Thursday, March 31, 2011

Race Preview: NASCAR Sprint Cup Goody's Fast Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway

Track Information

Race Title: Goody's Fast Relief 500
NASCAR Sprint Cup Race Number for 2011: 6 
Location: Martinsville, Virginia
Opened: 1947
First Cup Race: July 4th, 1948
Configuration: 0.526 mile Oval

Driver Statistics (Last 5 Events)

Past Pole Winners

2006- Jimmie Johnson
2007- Denny Hamlin
2008- Jeff Gordon
2009- Jeff Gordon
2010- Kevin Harvick

Past Winners

2006- Tony Stewart
2007- Jimmie Johnson
2008- Denny Hamlin
2009- Jimmie Johnson
2010- Denny Hamlin

Average Finishes of top-6 in 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Points

Carl Edwards- 15.2
Ryan Newman- 12.2
Kurt Busch- 19.4
Kyle Busch- 18.6
Jimmie Johnson- 3.6
Tony Stewart- 8.4

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Vettel Title Defence Mode in 2011 Launched with Australian GP Win

Photo Credit: Lorenzo Bellanca/LAT Photographic

After nearly four months of silence, the 17,000-plus RPM Formula 1 engines lit up in Australia for the start of a 2011 season. The 2011 Australian Grand Prix was the premiere showcase of open wheel teams and drivers eager to gain momentum into an uncharted year.

Featuring new drivers, new colours and new rules, the qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix was a case of the more things change, the more they stay the same. Making the run for pole, the Red Bull-Renault and McLaren-Mercedes cars were being wheeled by the same driver line-up as last year. Outdoing the efforts of McLaren F1 team drivers Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, 2010 Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel rocketed to the pole around the Albert Park circuit.

On a beautiful, sunny Sunday afternoon, Vettel and Hamilton led the field of 22 Formula 1 cars in total to the start of the 2011 international motorsport battle. Standing until the lights flickered off at Albert Park, the Red Bull-Renault of Sebastian Vettel launched flawlessly out of his grid position. Hamilton could only follow the German reigning champion as the full swept through turn one without incident.

Having been criticized his 2010 rookie year for taking risky manoeuvres on track, Vitaly Petrov's full season of Formula 1 experience was masterfully applied on the start of the Australian Grand Prix. Rolling off 6th in his Lotus Renault GP car, Petrov was able to keep his Pirelli race tires adhered to the race surface early flying past the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso and the McLaren-Mercedes driven by last year's grand prix winner Jenson Button. Out of the first corner of the 2011 Australian Grand Prix, Vettel led Hamilton ahead of Mark Webber's Red Bull-Renault and Petrov.

Though all the Formula 1 drivers made it safely through the first corner on the start, the entire opening lap was not without incident. Seven-time Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher made contact in turn three when his Mercedes and Jaime Alguersuari's Toro Rosso-Ferrari. Resulting in front nose damage on the Toro Rosso and a tire puncture to the Mercedes race car, both drivers were able to limp back to the pit. Side pod damage was also reported on Nick Heidfeld's Lotus-Renault race car. Jaime Alguersuari and Heidfeld continued through the 58-lap race finishing just outside of the points-paying positions. Michael Schumacher was able to continue running on track, Mercedes car was eventually forced to retire when structural damage to the car was discovered on the vehicle's under tray.

Photo Credit: Mercedes GP

Trouble for half of the Mercedes GP team would eventually be compounded just three laps following Schumacher's car being parked. Running in 8th position managing lap 22, Nico Rosberg's Mercedes was ahead of Rubens Barrichello driving a Williams-Cosworth. Barrichello had made a dramatic grid position pick up from 17th place within the early stages of the Australian Grand Prix and began sizing up Rosberg into turn 3 at Albert Park. The Sauber-Ferrari of Kamui Kobayashi hounded the duel during that course of the event causing Barrichello to exercise some aggressive driving. So aggressive, Barrichello stormed into turn 3 in effort to overtake the Mercedes race car. In a serious misjudgement, the Williams-Cosworth impacted Rosberg's Mercedes costing both drivers a chance of World Championship points. Rosberg's car quickly lost water pressure causing the German to park the Mercedes off track near turn 13. "I saw Rubens in my mirror and he was quite far away so I was surprised that he hit me. I immediately thought that was it and I had to pull over to stop the car." Nico Rosberg said having to officially cap off the Mercedes GP team's effort in Australia. While Barrichello received reprimands from both the Mercedes team and Formula 1 stewards for causing the contact, the Brazilian testified after the race saying, "I wasn’t planning on overtaking him at that point, I was defending from Kobayashi. I think we have one tyre with grip and one with less and so we have different braking points". With Rosberg immediately out of the grand prix, Rubens Barrichello would also retire later due to a transmission issue.

Photo Credit: Glenn Dunbar/LAT Photographic

Enjoying what appeared to be a far too easy outing; Sebastian Vettel drove his Red Bull-Renault to victory in the 2011 Australian Grand Prix. Winning the final two races last season en route to his world title, Vettel's third straight Formula 1 victory had him finish 22.2 seconds ahead of Lewis Hamilton's McLaren after the 58-lap distance. While Mark Webber appeared able to deliver a double podium finish for the Red Bull Racing group in the early stages of his home grand prix, the Australian driver lost ground and positions in relations to pit lane. Webber would wind up 5th in the race behind Fernando Alonso's 4th place finishing Ferrari.

Taking 3rd in the event was Vitaly Petrov driving for the newly branded Lotus Renault GP team. Becoming the first Russian driver ever to record a Formula 1 podium result, Vitaly Petrov remained humble on his accomplishment. "I have to say a big thanks to everyone in the team for working so hard and for supporting me over the winter. This result is for all of us and I’m totally ecstatic." With lead driver Robert Kubica suffering injury in a rally car event prior to the season, the Lotus Renault GP team 2011 planning set off kilter requiring the team to call in the services of Nick Heidfeld and reconfiguring the team to focus largely on sophomore Petrov's season.

Crossing the line firmly in point-paying positions, the Sauber F1 team would find their initial double point-scoring first of the Formula 1 season reversed after the race. Race stewards inspection of the Sauber-Ferrari race cars uncovered the rear wing radius was out of tolerances. As a result, Sauber F1 cars were declared disqualified with drivers Sergio Pérez as well as Kamui Kobayashi losing their 7th and 8th place finishes. Filing an appeal immediately after the disqualifications, Sauber F1 would withdraw the challenge on Tuesday when the team determined there was indeed a fault made within prepping the vehicles. In a statement on their team website, Sauber Technical Director James Key “It did not bring us any performance advantage, but the fact is that it was a deviation from the regulations."

The revised result to the 2011 Australian Grand Prix promoted the Ferrari of Felipe Massa to 7th and the Toro Rosso-Ferrari of Sebestian Buemi into 8th place. Bad news for the entire Sauber team, good news came to the Force India cars of Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta will inherited the final points-paying spots.

April 10th will be the date for Formula 1's second race of the 2011 season set in Malaysia.

2011 Australian Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos #| Car # | Driver |  Team

1. 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing
2. 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren
3. 10 Vitaly Petrov Lotus Renault GP
4. 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
5. 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing
6. 4 Jenson Button McLaren
7. 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
8. 18 Sebastien Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso
9. 14 Adrian Sutil Force India
10. 15 Paul di Resta Force India
11. 19 Jaime Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso
12. 9 Nick Heidfeld Lotus Renault GP
13. 20 Jarno Trulli Team Lotus
14. 25 Jérôme D’Ambrosio Marussia Virgin Racing
15. 24 Timo Glock Marussia Virgin Racing
16. 17 Sergio Pérez Sauber
17. 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber
18. 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams F1
19. 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
20. 21 Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus
21. 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
22. 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Harvick's Last Lap Hustle Captures Victory at Home in California

Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR

By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

(March 27, 2011)

FONTANA, Calif.—Hometown boy (finally) makes good.

Kevin Harvick, who grew up in Bakersfield—about 150 miles from Auto Club Speedway—needed a last-lap pass of Jimmie Johnson to win for the first time at the 2-mile track, in his 18th attempt.

Harvick won Sunday’s Auto Club 400 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race, powering his No. 29 Chevrolet to the outside of Johnson’s No. 48 Chevy through Turns 3 and 4 and beating Johnson to the finish line by .144 seconds.

Harvick, who restarted fifth with nine laps remaining, surged to the front on the final two laps, passing Kyle Busch and Johnson in the process. The victory was Harvick’s first of the season and 15th of his career and moved him up six spots in the points standings to ninth.

Busch, who led a race-high 151 laps, came home third, followed by Matt Kenseth and Ryan Newman. Carl Edwards, Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers, Kasey Kahne and polesitter Juan Pablo Montoya completed the top 10. Edwards took over the series lead by nine points over Newman.

Busch held the lead until Lap 198, when Johnson passed him to the inside after the cars crossed the stripe. The duel between Busch and Johnson allowed Harvick to gain ground.

A caution on Lap 185 of 200, after Bobby Labonte blew a right front tire and slammed the Turn 4 wall, meant decision time for the crew chiefs. With Labonte’s wrecked car blocking the entrance to pit road, the pits remained closed until Lap 189, when Labonte’s car was dragged to the garage by a wrecker.

Busch, Johnson, Tony Stewart, Bowyer, Harvick, Newman and Edwards stayed on the track during the caution, with Kenseth leading a group of cars to pit road.

“Those guys just started to race,” Harvick said. “They got side by side, and we were able to pull up in there. The more laps we got on our tires, the better we were, but I was really nervous about that last call—staying out—but it all worked out in our favor, and we were able to make up ground.

“(Crew chief) Gil (Martin) obviously knew that we were better after the tires had air in them (as pressure built during green-flag runs), and it all worked out today.”

Johnson’s battle with Busch opened the door for Harvick, who led one lap—the one that counted.

“If I could have gotten by the No. 18 (Busch) a lap sooner, maybe that would have made the difference, and I would have had enough of a margin to hold off the No. 29, but he was rolling on the top,” Johnson said. “I did all I could. I was dead sideways. I think I hit the fence one time off of (Turn) 2, chasing Kyle, with the right rear first because it was sliding off the corner.”

After a cycle of stops that began when Busch pitted from the lead on Lap 138, Busch held a 6.5-second lead over Stewart, who began to make up ground throughout the ensuing green-flag run. Stewart had erased all but 1.3 seconds of Busch’s advantage when another cycle of green-flag stops widened the lead to 2.5 seconds.

Andy Lally’s spin off Turn 4 on Lap 170, however, brought out the third caution of the race and bunched the field for a restart on Lap 175. Busch and Stewart took the green flag side-by-side, with Busch in the outside lane, and the driver of the No. 18 Toyota pulled away to a half-second lead within three laps.

Notes: Sunday’s race was Harvick’s 39th at Fontana in NASCAR’s top three series. He is winless in 17 NASCAR Nationwide Series and four NASCAR Camping World Truck Series starts. He finished third in Saturday’s Royal Purple 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race. … Harvick’s victory was the first at Fontana for team owner Richard Childress. … Harvick teammate Paul Menard finished 16th, improving on his previous best finish of 18th at Fontana. Menard, who is seventh in the standings, has personal-best results at all five tracks this season. … Dale Earnhardt Jr. came home 12th and fell to 12th in points, 31 behind Edwards.

Auto Club 400
2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Auto Club Speedway
Race Results


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

1) 29 Kevin Harvick Jimmy John's Chevrolet
2) 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
3) 18 Kyle Busch Interstate Batteries Toyota
4) 17 Matt Kenseth Crown Royal Ford
5) 39 Ryan Newman U.S. Army Chevrolet
6) 99 Carl Edwards Aflac Ford
7) 33 Clint Bowyer Ronald Reagan Fndtn's Centennial Chevrolet
8) 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
9) 4 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
10) 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Target Chevrolet

Other Notables

12) 88 Dale Earnhardt Jr. AMP Energy/National Guard Chevrolet
13) 14 Tony Stewart Office Depot/Mobil 1 Chevrolet
17) 22 Kurt Busch Southern California AAA Dodge
18) 24 Jeff Gordon Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet
20) 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
25) 20 Joey Logano Home Depot Toyota
26) 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge
39) 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Office Toyota

Kyle Busch Wins Second Straight Nationwide Race of Season in California

Photo Credit: Jeff Gross/Getty Images

By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

FONTANA, Calif.—Kyle Busch drove it like he stole it over the final 13 Laps at Auto Club Speedway, because that’s exactly what happened in Saturday’s Royal Purple 300 Nationwide Series race.

About the only thing he didn’t get was a grand larceny charge.

Thanks to a two-tire call with 13 laps left, Busch exited the pits with a five-second lead over runner-up Carl Edwards and won a race in a No. 18 Toyota that was, at best, a third-place car.

Busch’s victory kept a litany of streaks intact. Busch won his third straight event in NASCAR’s top two national series, his third straight Nationwide Series race at Auto Club Speedway and the seventh straight Nationwide race at the 2-mile track for Joe Gibbs Racing, dating to Tony Stewart’s victory in 2008.

The win, Busch’s fourth in the past five races at Fontana, gave him 46 career wins in the series, three short of the series record of Mark Martin, who finished eighth Saturday.

"I think it’s pretty satisfying when you can win one like that," Busch said. "I mean, it’s great to go out there and kick everybody’s butt and win the race and just come to the media center and go home. But today, it’s a little bit more fun.

"I don’t know why, but it’s like you’re working your butt off all day long, and it’s like ‘Aw, man, it’s going to be a third today. That kind of stings, but it’s still decent.’ And then you end up making a pit call like that, where nobody else does it, and you’re like, ‘Damn, we’re going to win this thing,’ and you get all jacked up."

Busch took the lead during an exchange of late-race pit stops and expanded it with the two-tire call on Lap 137 of 150. When Busch exited the pits with new right-side tires, he had the five-second lead over Edwards.

Though Edwards and third-place Kevin Harvick closed fast on four new tires during the final 12 laps, they ran out of time. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran fourth and took the lead in the series standings by six points over Jason Leffler (11th Saturday). Elliott Sadler came home fifth.

Harvick, who pitted on Lap 134, said he never considered a two-tire call.

"Two tires never even crossed my mind," Harvick said. "If I had to do it again, I’d probably pit earlier and probably get on pit road a little harder. Whether it would have changed the outcome or not, I don’t know. Still a good day for us."

Edwards, who came to the pits on Lap 132, wondered whether someone might try two tires but not in time to do anything about it.

"I did not think of two tires until we were jacked up on the left side of the car," Edwards said. "I thought, ‘Man, this is kind of close to the end. I wonder if somebody will take two, but I didn’t really think about it more than that.

"I guess it’s a little bit of shame that it didn’t come down to a real battle at the end, but it very well could have. A little bit of a slower stop on Kyle’s car or a caution or something like that, and it was going to be an insane finish."

Harvick was first off pit road during the fifth caution—caused by Jeremy Clements’ spin in Turn 2—and took the green flag for a Lap 98 restart. Stenhouse, however, surged from fourth to the top spot on Lap 99.

Stenhouse, who had perhaps the best short-run car in the field, held the lead until Edwards regained it on Lap 109. But Harvick began to show his strength as the green-flag run progressed, and the driver of the No. 33 Chevrolet made short work of Edwards on Lap 115 to pace the field.

Royal Purple 300
2011 NASCAR Nationwide Series
Auto Club Speedway
Top-10 Finishers

1) 18 Kyle Busch Z-Line Designs Toyota
2) 60 Carl Edwards Roush Fenway Racing
3) 33 Kevin Harvick Rheem Pool and Spa Heaters Chevrolet
4) 6 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Roush Fenway Racing Ford
5) 2 Elliott Sadler Bad Boy Buggies Chevrolet
6) 16 Trevor Bayne Roush Fenway Racing Ford
7) 20 Joey Logano GameStop Toyota
8) 32 Mark Martin Dollar General Chevrolet
9) 88 Aric Almirola Ragu/Food 4 Less Chevrolet
10) 22 Brad Keselowski Discount Tire Dodge

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Reigning F1 Champ Vettel Defense Starts with Australian GP Pole

Photo Credit: Mercedes GP

With the start of the 2011 Formula 1 season delayed to the due cancellation of the Bahrain Grand Prix amid government protests and regional instability, the extra time gave the multi-million dollar teams much-needed additional time to ready for the season debut in Australian.

Convening for the 2011 Australian Grand Prix, drivers and teams of Formula 1 will competition quickly find out if the sporting moves made in the off-season would play off on grand prix weekends. Question swirl ahead of Formula 1 cars making their first laps in competition. Will the Red Bull Racing squad’s with 2010 champion Sebastian Vettel repeat their magical year in 2011? Could McLaren, Ferrari or even another team emerge as revitalized challengers for 2011 Formula 1 glory? How will the Lotus saga play out on the racetrack between two separate teams? Will Pirelli gain respect in the first race as the grand prix grid’s sole tire supplier? As engines started for Formula 1 qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix, racing fans gain the first pieces of evidence to solving these questions.

Right from the start of Q1, the leading early combatants for the 2011 Formula 1 season was established as Red Bull Racing and McLaren. 2010 Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel was in top form early in the Red Bull-Renault beating Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren-Mercedes Q1 time by less than 1/10th of a second. Amongst the top drivers in Q1, sophomore Formula 1 pilot Vitaly Petrov soared in the newly minted Lotus-Renault GP team. The Russian Petrov was 3rd fastest in Q1 and eventually placed 6th fastest at the end of Australian Grand Prix qualifying.

In Q2, Red Bull and McLaren continued to dice for the front positions at the Australian Grand Prix track. Button took the early but Sebastian Vettel would soon attack to Albert Park circuit posting a top time at 1:24.090 to repeat as qualifying session leader.

A few cars and drivers met with misadventures through Q2 of the first qualifying session of 2011. Overrunning a turn, Rubens Barricello’s beached his Williams found the sand trap early in the second qualifying grouping. In a more dramatic display later, Ardian Sutil lost control out of the final turn as the driver was laying power onto the Albert Park circuit. Spinning his Force India-Mercedes ahead of the start-finish line on the front stretch, Sutil kept the Formula 1 car out of the walls regaining control.

Fighting for respect, Mercedes GP drivers Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher returned in 2011. Early on in Australia, Rosberg continued to outpace his teammate; the 7-time champion Schumacher. Progressing through all three sessions of qualifying, Nico Rosberg would obtain a 7th place start for the Sunday main event. Topping his best lap effort, Michael Schumacher’s Mercedes GP car just missed the 10-car field for Q3 qualifying ending 11th for the beginning of the Australian Grand Prix.

Shooting first, the McLaren Formula 1 team drivers unloaded their machines on the Albert Park track at the start of Q3. The McLaren-Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton led that charge just about 10 seconds ahead of teammate Jenson Button. On his early hot lap, Hamilton delivered a 1:24.501 second time. In the second McLaren-Mercedes, Button fell short of his teammate by 3/10th of a second. Taking first and second spot early in Q3, McLaren would for face a final challenge from the Red Bull Racing duo.

Leading the Austrian-based group, the reigning Formula 1 champion Sebastian Vettel delivered a shockingly fast effort little more than 30 seconds following the McLaren cars clocked the racetrack. Finding speed that would prove unmatchable, Vettel posted a fastest lap of 1:23.529 seconds. Beating eventual 2nd place in Q3 driver Lewis Hamilton by 0.778 seconds, the Red Bull Racing driver was the only driver throughout the Australian Grand Prix qualifying to enter the 1 minute, 23 second territory.

Taking the pole position for the 2011 Australian Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettel repeats his Formula 1 qualifying performance last season. Vettel’s Red Bull teammate Mark Webber improved greatly through the session picking up from an 8th fastest run in Q1 to a 3rd place starting spot for his home grand prix. The second McLaren of Jenson Button will start 4th on Sunday followed by the Ferrari driven by Fernando Alonso.

For the first grand prix of the 2011 Formula 1 season, 22 cars will line the grid for the 58-lap event. Bumped out of the race are the HRT F1 drivers of Narain Karthikeyan and Vitantonio Liuzzi who failed to meet Formula 1’s newly reinstituted 107 percent qualifying time rule.

2011 Australian Grand Prix
Starting Grid

Pos # | Car # | Driver | Team

1. 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing
2. 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren
3. 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing
4. 4 Jenson Button McLaren
5. 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
6. 10 Vitaly Petrov Lotus Renault GP
7. 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
8. 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
9. 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber
10. 18 Sebastien Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso
11. 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
12. 19 Jaime Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso
13. 17 Sergio Pérez Sauber
14. 15 Paul di Resta Force India
15. 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1
16. 14 Adrian Sutil Force India
17. 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams F1
18. 9 Nick Heidfeld Lotus Renault GP
19. 21 Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus
20. 20 Jarno Trulli Team Lotus
21. 24 Timo Glock Marussia Virgin Racing
22. 25 Jérôme D’Ambrosio Marussia Virgin Racing

Did Not Qualify

23. 23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT F1
24. 22 Narain Karthikeyan HRT F1

Monday, March 21, 2011

2011 Formula 1 Driver Lineup

Photo Credit: Mercedes GP

2011 Formula 1 Lineup (Teams ordered by position in 2010 constructor points)

Red Bull Racing

1 Sebastian Vettel
2 Mark Webber

McLaren F1

3 Lewis Hamilton
4 Jenson Button

Scuderia Ferrari

5 Fernando Alonso
6 Felipe Massa

Mercedes GP

7 Michael Schumacher
8 Nico Rosberg

Lotus-Renault GP

9 Nick Heidfeld
10 Vitaly Petrov

AT and T/Williams F1

11 Rubens Barrichello
12 Pastor Maldonado

Force India

14 Adrian Sutil
15 Paul di Resta


16 Kamui Kobayashi
17 Sergio Pérez

Scuderia Toro Rosso

18 Sebastien Buemi
19 Jaime Alguersuari

Team Lotus

20 Jarno Trulli
21 Heikki Kovalainen

22 Narain Karthikeyan
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi

Marussia Virgin Racing

24 Timo Glock
25 Jérôme D’Ambrosio

Kyle Busch Emerges as King of Bristol Through Sprint Cup Win

Photo Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR

By Reid Spencer
Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

(March 20, 2011)

BRISTOL, Tenn.—The question isn’t whether Kyle Busch will win at Bristol Motor Speedway—it’s whether anyone else can find a way to keep him out of victory lane.

First off pit road after stops under caution on Lap 429, Busch held off polesitter Carl Edwards and defending race winner Jimmie Johnson to win his fifth straight race in NASCAR’s top three national series at the .533-mile short track.

Busch’s victory in Sunday’s Jeff Byrd 500 was his 20th in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, his first of the season and his second straight at Thunder Valley. Busch capped his second straight weekend sweep at Bristol, having won Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series event.

Last August, Busch became the first driver to win three national series races at the same track on the same weekend when he claimed victories in NASCAR’s Camping World Truck, NASCAR Nationwide and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

Edwards finished second for the second time in four races this season, and Johnson finished third, also for the second time in 2011. Matt Kenseth was fourth and Paul Menard fifth. Kurt Busch, Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle, Kasey Kahne and Ryan Newman completed the top 10.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

2011 IZOD INDYCAR TV Schedule for US and Canada

Photo source: Chris Nagy/XSL Speed Reporter

Confirming the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR schedule by announcing a poorly-kept secret of Las Vegas Motor Speedway hosting the finale event, the open wheel racing series' television partners in the United States and Canada will continue broadcasting action and sounds.

For the United States, ABC will cover 5 races (including the 2011 series opener, the Indianapolis 500 and the Las Vegas finale) while VERSUS is slated to cover the remaining 12 events. Both television broadcasters provided coverage to the 2010 IZOD INDYCAR season. Just like last season, all rounds of the open wheel racing series will be shown live through the American networks.

In Canada, TSN is continue to simulcast the United States network's broadcasts. Feeding 11 race coverage to their digital channel TSN2, the cable and satellite sports network in Canada have been criticized by the sizable open wheel racing fan base for not meeting the races as accessible as other sports including NASCAR. Last season, the Iowa Speedway round for the IZOD INDYCAR Series (regarded in hindsight as one of the better competitions of the 2010 season) ran on a nearly 10-hour tape-delay on the TSN2 digital channel. In my personal opinion, its bad enough to run an auto racing event on a time delay but if they want to run it late night, shift it to the base TSN channel. For 2011, Iowa Speedway round is made into a night race and therefore TSN2 intends to carry the race live.

TSN, in conjunction with TSN2, again appears to not be siding entirely with open wheel fans for 2011. Notable on the Canadian television schedule is the broadcasts of the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, Kentucky Indy 300 and the inaugural Baltimore Grand Prix starting later than the US live broadcast times. While sometimes TSN enters into live coverage following a 30 minute to 1-hour prerace show, the air time gaps on the mentioned to those races is substantial. While an one and half hour difference exists with the IZOD INDYCAR round in Long Beach between US and Canadian tv carriers, the second-to-last round of the 2011 season at Kentucky sees a four and a half hour gap. The Baltimore Grand Prix is set for a tape delay as deep as the Iowa race last season. While an afternoon event in September, the IZOD INDYCAR's Baltimore Grand Prix will not air until 11pm at night on TSN2.

Fortunately, VERSUS broadcasts of the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR Series Canadian rounds (the Honda Indy of Toronto and the reinstated Edmonton Indy) will air live on the more widely-viewed base TSN channel.

The following television schedule for the 2011 IZOD INDYCAR Series is mentioned as tentative and could change due to weather or other issues.

Honda Grand Prix of St. Petersburg
Streets of St. Petersburg
Sunday, March 27

U.S. Carrier: ABC 12:30pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN2 12:30pm et

Honda Indy Grand Prix of Alabama
Barber Motorsports Park
Sunday, April 10

U.S. Carrier: VERSUS 3:00 pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN 3:00pm et

Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach
Streets of Long Beach
Sunday, April 17

U.S. Carrier: VERSUS 3:30pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN2 5:00pm et

Itaipava Sao Paulo Indy 300 presented by Nestle
Street of Sao Paulo
Sunday, May 1

U.S. Carrier: VERSUS Noon et
Canadian Carrier: TSN2 Noon et

Indianapolis 500
Indianapolis Motor Speedway
Sunday, May 29

U.S. Carrier: ABC Noon et
Canadian Carrier: TSN Noon et

Firestone Twin 275s
Texas Motor Speedway
Saturday, June 11

U.S. Carrier: VERSUS 8:00pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN 8:00pm et

The Milwaukee 225
The Milwaukee Mile
Sunday, June 19

U.S. Carrier: ABC 3:30pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN2 4:30pm et

Iowa Corn Indy 250
Iowa Speedway
Saturday, June 25

U.S. Carrier: VERSUS 8:00pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN2 8:00pm et

Honda Indy of Toronto
Streets of Toronto
Sunday, July 10

U.S. Carrier: Versus 2:00pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN 2:00pm et

Edmonton Indy
Edmonton City Centre Airport
Sunday, July 24

U.S. Carrier: VERSUS 2:00pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN 2:00pm et

Honda Indy 200
Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course
Sunday, August 7

U.S. Carrier: VERSUS 2:00pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN2 2:00pm et

New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Sunday, August 14

U.S. Carrier: ABC 3:30pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN2 4:00pm et

Indy Grand Prix of Sonoma
Infineon Raceway
Sunday, August 28

U.S. Carrier: VERSUS 4:00pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN 4:00pm et

Baltimore Grand Prix
Streets of Baltimore
Sunday, September 4

U.S. Carrier: VERSUS 2:00pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN2 11:00pm et

Indy Japan 300
Twin-Ring Motegi
Sunday, September 18

U.S. Carrier: VERSUS 11:00pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN2 11:00pm et

Kentucky Indy 300
Kentucky Speedway
Sunday, October 2

U.S. Carrier: VERSUS 2pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN2 6:30pm et

IZOD INDYCAR World Championships at Las Vegas
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
Sunday, October 16

U.S. Carrier: ABC 3:30pm et
Canadian Carrier: TSN2 4:00pm et

Saturday, March 12, 2011

Kasey Takes Kyle Busch Motorsports Truck to Win at Darlington

Geoff Burke/ Getty Images for NASCAR

By Jared Turner
Special to the Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service

DARLINGTON, S.C.—Kasey Kahne did it again.

Making his first and possibly only Camping World Truck Series start of the year, Kahne cruised to a relatively comfortable win in Saturday’s Too Tough To Tame 200 at Darlington Raceway.

The victory made Kahne the first driver in the truck series to win three of his first four starts.

Second alongside Elliott Sadler on a restart with 53 laps to go, Kahne immediately dispatched of Sadler—who had taken two tires under the previous caution—and never trailed again.

Kahne held on through three more restarts, including a final one with three laps to go, to take the checkered flag ahead of four-time series champion Ron Hornaday Jr. and 2010 Darlington winner Todd Bodine. Matt Crafton and James Buescher completed the top five.

Kahne’s stiffest challenge over the final laps came from Bodine, who once moved alongside before getting loose and falling into the clutches of Hornaday.

“I gave it a shot and got sucked around and got loose and all that and finished third,” Bodine said.

Kahne, a full-time driver in the Sprint Cup Series since, scored truck wins at Darlington and Homestead-Miami Speedway in 2004 and finished second last year at Pocono Raceway.

Saturday marked Kahne’s second appearance in the Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota normally driven by team owner Kyle Busch, who was vacationing in Cancun.

“This is one of my favorite racetracks,” said Kahne, who qualified second and led four times for 95 of the 147 laps. “I’m really glad I came. I really enjoy driving this thing.”

Matt Crafton remained the series leader, stretching his advantage to six points on rookie Cole Whitt, who moved into second after three races. Whitt finished an impressive eighth after starting from the pole and leading twice for 30 laps before dropping back with a pit-road mistake and engine issue.

Whitt, 19, was making his fourth career truck series start, his first at Darlington.

“The track just kind of suited my driving style, and from the get-go we just kind of fell into the rhythm,” Whitt said.

The race was slowed by 10 cautions, including one for a three-truck wreck involving Johanna Long, Ricky Carmichael and Nelson Piquet Jr. that brought out the red flag for 7 minutes, 37 seconds.

Notes: Kahne’s margin of victory was 1.116 seconds. … Kahne, who started second, became the fourth winner to start inside the top five. Bodine started eighth last year, and Bobby Hamilton started 14th when he won in 2003. … Kahne’s three wins tie Rich Bickle, Andy Houston and Dave Rezendes for 27th on the all-time win list.

Article provided with permission of NASCAR

Pos # | Car # | Driver ('i' denotes ineligibility for championship)| Sponsor/ Vehicle Make

1.18 Kasey Kahne(i) Toyota Toyota
2. 33 Ron Hornaday Jr. Tide / Kroger Chevrolet
3. 30 Todd Bodine Toyota
4. 88 Matt Crafton Tarkett / Menards Chevrolet
5. 31 James Buescher Wolfpack Rentals Chevrolet
6. 17 Timothy Peters GearWrench Toyota
7. 2 Elliott Sadler(i) Armour Vienna Sausages / Bi-Lo Chevrolet
8. 60 Cole Whitt Red Bull Chevrolet
9. 13 Johnny Sauter SafeAuto / Curb Records Chevrolet
10. 81 David Starr ZACHRY Toyota
11. 92 Clay Rogers BTS Tire & Wheel Distributor / Fleet HQ Chevrolet
12. 93 Shane Sieg S&W Chevrolet
13. 77 Justin Lofton Lofton Cattle Toyota
14. 29 Parker Kligerman Penske Truck Leasing Dodge
15. 3 Austin Dillon Bass Pro Shops/Remington/Tracker Boats Chevrolet
16. 39 Ryan Sieg S&W Chevrolet
17. 5 Travis Kvapil International Truck / Monaco RV's Toyota
18. 9 Max Papis GEICO Toyota
19. 46 Craig Goess Greenville Toyota of N.C. Toyota
20. 1 Jeffrey Earnhardt Fuel Doctor Chevrolet
21. 15 Dusty Davis Vision Airlines / Emerald Coast Toyota
22. 50 T J Bell LibertyTireRecycling/PinnacleRubberMulch Chevrolet
23. 07 Jamie Dick Chevrolet
24. 66 Justin Marks GoPro Chevrolet
25. 62 Brendan Gaughan South Point Hotel and Casino Toyota
26. 57 Norm Benning Norm Benning Racing Chevrolet
27. 7 Miguel Paludo Stemco Duroline Toyota
28. 22 Joey Coulter RCR / Darrell Gwynn Foundation Chevrolet
29. 25 Tayler Malsam One Eighty Toyota
30. 4 Ricky Carmichael Monster Energy Chevrolet
31. 20 Johanna Long Panhandle Grading & Paving Toyota
32. 8 Nelson Piquet Jr. Qualcomm / Nelson Piquet Chevrolet
33. 23 Jason White Chevrolet
34. 10 Chase Mattioli Ford
35. 51 Justin Johnson Vision Airlines / Wounded Warrior Toyota
36. 32 Brad Sweet Great Clips Chevrolet

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Weekend Racing Weather Forecast: March 4th to 6th, 2011

Las Vegas, Nevada
Las Vegas Motor Speedway
NASCAR Sprint Cup/ NASCAR Nationwide


High Temperature: 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit)
Low Temperature: 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit)
Chance of Precipitation: 0%

Track Activities:

9:00 AM to 10:15 AM- NNS PRACTICE
10:45 AM to 11:50 AM- NNS FINAL PRACTICE
12:00 PM to 1:30 PM- NSCS PRACTICE


High Temperature: 19 degrees Celsius (66 degrees Fahrenheit)
Low Temperature: 4 degrees Celsius (39 degrees Fahrenheit)
Chance of Precipitation: 0%

Track Activities:

12:00 PM to 3:00 PM- NNS RACE (200 LAPS, 300 MILES)


High Temperature: 22 degrees Celsius (72 degrees Fahrenheit)
Low Temperature: 7 degrees Celsius (45 degrees Fahrenheit)
Chance of Precipitation: 0%

Track Activities:

12:00 PM to 3:00 PM- NSCS RACE (267 LAPS, 400.5 MILES)