Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fuel Again Plays into Tony Stewart's Favour for New Hampshire Win

Photo Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

After kicking off the 2011 Chase for the Sprint Cup with a bizarre fuel economy run at Chicagoland Speedway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway was accounted on as a chance to solidify the contenders for the stock car racing championship. A 1.058-mile true oval, the New Hampshire Motor Speedway surface was indeed a different style track. With a race distance a little less than a 100 miles shorter than the Chicagoland event, it would seem unlikely NASCAR Sprint Cup racing fans would see a similar conclusion. Though the Sylvania 300 overall was its own, distinct race, some themes would repeat for the race that started with 43 cars on a Sunday afternoon.

Taking pole, Ryan Newman took dominion of the New Hampshire Motor Speedway early by leading the first 62 laps. With a lack of yellow flags through the early 1/3 distance of the race, Newman's #39 Chevrolet led heading into a green flag pit stop cycle for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series field. By the conclusion of pit stops, the #4 Red Bull Toyota of Kasey Kahne assumed the lead on lap 67.

Slowing the pace of the Sprint Cup stock cars for the first time, debris on the race track drew a yellow flag on lap 88. The first of only three race cautions, there were few opportunities to drastically improve a mishandling race car. Two Chase contending drivers were met with the most difficulty in the fast pace event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Attempting to claim a much better finish than the 31st place he and the #11 Joe Gibbs Racing team collected at Chicagoland, driver Denny Hamlin would not find the 300-lap race as a turning point for their championship hopes. Struggling through the afternoon, Hamlin's best effort with the #11 Toyota team was a 29th place result.

Another Chase favourite started practically started the race one step behind after his #22 Penske Racing Dodge barely made it to the starting line-up after passing NASCAR inspection.

Electing for two tires instead of four,  the #5 Hendrick Motorsports car piloted by Mark Martin was catapulted to the lead. A potentially risky move to gain track position, Martin took full advantage of the front row launch on the race's restart. Leading through the 1/3 mark of the Sylvania 300, Martin conceded the top position back to the #4 car of Kahne. As the race progressed, Jeff Gordon would emerge supreme at lap 163 taking the lead from Kasey Kahne on the restart following a caution period that involved the #51 Chevrolet of Landon Cassill. Leading for 78 laps total for the day, Gordon was the second of three Hendrick Motorsports cars to take a NASCAR Sprint Cup bonus point for pacing the field.

Photo Credit: Hendrick Motorsports

The third and final caution period for the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway resulted with a tangle between Roush-Fenway Racing teammates. The #17 car of Matt Kenseth and Carl Edwards' #99 Ford made contact in turn two drawing the yellow flag on lap 174. Despite the run-in, both drivers quickly recovered to top-10 finishes in the race. Edwards and Kenseth met quickly after the event confirming no ill-will for the accidental altercation on track.

With 123 laps remaining as the green flag was once more displayed on track, some teams pressed forward to complete the event on a very tight fuel strategy. One of those cars was the #33 Chevrolet of Clint Bowyer who eventually progressed to the lead after the #4 car of Kasey Kahne pitted. After missing the Chase for 2011, Bowyer was looking forward to gathering a consulation prize with the first win of the season with the #33 Richard Childress Racing team. However, with two laps remaining, Bowyer's Chevrolet slowed when the V-8 engine was finally starved of fuel. Running in second, Tony Stewart was in the right place at the right time to inherit the lead. Leading only the last 2 laps during the Sylvania 300, Tony Stewart celebrated his second win of the 2011 season. With two victories coming in consecutive races, Stewart launches to a considerable advantage in the Chase. After barely cracking the top-10 at Richmond, the #14 car driver is now propelled into the lead in the 2011 points after New Hampshire.

In the finishing order of the Sylvania 300 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, Tony Stewart was followed by top-5 results by Brad Keselowski, Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers. With the #83 Toyota of Vickers posting the best finish by a non-Chase contender, other drivers outside of the top-12 in NASCAR Sprint Cup points enjoying good runs on the 1.058-mile oval includes David Ragan in 7th, Juan Pablo Montoya in 9th and Regan Smith finishing 10th with the #78 Furniture Row Chevy.

With Tony Stewart leading the standings by 7 points over Kevin Harvick, the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads to Dover International Speedway for the third event in the Chase for the Cup on October 2nd.

2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup
Sylvania 300
New Hampshire Motor Speedway
Race Results

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

  1. 14 Tony Stewart Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet
  2. 2 Brad Keselowski Miller Lite Dodge
  3. 16 Greg Biffle Ford
  4. 24 Jeff Gordon DuPont Chevrolet
  5. 83 Brian Vickers Red Bull Toyota
  6. 17 Matt Kenseth Affliction Clothing Ford
  7. 6 David Ragan UPS Ford
  8. 99 Carl Edwards Scotts Winterguard Ford
  9. 42 Juan Pablo Montoya Degree Men Chevrolet
  10. 78 Regan Smith Furniture Row Chevrolet
  11. 18 Kyle Busch M&M's Toyota
  12. 29 Kevin Harvick Budweiser Chevrolet
  13. 31 Jeff Burton Caterpillar Chevrolet
  14. 20 Joey Logano The Home Depot Toyota
  15. 4 Kasey Kahne Red Bull Toyota
  16. 56 Martin Truex, Jr. NAPA Auto Parts Toyota
  17. 88 Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Diet Mountain Dew/National Guard Chevrolet
  18. 48 Jimmie Johnson Lowe's Chevrolet
  19. 47 Bobby Labonte Bush's Baked Beans Toyota
  20. 27 Paul Menard Sylvania/Menards Chevrolet
  21. 43 AJ Allmendinger Best Buy Ford
  22. 22 Kurt Busch Shell Pennzoil Dodge
  23. 1 Jamie McMurray AXE Cool Metal Chevrolet
  24. 5 Mark Martin Chevrolet
  25. 39 Ryan Newman Haas Automation Chevrolet
  26. 33 Clint Bowyer Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevrolet
  27. 38 JJ Yeley Long John Silver's Ford
  28. 0 David Reutimann Aaron's Dream Machine Toyota
  29. 11 Denny Hamlin FedEx Ground Toyota
  30. 9 Marcos Ambrose DeWalt Ford
  31. 32 Mike Bliss Street King Ford
  32. 34 David Gilliland Front Row Motorsports Ford
  33. 51 Landon Cassill Phoenix Construction/Thank A Teacher Today Chev
  34. 71 Andy Lally # Interstate Moving Services Ford
  35. 36 Dave Blaney Golden Corral/HOF Richie Evans Chevrolet
  36. 87 Joe Nemechek AM FM Energy Toyota
  37. 66 Michael McDowell HP Racing Toyota
  38. 30 David Stremme Inception Motorsports Chevrolet
  39. 37 Josh Wise Front Row Motorsports Ford
  40. 7 Robby Gordon SPEED Energy Dodge
  41. 46 Scott Speed Red Line Oil Ford
  42. 13 Casey Mears GEICO Toyota
  43. 55 Travis Kvapil Front Row Motorsports Ford

No comments:

Post a Comment