A strong practice session translated into an excellent qualifying run for Brad Keselowski, as the driver of the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge won the pole for Sunday's Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Keselowski sped around the 1.5-mile track in 28.112 seconds (192.089 mph) Thursday to win the second Coors Light pole award of his career, the first coming last September at New Hampshire. Keselowski edged AJ Allmendinger (191.693 mph), who will start his second straight NASCAR Sprint Cup points race from the outside of the front row. Series points leader Carl Edwards, winner of last Saturday's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte, will start third after at lap at 191.686 mph. Edwards' lap was one thousandth of a second slower than Allmendinger's (28.170 seconds versus 28.171). Denny Hamlin (191.367 mph) will line up next to Edwards on the outside of the second row. Jeff Burton (191.245 mph) qualified fifth. Jimmie Johnson, David Reutimann, David Ragan, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Clint Bowyer will start from positions six through 10, respectively. Stenhouse, driving the No. 21 Wood Brothers Ford in place of Trevor Bayne, is the first driver to make his Cup debut in the Coke 600 since Dale Earnhardt Jr. in 1999. Andy Lally, T.J. Bell, Scott Wimmer, Tony Raines and Scott Riggs failed to qualify for the 43-car field. (Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service)
Danica Denies Report About Full-Time Move To NASCAR
Danica Patrick denied an ESPN.com report that she would be racing full time in the Nationwide Series in 2012 with an eye on jumping to Sprint Cup in 2013, according to a report on thatsracing.com, citing Patrick's interview Wednesday with reporter Bruce Martin. Martin, who writes for SI.com, asked Patrick about the ESPN.com story during a previously scheduled interview Wednesday at Indianapolis, and her full response follows: "I'm watching TV and see it scroll across the bottom of the screen. I don't know where it came from but it's all speculation. Anybody can speculate that and write that. I don't know where it came from but there is no truth to it; it's just speculation. It's no different than it was last month or even last year. There is nothing new in it."
Patrick is in her second season of driving part time in the Nationwide Series for JR Motorsports, which is co-owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. She started 13 races in 2010 and is scheduled to make at least 12 starts in 2011. Patrick, who is in the final year of her IndyCar Series contract with Andretti Autosport, said last week a move to NASCAR full time was not out of the question. "I suppose anything is possible," she said Thursday when asked if this would be her seventh and final Indy 500. "But I know I haven't made any of those decisions yet." Patrick, 29, has been driving full time in IndyCar since 2005. She has one win, in 2008 at Motegi, Japan, and will start 26th in Sunday's Indianapolis 500. (Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service)
Stewart Wants Danica Patrick To Drive For Him
Tony Stewart doesn’t know whether Danica Patrick plans to switch to NASCAR full time next year, but he says he is interested in possibly signing her for his Stewart-Haas Racing team if she wants to jump to NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series. Stewart, a two-time Cup champion and former IndyCar champion, has been one of Patrick’s go-to drivers as far as advice with her NASCAR experiment. The 29-year-old IndyCar Series star, who is in her second year of a part-time Nationwide Series schedule with JR Motorsports, is considering moving to NASCAR full time when her IndyCar contract is up after this season. She said last week that she has made no decision yet about her future. Stewart hopes she at least talks to him about driving for the Stewart-Haas team he owns. “Anybody that’s got a Cup team that would have the availability would jump at the chance to do something with her,” Stewart said Wednesday. “Obviously she is a great talent. … I hope we [hear from her]. You would be crazy not to entertain an offer like that and an opportunity for her to drive a race car for you.” (scenedaily.com)
Bayne Will Sit Out Another Weekend
Daytona 500 winner Trevor Bayne will sit out for a fifth consecutive week as he continues to recover from fatigue and blurred vision caused by an unexplained illness. Roush Fenway Racing termed the decision “precautionary” and plans for Bayne to return next week for the Nationwide Series race at Chicagoland Speedway. Bayne was scheduled to drive in the Top Gear 300 Nationwide Series event on Saturday and the Coca-Cola 600 Sprint Cup event on Sunday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. He has tested the last two weeks, but Roush Fenway announced Wednesday that Bayne would not compete in what would have been 900 miles in two days. Instead, he will resume his Nationwide driving duties next week at Chicagoland and return to the Wood Brothers Racing car for its next scheduled event June 18 at Michigan.
“By all standards Trevor had a great week,” Roush Fenway Racing President Steve Newmark said in a statement. “His symptoms have completely subsided. He tested at Virginia International Raceway on Tuesday, had one of the fastest Nationwide Series cars on the race track and his team was extremely pleased with his progress. As a result, we plan to have him back in competition next week in Chicago.” While Bayne is sitting out again this weekend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will make his first Sprint Cup start by replacing Bayne in the Wood Brothers Racing car for the Coca-Cola 600. Stenhouse, who earned his first NASCAR victory by winning the Nationwide event at Iowa Speedway last week, will have to qualify on speed. Matt Kenseth will replace Bayne in the Nationwide car this weekend.(scenedaily.com)
Danica Patrick Considers NASCAR Full-Time In 2012
Danica Patrick and her management team are working on a plan that would bring her full-time to NASCAR in 2012, sources said Tuesday. Patrick hopes to finalize a deal soon that would have her race full-time in the NASCAR Nationwide Series next season. She would also race a few Sprint Cup events in 2012 before going full-time to Cup in 2013. The plan includes Patrick continuing to compete in the Indianapolis 500 next year. Patrick is the only woman ever to lead a lap in the Indy 500. She will compete in her seventh Indy 500 on Sunday. Which team she will race for, and other details, still are being finalized, sources said. Go-Daddy.com, which sponsors her Indy car and the car she drives in the Nationwide Series, is expected to stay with her if she moves to NASCAR full-time. Go-Daddy also sponsors the No. 5 Cup car that Mark Martin drives for Hendrick Motorsports, but Kasey Kahne is replacing Martin next season.
Patrick, 29, has raced full-time in the IndyCar Series since 2005. She became the first woman to win a major open-wheel racing event when she went to Victory Lane in Motegi, Japan, in 2008. Patrick has also raced a partial schedule in the Nationwide Series the past two seasons for JR Motorsports, which is owned by Dale Earnhardt Jr. Her contracts with Andretti Autosport in the IndyCar Series and JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series end after this year. Patrick said last week at Indianapolis that she hasn't made any decisions about her future. "I suppose anything is possible," she said then. "But I know for me, I haven't made any of those decisions yet." (espn.go.com)
Kyle Busch Cited For 128mph In A 45mph Zone
NASCAR driver Kyle Busch was cited for careless and reckless driving after deputies said they clocked him doing nearly three times the posted speed limit Tuesday afternoon. Iredell County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Chris Stone, a member of the Aggressive Criminal Enforcement (ACE) team, said he stopped a 2012 yellow Lexus LFA sports car after he clocked it doing 128 mph in a 45 mph zone on Perth Road near Judas Road. Stone said he was traveling north on Perth Road near the entrance to Honeysuckle Creek when he spotted a yellow sports car, traveling at an extremely high rate of speed. “I didn’t even know what kind of car it was,” Stone said. “I hit my radar button and it read 128.” He said he turned around, and when he caught back up with the car, it was turning left onto Judas Road. Stone said he turned on his blue lights and the car pulled into the parking lot of a church at the intersection of Judas and Perth roads.
The car was a manufacturer’s vehicle and wasn’t registered in anyone’s name, Stone said. He said he asked Busch why he was driving at such a high rate of speed. “He said ‘this is just a toy,’” Stone said. He said Busch indicated the car, a two-seat sport coupe produced by Lexus as a concept car and a racing prototype, was on loan to him from the manufacturer. He said Busch was cooperative. “He wasn’t arrogant or anything,” he said. Capt. Darren Campbell said it is standard procedure to issue a citation and release the person rather than arresting the driver and requiring a bond to be posted for release from custody. “A bond is an assurance you will appear in court,” he said. “He (Busch) had ID and lived in the area so there was no need for a bond.” Busch, driver of the No. 18 M&M/Interstate Batteries Toyota Camry, was cited for careless and reckless driving and speeding, Miller said. (www2.statesville.com/news)
Two Truck Teams Penalized By NASCAR
Two NASCAR Camping World Truck Series teams received penalties today as a result of rule violations last weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The No. 33 truck was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4-J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules) and 20B-10.6-B (unapproved final drive (rear end) gear ratio) of the 2011 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Rule Book.
Crew chief Jeff Hensley has been fined $10,000, while team owner DeLana Harvick and driver Ron Hornaday Jr. have been penalized with the loss of 25 championship owner and 25 championship driver points, respectively. The infraction occurred during post-race inspection May 20.
The No. 3 truck (Richard Childress Racing) was found to be in violation of Sections 12-1, 12-4-J and 20B-10.4-K (shifter lever was not metal). Crew chief Gary Stockman has been fined $1,000. The infraction occurred during opening day inspection on May 19.
Kevin Harvick responded after NASCAR announced penalties today for the No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. (KHI) team which competes in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series with driver Ron Hornaday. The penalties are a result of rule infractions found in post-race inspection following the May 20 event at Charlotte Motor Speedway. “This is an unfortunate situation but KHI respects NASCAR’s decision,” said KHI co-owner Kevin Harvick. “We receive the gears from an outside supplier which we trust and expect to be accurate according to the NASCAR rule book. It was not an intentional infraction by G-Force South and we are working to prevent any future incidents.”
Sprint Cup Series Crewman Suspended For Substance Abuse Violation
Gary Frost, a crew member for the No. 31 team (Richard Childress Racing) in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, has been indefinitely suspended from NASCAR for violating the sanctioning body’s substance abuse policy. On May 23, Frost was found to have violated Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing) and 19 (violation of the NASCAR substance abuse policy) of the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rule book.
Richard Childress responds: The following is a statement by Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing, regarding NASCAR's decision to suspend indefinitely an RCR employee after testing positive on a random drug test: "Richard Childress Racing has zero tolerance when an employee fails a NASCAR drug test due to an illegal substance. As a result, that person's employment is terminated. It is important for our fans and our partners to know illegal drug use at RCR is simply not tolerated."
NASCAR Hall of Fame Inducts Five New Members
The membership in the NASCAR Hall of Fame has officially doubled. Stock car racing’s legends and stakeholders gathered Monday night to induct five new members into the Hall of Fame: drivers David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett and Lee Petty, along with car owner/crew chief Bud Moore. The emphasis was on extended family, as the Hall of Fame welcomed its second class of five into NASCAR’s most exclusive family. The inductions opened with an introductory video featuring Tom Brokaw, former network news anchor and author of The Greatest Generation, who welcomed Moore into the Hall of Fame. Motor Racing Network anchor Barney Hall, a close friend of Moore, took the stage to handle the induction itself.
Hall noted that it was Moore’s task to groom Dale Earnhardt into the superstar he would become in later years, and indeed, Moore fielded cars for more than 30 drivers, many of them legends of the sport. All told, he won 63 races, 43 poles and two championships as a car owner, to go with the title he won with Buck Baker as a crew chief. “It means a lot to see my contribution as a car owner recognized like this,” said Moore, winner of five Purple Hearts during his service in World War II. -- Lee Petty’s grandsons, Richie, Kyle, Tim and Mark, did the honors for the founder of the organization that has achieved more success in NASCAR racing than any other. “He was the glue that kept us all together,” Richie Petty said.
Kyle Petty emphasized Lee Petty’s work ethic and his determination. “This sport, for my grandfather, was not a sport—it was a way of life,” Kyle said. “He raced to put food on the table.” -- Brothers Richard and Maurice Petty accepted the Hall of Fame ring on behalf of their father, who died in 2000. “I always said that he was the leader,” said Richard Petty, who was inducted last year as a member of the Hall of Fame’s inaugural class. “He should have been here way before I was.”
Jarrett, who won 50 races and championships in 1961 and 1965, was inducted by his three children—1999 Cup champion Dale Jarrett, Glenn Jarrett and Patty Makar. Glenn Jarrett pointed out that his father has now been inducted into 15 Halls of Fame. “Tonight is the ultimate memory,” Glenn said. After receiving the ring, Ned Jarrett exclaimed, “Wow. This is the NASCAR Hall of Fame—and now I’m in it. … I am truly humbled by this huge honor—I don’t take it lightly.”
Presenting the Hall of Fame ring to 84-time winner and 1983 champion Bobby Allison was his brother, 1967 Cup rookie of the year Donnie Allison. “He loved his wife, he loved his kids. He never neglected any of ’em. But I always said his first love was racing,” Donnie said. As far as Allison is concerned, the familial atmosphere stopped at the asphalt. Allison is often asked why he didn’t let his son Davey win when they ran 1-2 in the 1988 Daytona 500. “I’m here to tell you—he wouldn’t have let his mother win,” Donnie said.
Last to receive his ring was David Pearson, who is second only to Richard Petty in races and poles won during his Cup career. Pearson won 113 poles and took the checkered flag 105 times in 574 career starts. His cunning on the racetrack earned him the nickname “Silver Fox.” “He doesn’t care to be in the spotlight,” said former Darlington Raceway PR director Russell Branham, a close friend. “You won’t find any of his trophies in his home—they’re all stored in an old building on his property. … The Hall of Fame is for heroes. Mine enters the Hall of Fame tonight.”
Pearson asked one of his former crew chiefs, Leonard Wood of Wood Brothers Racing, to join Branham in inducting him. Wood described Pearson as “all you ever want in a racecar driver. He had such a great feel for what the racecar was doing. He always qualified faster than he practiced. He had more self-confidence than anybody I’ve ever seen. “If the car wasn’t working, you’d better work on it, because it sure wasn’t the driver.” Wood recalled that Pearson won 43 Cup races with the Wood Brothers. “Nice number,” Wood said, with a sly glance at Richard Petty. (Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service)
NASCAR Hall Of Fame To Enshrine Second Class On Monday
Five new members will enter the NASCAR Hall of Fame during an induction ceremony Monday night in Charlotte, constituting a class that was not without controversy when the identities of the five inductees were announced last October. Certainly, drivers David Pearson, Bobby Allison, Lee Petty, Ned Jarrett and car owner Walter M. “Bud” Moore -- the Hall of Fame’s second class—are far from second-class citizens when it comes to their credentials. All are solid Hall of Fame picks and deserving of the honor. The controversy surrounding the announcement of the second class had more to do with NASCAR legends not chosen, rather than those who were -- much as the omission of Pearson from the first class was considered in many quarters a glaring oversight.
Darrell Waltrip and Cale Yarborough, both three-time champions with on-the-track accomplishments comparable to Allison’s, didn’t make the cut. Waltrip won 84 Cup races, as did Allison. Yarborough is fifth on the all-time list with 83 victories and returned to the limelight in 2008 and 2009 when Jimmie Johnson first tied his record of three straight Sprint Cup championships and then broke it. Clearly, ongoing contributions to NASCAR racing and other intangibles contributed to the election of the current class. In addition to winning 54 races and three championships, Petty is recognized as the patriarch who founded Petty Enterprises, the most successful dynasty in the history of the sport.
Jarrett retired in 1966 with 50 wins and two Cup titles but maintained a strong presence in racing for many years thereafter as one of the top broadcasters in the business. Moore made a lifelong contribution as a car owner after returning from World War II as a decorated hero. The good news for Waltrip and Yarborough is that they will join the elite group of inductees, perhaps as soon as January 2012, when the next class is enshrined. This year, however, the Hall will celebrate the accomplishments of five men, all champions of the sport—David Pearson, Lee Petty, Bobby Allison, Ned Jarrett and Bud Moore. (Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service)
Ricky Stenhouse Edges Carl Edwards For First Win
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. won Sunday’s John Deere Dealers 250 at Iowa Speedway for his first career victory in the Nationwide Series. Making his 51st start, Stenhouse, 23, outdueled Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski, the only Sprint Cup Series regulars in the race, for the win. -- “We had a shot at a few races earlier this year, but they would get away from us at the end,” Stenhouse said. “Today we stayed strong all day long. In other races we have started fast but didn’t finish. It was good to get that done here.” -- Stenhouse’s win also was the first by a full-time Nationwide-only driver since Justin Allgaier’s victory at Bristol in March 2010.
Edwards, who won Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race in Charlotte, finished second. Keselowski, Reed Sorenson and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top five. Kenny Wallace, making his 500th Nationwide Series start, finished sixth, followed by Michael McDowell, Allgaier, James Buescher and Austin Dillon. “I am happy for (Stenhouse), but I’m also a little frustrated,” Edwards said. “I asked for some adjustments I shouldn’t have, and we got dialed out. I was too busy driving and should have paid more attention to what the car was doing.” -- Stenhouse took the lead for the first time on Lap 165 of 250, and the lead went back and forth between Stenhouse and Edwards, his Roush Fenway Racing teammate, seven times before Drew Herring took the lead on Lap 208 during green-flag pit stops.
Although Stenhouse, Edwards and Keselowski pitted together, Stenhouse returned to the track in the seventh position. But he made up ground over the final 40 laps, recapturing the lead with 18 laps to go. “When I drove the car hard, it could take it,” Stenhouse said. “It felt good having past champions (Edwards and Keselowski) behind me, but you also know you can’t make a mistake because they will take advantage of it. “It feels good that a Nationwide regular won this race. I don’t think we will be the only Nationwide driver to win this year.”
With qualifying cancelled Saturday because of weather, the race lined up according to owner points. Herring, driving the No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota, started on the pole and led the first 37 laps. McDowell, in JGR’s No. 18, then took the point for 18 laps. It wasn’t until after Sorenson led the next 77 laps that Keselowski and Edwards would take the point, with Keselowski leading 30 of the 31 laps before Stenhouse grabbed the lead for the first time. “It was a really good race from where I sat,” Keselowski said. “It is a great track to race, and it was good to see a Nationwide regular win it. We had a decent run, and I’m proud of my team and our results.”
Stenhouse moved up a spot in the points standings to third, one behind second-place Sorenson and eight behind leader Sadler. Stenhouse is the seventh driver to win a Nationwide race for owner Jack Roush, who picked up his 116th win in the series. “I am honored to be here with Ricky and Mike (crew chief Mike Kelley) knowing how hard they have worked to get here,” Roush said. “You will be hearing about them for years to come. I won’t be here in the end, but I was here for Day 1.” (Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service)
Earnhardt Jr. And Hendrick Motorsports Close On Contract Extension
Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Hendrick Motorsports are close to finalizing a contract extension. The development, initially reported by ESPN.com and later confirmed by Earnhardt Jr., would continue a pairing between the sport’s most popular driver and its most successful multicar team. Earnhardt Jr. joined Hendrick Motorsports before the 2008 season but has not performed well there. He has just one win in three-plus seasons. But a new pairing with crew chief Steve Letarte has led to optimism that Earnhardt will again become relevant on the track. “I’m excited to be where I am,” Earnhardt Jr. said. “From my heart, it's an amazing organization. There are some great, great people there. I’ve learned a lot being around there, and it's made me a better person.” (Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service)
Carl Edwards Wins His First All-Star Race
Carl Edwards led every lap of the final 10-lap segment and pulled away from Kyle Busch to win his first Sprint All-Star Race and the $1-million first prize that goes with it. First out of the pits for a restart on Lap 91 of 100—after a mandatory four-tire stop—Edwards finished .443 seconds ahead of Busch to become the eighth different winner of the All-Star Race in the last eight years. David Reutimann ran third, followed by Tony Stewart and Greg Biffle. Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, David Ragan, Kevin Harvick and Ryan Newman completed the top 10.
Biffle passed Busch on Lap four and held the top spot throughout the remainder of the first 50-lap segment. All cars were required to make green-flag pit stops for four tires after completing Lap 25, but that didn't affect the running order. Biffle was first off pit road, followed by Edwards and Busch, and that's the way they ran when NASCAR threw the halftime caution after Lap 50. After a two-tire call, Edwards was first off pit road and led the field to the green flag to start the second segment, a 20-lap run. Edwards had pulled away from the action behind him when Kasey Kahne's collision with the Turn 1 wall brought out the second caution. Eight cars from 11th on back, including Dale Earnhardt, Clint Bowyer and Harvick, came to the pits under caution, setting up divergent strategies as the race progressed toward its conclusion.
Jimmie Johnson took the lead after the restart on Lap 63, but Edwards regained the top position with a pass of Johnson on Lap 69 and held the point when NASCAR threw the scheduled caution after Lap 70 to end the second segment. Again strategies diverged, as Edwards, Busch, Jeff Gordon, Biffle, Stewart and Hamlin remained on the track while Johnson led a larger group of cars to the pits under the yellow. Edwards restarted in the lead on Lap 71, only to see Busch and Gordon surge past him on the restart. Johnson fell back after a two-tire stop and returned to the pits on Lap 76, after Regan Smith's spin off Turn 2 caused the fourth caution. Busch pulled away after a restart on Lap 79, but Edwards gradually tracked him down, clearing Busch for lead in Turn 3 on Lap 86. Edwards held the top spot, with Busch, Biffle, Stewart and Hamlin behind him when NASCAR called the scheduled caution after 90 laps, signaling a 10-minute break before the final 10-lap dash. (Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service)
Raikkonen Will Run Next Saturday's Nationwide Race - Keselowski Says Slow Down
Kimi Raikkonen is definitely on the NASCAR fast track—but is it too fast? With one truck series race under his belt, Raikkonen will step up in class next Saturday when he makes his Nationwide debut at Charlotte. Brad Keselowski, the 2010 Nationwide Series champion, says perhaps Raikkonen should consider a slower learning curve. "Charlotte's probably the last place I'd pick to make my Nationwide debut," Keselowski told Sporting News. "It's a very difficult racetrack that changes a lot throughout the race. I think he should run about 15 more truck races before moving up."
Raikkonen, however, is determined to accelerate his NASCAR career, and he'll do so in a No. 87 Toyota owned by Joe Nemechek and assembled by Kyle Busch Motorsports. Keselowski pointed out that the new Nationwide car introduced full-time to the series this year has widened the gap between the truck and Nationwide series and made the transition more difficult. Given that Raikkonen seems determined to run Nationwide, Keselowski has some pertinent advice. "It sounds cheesy, but the number one thing is to make sure you run all the laps," Keselowski said. "There's no substitute for track time. Even if you have to lift off (the gas pedal) and find a hole to race in, you need to make sure you finish the race." Lifting off, however, may be foreign to the Finnish world champion, given that—both on the racetrack and in his career—his attitude is full speed ahead.
(Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service)
Nemechek, Busch Partner For Raikkonen's Nationwide Car
The mystery car sitting in the shop at Kyle Busch Motorsports is a mystery no more. KBM is partnering with Joe Nemechek's NEMCO Motorsports to put 2007 Formula One champion Kimi Raikkonen in the No. 87 Toyota for next Saturday's Top Gear 300 Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway, according to a FoxSports.com report.
KBM owner Kyle Busch dropped hints about the deal after winning Friday night's Camping World Truck Series event at Charlotte. Busch alluded to the car in his shop, acknowledged that it was a Toyota but declined to reveal its provenance. KBM will assemble the car Raikkonen will drive in his Nationwide debut. NEMCO will provide the transporter, crew (supplemented by KBM), a backup car, and—most important—the owner points that will guarantee Raikkonen a starting spot in the race. The No. 87 currently is 19th in the owner standings, well inside the top 30 (the cutoff for a guaranteed starting spot). Raikkonen finished 15th, on the lead lap, in his truck series debut Friday night. Coincidentally, Busch made his Nationwide debut at Charlotte in 2003, driving a No. 87 Chevrolet owned by Joe Nemechek. Busch finished second to Matt Kenseth in the May 24, 2003 Carquest Auto Parts 300. (Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service)
Ragan, Keselowski Advance To Sprint All-Star Race
Polesitter David Ragan passed Brad Keselowski for the lead on the next-to-last lap of Saturday night's Sprint Showdown, as both drivers advanced to the Sprint All-Star Race that followed the 40-lap qualifier. Marcos Ambrose came home third, followed by front-row starter AJ Allmendinger and Joey Logano, who started from the rear after changing engines. Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a late pit stop to adjust the handling of his car and worked his way from 16th to sixth in the final 13 laps. As expected, Earnhardt won the Sprint Fan Vote to claim the final position in the field for the All-Star Race.
Ragan led every lap of the first of two 20-lap segments but surrendered the top spot to Keselowski on the restart of the second segment, when Keselowski dived to the inside and passed both Ragan and Paul Menard before the cars reached Turn 1 on Lap 21. Menard slipped past Ragan for the second position on Lap 23, and Keselowski, Menard and Ragan ran 1-2-3 until David Stremme's Chevrolet slammed the Turn 4 wall on Lap 27 to cause the third caution of the race. Earnhardt, who had slipped back from the fourth spot, brought his No. 88 Chevy to the pits under the yellow for four tires and restarted 16th on Lap 28. The field didn't complete the lap before Brian Vickers spun in Turn 2 to bring out the fourth caution. The restart, however, cost Menard, who fell back to 11th at the finish.
A frightening crash interrupted the Showdown barely more than two laps into the race. The left rear tire on Landon Cassill's Chevrolet blew as Cassill entered Turn 1. The car spun out of control and slid up the track into the path of Derrike Cope's Ford. With nowhere to go, Cope broadsided Cassill in the driver's-side door, destroying both cars. Both drivers walked away from the wreck. Note: Kasey Kahne won the Pennzoil Ultra Victory Challenge burnout competition that preceded the race.(Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service)
Rainout Puts Drew Herring On Iowa Pole
Because of a rainout of Saturday's time trials, Drew Herring will start on the pole next to Joe Gibbs Racing teammate-for-the-day Michael McDowell in Sunday's Iowa John Deere Dealers 250 Nationwide Series race at Iowa Speedway. Herring and McDowell are making their first starts, respectively, in the No. 20 and No. 18 JGR Toyotas, which are on the front row as the series leaders in owner points. Under rainout rules, owner points are used to order the field when, as was the case in Iowa, no practice speeds are available. Austin Dillon will start third beside Carl Edwards in fourth. With 43 drivers entered in the race, Angela and Amber Cope—starting 34th and 43rd, respectively—will become the first twins ever to compete in the same Nationwide Series race as soon as they take the green flag. The Copes are the nieces of Derrike Cope, the 1990 Daytona 500 champion. (Sporting News NASCAR Wire Service)