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NASCAR and MotorSports – From a Queer Perspective

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

Carl Edwards wins wild Richmond race; last three laps shuffle Chase spots

[ via NASCAR Wire Service - by Reid Spencer ]

Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/NASCAR via Getty Images

It was Clint Bowyer who spun with seven laps left in Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway, but the fortunes of four other drivers turned on a dime with that turn of events.

Yes, Carl Edwards won the race, streaking away after a restart with three laps left and beating Kurt Busch to the finish line by .668 seconds. But Edwards’s second victory of the season, his first at Richmond and the 21st of his career played second fiddle to the radical change of fortune that irrevocably altered the seasons of four of his competitors.

After Bowyer caused the fifth caution with his spin–a conspiracy theorist’s delight–Joey Logano had knocked four-time champion Jeff Gordon out of the top 10 in the standings and out of a berth in the Chase for the Sprint Cup by one point.

The caution also played into the hands of Martin Truex Jr., Bowyer’s teammate, who claimed the second of two wild-card positions in the Chase in a tiebreaker over Ryan Newman.

Before the caution, third-place finisher Newman had grabbed the race lead from Edwards on Lap 391 and was cruising to a win that would have kept him in the Chase and knocked Truex out. At the same time, Gordon was running seventh and Logano 25th, with Gordon provisionally in the top 10 and Logano out.

A victory for Newman, which would have been his second of the year, would have knocked one-time winner Logano out of the Chase completely, but that all changed with Bowyer’s spin. Newman stopped for four tires and came off pit road in fifth place and could only gain two positions in the final three-lap dash.

Under the caution, Logano took a wave-around that left him one lap down, and the three positions he gained on the subsequent restart were enough to keep Gordon out of the Chase for only the second time since NASCAR’s 10-race playoff debuted in 2004.

After the race, Bowyer scoffed at the idea he helped propel Truex into the Chase by spinning on purpose.

“I think we had something going wrong,” said Bowyer, who led 72 circuits but lost a lap when Jimmie Johnson’s blown tire caused the fourth caution on Lap 343 of 400. “The 88 (Dale Earnhardt Jr.) got up underneath me. I had so much wheel, by the time I got to the gas, he was underneath me. I spun out…

“It’s unfortunate. I know it’s a lot of fun for you guys to write a lot of wacky things. Go ahead, if you want to. Get creative. But don’t look too much into it.”

Comparatively speaking, Earnhardt (13th Saturday), Busch and Greg Biffle (12th) had little trouble clinching three of the five remaining spots in the Chase. But there was other drama that didn’t involve the Chase at all.

Edwards took four new tires to Paul Menard’s two on the final pit stop on Lap 394. Menard came off pit road as the race leader with Edwards second, but Edwards clearly beat Menard to the stripe for the final decisive restart. Edwards lauded NASCAR for making what he considered the correct judgment call.

“What happened on that last restart is Paul had two tires,” Edwards said. “I knew he was going to be at a big disadvantage with grip. He took off. I waited until he went to go. As we were going, his car actually touched my door. I think it surprised him a little bit or something. He turned a little bit. I heard his engine speed up. He spun the tires.

“At that point, I really have a choice to either lift off the throttle and wait for him to try to gather it up–I’ve never seen a guy able to gather it up that quickly when they spin that bad–or go and hope NASCAR understands that he spun his tires. In this case, they did.”

Kevin Harvick Wins Thrilling Richmond Race in Overtime

[ via NASCAR Wire Service - by Reid Spencer ]

credit Streeter Lecks / Getty Images for NASCAR

Kevin Harvick sped away on fresh tires to win Sunday night’s Toyota Owners 400 in a green-white-checkered-flag finish at Richmond International Raceway, leaving a grup of drivers with widely divergent emotions in his wake.

Harvick beat Clint Bowyer to the finish line by .343 seconds to win his first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race of the season, his second at Richmond and the 20th of his career.

Joey Logano ran third, Juan Pablo Montoya came home fourth after leading until the final caution, and Jeff Burton finished fifth after staying out on old tires for the final two-lap run that took the event six laps beyond its posted distance.

Harvick came to pit road for tires on Lap 396, after Brian Vickers’ slapped the Turn 3 wall to cause the 11th caution of the race. Harvick’s No. 29 Richard Childress racing Chevrolet made short work of three drivers who had stayed out after the race restarted on lap 405.

Though he lost the chance to break a 94-race drought since his Cup victory at Watkins Glen in August 2010, Montoya was elated just to get a top-five finish after struggling mightily for more than a year.

Not so elated were Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart, who repeatedly swapped shots with their Chevys on the cool-down lap. Stewart was fifth on the final restart but dropped to 18th at the finish after Busch rubbed him out of the racing groove during a two-lap free-for-all that saw prolific contact throughout the field.

Harvick, however was all smiles when he climbed out of his car in Victory Lane.

“My car launched, and I was able to drive it in the first corner and hope for the best down there,” said Harvick, who surged into the lead through Turns 3 and 4 after establishing his position in the first corner on the final restart. “I figured four, eight, 12…how many ever tires that were on the outside of me would be better than none. It all worked out, and here we are.”

The decision to come to pit road for tires under the final caution was a no-brainer, as Harvick and crew chief Gil Martin saw it.

“When the tires fall off almost two seconds, you’ve got to come in and get tires,” he said. “There’s not very many guys that stayed out. It all worked out tonight. We’ve been on the other side of it this year, so to be in Victory Lane is great.”

Bowyer led 113 laps but didn’t have a car that could stay with Harvick at the end.

“We had a good car—we just didn’t have a great car,” Bowyer said. “It seemed like we were just too tight on the throttle. It would quite turn and come up off (the corner). It really got wild there at the end. I was just lucky enough to be on the bottom (for the final restart).

“They started making holes up there in front of me, and the seas parted, and I just followed suit behind Harvick. It was a good run.”

What remained a two-man battle for more than half the race evolved into an unpredictable nexus of varying strategy and unexpected attrition.

When Kyle Busch passed Matt Kenseth for the top spot on Lap 254, that was the first time all evening that a driver other than Kenseth or Bowyer had led a lap. Busch made it stick, leading 39 straight laps under green until Travis Kvapil smacked the wall on Lap 292 to cause the sixth caution of the night.

But brother Kurt Busch won the race off pit road under the yellow and led the field to a restart on Lap 299. Busch held the point during an intense battle against Carl Edwards until NASCAR called the seventh caution on Lap 308 when Kvapil’s car dropped fluid on the track.

Kurt Busch, Carl Edwards, Kenseth and Ryan Newman stayed out under the yellow on 16-lap-old tires. Jimmie Johnson paced the rest of the lead-lap cars to pit road and took two tires. Six laps after a restart on Lap 321, the entire tenor of the race changed dramatically.

After contact with Martin Truex Jr.’s Toyota on the restart, Johnson faded on the restart. Running to the inside of Johnson on entering Turn 1 on Lap 327, Tony Stewart slid sideways into Johnson’s Chevrolet. As Johnson slid to the inside of the track in Turn 2, Kyle Busch’s Toyota nosed into him.

That was just the start of frenetic action at the .75-mile high-speed short track. Montoya led a pack of six cars who stayed out under the caution to a restart on Lap 334, but on Lap 338, a brutal wreck off Turn 2 involving Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers slowed the field again.

One lap after a restart on Lap 344, Truex spun in Turn 3 while battling Kurt Busch in close quarters for the second position. Montoya retained the lead until Brian Vickers’ wreck on Lap 395 set up the overtime.

Notes: Despite Johnson’s troubles, the five-time champion gained ground on his closest pursuers in the standings with a 12th-place finish at RIR. He now leads second-place Carl Edwards (sixth Saturday) by 43 points and Kahne and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (10th at Richmond) by 46… Reigning Cup champion Brad Keselowski finished 33rd on the bottom end of a roller-coaster day that saw him recover from a scrape with the turn 2 wall only to drop a cylinder in the late going.

Gaynalysis: Richmond – NASCAR After Dark

The Gaynalysis is just one gay NASCAR fan’s take on the race weekend.  You can read the “straight recap” of the race from Richmond by clicking here.

"Gay NASCAR" by Keith J. Varadi - 2009

As Shirley Bassey once sang…. “and it’s all just a little bit of history repeating.”   That is what it felt like for me and Kyle Busch.

In September of 2009 – a guitar-smashing, pre-Samantha Kyle Busch was in true OldKyle-Form when he missed the Chase in Richmond by only 8 points.  I was so gleeful that Kyle missed his spot in the Chase that I wanted to write about it – and Queers4Gears.com was born.  That first post, “Schadenfreude Kyle Busch“, on 9-13-2009 started it all and I found my “snark” in that inaugural post.

Last night, back at the same 3/4 mile track in Richmond, Kyle missed the Chase again – but this time the margin was even smaller, as Jeff Gordon knocked Kyle out and clinched the final wild card spot by only 3 points.  This time, I wasn’t ass gleeful – I really felt badly for Kyle – there was no schadenfreude.  Actually, in ’09 I think Kyle had performances on the track that should have earned him a spot – but because he was soo bratty, no one felt badly when he missed.

Switch to 2012.  Kyle is a different driver and more importantly a better man.  But, his performance on track this season was not up the level it was in 2009.  His “improved” attitude has changed the way that I and a lot of people in NASCAR feel about him.  With what he can learn from Denny Hamlin’s recent hot streak and his new teammate Matt Kenseth – 2013 may be the year Kyle does more than battle to make the Chase…. he might battle to win it.

With the storm clouds rolling in late Saturday most weren’t sure if NASCAR would be able to run the entire race.  No one wanted to see a Chase berth decided by a rain-shortened race and despite a red flag of nearly an hour – they ran the entire race….ending just before 1:30a.m. It’s 1:30a.m – do you know where your driver is?

There was a lot of build up to this race…. WHO WOULD MAKE THE CHASE?  For a while, it didn’t look like the race would match the hype as the 12 drivers who came into the race with Chase spots all had kept them.  But after the rain, as the race wound down, the final wild card spot was constantly switching back between Gordon and Busch.  A failed pit strategy and missed lug nut put the nail in Kyle’s coffin.

But you can’t blame it all on a collapse by the 18 team – Jeff Gordon drove his proverbial ass off.  The 24 started on the front row but fell fast – and by the time of the rain delay, Gordon was a lap down and didn’t hold out much hope for his chances.

That’s why this week’s Q4G shout-out (for the first time) goes to a crew chief and not a driver.  HEYYYYYY ALAN GUSTAFSON.   You took a car that wasn’t going anywhere and made some huge changes – allowing Gordon to finish P2 and steal the final Chase spot from Kyle Busch.  If anyone ever says NASCAR isn’t a team sport – tell them about this race.  Gustafson was a leader in the purest sense of the word.

Oh, I guess I should probably mention that Clint Bowyer won the race.  Both he and teammate Martin Truex Jr made the Chase – the first time that Michael Waltrip Racing has put 2 cars in the Chase – and honestly, had Mark Martin run a full season – I think MWR would have 3 cars running for a Championship.  Who would have bet on MWR to overtake JGR as the dominant Toyota team?

Before the race began, presidential candidate Mitt Romney visited the driver’s meeting and talked to fans.  His presence at the race emboldened NASCAR’s efforts to market to 50% of Americans…. 100% of the time.   We constantly hear that NASCAR wants to expand out from it’s Southern Conservative roots….. they just must not want it badly enough. NASCAR has a product to sell – why alienate half of the potential customers?   Let’s keep all politicians away from the race track…. if Mitt wins, the Chasers can go see him at the White House….. they have already visited President Obama 3 times.

Lastly, I need to close out the Gaynalysis with a stern warning to Clint Bowyer!  BACK OFF CLINT!  I WILL CUT A BITCH!  I saw you trying to kiss Kasey…. just back off buddy!

BACK OFF CLINT!!! credit - @JMorris_NP

 

 

Clint Bowyer wins Richmond as Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon make Chase

[ via NASCAR Wire Service - by Reid Spencer ]

Credit: Patrick Smith/Getty Images for NASCAR

Clint Bowyer had a gulp of gas just big enough to win the race. Rick Hendrick had Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon as a pair of Chasers.

In a rain-interrupted race of accumulating tension, Bowyer made it to the finish line 1.198 seconds ahead of Gordon, who knocked Kyle Busch out of the final wild-card spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup in the closing laps of Saturday night’s Federated Auto Parts 400 at Richmond International Raceway.

The victory was Bowyer’s second of the season, his second at Richmond and the seventh of his career. He and teammate Martin Truex Jr. are the first two Michael Waltrip Racing drivers to make the 12-driver Chase field.

MWR teammate Mark Martin ran third Saturday, followed by Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth, but the big story was Gordon’s miracle comeback that put all four Hendrick Motorsports cars in the Chase. Gordon joined Kahne, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. in NASCAR’s 10-race playoff.

For Busch, it was a failed pit strategy that led to his ouster from the second wild-card spot, a position he held entering the race and for the vast majority of Saturday night’s event. When a light rain caused the sixth caution on Lap 275, Busch stayed out while others came to pit road for fuel. A slow pit stop under green on Lap 334, thanks to a dropped lug nut on the right-rear wheel, did further damage to his chances and allowed Gordon to sneak into the Chase by a three-point margin.

Several times in the last 11 laps, the second provisional wild-card spot changed hands between Gordon and Busch, who entered the race with a 12-point lead over Gordon. When Busch passed Martin Truex Jr. for the 15th position on Lap 390 of 400, he had the berth. When Gordon passed Mark Martin on Lap 394, he took it back.

Ultimately, Busch dropped positions to Marcos Ambrose and Hendrick driver and pole-sitter Dale Earnhardt Jr., who was on a late-race mission to help his teammate make the Chase.

“We missed,” Busch said tersely after the race was over. “Plain and simple.”

Team owner Joe Gibbs advised his mercurial driver to handle his disappointment the right way.

“There’s no right way to handle this situation,” was Busch’s rejoinder.

Gordon started second but quickly faded. By the time rain halted the race on Lap 152, he was a lap down and going nowhere. Under the caution that preceded the red flag, however, his crew cut the chain to the rear sway bar to disconnect it, and the handling of the No. 24 Chevrolet improved dramatically.

“I felt like I won the race tonight,” Gordon said. “When that was over, when they told me I was in the Chase, we made it — I mean, I was ecstatic. I was going nuts. To me, after you have that kind of effort, fall back, then come up there and finish second, almost win the race, make it by (three points), man, I don’t see any reason why we can’t go over these next 10 races and be a real threat for the championship.”

Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Bowyer recovered from a spin just past the midpoint of the race and rallied for the win. On Lap 234, contact with Juan Pablo Montoya’s Chevrolet deflated Bowyer’s left-rear tire. Fighting for control, Bowyer looped his car near the start/finish line.

“Thank you, Juan Pablo, for wrecking me and then winning me the race–thank you!” quipped Bowyer, who was then in position to gamble on fuel mileage. “We had a bad race last weekend (at Atlanta) and had a lot of adversity we had to bounce through, were kind of bummed out as a team, as a whole, coming into this race.

“It’s a good way to get things bounced back headed into this Chase. You can’t ask for a better race team, my teammates, MWR, everybody that’s a part of this. It’s just unbelievable.”

The consolation for Joe Gibbs Racing is that Denny Hamlin begins the Chase as the No. 1 seed on the strength of four victories in the first 26 races. But that provides little solace for Busch’s crew chief Dave Rogers, who made the decision to keep his driver on the track when a pit stop would have been the safe play.

“We missed it — my fault,” Rogers radioed to Busch. “One hundred percent my fault.”

The Richmond Gaynalysis – The Brothers Busch

The Gaynalysis is just one gay NASCAR fan’s take on the race weekend – you can read the “straight recap” of the Virginia is for Lovers 400 by clicking here.

"Gay NASCAR" by Keith J. Varadi - 2009

While Richmond is often referred to as Denny Hamlin’s hometown track – it was the brothers Busch that made RIR their whipping boy this weekend.

It shouldn’t be that surprising.  Kyle has won 4 of the past Spring races in Virginia and during last year’s chase Kurt and Kyle finished P5 and P6.  Kurt won the Nationwide race on Friday driving car #54 for his brother and boss… it was the inaguaral win for Kyle Busch Motorsports.

Kurt famously blew up at Jenna Fryer last year at Richmond – swearing up and down he never said what everyone with a TV heard his say and then ripping up his own words in a transcript presented by Fryer.  This incident was the base of the cake the Kurt baked and then later iced with some Jerry Punch before being fired from Penske Racing.

Kyle carried the momentum from his win as a team owner into Sunday by getting his first points win for the forgiving Joe Gibbs since he was scolded by NASCAR and M&M’s late last season after being parked in Texas.

Why bring up two rough patches for the brothers on such a victorious weekend for them both….. because the Busch brothers make NASCAR more exciting to watch.  They have taken to role of villain like Newt Gingrich took to pie.   We need these two guys in our sport – they can drive and their “rough patches” give us something to talk about during Pocono.

I actually didn’t watch the race live – I was at my local short track on Saturday night watching some real beating and banging…. but thanks to my DVR I was able to watch most of the race….. all of those people who call NASCAR Radio to bitch about long green flag segments should try the fast forward button… it’s amazing!

I was scanning tweets after watching the race on DVR and there were two main points I want to quickly address.

PLEASE SHUT IT – anyone who thinks Menard’s crew tattled on the #48 crew when they let a tire roll free on pit road.  In stick and ball sports – coaches are constantly letting officials know if they see something illegal with their competitor.  I kept stats for my high school football team – one of my jobs was to count the players on the other team and let the coaches know if they had too many players…. not to count the players on our team…. not to make sure we were in the right, my job was to catch them!   NASCAR is no different.  Jimmie didn’t seem to mind too much anyone – passing nearly the entire field after starting in the rear on the last restart.

….and Carl….  Carl, Carl, Carl….. you and your poor abs just got screwed!  And by screwed I mean that you did break the rule and had the appropriate penalty assessed.  But that doesn’t make me want to not give him a comforting hug any less!

You don’t need me to show you what the NASCAR Rule book says – that’s what Nate Ryan is for…. you don’t need to draw lines on the screen showing where the start lines were…. that’s what DW is for…. and you don’t need me to piss of Tony Stewart with a question post race…. that’s what (insert any writer here) is for…..

I will say it sucked to see the #99 have such a strong day and get black flagged due to confusion and the fact that Tony spun his tires on every restart.

This week’s Q4G Gaynalysis shout-out goes to Michael Waltrip Racing….  heyyyyyy Mikey Racing!  Clint finished P8 and Mark Martin finished P8 after starting on the pole.  Truex had a dominant car last week and the team is fast.  Just a few more tweaks are needed to keep them fast in the long runs… but they are right there.  I’m glad to see Toyota with another strong team to compete with Chevy and Ford.

This weekend the haulers head to Talladega…. no drama there right?

 

 

Kyle Busch Capitalizes on Late Caution for Richmond Win

[ via NASCAR Wire Service - by Reid Spencer ]

Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR

Pulling away from Dale Earnhardt Jr. after a restart with eight laps left in Saturday night’s Capital City 400 at Richmond International Raceway, Kyle Busch streaked to his fourth straight victory in the spring race at the .75-mile track.

The win was Busch’s first of the season and the 24th of his career, tying him with his brother, 2004 NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Kurt Busch, for 26th all-time.

Tony Stewart, the race leader before the fifth and final caution for debris in Turn 2, lost ground on the restart and finished third. Denny Hamlin ran fourth, followed by Kasey Kahne.

The race turned on the last caution, which Stewart said was called because of a plastic water bottle in Turn 2. Stewart was strong on long runs but uncharacteristically slow off the mark on restarts, and Busch took full advantage.

The first step was beating Stewart off pit road during the final four-tire stop on Lap 388 of 400 and gaining control of the restart.

“I don’t know where that last caution came from, but it was our saving grace,” Busch said in Victory Lane. “It was a gift. We came down pit road and (crew chief) Dave Rogers and the guys went to work and gave us a great pit stop, got me out front.

“(That) gave me the lead so I could restart the race how I wanted to. That was the win right there.”

As he approached the finish line, Busch radioed to his crew: “What up, boys — we’re back!”

It was a stellar weekend for the race winner, who won Friday night’s Nationwide Series event as a car owner, with brother Kurt behind the wheel of the Kyle Busch Motorsports Toyota.

Earnhardt, who took over second in the standings — five points behind series leader and 18th-place finish Greg Biffle — experienced brake problems for much of the race, but used the late restart to improve his position after Stewart fell back.

“We had some brake problems all race long,” Earnhardt explained. “I had a great restart, and I ran really great for one lap, and the pedal went back to the floor. I just had to pump it up all the way down the straightaway and I didn’t have any front brakes getting into the corner, so I couldn’t get in real hard.

“It would just get loose locking the rears up. So even with the brakes working, I think the No. 18 (Busch) was just a little bit better than us all night.”

Slow pit stops cost Stewart track position on more than one occasion, but it was the final caution that proved the undoing of the defending Cup champion, who has three Richmond victories but none since 2002.

“When the caution is for a plastic bottle on the backstretch, it’s hard to feel good about losing that one,” said Stewart, who led Busch by more than a second when the yellow flag waved. “And we gave it away on pit road. So we did everything we could to throw it away; it got taken away from us.

“That’s the best car I’ve had at Richmond in a long time. So I’m really proud of that and (crew chief) Steve Addington, and I’m proud of our guys. But we’ve got some work to do on pit stops right now. I don’t know what their malfunction was but I’m pretty ticked off about it tonight.”

A caution for Jeff Burton’s crash into the Turn 3 wall on Lap 311 interrupted a cycle of green-flag pit stops and scrambled the running order.

Jimmie Johnson, who came to pit road when the caution flew, was penalized for a tire violation on his pit stop — after one of his crewmen rolled a tire unattended toward the pit wall — and had to restart on Lap 319 from the tail end of the field.

That same restart proved disastrous for Edwards, who was black-flagged for jumping the start after he put the power down, in NASCAR’s judgment, before reaching the double red restart lines on the outside wall.

Forced to serve a pass-through penalty, Edwards dropped to 15th, 17 seconds behind Stewart. On lap 372, Stewart put Edwards a lap down and pulled away from Busch in second place to a lead of nearly two seconds.

Johnson rallied to finish sixth, but Edwards, who led a race-high 210 laps, had to settle for 10th, after getting back on the lead lap as the free-pass car under the last caution.

 

Gaynalysis: NASCAR in Richmond

The Gaynalysis is just one gay NASCAR fan’s take on the race weekend.  You can read the “straight” recap of all the action from Richmond by clicking here.

 

credit: Kevin R Tengesdal

 

As anyone who has read the Gaynalysis knows – we at Q4G love us some drama.  Well, Richmond was like Christmas morning – more drama than you can shake a gay stick at.

And it wasn’t the drama we were promised.  For the past week, we have read countless stories about how the math might work – how driver X might lock into the Chase.  “If the race ended now” was an ongoing theme on twitter.

But, as it turned out, in the end, the Top-12 coming into Richmond are your 2011 NASCAR Chase Drivers.  Tony and Dale stayed in the top-10 with Brad and Denny taking the Wild Card Spots.  We did all that math for nothing!  See I told my teachers in 8th grade that math was useless and I would never need to use it.

So, as for who would make The Chase – there really wasn’t any drama.  But thankfully the race left us with plenty to discuss for weeks and then there was the most bizarre post-race press conference I’ve seen since I started covering the sport.

There were 15 cautions – and all of them were crashes –  there were no debris cautions.  That’s surprising because of all the torn up race cars – I figured someone was gonna leave a fender or an engine in turn 2.

NASCAR had planned a wonderful 9/11 tribute during the race.  They planned to have the race broadcast and fans in the stands remain silent during laps 9 though 11.  Unfortunately, these tribute laps were run under caution as Richmond had a Talladega style  “big one.”  The wreck caught  13 cars:  33-88-46-11-34-00-13-56-17-9-38-35-7.

Most notable in that batch were Dale Jr. and Denny Hamlin – speculation immediately began that this wreck would cost them a chance to make the chase. To the credit of both teams – they worked hard to repair the damage and get their drivers back on track.

It was an incredible night of racing. The field did not get stretched out and they were three-wide almost from the moment the green flag fell.  But it didn’t always work.

On lap 53 Marcos Ambrose decided to take it three wide and try to pass Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers.  He got loose on the bottom and hit Vickers who then was knocked into his teammate.  Kasey took the worse hit and they took the #4 to the garage.

The Richmond Big One - credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

 

CUE THE DRAMA!

Vickers was still running and he went after Ambrose under caution.  He hit the #9 and then blocked the track with his car – not letting Marcos get by.  It reminded me of Harvick and Kyle Busch earlier this year at Darlington.  It was the equivalent of poking someone in the chest with your finger – but Vickers was using a race car.

Vickers had past the entrance to pit road – and then drove the wrong way on the track to get back into the pits.  While the #83 team tried to repair the additional damage Brian had done to the car – the word came down from race control that they wanted to have little chat with him after the race in the NASCAR hauler.

We won’t know if NASCAR will penalize Vickers until Tuesday – but I certainly hope they do.  Safety first!  Caution or not. Vickers blocked a hot race track and drove in the wrong direction. Even at slower caution speeds it was a clear safety violation.

There were simply too many wrecks for me to write about each one – so I will focus on the ones where “pay back” was clearly involved.  The next diva that embraced the “Boys Have At It” lifestyle was Dale JR.  You would think he could control his temper and focus on getting in the Chase but he let his emotions get the best of him.

Travis Kvapil had gotten into Jr’s bumper in traffic and from my eyes it looked like a byproduct of short-track racing – but Junior didn’t see it that way and simply wrecked Kvapil.  If anyone doubted it had been done on purpose, Junior came on the radio and removed all doubt, “that mother fucker got what he deserved and he knows it.”

Then things got interesting with BFF’s Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson.  Please note in this instance, BFF means the two hate each other so much they want to make the other BarFF.

Kurt Busch got into Jimmie’s bumper and sent the #48 into the wall.  It took Jimmie a while to catch back up to the #22 but when he did, he literally went below the yellow line to dump Kurt.  Jimmie did more damage to his car than to Kurt’s and we don’t usually see Jimmie putting the 48 into situations like this, but having already locked into the Chase – JJ had nothing to loose.  He later said Kurt is done “touching my race car.”

Vickers wrecked Ambrose and Blocked the Track - Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images

This feud is long from over and Kurt’s temper carried over to pit road and into the post-race press conference in the media center. (more on that later)

Late in the race things calmed down a little.  Of the 15 cautions – ten of them fell before the half-way mark… slow your roll felllas!

Jeff Gordon was way out in front.  It looked like the #24 might win two weeks in a row – but then the caution came out with 15 laps to go when Paul Menard had a single car spin.  Gordon himself implied after the race that he thought it was suspicious – basically saying Menard spun on purpose so his teammate Kevin Harvick could catch up to the #24.

Jeff wasn’t the only one… after the race, JR’s spotter T.J Majors tweeted:  “Pretty disappointed if I saw what I think I saw to bring put last caution. Will have to see replay.”

NASCAR did not immediatly penalize Menard for intentionally bringing out the caution.  If it was on purpose, it worked. Not only did Harvick catch the #24 – he ended up winning the race.  F1 racing has had several “team orders” scandals…. is it NASACAR’s turn?  We will have to wait until Tuesday for any comment or penalty from NASCAR.

Based on what we have seen so far this season – all camera were rolling on pit road when the race ended – hoping to catch drivers “discussing” some of these incidents.  Kurt Busch said he had gotten into Jimmie’s head and then called him a five-time chump.   Jimmie was calmer saying he expected Kurt to keep running his mouth.

Kurt then verbally assaulted Joe Menzer from NASCAR.com who had asked Kurt if either he or Jimmie could win a championship if they kept wrecking each other.  Kurt didn’t like the questions and Jay Penwell at SBNation reported that Kurt’s crew had to restrain him from going after the reporter.

Any other week it would have ended there – both divas would have climbed in their private planes to go home.  But this was the week where the Chase was clinched – and both drivers had to walk into the media center and face the press.

The tension was already high in the media center.  On Friday, Tony Stewart had ripped into the AP’s Jenna Fryer in a pre-race press conference that was being carried on TV and radio. (you can listen to it here)  Basically, Tony didn’t think the media was coming up with original questions for him to answer.  Smoke is known for being tough on reporters – but this time he really ripped into the press.

Now, I have explained the existing tension……. but what happened next was one of the most awkward things I’ve ever seen in a press conference.  Keep in mind that usually there are no more than two drivers on the stage at any given time – but because of the Chase Ceremony, NASCAR brought five drivers up on stage at the same time.

As Kurt walked onto the stage he once again went after Joe Menzer.  NASCAR was smart enough to put Jimmie and Kurt on opposite ends of the table – in fact they could not have been further apart and still been on the same stage.

In between the book-ends that were Kurt and Jimmie – sat Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart.  AWKWARD!  I am not sure if Jenna Fryer was gun-shy from her earlier encounter with Tony – so she asked her first question to Jimmie Johnson.

Fryer was asking JJ for his reaction to Kurt’s pit-road statement that he had gotten into Jimmie’s head.  Before Johnson could answer, Kurt interrupted and screamed at Jenna that he had not said that.

 

this is the transcript Kurt Busch ripped up when the AP's Jenna Fryer tried to point out what he had said

It went back and forth for a few moments as Busch insisted he had never made a comment about getting in Jimmie’s head and Jenna told Kurt it was on TV.  As the press conference ended, Jenna presented Kurt with the Dodge-issued transcript that clearly showed Busch had made the comment.  Kurt then took the transcript from Jenna’s hands, ripped it up and deposited it back on her desk.

REALLY?  REALLY Kurt Busch? YOU ASSHOLE.  First of all, you need to remember what you say from one minute to the next.  And when you forget what you said, twenty minutes after you said it – don’t take it out on the press who are doing their job when they ask you about it.

Kurt Busch is a walking, talking “action detrimental to stock car racing.”  Rest assured, this incident is going to talked about in non-NASCAR circles.  Kurt’s actions bring a black-eye to our sport, his sponsors and his team.  This will be the “rip heard around the sports world.”

 

It was an amazing race – what a night for NASCAR…. but no one will want to talk about that… because Kurt Busch acted like an angry drag queen who’s pantyhose were torn.

Jay Busbee at Yahoo.com has done a much better job than I at capturing every moment of this truly weird press conference – including Matt Kenseth who sat on Jimmie Johnson’s lap.  You need to read it…. lots of detail.

There was some twitter drama too!  Turns out the race sponsor was pistachios – yes that crazy nut producer that hired Snooki as their spokeswoman. (and that Levi kid who knocked up Bristol Palin and posed naked in Playgirl)  Snooki was at the race as an honorary starter and from reading her tweets, it seems like she had a great time at her first NASCAR race.  But in general, most NASCAR folks on twitter were not happy to have her there and created the hash-tag #WTFSnooki.  Oh calm down you drama queens! :-)

So at the end of a long drama filled night, we have a Chase field for 2011 and some ripped up transcripts.  Now, it’s onto Chicago for the first race in The Chase.

 

 

 

 

 

The Kyle Busch Show Returns to Richmond

[ credit NASCAR Media Group / by Reid Spencer - The Sporting News Wire Service ]

Credit: Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR

It happens every spring.

Just as surely as the azaleas bloom at Augusta National, Kyle Busch celebrates his birthday with a victory at Richmond International Raceway.

That has been the case for three years, at least, after Busch, who will turn 26 Monday, won Saturday night’s Crown Royal Presents 400 at the .75-mile track. The victory was Busch’s second in NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series this season and the 21st of his career.

Busch beat Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin to the finish line by 1.805 seconds as both drivers conserved fuel during an 86-lap green-flag run to the finish. Busch has won the last three spring races at Richmond, with Hamlin winning the last two fall races.

Kasey Kahne finished third, followed by David Ragan and series points leader Carl Edwards. Clint Bowyer, AJ Allmendinger, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart claimed positions 6-9 as the last cars on the lead lap.

Busch, who like Hamlin made it to the finish after pitting for the last time on Lap 293 of 400, ran out of fuel during his postrace burnout.

“We were late to the celebration,” Busch said after his car was pushed to victory lane. “This is pretty awesome. We had a really good car, and we knew that if we could play through traffic a little bit better than the 11 (Hamlin) that we had a shot at the win, and we did that tonight.

“I learned from Denny Hamlin last fall — and I’m not going to say what I learned, but he might know. We did a good job of doing what we needed to do early in the run, and once we got out (in front) and had to go through traffic, the traffic kind of fell our way, so we were able to pick our way through there.”

Hamlin acknowledged helping Busch on the short tracks but said it was a fair exchange for what he had learned from Busch about running intermediate speedways.

“Yeah, I opened my mouth — I never should have told him,” Hamlin said, though he, too, declined to reveal the secret he had shared with his teammate. “That’s the thing. If I don’t tell him the things I know on short tracks, and the crew chiefs don’t relay information, then it’s not a good team.

“We got paid back on the bigger intermediate tracks. I learned so much from him. Yeah, it might cost me a race here or there because he outruns me, but I think, in the grand scheme of things, it makes me an overall better driver.”

After surging to the front of the field during a 107-lap green-flag run to start the race, Busch and Hamlin owned the action — save for a four-lap foray by Jeff Gordon — until Martin Truex Jr. took Busch and Hamlin three-wide to the inside after a restart on Lap 245 and surged to the front on Lap 246.

A bump from Jimmie Johnson sent Joey Logano spinning off Turn 2 on Lap 256. That started a spate of cautions that scrambled the field by virtue of divergent pit strategies. All told, Laps 256-301 brought five cautions, the last of which flew because of a wreck on the backstretch involving Bowyer, Gordon, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, Paul Menard and David Reutimann.

Gordon retired from the race after his Chevrolet slammed hard into the inside wall.

Busch was fourth and Hamlin fifth for a restart on Lap 315, but Busch charged into the lead around the outside and passed Jeff Burton for the top spot on Lap 317, with Hamlin quickly following into the second position. At that point, both drivers were conserving fuel, but they had enough of a lead over Kahne that they could maintain an even pace without fear of losing their positions on the track.

Notes: Edwards increased his lead in the Cup standings to nine points over Johnson. Busch gained three spots to third, 30 behind Edwards. … Juan Pablo Montoya and Ryan Newman were involved in a succession of incidents, with Montoya retaliating against Newman on Lap 237. NASCAR warned both drivers. … A late pit stop for fuel cost Dale Earnhardt Jr. a lead-lap finish. He came home 19th, two laps down and fell one position to fourth in points, 34 behind Edwards.