's race team's post race report for Texas merely called the incident "Subsequent penalties imposed by NASCAR..".

As NASCAR has encouraged drivers to maintain their personalities, incidents such as the one present with Kyle Busch's public and profane display are not going unwatched by the stock car sanctioning body. In fact, it has been rumoured that multiple NASCAR drivers were secretly fined for their conduct on and off the track. Even comments made on social networking site like Facebook and Twitter are under NASCAR scrutiny.

All monetary intake from NASCAR fines are directed to the NASCAR Foundation charity.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Goodbye to the Edmonton Indy

Photo Credit: Chris Jones

Canadian open wheel racing fans have been punted into the tire barrier this week news concerning one of two IZOD IndyCar Series race venues above North America's 49th parallel has surfaced. Late Tuesday night on November 2nd, it was announced that talks between Edmonton city council and the race's promoter Octane Racing Group have broken down.
Edmonton city council, led by newly-reelected incumbent major Stephen Mandel, voted in July of 2010 to enter talks with Octane (who intended to take over event promotion duties from company Northlands) in order to run this major motor race weekend through 2013 at the Edmonton City Centre Airport. Complications set in when the present 1.96 mile temporary race circuit would become unavailable since the airport preferred to have the occupied runways open for air transport. Intent on relocating to a portion of the airport which is unused, this area also required a sizable investment to refurbish for the 2011 Edmonton IndyCar race event. Requiring a total 5.5 million dollar commitment from the government for the City of Edmonton, the race was discontinued for 2011. According to the City of Edmonton, the Indy race weekend had lost 9.2 million dollars through the previous two years leaving further investment in the event less than appetizing.

Following the news of the talks between the Octane and the City of Edmonton, an unnamed source within the IndyCar Series responded "We are disappointed that the city and the promoter were unable to reach an agreement on the venue changes. It's unfortunate that in a time when IndyCar is experiencing momentum and growth, the city would want to miss out on the opportunity to be part of it. We've enjoyed our time at Edmonton as the fans there truly embraced Indy car racing.”.

With the date erased from the 2011 IZOD IndyCar Series schedule, the league has indicated a desire to replace this Canadian event. One rumour has indicated that Octane Racing Group (promoters for the Grand Prix of Canada at Circuit Gilles Villeneuve in Montreal) could possibly work out a deal to run the series in Montreal.

At present time (Tuesday, November 9th), the website for the Edmonton Indy is still up and running having planned for the 2011 race which seems highly unlikely to happen in the future.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Texas-Sized Tempers for Some, Denny Hamlin Wins AAA Texas 500

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/ Getty Images for NASCAR

With 6 of the 10 races completed in NASCAR's Chase for the Sprint Cup, a close three-way title fight finds Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick facing off in the Lone Star state. Running the NASCAR Sprint Cup's AAA Texas 500 at Texas Motor Speedway, this race will be the last time this season that Sprint Cup cars will run 500 miles. The desire for a lot of teams are to win this final longer distance race for 2010.

Expressing importance through qualifying, a strong Ford brigade arose with Elliott Sadler taking the race's pole in surprising fashion. While this pole sitting performance served as a pleasing action during Friday and Saturday for Sadler and the #19 Richard Petty Motorsports team, the race immediately displaced the achievement. Before Elliott Sadler's Ford had an opportunity to lead a single lap, Greg Biffle blew by to lead lap 1 of the AAA Texas 500. Driving the #16 Ford for Roush-Fenway Racing, Biffle would be the class of the field in front for 224 laps at Texas Motor Speedway.

Former driver for Jack Roush, Mark Martin drove his #5 Chevrolet to the front leading on 4 occasions early in the event. With Jimmie Johnson in the thick of the Chase, the performance of Hendrick Motorsports overall had varied. While Martin and Johnson were able to maintain themselves as top-10 cars, Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr spent the Texas event chasing the setup.

While last week's race at Talladega occurred on Halloween day, this Texas Motor Speedway event seemed to have brought out some of the drivers' inner demons. Started on lap 160, the #18 Toyota of Kyle Busch appeared to have been helped into a turn 1 spin. Suffering no noticeable damage from other cars or the wall, Busch hurried to pit lane for the of his Joe Gibbs Racing pit crew. As the pit stop service was underway, the Chevrolet Camaro pace car was dangerously close to lapping the #18 Toyota. Needing to pass the pit-out line ahead of the pace car, Kyle Busch flew down pit road beating the caution vehicle by a slight margin. 

Celebrating the fact they had appeared to have beaten the pace car, NASCAR passed word to the #18 Joe Gibbs Racing crew chief Wally Rogers that their Toyota Camry was detected to be too fast leaving pit road. This penalty erased the lap Kyle Busch and crew thought they had retained with beating out the pace car. Commended lately on his more mature manner, this AAA Texas 500 race would see the easily-angered Kyle Busch of old return.

Pitting to serve the NASCAR-levied penalty on pit road, Kyle Busch vividly displayed an obscene hand gesture (known as 'the finger') to NASCAR official supervising his car on pit road. On returning to the race track, Kyle Busch was told he was now being penalized two more laps by NASCAR for unsportsmanlike conduct in relations to that gesture when serving the previous penalty. While Busch tried to argue "freedom of speech" on radio communications, his crew was less than impressed with their driver's judgement. Recovering one of the three laps lost, Kyle Busch finished 32rd in the event.

Just as the Kyle Busch saga ended, another show of emotions manifested on lap 192. This caution fell on the field for a 7th time in the AAA Texas 500 for a single-car accident for Martin Truex Jr's #56 Toyota (the 3rd and final time in the race for the #56 car). While Truex's part in this NASCAR Sprint Cup race effectively over, this caution bred a situation which resulted between in the eventual retirement of two different cars.

In a bizarre incident, veteran and chase drivers Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon collided on turn 2 after the caution period. As the NASCAR Sprint Cup cars slowed, Gordon's #24 Chevrolet slowed but the #31 Chevrolet of Burton did not sufficiently drop speed. Saying in post race that he wanted to drive aside of Gordon to communicate in regards to an earlier incident, Jeff Burton miscalculated his speed and drove into the right rear of the #24 car. Locked together, Jeff Gordon was propelled into the outside wall causing massive front end damage to the Hendrick Motorsports Dupont machine. Jeff Burton also sustained damage as he passed the #24 Chevy as Gordon's car sliced into the right side of the #31 Chevy like a can opener. As both cars lay stricken with drivers stepping out onto the Texas Motor Speedway oval, Jeff Gordon got out of his Chevrolet highly frustrated. So angry, Gordon stormed towards the Richard Childress Racing driver. Once together, Jeff Gordon grabbed and shoved Burton in an aggressive physical display rarely seen from the four-time NASCAR Cup champion. Requiring two NASCAR officials to keep the dueling drivers apart, they both got into the same Ambulance for the customary check-up after an accident.

Photo Credit: NASCAR Media with no photographer named

Emotions continued as reporters were finally able to get accounts from both drivers on the crash. "I honestly don't know what happened. It was my fault, 100 percent it was my fault. Once we were together, I couldn't get off of him" Burton said on camera for ESPN afterwards admitting responsibility for the accident. Jeff Gordon said "With all the people out there, I never thought it would happen with Jeff Burton." expressing he has lost respect for the #31 Chevrolet driver. Jeff Gordon added "Thankfully I had a long walk down to him, because I think I did the least amount I wanted to do". Burton finished 36th while Gordon placed one position lower in 37th place.

Having been so dominant at Texas Motor Speedway this race, Greg Biffle's performance hit a snag late when the #16 Ford developed an possible gear problem which caused acceleration difficulty on restarts. As the field was slowed two more times for caution, the restarts cost Greg Biffle a chance to bring home his effort with 3rd win of the season. On lap 301, Biffle was past by Mark Martin's Chevrolet who would hold the lead for a short amount of time. Emerging at the right time, Denny Hamlin's #11 Toyota, fielded by Joe Gibbs Racing, took the point on the 306th lap. Hamlin survived a potential charge from a late-race caution to win the AAA Texas 500, the #11 Toyota driver's 8th win of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season. Coming from a 30th place starting spot, Hamlin almost repeated has spring Texas performance where he won after rising from 29th position.

By taking victory, Denny Hamlin also retook the Chase points lead building a 33-point cushion on Jimmie Johnson. Johnson experienced a second fall race in a row at Texas Motor Speedway which ended poorly for him and the #48 Hendrick Motorsports Lowes team. Experiencing inconsistent pit stops early in the Texas race, crew chief of Jimmie Johnson's #48 Chevrolet Chad Knaus was so upset with the crew members' work that he ordered #24 car pit team (out for work for the day as their car was retired) to replace the regular #48 guys. While the stops improved, it leaves to be seen if this move will have lasting effects on the #48 team. Johnson finished 9th on the day losing ground late when he needed to react to Biffle's slow-starting car on the lap 331 restart.

Photo Credit: Rusty Jarrett/ Getty Images for NASCAR 

Third in the Chase and closing after the AAA Texas 500, Kevin Harvick finished 6th in the race just ahead of teammate Clint Bowyer. Harvick now stands unofficially 59 points back heading into Phoenix.

Honourable mentions in the AAA Texas 500 NASCAR Sprint Cup event goes to David Ragan who delivered another classy performance in the #6 UPS Ford in 8th place. Paul Menard also gave Richard Petty Motorsports another gasp of life by rounding out 10th on the field. Finally, NASCAR Nationwide series standout Trevor Bayne had a very respectable first outing in the big league Cup series. Driving the #21 Wood Brothers Ford, Bayne remained on the lead lap in 17th place.

With the championship in hot contention between three drivers and three teams, the second to last round in the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season takes on Phoenix International Raceway next Sunday.

2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup
November 7, 2010
AAA Texas 500
Texas Motor Speedway
Race Results

  1. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota
  2. 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Black Ford
  3. 5 Mark Martin CARQUEST / Chevrolet
  4. 20 Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota
  5. 16 Greg Biffle American Red Cross Ford
  6. 29 Kevin Harvick Shell / Pennzoil Chevrolet
  7. 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios / Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
  8. 6 David Ragan UPS Ford
  9. 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
  10. 98 Paul Menard Quaker State / Menards Ford
  11. 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot / Old Spice Chevrolet
  12. 47 Marcos Ambrose Tom Thumb Toyota
  13. 83 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
  14. 43 A J Allmendinger Valvoline Ford
  15. 00 David Reutimann Aaron's Outdoors Toyota
  16. 1 Jamie McMurray Bass Pro Shops / Arctic Cat Chevrolet
  17. 21 Trevor Bayne Motorcraft / Quick Lane Ford
  18. 77 Sam Hornish Jr. AAA Dodge
  19. 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
  20. 39 Ryan Newman Tornados Chevrolet
  21. 9 Aric Almirola Budweiser Ford
  22. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Racing Chevrolet
  23. 19 Elliott Sadler Stanley Ford
  24. 2 Kurt Busch Operation Home Front / Miller Lite Dodge
  25. 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. National Guard / AMP Energy Chevrolet
  26. 13 Casey Mears GEICO Toyota
  27. 82 Scott Speed Red Bull Toyota
  28. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Lysol Chevrolet
  29. 38 David Gilliland Taco Bell Ford
  30. 10 Bobby Labonte Gander Mountain Outdoors Chevrolet
  31. 26 Patrick Carpentier Air Guard Ford
  32. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
  33. 12 Brad Keselowski No. 12 Penske Dodge
  34. 71 Andy Lally Chevrolet
  35. 7 Robby Gordon MAPEI / Menards Toyota 
  36. 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
  37. 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
  38. 56 Martin Truex Jr. NAPA Auto Parts / Susan G. Komen Signature Toyota
  39. 66 Mike Bliss PRISM Motorsports Toyota
  40. 09 Landon Cassill Phoenix Racing Chevrolet 
  41. 34 Travis Kvapil Long John Silver's Ford
  42. 37 Dave Blaney A&W All American Food Ford
  43. 87 Joe Nemechek Toyota