At a racetrack where a casino is an integral part of the complex, Todd Bodine gambled and won big. Despite spinning early in Friday's rain-shortened Lucas Oil 200, Bodine remained on the lead leap, and with a contrarian pit strategy, he worked his way into the lead. When rain forced NASCAR to call the race after 147 laps, Bodine was the winner, breaking a drought of 37 races dating to 2010. The two-time series champion won for the 22nd time in his career after fending off an assault from Parker Kligerman, the race runner-up. Pole-sitter Kevin Harvick, who dominated the first half of the race, was third when NASCAR called the event after a second stoppage for rain. Nelson Piquet Jr. finished fourth and Cale Gale fifth.
Bodine came to the pits on Lap 98 and remained on the track when Harvick, Tim Peters, James Buescher and series leader Justin Lofton surrendered top-five positions by pitting for fuel before the resumption of the race after the first rain delay on Lap 124. Harvick's truck, lightning fast in clean air, tightened up in traffic, and Bodine was able to hold the top spot until a second rain shower necessitated the ninth caution on Lap 143. Four laps later, with no chance to dry the track before nightfall, the race was over.
Bodine credited Red Horse Racing crew chief Rick Gay with the race-winning call. "We didn't have the best (truck) today, but Rick made a great call," Bodine said. "I didn't realize what he was trying to accomplish, or how close we were on fuel, but it worked out. You don't like to win 'em this way, but you know what? I've lost 'em this way, so I'm going to take this one, and we're going to go to the house. Kevin had the best truck, but racing isn't always about having the best truck. It's about strategy and putting yourself in the right position, and Rick Gay did that for this team."
Harvick began to assert his dominance as soon as the race began. By the time the engine in Jason White's No. 23 Ford blew on Lap 12, Harvick had opened a three-second leader over hard-luck Johnny Sauter. A contender for the series championship last year, Sauter brought his truck to pit road under the fifth caution on Lap 98 because of a power steering failure. The long stay on pit road dropped Sauter to 18th in the running order, the last truck on the lead lap.
Harvick held a comfortable lead when Wes Burton's spin and contact with the inside wall caused the sixth caution of the afternoon. Rain began to fall while the field circulated under yellow. NASCAR brought the field to pit road on Lap 121 and red-flagged the event for 15 minutes, 23 seconds, but the rain abated and provided an opportunity to restart the race on Lap 124. Note: The last Truck Series race shortened because of rain was the 2011 season finale at Homestead. Lofton, who finished 10th, maintained a one-point edge over second-place Peters (ninth Friday) in the series standings. (NASCAR Wire Service)
NASCAR Hotpass Lineup At Dover International Speedway
NASCAR Hotpass on DirecTV is free to all DirecTV customers. Four dedicated driver channels offering viewers multiple camera angles, real-time statistics and audio of the network broadcast augmented by live communication between the drivers and their pit crews are available for all 36 point-paying races during the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The NASCAR Hotpass lineup for the FedEx 400 Benefiting Autism Speaks at Dover (Del.) International Speedway is as follows:
DIRECTV Channel 795: Denny Hamlin and the No. 11 FedEx Autism Speaks Toyota team of Joe Gibbs Racing
DIRECTV Channel 796: Kevin Harvick and the No. 29 Jimmy Johns Chevrolet team of Richard Childress Racing
DIRECTV Channel 797: Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s Madagascar Chevrolet team of Hendrick Motorsports
DIRECTV Channel 798: Dale Earnhardt Jr., and the No. 88 AMP Energy / National Guard Chevrolet team of Hendrick Motorsports
Ty Dillon To Make Nationwide Series Debut At Dover
Ty Dillon, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series regular and 2011 ARCA Racing Series champion, will make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut with Richard Childress Racing in the No. 33 South Point Hotel & Casino Chevrolet in the June 2 Dover 200 at Dover International Speedway. Dillon, 20, is currently in his first full season of Camping World Truck Series competition for RCR. Contending for the honor of 2012 Sunoco Rookie of the Year title, Dillon has earned one top-five, five top-10 finishes and one pole award in five Truck Series starts this season. Prior to joining in Camping World Truck Series, Dillon was crowned the 2011 ARCA Racing Series champion, the first rookie and youngest driver to do so in the series' 59-year history. En route to the championship, Dillon acquired seven wins, seven pole awards, 13 top-five and 16 top-10 finishes. "Ty has shown a lot of progress so far this season in the Camping World Truck Series and he's definitely earned the opportunity to make his NASCAR Nationwide Series debut. He'll be in very good hands with Ernie Cope (crew chief) and the No. 33 Chevrolet team," said Richard Childress, president and CEO of Richard Childress Racing. "South Point Hotel & Casino has quickly become a great partner with RCR and we appreciate their decision to expand their overall program with backing Ty in this once-in-a-career opportunity." (RCR)
Two NASCAR Nationwide Series Teams Penalized At Charlotte
NASCAR has penalized two NASCAR Nationwide Series teams for rules infractions that were committed last week at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
The No. 41 car was found to be in violation of Section 12-1 (actions detrimental to stock car racing); 12-4J (any determination by NASCAR officials that race equipment used in the event does not conform to NASCAR rules); and 20A-12.8.1(B) (body height requirements – car failed to meet the minimum front car heights) of the 2012
NASCAR rule book. As a result, crew chief George Church has been fined $10,000 while owner Rick Ware and driver Timmy Hill have been penalized with the loss of six championship owner and six championship driver points, respectively. The violation was discovered during post-race inspection May 26.
The No. 43 car 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.) Philippe Lopez, crew chief for the No. 43 car, and Michael Wright, car chief for the No. 43 car, have been penalized for rules infractions discovered during opening day inspection May 24. Lopez has been fined $10,000 and placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31. Wright has also been placed on NASCAR probation until Dec. 31.
Red Horse Racing Shuts Down One Team
Red Horse Racing announced today, the team will suspend operations of the No. 7 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series team driven by rookie of the year contender, John King, effective immediately. Due to lack of sponsorship funding, the No. 7 will be cutting back its program until further notice. The organization will continue to operate the No. 17 entry driven by Timothy Peters and the No. 11 entry driven by Todd Bodine.
Kahne Rolls Into Victory Lane For Hendrick Motorsports
Kasey Kahne continued his emphatic turnaround Sunday night at Charlotte Motor Speedway, handily winning the Coca-Cola 600 for the third time. In his 300th NASCAR Sprint Cup start, Kahne posted his first victory of the season, his first since joining Hendrick Motorsports and the 13th of his career. The win was Kahne's fourth at Charlotte. Kahne beat runner-up Denny Hamlin to the finish line by 4.295 seconds. Kyle Busch ran third, followed by Greg Biffle, Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr., as nine cars finished on the lead lap at the 1.5-mile track. Biffle extended his series lead to 10 points over Roush Fenway Racing teammate Matt Kenseth, who finished 10th, the first driver one lap down. Hamlin is third in the standings, 15 points back and one spot ahead of Earnhardt, who trails Biffle by 18 points.
Kahne said he never lost confidence, despite a miserable start to his season. "I never doubted myself," said Kahne, who has recorded top-10 finishes in his last six points races after an average result of 28.5 in his first six races for Hendrick. "I was upset at some of the things that may have happened. I made a huge mistake at Phoenix and hit the wall there (in the second race of the season), but other than that, we were solid -- we were fast. It was just a matter of getting past those (six) weeks and moving on and putting some solid races together."
After his final pit stop under green on Lap 354 of 400, Hamlin trimmed Kahne's advantage to less than a second early in the run but fell back as the race continued. "As the track cooled off, it freed up for us -- the car got better," Hamlin said. "Ultimately, it gave us a shot to win. . . . The first 10 laps of the last run, we got to them (Kahne), but we wore our front tires trying to get around them. "Everything was executed great today, the pit calls, getting on and off pit road, the pit crew themselves. We had a very, very solid day." A caution on Lap 319 for debris in Turn 3 interrupted some of the best racing of the night. Before the yellow, Biffle and Kahne had swapped the lead repeatedly, with neither able to gain a clear advantage. Hamlin was in the mix, too, trailing the top two cars by less than a half-second.
Hamlin and Earnhardt stayed on the track under the caution, while the other eight lead-lap cars came to the pits on Lap 320 for two-tire and four-tire stops. After the subsequent restart on Lap 326, Kahne needed fewer than eight laps to blow past both Earnhardt and Hamlin into the lead. On Lap 333, Kahne powered past Hamlin off Turn 2 and began to pull away. Kahne maintained an advantage of more than one second through a cycle of green-flag pit stops that began on Lap 353 when Biffle and Kyle Busch brought their cars to pit road.
That round of pit stops proved disastrous for Jimmie Johnson, who dragged a fuel can out of his pit stall and returned to pit road under green to serve a stop-and-go penalty. The miscue put Johnson a lap down and left Kahne and Hamlin to decide the race between them. The race concluded in three hours, 51 minutes, 14 seconds -- the fastest-ever Coke 600 -- prompting Hamlin to suggest that "everyone's trying to get to last call." The average speed of 155.687 mph broke the record 151.952 mph set in 1995 when Bobby Labonte won NASCAR's longest race.
Notes: Kahne is the ninth different winner in 12 races this season and the 16th different driver to win a Cup race for Hendrick Motorsports . . . Biffle led a race-high 204 laps . . . Danica Patrick finished 30th, five laps down, in her Charlotte debut . . . Pole-sitter Aric Almirola ran 16th, two laps down . . . Johnson finished 11th, one lap down. (NASCAR Wire Service)
Tony Stewart Injured At Lake Norman
Defending Sprint Cup champion Tony Stewart was sporting a bandage covering a wound on the right side of his forehead Thursday at Charlotte Motor Speedway. After a frustrating performance in the Sprint All-Star Race last Saturday night, it would make sense if Stewart had banged his head against his car. That wasn’t the case. Instead, he jumped in the lake. “I beat my head against the bottom of Lake Norman, unfortunately, on Sunday,” Stewart said after practice Thursday. “I would have been easier on the car, but the lake still won.” (sportingnews.com)
NASCAR Hotpass Lineup At Charlotte Motor Speedway
NASCAR Hotpass on DirecTV is free to all DirecTV customers. Four dedicated driver channels offering viewers multiple camera angles, real-time statistics and audio of the network broadcast augmented by live communication between the drivers and their pit crews are available for all 36 point-paying races during the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season. The NASCAR Hotpass lineup for the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte (N.C.) Motor Speedway is as follows:
DIRECTV Channel 795: Tony Stewart and the No. 14 Office Depot / Mobil 1 Chevrolet team of Stewart-Haas Racing
DIRECTV Channel 797: Greg Biffle and the No. 16 Fastenal Ford team of Roush Fenway Racing
DIRECTV Channel 796: Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s Patriotic Chevrolet team of Hendrick Motorsports
DIRECTV Channel 798: Dale Earnhardt Jr., and the No. 88 National Guard An American Salute / Diet Mountain Dew Chevrolet team of Hendrick Motorsports
Dick Berggren Will Retire After Dover
Dick Berggren, who worked his first NASCAR telecast in 1981 and has spent more than 40 years writing and reporting on motorsports, will retire when FOX ends the 2012 Sprint Cup portion of its broadcast schedule next week at Dover. The 70-year-old Berggren was the founder of Speedway Illustrated magazine and is working on the creation of an auto racing museum celebrating Northeast motorsports at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. After next weekend, he’ll do what he always does when he’s not on the air—attending several races at local short tracks. “After the FOX portion of the year ends, I’ve always traveled to local tracks where I still enjoy sitting in the stands with a hot dog in one hand and a beer in the other, watching the local heroes,” Berggren said in a news release. “I can’t get enough of local-level racing so I’ll do more of that now.” ...READ MORE AT... (sportingnews.com)
Keselowski Saves Enough Fuel To Win Nationwide Race
Fuel miser Brad Keselowski got 73 laps out of his last tank of fuel and had enough left in the tank to outrun Denny Hamlin in Saturday's History 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte Motor Speedway and do a celebratory burnout afterward. The victory was Keselowski's first in the series this year and the 18th of his career. Hamlin crossed the finish line .838 seconds behind the 2010 Nationwide champion. Kyle Busch ran third, followed by Kevin Harvick and Elliott Sadler. Busch said after the race that coaxing 73 laps out of his fuel cell would not have been a possibility. Though Keselowski declined to say how he saved enough gas, he did point to a fuel-economy advantage for this No. 22 Penske Dodge. "The Dodge has been known for having a bit of a fuel-mileage advantage over the last season and a half," Keselowski said. "I think there's other areas where we're slightly behind, being quite honest. And so, when you have an opportunity to maximize your advantage, that's what you've got to do."
Keselowski pulled away after caution for an accident off Turn 2 on Lap 147 of 200, when Brian Scott and Cole Whitt hit a patch of oil and slammed into the inside wall. The victory was the first in the series for Keselowski's crew chief, Jeremy Bullins. Pole-sitter Joey Logano took four tires during a pit stop on Lap 144, dropped from third to 15th when the rest of the contenders stopped for fuel only and came home sixth. A broken driveshaft on Lap 66 sidelined series leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr., who spent 22 laps in the garage for repairs. Stenhouse finished 26th but retained his lead by 13 points over Sadler, with Austin Dillon (11th Saturday) in third place, 28 points back. Danica Patrick finished 13th, despite falling a lap down when an early cycle of pit stops was interrupted by the third caution of the race -- a blown engine in Angela Cope's Chevrolet.
Hamlin likewise dropped a lap early when his crew changed the carburetor on his No. 18 Toyota on pit road. Though Hamlin didn't think his car ever achieved sufficient straight-line speed, he was able to drive to the front after regaining the lost circuit as the highest-scored lapped car under caution for Travis Pastrana's spin off Turn 4 on Lap 60. "I complained about the motor early -- just didn't feel like it ran at the end of the straightaway for some odd reason," Hamlin said. "I've been wondering where our speed was all weekend. We tried to change the carburetors, and that didn't fix it. Just got stuck 14th or so for a while until we got the handling (where) it was at least drivable, and then we were able to make our move to the front. We were good on long runs -- just didn't have a lot of front-line speed. I have to get better at our race-day adjustments. I just feel like I'm sending our crew chief off in the wrong direction at the start of these races."
Pastrana looped his No. 99 Toyota twice during the race after spinning on his qualifying lap and failing to post a time. The X-Games star finished 24th, five laps down. The No. 41 Ford driven by 19th-place finisher Timmy Hill failed height-stick inspection after the race. The car was deemed too low in front. If NASCAR imposes penalties, they will come next week. (NASCAR Wire Service)