For Joey Logano, Friday night's victory in the VFW Sport Clips 200 Nationwide Series event at Darlington Raceway was tinged with regret. Yes, Logano drove away from Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Denny Hamlin after a green-white-checkered restart to win his second consecutive race in the series and third of the season. But Logano got the opportunity for his 12th career victory only after a well-intentioned bump went awry and wrecked championship contender Elliott Sadler on a restart with five laps left in regulation distance. "Obviously, this win was a little bittersweet -- you don't want to win 'em that way," said Logano, who called Sadler after the race to apologize and left a voice mail. "Your heart drops. You know he's running for points. Your heart drops a little bit, but at the same time, you've got to put it behind you, go out there and do your job and win the race."
Hamlin, who complained of an engine problem during the final two laps, finished .256 seconds behind Logano in the runner-up position. Brad Keselowski ran third, followed by Sam Hornish Jr. and rookie Austin Dillon, as the race went four laps past its scheduled distance of 147 laps. Danica Patrick finished 12th and Travis Pastrana 17th, both on the lead lap in their Darlington debuts. Logano was trying to push Sadler and keep him in the lead on a restart on Lap 143, but Sadler's No. 2 moved up the track to the right and turned across the nose of Hamlin's Camry, which was running in the outside lane.
After slamming into the wall near the entry to Turn 1, Sadler's car was too hobbled to continue, leaving him in 24th place at the finish and dropping him to 23 points behind series leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who started on the pole and finished sixth. "I was trying to help him," Logano said of the contact with Sadler's car. "Two restarts before that I successfully helped him and got him out front. The next restart was the same situation -- he was first; I was third -- and I started to push him. He did take two tires, so I think he spun his tires some, and I was trying to shove him ahead....He may have been trying to go up in front of Denny, or he was spinning the tires, and I had him crossed up, but once he turned sideways, I couldn't get off him."
Sadler's crash caused the sixth caution of the race and forced overtime, with the field taking the green flag on Lap 150. Logano powered past his teammate into the lead. "We lost a cylinder, and that's why we didn't take off," said Hamlin, who led 103 of the 151 laps. "We just can't keep dominating these races and not win 'em." --/-- Hamlin led Kurt Busch by more than five seconds when the right-front tire on Busch's No. 54 Toyota blew on Lap 126, shooting the nose of the car into the outside wall. The resulting caution brought the top cars to pit road, with Sadler grabbing the lead with a two-tire stop under the yellow. Before the caution, the fourth of the race, Hamlin had dominated. Busch took the lead briefly with a bold three-wide move on a Lap 51 restart, but Hamlin regained the top spot on Lap 53 and began to pull away. His advantage over Busch grew to nearly seven seconds through a cycle of green-flag stops, before Busch's tire blew to bring out the yellow flag. Ultimately, Busch recovered to finish eighth, despite the damage his car suffered when he hit the wall. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Greg Biffle Wins Darlington Pole
After a stellar qualifying run, Jimmie Johnson said there was some speed left in Darlington Raceway -- and Greg Biffle found it. Biffle toured the 1.366-mile Lady in Black in 27.281 seconds (180.2557 mph) to win the pole for Saturday night's Bojangles' Southern 500, beating second-place starter Johnson and third-place Kasey Kahne by .105 seconds. Biffle, who posted back-to-back wins at Darlington in 2005 and 2006, snagged his second Coors Light Pole Award of the season, his second at the Lady in Black and the 11th of his career. "This is what a race car driver looks forward to, showing up every weekend and having a really fast car to drive," said Biffle, the Sprint Cup Series leader. "They're making me look good so far. It was a pretty uneventful lap. The car just had a ton of grip -- it stuck to the race track really, really well. I felt like I was a little bit light down in Turns 1 and 2 -- I should have been a little bit quicker down there -- but I got a lot out of it in 3 and 4, so it was a great lap."
Johnson and Kahne ran identical speeds (179.566 mph), with Johnson winning the front-row starting spot from his Hendrick Motorsports teammate on an owner points tiebreaker. Ryan Newman (179.461 mph) qualified fourth, followed by Kyle Busch (179.448 mph). Johnson said his car was comfortable -- perhaps too much so in Turns 3 and 4 of the qualifying lap. "I knew I left a little time on the table down there, and Greg went out and found it," Johnson said. Danica Patrick qualified 38th at 175.497 mph for her Cup debut at Darlington, picking up approximately .75 seconds from her fastest lap in practice. The Southern 500 will be Patrick's second Cup race and her first in a Cup car with an open motor. But it's all part of the trial-by-fire approach to a 10-race schedule she developed with team owner Tony Stewart. "We definitely struggled in the Cup car [in practice]," Patrick said. "But this was the plan, to do it difficult, and this is one of the places that would really challenge me. "I felt better in qualifying. I ran three quarters of a second quicker than I did in practice. For me, usually if I stink during practice, I don't usually find a lot in qualifying." (NASCAR Wire Service)
Carroll Shelby, Automotive Legend Dies
Carroll Shelby, Ford Family for More Than Half a Century
The following statement is attributable to Edsel B. Ford II, member of the Board of Directors of Ford Motor Company and great-grandson of Henry Ford, founder of Ford Motor Company. “Today, we have lost a legend in Ford Motor Company’s history, and my family and I have lost a dear friend. Carroll Shelby is one of the most recognized names in performance car history, and he’s been successful at everything he’s done. Whether helping Ford dominate the 1960s racing scene or building some of the most famous Mustangs, his enthusiasm and passion for great automobiles over six decades has truly inspired everyone who worked with him. He was a great innovator whose legend at Ford never will be forgotten. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.”
JAMIE ALLISON, Director, Ford Racing on the passing of Carroll Shelby:
“In the history of our company there are a handful of men who have stamped their imprint on the heart and soul of what we do at Ford Racing and Carroll Shelby is definitely one of them. I’m just so fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet him and our thoughts and prayers go out to his family. We at Ford and his legions of fans will have a silent moment to reflect on what he’s done for the company. It’s personal for me and I’m sure it’s personal for many fans.”
Carroll Shelby With Ford For Nearly 60 Years
DEARBORN, Mich., May 11, 2012– Carroll Shelby was a member of the Ford family for the better part of 60 years, producing stunning performance vehicles from concepts to production models. He once said his energy and passion for performance products were always strongest when he was working with Ford. Shelby most recently collaborated with the company on the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 Mustang, the most powerful production V8 in the world. Working with SVT engineers at Sebring and the Arizona Proving Grounds, at times he drove for more than eight hours – at the ripe old age of 88. He was having so much fun, he didn’t want to stop. In this 110th Anniversary of Ford Racing video, Shelby talks about his career working with Ford and winning Le Mans: (YouTube Video).
The legend begins
Carroll Shelby was nearly 30 years old before he entered his first car race – a quarter-mile drag meet in 1952. The hot rod he drove to the finish line that day was powered by a Ford V8. Shelby’s first Ford derivatives were the legendary Cobras and Shelby Mustangs of the 1960s. He was heavily involved in the design and engineering of the Ford Shelby Cobra Concept car unveiled in 2004, and was a key member of the dream team that built the 2005 Ford GT. Carroll Shelby may have gotten a late start, but he was a winner from the beginning. Just two years into his driving career, Aston Martin racing manager John Wyer recruited him to co-drive a DB3 at Sebring. Within months, the chicken farmer from Texas was bumping elbows and trading paint with the likes of Juan Manuel Fangio, Phil Hill and Paul Frère. Driving an Aston Martin DBR1 with Roy Salvadori, he won Europe’s prestigious 24 Hours of Le Mans in 1959.
Early in 1962 Shelby drove his second Ford-powered race car. It was the first mockup for the Cobra, Shelby’s now-legendary marriage of a lightweight British roadster body with a small-block Ford V8. By January 1963 he had homologated the car under the FIA’s GT Group III class, and that month a Cobra won its first race, beating a field of Corvette Stingrays at Riverside in California. In January 1965 Ford hired Shelby to lend his expertise to the GT40 campaign. Three cars had run the 1964 24 Hours of Le Mans, but none finished. Shelby began installing the more reliable 7-liter stock car engine in what would come to be known as the GT40 Mark II. It proved considerably faster than the Mark I, and in just two seasons became a strong contender.In 1966 the GT40 began a domination of endurance car racing that would last for four years. While Ford and Shelby took on Ferrari at Le Mans, at home they fought Corvette. The first effort was the legendary Shelby Cobra, a Ford-powered, Shelby-engineered derivative of the AC Ace. The car had a one-ton weight advantage over the Corvette.
In August 1964 Ford had asked Carroll Shelby to develop a street-legal, high-performance Mustang to compete against Corvette in SCCA B-production road racing. By September, California-based Shelby-American had completed the first Mustang GT350. The 1965 Shelby Mustang GT350 was a fastback production model with a functional scoop in its fiberglass hood and 306 horsepower from its 289-cubic-inch V8 – an increase of 35 horsepower over the stock engine. Suspension upgrades included a larger front stabilizer bar, Koni shocks and rear traction bars, along with race-ready features. It sold for $4,000, and was instantly recognizable by its Wimbledon White paint and blue GT350 side stripes. For 1966 the GT350 came in white, red, black, green and blue, and Hertz purchased nearly 1,000 special GT350H weekend “rent-a-racers.” In 1967 Shelby Mustangs sported unique fiberglass bodywork that extended the front end with an aggressive dual scoop and finished the trunk lid with an integrated spoiler.
But most important in 1967 was the new GT500, a big-block with 355 horsepower. More than 2,000 of those 428-cubic-inch Mustangs were delivered that first model year.
1968 was when the name “Cobra” was first officially used on a Shelby Mustang, and that year a convertible bodystyle became available as well. Although the Shelby Cobra GT350 was essentially unchanged, later GT500s were powered by the new Cobra Jet 428 engine and thus became GT500KR – for King of the Road.
For 1969, the penultimate year of the Shelby Mustang, engine choices included the optional 351 Ram Air, and the bodywork incorporated a total of nine scoops – five on the hood, one at the front of each fender and one on each quarter panel. In 1970, with sales slowing, the final Shelby Mustangs built for 1969 were updated to 1970 spec and sold. The famed run had come to an end.
It would be more than 30 years before Ford and Shelby worked together again, and in March 2001 they reunited, with Shelby coming on board to consult on a new GT40 Concept. In March 2002 Ford green-lighted production of the Ford GT. Then, in April 2003 Shelby collaborated on a concept car that would pay homage to the original Shelby Cobra. The car stole the show the following year at NAIAS. Ford stoked the passions of enthusiasts again in 2004 with the unveiling of the modern Ford Shelby GR-1 Concept at Pebble Beach. J Mays, Ford group vice president for Design, said Shelby’s input was reflected in the car’s performance underpinnings. In 2008, Carroll Shelby’s 85th birthday was marked by the first 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR to roll off the production line. An exclusive run of only 1,000 units, this King of the Road was a 540-horsepower muscle car. Shelby, who was actively involved in developing it, said, “I’m always looking to up the ante when it comes to performance, and bringing back the King of the Road Mustang is just what we need.”
Carroll Shelby’s last collaboration with Ford was on the 2013 Ford Shelby GT500, which produces 662 horsepower and 631 lb.-ft. of torque, making it the most powerful production V8 engine in the world. In January, Shelby’s one-of-one racetrack durability car was auctioned at Barrett-Jackson in Scottsdale, Ariz., for $350,000.
More on Carroll Shelby’s career, in his own words, can be found in this series of videos: --
Key moments in the history of Carroll Shelby and Ford Motor Company
1952: Shelby enters first race at the wheel of a Ford-powered hot rod
1962: Shelby tests his first Ford-powered AC 260 Roadster –the car that would become the Shelby Cobra. Shelby-American begins operations in Venice, Calif. Cobra production begins
1964: Ford asks Shelby to develop a high-performance Mustang derivative. First Shelby prototypes are built
1965: Shelby GT350 is introduced. Ford hires Shelby-American to oversee GT40 program. Hertz begins buying GT350H versions for its “rent-a-racer” program
1966: Ford GT40 Mark II wins Le Mans. First 1967 Shelby GT500s delivered
1967: Ford and Shelby-American win Le Mans, again. 1968 Shelby Mustang convertibles debut
1968: 1969 model year production begins
1969: Shelby Mustang production ends
1970: Ford and Shelby end their long-term racing agreement
2001: Carroll Shelby is invited by Ford to consult on GT40 Concept
2002: Ford green-lights production of Ford GT
2003: Ford invites Shelby to collaborate on a concept car that pays homage to original Shelby Cobra
2004: Ford Shelby Cobra Concept steals the show at NAIAS. Ford asks Shelby to consult on a follow-up concept. Shelby announces it will build limited-edition Shelby Ford Expedition. Ford unveils Shelby GR-1 Concept
2006: Shelby GTH debuts at New York Auto Show
2007: GT500 name debuts
2008: First 2008 Ford Shelby GT500KR rolls off the line on Carroll Shelby’s 85th birthday. Partnering with Ford Racing, Shelby fields factory race team for the first time since 1969
2011: Debut of 662-horsepower, 631-lb.-ft. 2013 Ford Shelby GT500, the most powerful production V8 engine in the world
2012: 2013 Ford Shelby GT500 sells at Barrett-Jackson for $350,000
Carl Edwards to Join ESPN for Two Nationide Races
NASCAR Sprint Cup Series star Carl Edwards will move from the cockpit of his race car to the broadcast booth as he becomes an analyst for ESPN on two upcoming telecasts of NASCAR Nationwide Series races. Edwards will make his debut during ESPN2’s live telecast of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Darlington (S.C.) Raceway on Friday night, May 11, at 6:30 p.m. ET. Edwards also will serve as an analyst for the June 29 event at Kentucky Speedway. For the Darlington race telecast, Edwards will join lap-by-lap announcer Allen Bestwick and analyst Andy Petree in the booth. While Edwards has never called a race, he has worked closely with ESPN the past two years during ESPN’s portion of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series schedule by doing post-race analysis for SportsCenter.
“I am humbled by this opportunity to broadcast for ESPN and be part of their team,” said Edwards. “This Friday in Darlington, I will hop out of my Sprint Cup Car and trade my firesuit for a suit and tie to see the Nationwide race from a totally different perspective. “I am honestly a little nervous as it will be my first time being part of the broadcast,” he said. “ESPN has been a great partner for everyone in NASCAR and I hope I can add some insight for the fans.” Edwards, who drives for Roush Fenway Racing, stopped competing in NASCAR Nationwide Series races this season after racing fulltime in both the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series the past seven years. He was the Nationwide Series driving champion in 2007, and earned the 2011 series owner’s championship for Roush Fenway Racing, but decided to concentrate his efforts on the Sprint Cup Series this season. “Having a past NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and active NASCAR Sprint Cup driver in the booth will certainly bring some unique perspective to our viewers,” said Rich Feinberg, ESPN vice president, motorsports, production. “We have a very strong on-air team for NASCAR and this addition makes it even stronger.”
Eric McClure Released From Hospital
Eric McClure, who was treated for a concussion and mild internal bruising after his car hit the Talladega Superspeedway wall during Saturday's Nationwide Series race, was released Monday evening from University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital, team spokesman and McClure sister Emily Brandt said in a statement. The 33-year-old McClure is expected to make a full recovery from the injuries, Brandt said. The TriStar Motorsports driver's car hit the inside retaining wall—a steel-and-foam barrier designed to absorb some of the impact—head-on after skidding hundreds of feet during a chain-reaction crash on the first lap of a green-white-checkered restart in the Aaron’s 312. McClure was airlifted to the hospital following the accident. Before he races again, McClure will have to be cleared by a NASCAR-approved doctor. The team has not announced if he will be able to race in Friday night's Nationwide event at Darlington Raceway. McClure has 179 starts in the series with a career best of 15th at Talladega in 2008. (sportingnews.com)
NASCAR Passes Out Nationwide Series Penalties
NASCAR announced today that two NASCAR Nationwide Series crew chiefs had been fined and placed on probation for violations during this past weekend’s event at Talladega Superspeedway. In addition, the teams’ respective car chiefs have also been placed on probation for the remainder of the year. Crew chiefs Jeremy Bullins (No. 22 team) and Chad Walter (No. 12 team) have each been fined $10,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. Additionally, the teams’ respective car chiefs – Thomas Clavette (No. 22) and Raymond Fox (No. 12) – have been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. The rules violations referred to Sections 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that the race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules detailed in Section 20-A of the rule book); 20A-2.1E (streamlining of the contours of the car, beyond what is approved by the series director will not be permitted. Installation of air directional devices, underpans, baffles, shields or the like beneath the car or the car’s hood and fender area, front firewall, floor, rear firewall area, rear deck and quarter panel will not be permitted. If, in the judgment of NASCAR officials, any part or component of the car not previously approved by NASCAR has been installed or modified to enhance aerodynamic performance, will not be permitted. All cars must remain standard in appearance); 20A-3.10A (front upper bumper cover must be from the respective OEM manufacturer and must be approved by NASCAR. The front lower bumper cover and rear bumper cover must be from an approved manufacturer and must be approved by NASCAR. Once approved, the front lower bumper covers may be used on all approved models. NASCAR officials may use bumper covers provided by the respective manufacturer as a guide in determining whether a competitor’s bumper cover conforms to the specifications of the NASCAR rule book. Unless otherwise authorized by the series director, cutting and reshaping of bumper covers will not be permitted.) The infractions were discovered during opening day inspection on May 3.
NASCAR Awards Banquet To Stay In Las Vegas Next 3 Years
NASCAR announced today that the annual NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards – and all of Champion’s Week – will return to Las Vegas, Nev., and remain there for the next three years. For the fourth-consecutive season, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards will take place at Wynn Las Vegas on Friday, Nov. 30, a culmination of a week-long celebration for the series champion – and NASCAR fans. As in past years, fans can expect the traditionally exciting and interactive week of activities. “Experience tells us that Las Vegas creates the perfect backdrop for our sport and our fans to join us in celebrating a NASCAR Sprint Cup Championship,” said Steve Phelps, chief marketing officer for NASCAR. “Returning Champion’s Week and the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards to Vegas for the next three years will help our loyal fans crystallize their plans to join us in putting the finishing touches on the season that was with a series of intriguing events across the city.”
From 1981 until 2008, NASCAR held its year-ending premier series awards show in New York City before moving to Las Vegas in 2009. Since then, the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards has been held at the Wynn Las Vegas, and has grown in stature and prestige with each passing year. Fans can count on another star-studded and entertainment-filled week, culminating in the highly-anticipated NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards. During last year’s official crowning of Tony Stewart as champion, Sprint announced its renewed commitment to the sport through 2016, and renowned multimedia superstar Reba hosted and singer-songwriter and musician Kid Rock performed for members of the NASCAR industry and fans.
Included among the impressive list of celebrity entertainment the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards has attracted in Las Vegas are Brooks and Dunn, David Gray, Rascal Flatts, Colbie Caillat, Martina McBride, the Jersey Boys, Cirque Elvis and Frank Caliendo. “The partnership between the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Awards and Las Vegas leverages the strength of two great brands,” said President and CEO for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority Rossi Ralenkotter. “NASCAR Champion’s Week celebrates the best performances of the year and there is no better destination to provide the excitement and energy for the fans and the drivers than Las Vegas.”
A full lineup of activity during NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Champion’s Week will be announced at a later date. "We're very excited that NASCAR Champion's Week will return to Las Vegas," said Las Vegas Motor Speedway President Chris Powell. "The Las Vegas community has shown great support for the NASCAR events at the speedway as well as Champion's Week. There is no better stage for NASCAR to crown its champion, and we continue to be thrilled that Champion's Week has found a home in the same city as America's Racing Showplace."
Matt Kenseth Accepts Blame For Losing The Talladega Race
Matt Kenseth had a simple explanation for his failure to win the Aaron's 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup race Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway: driver error. Kenseth led the field to a green-white-checkered restart on Lap 193 from the outside lane. With a push from Roush Fenway Racing teammate Greg Biffle, Kenseth surged into the lead, clearing eventual race winner Brad Keselowski and diving to the bottom of the track with Biffle behind him. But Kenseth and Biffle lost touch with each other, allowing Keselowski to take the lead with a sustained push from Kyle Busch. Keselowski and Busch decided the issue between them, with Kenseth, the Daytona 500 winner, finishing a disappointing third. "I think we had the winning car -- we just didn't have the winning driver," Kenseth said. "That last restart, Greg and I got together like we did at Daytona, and of all the cars I raced around all day, Greg was really pushing me fast. We got in front of the 2 (Keselowski) and Kyle, and as soon as we became clear, it wasn't long after that that I looked back, and we were separated, and those two guys were outside of him. With nobody behind him, he lost his speed, and with me not paying enough attention during that to keep us hooked up, it cost us a shot at the win. It cost Greg a shot at the win." --/-- If there's a small consolation for Kenseth, the driver of the No. 17 Ford moved into second place in the Cup standings, seven points behind Biffle. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Jeff Gordon Slams NASCAR's Talladega Package
Managing temperatures would have been the key to Jeff Gordon's success at Talladega -- had the pole-sitter not been waylaid by a Lap 143 crash that knocked him out of the race. Even though it was an accident that proved his undoing, Gordon was critical of racing package that put so much emphasis on keeping the cars from overheating, even in pack drafts. "This temp thing is kind of a joke," Gordon said after the crash. "They are going to have to fix that. We all knew that was going to be a big issue, but when you can't really even race because the temps -- even in a regular pack -- are an issue, we have to address that. Talladega is different than Daytona. Temps are different and we have to recognize that." Carl Edwards, sidelined in the same crash, had a completely different impression. "My temperatures were great all day," Edwards said. "We didn't have any trouble. I was hoping it wouldn't end up like this. It's too bad, but we'll just go race at Darlington (on Saturday)." (NASCAR Wire Service)
Denny Hamlin, AJ Allmendinger Assess Wreck
Contact between the Dodge of AJ Allmendinger and the Toyota of Denny Hamlin started the wreck that set up the green-white-checkered finish at Talladega, and after the race, both drivers saw the crash roughly
the same way. Moments after a restart on Lap 185, Hamlin ducked to the inside. Allmendinger tried to block, and his car turned off the right front of Hamlin's. Allmendinger slammed into Paul Menard's Chevrolet in a melee that involved nine cars. "From inside (the car), I was pretty sure that I had middle position -- it's how I made up a lot of spots toward the end," Hamlin said. "I hooked him on the left rear, which means I was on the inside, and he hooked a hard left to try to block, but I was there. I turned him and a couple of other guys. Ruined a bunch of guys' days, but that's part of it. We're trying to go forward with a couple of laps to go, just like everybody else. If it's not me sticking it three-wide-middle, then someone (else) is with a few laps to go. You have to give guys room."
Like Hamlin, Allmendinger saw his winning chances disappear in the wreck. "I had a chance to win the race until it all went down the drain," said Allmendinger, who started on the outside of the front row and finished 15th. "On the restart, everybody was getting after it. I tried to block. If Denny was already there, my apology." With his car damaged more severely than Allmendinger's, Hamlin finished 23rd, two laps down. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Keselowski Wins His Second Talladega Cup Race
Executing perfectly a move he had saved for the right occasion, Brad Keselowski pulled away from Kyle Busch on the final lap to win Sunday's Aaron's 499 NASCAR Sprint Cup race at at Talladega Superspeedway in a green-white-checkered-flag finish. Busch had pushed Keselowski to the lead on Lap 193 of 194 in a race that went six laps past its scheduled distance at the 2.66-mile track. The two cars ran bumper-to-bumper until Turn 3 of the final lap, when Keselowski entered the corner high and dived to the bottom of the track, separating his No. 2 Dodge from Busch's No. 18 Toyota. After he ditched his dancing partner, Keselowski pulled away to win by .304 seconds, a relative whipping at a track where wins typically are measured in thousandths of seconds. The victory was Keselowski's second of the season, second at the 2.66-mile track, the sixth of his Sprint Cup career and the first for Dodge at Talladega since Dave Marcis took the checkered flag 36 years ago.
Matt Kenseth, who led the field to the final restart on Lap 193, came home third, followed by Kasey Kahne and series leader Greg Biffle. Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, Trevor Bayne, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jeff Burton completed the top 10. Conventional wisdom says that the driver running second on the final lap has a much better chance to win a restrictor-plate race than the driver who is leading, but Keselowski had thought long and hard about what he would do. "I had this whole plan if I ever got in that situation where I was leading," Keselowski said. "I thought about it and thought about it -- dreamed about what to do -- and sure enough, going into (Turn) 3, it was just me and Busch. And I knew the move I wanted to pull. I went into Turn 3 high and pulled down off of Kyle and broke the tandem up. That allowed me to drive untouched to the checkered flag. It wasn't easy to convince myself to do that, but it was the right move. I'm glad it worked."
After the race, Busch wasn't quite sure what had happened. "I got to Turn 3, and I got disconnected from him, got unhooked," Busch said. "I hated that happened -- thought we had a shot to win that thing. I'm not sure he (Kesleowski) did anything. "If he did, he's pretty smart, but I think our stuff just came unplugged." Keselowski's victory ended a wild final quarter of the race, which produced four cautions in the final 45 laps. As the field began a round of green-flag pit stops on Lap 143, a massive chain-reaction wreck in Turn 3 eliminated a handful of contending cars, including the No. 24 Chevrolet of pole-sitter Jeff Gordon. Contact between the Ford of Aric Almirola and the Chevrolet of Dave Blaney triggered the crash, which also collected Martin Truex's Toyota, Carl Edwards' Ford and Juan Pablo Montoya's Chevrolet, among others. "It was like a wreck at a stoplight," Edwards said. "Everybody started checking up and hitting each other."
With the herd thinned considerably, Paul Menard led the field to a restart on Lap 151. Hamlin, who had regained a lost lap as the highest scored lapped car when NASCAR called the caution on Lap 143, surged to the front, where he swapped the top spot with Brad Keselowski. Kenseth restarted at the back of the field under a penalty for pitting too soon under the Lap 143 caution, but he quickly worked his way forward, wresting the lead from Denny Hamlin on Lap 167, with the Dodges of Keselowski and AJ Allmendinger lined up behind him. Five laps later, Hamlin found an opening between Kenseth and Keselowski and took second, but a Lap 175 wreck that started when Casey Mears cut a tire, scrambled the field for a restart with nine laps left in regulation.
As the field crossed the finish line on Lap 181, contact from Keselowski's Dodge sent the Chevrolet of Kurt Busch spinning into the inside wall at the entry to Turn 1. Kenseth led the field to a restart on Lap 185. The green flag lasted only moments. As soon as the cars crossed the start/finish line, Hamlin ducked to the inside, and Allmendinger tried to block the middle lane. The nose of Hamlin's car, however, was already inside Allmendinger's bumper, and contact between the two cars started a wreck that ruined the chances of Hamlin, Menard, Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Michael Waltrip. Note: Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman both exited the race with oil pump problems and finished 35th and 36th, respectively. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Talladega Weather Update – Sunday, 8:15 AM CT
A line of heavy showers & t-storms has just moved thru the Talladega area. Behind this line, moderate thunderstorms extend north into Tennessee. These storms are moving to the south and will continue to bring rain to the Superspeedway for at least the next few hours. Track drying is underway but will not really begin to take hold until the bulk of the rain has moved through. Additionally, the Storm Prediction Center has added a slight risk of severe t-storms to the central Alabama forecast. This situation will be monitored through the morning (day). (raceweather.net)
Logano Nips Kyle Busch To Win Talladega Nationwide Race
With a slingshot move past Sprint Cup teammate Kyle Busch five laps into overtime, Joey Logano won Saturday afternoon's Aaron's 312 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Talladega Superspeedway. In a race that saw Eric McClure injured and Danica Patrick using her Chevrolet for payback, Logano beat Busch to the finish line by .034 seconds to win his second NNS race of the season and the 11th of his career. Defending series champion Ricky Stenhouse Jr. ran third and took over the points lead from Elliott Sadler. Cole Whitt came home fourth, followed by his JR Motorsports teammate and boss Dale Earnhardt Jr. "Kyle and I have worked together in the past, obviously, being teammates on the Cup side," Logano said. "We've got that chemistry there that we know what we've got to do. I know he's thinking the same thing as me. He knows I'm going to make something happen here, and I got him there at the line. It's super exciting to win 'em that way, because you don't know you've got it until you're at the line."
Busch knew that, as the leader off Turn 4 being pushed by Logano, his chances of winning the race were minimal. "When you're in tandem like that, there's not much that the front car can do," Busch said. "I probably could have blocked Joey up the track a little bit more and then turned down to the bottom to try to get him away from me. "The rear car has so much momentum ready to go. As soon as you pull out of line, it seems like you're able to move forward on (the leading) car."
Whitt was pushing Stenhouse after a restart on Lap 121, but that tandem couldn't pull up beside Logano and Busch as they raced for the finish line. As a consequence, Logano had the time and the room to make the
winning move. "I was staring in the mirror, because I didn't want to have that other group (Stenhouse and Whitt) beat us to the line," Logano said. "That was going to be the real kicker. I wanted to make sure I had enough room behind me to do this. He (Stenhouse) was about three car-lengths back, maybe four. You know how much you're going to slow down when you make the move, so you've got to do it late enough. I did it and I was like, 'Oh, my God -- too early!' And then I looked up in the mirror and (said), "Oh, maybe I'll be all right,' and then we won the race."
Patrick finished 13th, but after the checkered flag, she exacted revenge on Sam Hornish Jr. for crowding her into the wall as they approached the finish line, knocking Hornish into the outside wall in Turn 1. Hornish said he was unable to turn his No. 12 Dodge because of a flat tire. "The 2 (Sadler) was pushing me, which I appreciate, but at that time I didn't need it," Hornish said. "I was trying to get out from in front of him, but the car wouldn't turn anymore. Then, after the race was over, we got rear-ended by the 7 car (Patrick). I don't know what she had in her head, but she decided to right-rear us, wreck the car after the race was over." Patrick didn't elaborate about punting Hornish in Turn 1, but after the race she talked about the incident that was the catalyst for the retaliation. "I don't know what happened," Patrick said. "Sam came up to me after the race and apologized, so I'm not sure what was wrong with his car, but he came across the track at the front of the start/finish line." -- After the incident, there's little doubt that there's a difference of opinion between Patrick and Hornish about what constitutes an apology.
The race was red-flagged for a nine-car wreck that interrupted the first attempt at a green-white-checkered-flag finish on Lap 117. McClure got the worst of the collision, taking a jarring hit against the SAFER barrier on the inside of the backstretch approaching Turn 3. McClure was awake and talking to safety workers after the crash but was airlifted to the University of Alabama at Birmingham Hospital for further evaluation and treatment of unspecified injuries. After a stoppage of 19 minutes, the race resumed with the second attempt at a green-white-checker finish. The wild wreck on Lap 117 was emblematic of an action-filled race. Contact from Kurt Busch's No. 1 Chevrolet sent Brian Scott's No. 11 Toyota spinning on Lap 29, triggering a wreck that also involved Josh Richards, Morgan Shepherd and Jason Bowles. Busch was charging from the back of the field after serving a penalty for dragging a fuel can from his pit stall under caution for Johanna Long's blown engine on Lap 22.
Under yellow for the Lap 29 wreck, Austin Dillon ran into the back of John Wes Townley's No. 24 Toyota, which was blocking Dillon's egress from the pit box. Dillon's car, however, sustained only cosmetic damage, and the reigning Camping World Truck Series champion soon worked his way back to the front of the field. But Dillon was a victim of the Lap 117 melee that started when Michael Annett tried to make a run up the middle and collided with Kevin Harvick's Chevy. Dillon finished 17th and is third in the standings, 30 points behind Stenhouse. Earnhardt had led 19 laps before a multicar wreck on the frontstretch slowed the action for the third time, moments after the field had completed Lap 62. Brad Sweet spun off the front bumper of Mike Wallace's Chevrolet and slammed nose-first into the outside wall. Josh Richards' spin on Lap 81 caused the fourth caution, providing the opportunity for fuel stops inside the window to the finish. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Jeff Gordon Takes Aaron's 499 Pole At Talladega
Jeff Gordon won the pole for Sunday's Aaron's 499 at Talladega Superspeedway with a fast time of 49.973 seconds and a speed of 191.623 mph. It was Gordon's third pole in 39 attempts at the high-banks of Talladega -- it was his first pole of the 2012 season. Gordon has now won 71 poles in 663 career races and he ranks third on the all-time series pole list. Gordon has won at least one pole each season for the past 20 years, tying him with David Pearson. His first pole came in 1993. AJ Allmendinger will start second with Marcos Ambrosesitting in third place. Aric Amirola holds down the fourth place starting position and Kasey Kahne will roll off in the fifth spot. Rounding out the top-ten are Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Tony Stewart, Michael Waltrip and Matt Kenseth.