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NASCAR and MotorSports – From a Queer Perspective

Queers4Gears.com - NASCAR and MotorSports – From a Queer Perspective

McMurray snatches victory from Edwards, Harvick in Sprint All-Star Race

[ via NASCAR Wire Service - by Reid Spencer ]

credit NASCAR Wire Service / Getty

Streaking away from an intense battle with polesitter Carl Edwards to open the final 10-lap segment Saturday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, Jamie McMurray won the Sprint All-Star Race—and the million-dollar-plus prize that goes with the victory—for the first time in his career.

McMurray held off fast-closing Kevin Harvick, who crossed the finish line .696 seconds behind the race winner.

Matt Kenseth ran third, followed by Dale Earnhardt Jr., Edwards and four-time Sprint All-Star Race winner Jimmie Johnson.

Earlier in the day, McMurray’s son carter had asked the driver what his plans for the day were.

“He asked me what I was going to do today, so I asked him what he was going to do today,” said McMurray, who has tallied two of his seven Sprint Cup victories in points races at Charlotte. “And he said, ‘Oh, I’m going to play in my sandbox. What are you going to do, Dad?’

“I said, ‘I’m going to race for a million bucks, Carter.’ It’s so cool that we were actually able to win.”

The advantage McMurray opened after his breathtaking three-lap battle against Edwards gave him enough margin to hold off Harvick, who was closing fast in the final laps.

“It was three or four of the hardest laps I’ve ever driven in my racing career,” McMurray said.

It was first-year crew chief Keith Rodden’s strategy, however, that put McMurray in position to win. After a pit stop on Lap 26, McMurray didn’t take four tires again until the break between the final two segments, and on that final stop, superb work by his crew got him off pit road second and in a position to challenge Edwards for the lead.

“Keith Rodden made some great calls tonight,” said team owner Chip Ganassi, a Sprint All-Star Race winner for the first time. “The call was really made in segment 2 (the Lap 26 stop for tires) for him to be able to win the race.”

That call enabled McMurray to get by with two tires or to stay out between segments until the final stop.

“Keith did an unbelievable job,” McMurray said. “He was a huge secret in the garage (as an engineer at Hendrick Motorsports), and I’m so glad that I get the opportunity to work with him. We’ve had good cars all year long. We had some bad luck.

“But this is one of those races that makes up for a lot of bad times.”

But before McMurray took the checkered flag, fans at the 1.5-mile track saw an action-packed race with a multitude of twists and turns.

Halfway through the first 20-lap segment, Kyle Busch passed pole winner Carl Edwards for the lead and held it until the first scheduled caution, but that was the end of the highlights for the driver of the No. 18 Toyota.

Six laps into the second segment, Busch tapped the rear bumper of Clint Bowyer’s Camry after Bowyer blocked Busch’s moved to the inside. Busch took evasive action, diving toward the apron, when Bowyer’s car got out of shape, but Bowyer’s Toyota clipped Busch’s and the No. 18 spun.

Joey Logano couldn’t avoid Busch and plowed into the spinning car, knocking both machines out of the race.

“We had a good run through (Turns) 1 and 2 and off (Turn) 2,” Busch explained after the accident. “Kurt (Busch) got real bottled up on the outside and slowed down, so I  knew I was clear to go to the bottom and swoop down and try to get underneath Bowyer.

“And when I did, he blocked me, and I hit him, and he got squirrely, and then I was still under him, and it hit me and turned me around the wrong way on the backstretch and got in the outside wall.”

After the subsequent restart on Lap 31, AJ Allmendinger’s Chevrolet nosed into the inside wall on the backstretch after contact with Brian Vickers’ Toyota.

Kasey Kahne grabbed the lead for the first time on Lap 35 and pulled away to win the second segment. With four cars staying out between segments and two more changing just two tires, Kahne started eighth for segment No. 3, but on Lap 47 he passed Jamie McMurray (who had not changed tires) for the top spot.

By the time the third segment ended, Kahne was a comfortable 1.411 seconds ahead, with Harvick giving chase.

On the opening lap of the fourth segment, a mechanical failure in Jeff Gordon’s car sent the No. 24 Chevy into the outside wall in Turn 3, collecting the Chevrolet of Martin Truex Jr. and the Ford of Greg Biffle.

Kahne had two brushes with the wall in segment No. 4, ending his strong run with the sort of disappointment that has plagued him in points races all season long.

With the best average finish in the first four segments, Harvick entered pit road first for a mandatory four-time stop before the final 10-lap dash. McMurray, who made a huge track position gain by staying out between the third and fourth segments, was second onto pit road, followed by Jimmie Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Edwards.

But Edwards used the No. 1 pit stall to advantage, winning the race off pit road over McMurray and Harvick. Matt Kenseth started the final segment in the fourth spot, with Johnson and Earnhardt behind him in fifth and sixth.

Edwards, however, couldn’t keep McMurray behind him, and after watching replays of the battle, the driver of the No. 99 Roush Fenway Racing Ford was already second-guessing himself.

“Jamie just did a perfect job on the start,” Edwards said. “I had him cleared for a minute. If I would have pulled in front of him in Turn 1, if I would have gone high, I think we would have won that race, but I was just so reluctant to give up the bottom.

“Jamie just did a perfect job. He ended up sweeping around the outside of me, dragging me down, and it was a drag race. My hat is off to him. He did a great job.  He earned it. I drove as hard as I could while he was on the outside and he gave me just the right amount of room to not wreck me, but still beat me. If I had it to do over again, I’d do it differently but that’s racing. You’ve just got to make the best decision you can and move on. It’s a really tough one, though.”

Though Edwards and McMurray inched ahead of each other at various junctures after then final restart, McMurray led at the finish line for each of the final 10 laps. Once he cleared Edwards three laps into the run, McMurray pulled away.

Note: The 31 laps McMurray led Saturday night were the first he had ever led in the All-Star Race.

Out of the Tunnel 81

This week Adam and I talk about my weekend in Burbank, his trip to Reds game and the race in Kansas.

Turns out, Michael Sam commenters are what’s up both our butts.

You can listen to the show one of three ways:

1) on iTunes – click here to listen on iTunes

2) right here on Q4G: just click play –

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Out of the Tunnel 80

This week Adam and I recapped a fantastic Talladega race,  hashed out if NASCAR made the right call ending under yellow and is Bad Brad really Bad.

Adam picked a new theme song for me, but agrees that that he needs YOU, the listener to come up with other theme song choices for me.

I talk about the woman who beat me as a child, my mom’s, visit to Las Vegas and our tour of several TJ Maxx and Marshalls.

All that, plus – what’s up our butts….

You can listen to the show one of three ways:

1) on iTunes:  click here to listen on iTunes, be sure to rate us

2) right here on Q4G – just click play:

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Denny Hamlin wins the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway

[ via NASCAR Wire Service - by Chris Knight ]

credit: Getty Images for NASCAR

In his 300th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series start, Denny Hamlin overtook Kevin Harvick coming to the white flag to win the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega (Ala.) Superspeedway.

The 45th annual spring event at the 2.66-mile superspeedway finished under caution, as a multi-car incident initiated from behind the leaders as the white flag waived. As the final lap continued, debris sat on the frontstretch forcing NASCAR to throw the yellow and halt Hamlin’s challengers. The win awarded the 33-year old driver his first points paying triumph at a restrictor plate track and virtually ensured him a berth into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup.

“We really just want to win races — regardless of what implications this means for the Chase,” said Hamlin. “It feels good to be back in victory lane in a points paying event anyway.  Couldn’t do it without this FedEx team — my pit crew has done an awesome job.  They picked me up no less than 10 spots every single week and they did it again today.  It just strategically saw that things were getting a little heavy there in the middle part of the race and those guys got in a wreck and we were able to avoid that and just play our cards right there and make the right strategy. Just proud of our day today.”

Brian Scott earned his first career NSCS pole on Saturday, but never led a lap as Paul Menard, who started second grabbed the lead for the first five laps, before Danica Patrick in her roared from her seventh starting spot to lead for two laps, before Jeff Gordon anchored ahead on Lap eight, with Patrick surging back ahead leading for four laps, when 2012 NSCS champion Brad Keselowski claimed the point.

Keselowski’s time at the front would be short lived however, as he made contact with Patrick racing for the lead, sending his No. 2 Miller Lite Ford for a wild slide before coming back onto the track in Turn 1, yielding the first caution on Lap 15.

Menard would inherit the lead on the restart and hold the point until the Talladega shuffle began with himself, Landon Cassill, Matt Kenseth, Joey Logano, Denny Hamlin, Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson all exchanging time at the front through the second caution flag on Lap 51.

Kyle Busch led the field off pit lane and the field back to green, Joey Logano with help of the draft powered to the lead on Lap 54 and battled with Biffle and Johnson for the lead. Biffle would assume the lead on Lap 60 and cover the next 35 Laps at the front, until Edwards and McDowell briefly took over, but Biffle in his No. 16 3M Ford Fusion would fight back and lead the next 10 circuits, when the third caution flag waived on Lap 107 for debris on the backstretch.

Pit stops circulated with Dale Earnhardt Jr., the Daytona 500 winner exiting first. The driver of the No. 88 National Guard Chevrolet would lead for four laps, but Trevor Bayne in the No. 21 Wood Bros. Racing entry muscled his way to the front leading six laps, before NASCAR’s most popular driver regained the lead on Lap 119.

With help from behind, Marcos Ambrose on Lap 135 utilized the high line to put himself in charge for the first time, but two laps later, the first “big one” broke out in Turn 4 when Brad Keselowski, who was six laps down spun in front of Bayne and set off a big crash that claimed himself, Bayne, Michael Annett, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Kenseth, Alex Bowman, Gordon, Cole Whitt, Menard, Scott, Gilliland, Johnson and Justin Allgaier.

Under the yellow, crucial pit stops occurred with Greg Biffle, Marcos Ambrose and Earnhardt Jr. guiding the field back to green. Biffle and Earnhardt Jr. would exchange the lead over the next 10 laps, until David Gilliland’s machine blew and laid down oil resulting in the fifth caution of the race.

While leading, Earnhardt Jr. decided to pit on Lap 152 and never contended again. Meanwhile, Biffle with one of his strongest runs of the year led the field back down to green ahead of Kevin Harvick and Kyle Larson, Brian Vickers and Kurt Busch.

Racing resumed with the race intensity picking up as Hamlin and Vickers shuffled Biffle from the top and swapped the lead for nine laps until Harvick reasserted himself with a huge pack of cars behind on Lap 168.

The second “big one” of the afternoon came on Lap 175 when Jimmie Johnson lost control of his automobile in turn four and collected Austin Dillon, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Joey Logano, David Ragan, Reed Sorenson, Kurt Busch and Michael McDowell.

On the restart, Hamlin and Harvick put on a show utilizing help from their peers, exchanging control of the race for the next two laps, before Carl Edwards spun, collecting Ryan Newman and Cole Whitt to bring out the yellow yet again on Lap 184.

Hamlin, though with help from Biffle and Clint Bowyer would execute his move on leader Kevin Harvick on the restart. With Biffle and Bowyer in-toe, Hamlin came to the white flag, when a crash started from behind. The field remained under green, but when debris landed in the racing groove near the start-finish line, the eighth caution of the race was flown, immediately freezing the field and earning Hamlin his 24th career NASCAR Sprint Cup Series victory.

“I’ve got tons of exhibition wins on superspeedways, but none with points.  I like it,” offered Hamlin.

Biffle, who notched his best finish of the year talked about his second top-five of 2014.

“The last few restarts were actually really good for us,” said Biffle, who exits Talladega eighth in the championship standings. “That final restart Clint (Bowyer) gave us a huge, huge push and we had a huge run at the 11 car.  I looked in the mirror and saw the smoke behind me and I wasn’t really sure whether the caution was gonna come out and I didn’t know what to do and I thought about making my move on the 11 right then because I had a huge run and I could have, and then probably off of two I could have passed him again – got beside him and sucked by him – but I just didn’t want to pass too early.

“I wish I had known we weren’t gonna race all the way back, but it was a good day for us.  The car was really fast, a lot of speed, and I’m just happy to come out of here with a clean car.”

Behind Hamlin, Biffle and Bowyer was Vickers and A.J Allmendinger. Paul Menard was sixth, Harvick wound up seventh, Kasey Kahne was eighth, Larson ninth and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. comprised the top-10.

Jeff Gordon, despite being winless continues to lead the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series standings. Matt Kenseth is second (-3), ahead of Kyle Busch (-4), Earnhardt Jr. (-19) and Edwards (-19).

Next up for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is a trip to Kansas Speedway for the running of 5-hour Energy 400 on Saturday night, May 10.

Out of the Tunnel 79

This week Adam and I talked about the AMAZING race in Richmond, the post race drama and if NASCAR should hand out fines for said drama.

A quick ‘Dega preview and can Adam come up with a theme song for me?

All that, plus – what’s up our butts!

You can listen to show one of three ways:

1) on iTunes – click here to listen on iTunes, be sure to subscribe and rate us

2) right here on Q4G – just click play –

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3) or you can download the show directly to you device by clicking here

Joey Logano cements Chase spot with hard-fought win at Richmond

[ via NASCAR Wire Service - by Reid Spencer ]

Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Joey Logano was penciled into a spot in the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. Now you can write his name in indelible ink.

Capitalizing on beating and banging among competitors in front of him during the final nine-lap run, Logano surged from the fifth starting spot on the final restart to his second victory of the season in Saturday night’s Toyota Owners 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

Logano’s victory was his first at Richmond and the fifth of his career. Jeff Gordon came home second and retained the series lead by five points over Matt Kenseth, who ran fifth after tangling with fourth-place finisher Brad Keselowski while battling for the win in the closing laps .

On fresh tires after a late pit stop, Kyle Busch drove from 16th to third in the final run.

It was a race that had everything, from a spin by polesitter Kyle Larson in the first corner of the first lap (after contact from Clint Bowyer’s Toyota), to right-side tires that corded under stress and turned the wheels into flame throwers, to fiery tempers that continued after the checkered flag.

Keselowski and Kenseth swapped sheet metal and exchanged pleasantries on the cool-down lap. Casey nineteenth-place finisher Casey Mears shoved 18th-place Marcos Ambrose after the race—a carryover from a late racing incident—and in return took a right hook that wobbled him.

Logano, on the other hand, could barely contain his elation as he climbed from his car in Victory Lane.

“I had a terrible restart the one before the last one (on Lap 382), and then we had a good one (on the final restart on lap 392), but the 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) in front of me didn’t have the best, and once we started racing there were three cars in front of me and I thought I had a shot still,” Logano said. “The 20 (Kenseth) started blocking the top because the 2 car (Keselowski) was so fast up top for the first 10 laps of a run, and eventually I had enough room to turn up underneath him and get enough clean air on the car to take off.

“This isn’t a very good race track for me in the past, but we had a really good Shell Pennzoil Ford today, and we were able to put it in Victory Lane. This is so cool to win two races already this season, and it’s just going to be one heck of a season, and I can’t wait to get to the race track next week.”

Earnhardt, who finished seventh after experiencing late brake problems, won a race off pit road under caution for Ricky Stenhouse Jr.’s fiery right front tire and led the field to green on Lap 305. One lap later, however, Logano passed Earnhardt for the top spot and pulled out to a lead of more than a half-second, with Penske teammate Keselowski in tow.

But Gordon won a drag race against Keselowski through Turns 3 and 4 to grab the second spot on Lap 332. Six laps later, Gordon passed Logano for the lead as the No. 22 Ford began to fade.

During that green-flag run, however, Kenseth began to assert himself, driving from sixth on the Lap 305 restart to the lead on Lap 362. Five laps after Kenseth wrested the top spot from Gordon, Jimmie Johnson’s tire issue in Turn 2 caused seventh caution and brought the field to pit road for fresh rubber.

Kenseth was first out of the pits for a restart on Lap 367, but on the restart lap, Denny Hamlin spun in Turn 3 to bring out caution No. 8. After two more cautions, Logano came from fifth to first after the final restart to win the race.

After the checkered flag, Keselowski was quick to express his displeasure with Kenseth.

“The 20 car ran me off the race track, so I made sure to give him a bump, and that was what Joey needed to win the race,” Keselowski said. “I’m happy for his team and everybody at Team Penske. I wish it could have been us, but that was the way it goes.”

For his part, Kenseth made no apologies for trying to win the race.

“He was mad because I ran into him a little bit getting into (Turn) 3, but we’re going for the win,” Kenseth said. “I ran him up to the third groove or so, but I’ve witnessed him racing that way a lot, like I think he did to Jimmie (Johnson) at Texas a few years ago.

“I thought once we got to the straightaway I left him enough room, unless I wasn’t clear—I need to re-watch it. I guess he’s upset about that, and we were all going for the win. That’s what we’re supposed to be doing.”

Notes: AJ Allmendinger posted a season-best sixth-place finish… Robin Pemberton, NASCAR vice president of competition, said the sanctioning body would review the Mears/Ambrose incident during the week but indicated he didn’t think it was anything “too severe.”

 

Out of the Tunnel 78

We’re back!   After a week off, Adam and I have returned.

I talked about my trip to Hawaii and Adam caught us up on what happened in the Texas race I missed.

We recap one heck of race weekend in Darlington and if Clint Bowyer has some payback coming his way.

Plus:  Gene Hass makes his F1 bid official and Adam gets a new theme song!

And of course – what’s up our butts!

You can listen to the show one of three ways:

1) on iTunes – click here to listen on iTunes (be sure to rate us and leave a comment)

2) right here on Q4G:   just click play

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3) or you can download the show directly to your device by clicking here

Kevin Harvick wins Sprint Cup race at Darlington in overtime

[ via NASCAR Wire Service - by Reid Spencer ]

Credit: NASCAR Via Getty Images

The 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season has been one of feast or famine for Kevin Harvick—and on Saturday night at Darlington Raceway, Harvick enjoyed the delectable taste of victory.

Passing Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the next-to-last lap of the second attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish, Harvick won Sunday’s Bojangles’ Southern 500 and all but locked himself into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup as the first two-time winner in the series this year (he still needs to finish in the top 30 in points after race No. 26 and attempt to qualify for every race).

In the second race of the season, Harvick dominated in winning at Phoenix, before a spate of mechanical issues waylaid him in four of five subsequent events.

On Saturday at Darlington, he was the class of the field again, leading 238 of 374 laps in a race that went seven circuits past its scheduled distance. Nevertheless, it took a four-tire call in the pits and a late caution to give Harvick a final chance to beat Earnhardt, who had streaked to a 15-car-length lead on two fresh tires in the first attempt at a green-white-checker.

But Kurt Busch’s wreck on the backstretch brought out the 11th caution on Lap 369 and snatched the victory from Earnhardt’s grasp. Restarting on the outside of the front row after powering past Jimmie Johnson on the first attempt at overtime, Harvick prevailed with a superior car on superior tires.

The victory was Harvick’s first at Darlington and the 25th of his career. It was the series-best third win of the season for Stewart-Haas Racing.

After the race, Harvick, the pole winner, revealed he had been keeping a tactic in reserve for just the sort of moment that arose Saturday night at the 1.366-mile speedway.

“We were able to hang on there at the end, and I knew I had that high line I hadn’t showed it to them all night on the restarts, and I wanted to save it until the very end,” Harvick said. “I kind of learned that last night as we were in the Nationwide race. It was a good tool in your tool bag to have there at the end.”

In fact, Harvick passed Earnhardt to the outside through Turns 3 and 4 on the penultimate lap.

Earnhardt finished second, .559 seconds back. Johnson ran third, followed by Matt Kenseth and Greg Biffle. Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, rookie Kyle Larson, Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman completed the top 10.

“Everybody was telling me that I had a 15 car length lead, and I don’t want to hear about that,” Earnhardt said. “I’m going to hear about it all day tomorrow; ‘Man; you almost won it.’ They said we had it won with a 15 car length lead coming into that last white flag when the caution come out on the back straightaway (for Kurt Busch’s wreck off the nose of Clint Bowyer’s Toyota).

But (Kevin) was pretty fast. I think he was going to run the (heck) out of it and try to get there. I was trying not to look in the mirror, just try to run as hard as I could. I didn’t know how much speed the car had. We were on two tires … But feels good to be close.”

Nothing could thwart Harvick’s domination of the first two-thirds of the race. A dropped lug nut on a pit stop on Lap 222 relegated him to ninth for a restart on Lap 227. But by the time NASCAR threw the seventh caution on Lap 247, Harvick was running fourth.

Four laps after a restart on Lap 252, Harvick was back in the lead, passing Brian Vickers for the top spot.

After Paul Menard hit the outside wall for the second time on Lap 271, Harvick ran over a piece of Menard’s brake rotor—twice—but his No. 4 Chevrolet was unaffected. Biffle took the lead on pit road with a two-tire stop, but Harvick regained the point on the restart lap (279) and quickly pulled away to a two-second advantage over Jeff Gordon and Earnhardt in second and third.

On longer runs, Gordon’s Chevy was the equal of Harvick’s, but Gordon had a miserable time on restarts and repeatedly dropped back so far on the initial green-flag laps that he couldn’t make up the ground during the course of a fuel run.

But it was Johnson who chased Harvick lap after lap after a cycle of green-flag pit stops ended on Lap 323. Johnson got as close as .601 seconds back before Harvick began to pull away. But caution for fluid from Joey Logano’s Ford scrambled the field on divergent pit strategies and set up the wild finish.

Harvick restarted fifth on Lap 363 as the first driver on four new tires and gained the third position before NASCAR called a debris caution on Lap 364 to necessitate the first attempt at overtime.

Notes: Gordon retained the series lead by one point over Kenseth, but neither has a victory this season. … Rookie Kyle Larson scored his fourth top 10 in eight races this season. … Harvick is the first polesitter to win at Darlington since Dale Jarrett accomplished the feat in 1997.

Out of the Tunnel 77

This week Adam isn’t on the podcast – something, yada, yada about baseball and opening day.

Joining me is Q4G’s resident Indy Car Guru – Ross Bynum.

Ross and I talked about the fantastic Cup race from Martinsville and Kurt Busch’s return to victory lane.  Ross also gave us a full recap of the Indy Car opener from St. Pete and he ate some chicken.

All that, plus….. what’s up our butt!

You can listen to the podcast one of three ways

1) on iTunes – click here to listen on iTunes

2) right here on Q4G:  just click play –

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.

3)  or you can download the show directly to your device by clicking here