Aspiring motorsports journalist, Boston University class of 2013. This is a collection of my work starting with the 2012 motorsports season. Feel free to follow me on Twitter and be sure to read my most popular pieces.
Filling in for Luke Krmpotich on this week’s “Drivers on the Move” column after a busy weekend at Dover International Speedway. Johnson’s third win in four weeks has him on the upswing, while Kurt Busch’s latest media meltdown has him in hot water with owner James Finch.
Down: Winning polesitters
Quick, name the last time a polesitter won a NASCAR race. Time’s up - last July at New Hampshire, when Ryan Newman did it. Since then, through the final 17 races of last year and all 13 races of this season, qualifying first has been a guarantee of not coming home with the trophy. Mark Martin was the latest driver to suffer the disappointment, finishing 14th at Dover despite leading 43 laps.
Reviewing the past week in NASCAR, which featured a national series tripleheader at Dover International Speedway. Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano, and Todd Bodine were this weekend’s Sprint Cup, Nationwide, and Camping World Truck winners, respectively.
Kurt Busch became the Nationwide race’s biggest story when he gave threatening comments to reporter Bob Pockrass in post-race interviews. When Pockrass asked Busch about if his NASCAR probation affected the way he raced Justin Allgaier at one point in the event, Busch responded, “(Probation) refrains me from beating the (expletive) out of you right now, because you ask me stupid questions.”
Reviewing the past week in NASCAR competition, culminating in Sunday night’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway. Kasey Kahne took his 13th career Sprint Cup win, third in its longest event, and first for Hendrick Motorsports in the event.
Sunday’s race, at three hours, 51 minutes, and 17 seconds, represented the quickest Coca-Cola 600 in race history. The race featured only five cautions for 23 laps, only one of which was for an incident, as well as two green-flag stretches of over 100 laps. The lengthy green conditions contributed to a result with only nine cars left on the lead lap at the end of the race.
Reviewing the past week of NASCAR competition at Talladega Superspeedway. Joey Logano took Saturday’s Aaron’s 312 in the Nationwide Series, while Brad Keselowski scored his second victory of the season in Sunday’s Sprint Cup Aaron’s 499 by unhooking his draft from Kyle Busch on the final lap.
Kurt Busch had his own busy week, as Furniture Row Racing general manager Joe Garone told multiple sources that he wanted to add Busch as a teammate to Regan Smith in 2013. He remains at Phoenix Racing for now, however, and debuted a popular scheme for this weekend; he ran Ricky Bobby’s “Me” car from the movie “Talladega Nights,” complete with a picture of Karen the cougar on the hood and an opportunity to donate money to the Armed Forces Foundation. (Patricia Driscoll, Busch’s girlfriend, is the organization’s head.)
Recapping the past week in NASCAR, as the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series took on the Richmond International Raceway. The Busch brothers - Kurt in Nationwide and Kyle in Sprint Cup - swept the weekend, while Tony Stewart won the Denny Hamlin Short Track Showdown, a 75-lap late model feature to benefit Hamlin’s charity foundation. Travis Pastrana also made his long-awaited Nationwide debut, finishing two laps down in 22nd place.
Pastrana may have been the most hyped debut on Friday night, but his run was limited to a 22nd place finish, two laps down. Instead, it was Ryan Blaney, son of current Sprint Cup driver Dave, who made the biggest splash. Driving his first-ever Nationwide Series race for Tommy Baldwin Racing, Blaney ran as high as fourth before a pit miscue bounced him from the top 10, but he recovered to finish a strong seventh.
Recapping the past week in NASCAR, as the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series would visit the Kansas Speedway in the midst of a White House appearance and NASCAR’s Earth Day celebration. James Buescher took Saturday’s Truck race, while Denny Hamlin scored his second win of the season in the Sunday feature.
Martin Truex Jr. would dominate much of the race, leading for stretches of 45, 81, 43, and four laps to total a race-high 173. But on lap 237, Hamlin made the winning pass, and despite two daring slingshot moves to the inside of turns three and four from Truex in the final three laps, Hamlin held on for the victory. It was Hamlin’s 19th career victory, and the 199th victory for a car carrying No. 11, surpassing No. 43 for the winningest car number in Sprint Cup history.
Reviewing the past week in NASCAR, as the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series visited Texas Motor Speedway and the Camping World Truck Series made a popular visit to Rockingham Speedway. Greg Biffle, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., and Kasey Kahne were the weekend’s three winners, respectively. Other news included the announcement of five new NASCAR Hall of Fame nominees and Matt Kenseth’s rescheduled Daytona 500 Champion’s Luncheon.
Biffle and Martin Truex Jr. alternated the lead under green flag conditions, as the race only had two cautions for 10 laps, both for debris, and both in the race’s first 100 laps. Jimmie Johnson would eventually take the lead for 156 laps before Biffle made the winning pass on lap 304.
Recapping a rare off week in the NASCAR schedule, where the sport observed the Easter holiday. A handful of drivers tested Goodyear tires on the newly repaved Michigan International Speedway, while Denny Hamlin caddied for eventual Masters champion Bubba Watson on Wednesday for the Par-3 Contest.
Watson and Hamlin first met in 2010 on a golf outing with their respective agents in Arizona, and struck up a friendship based on their similar personalities and shared left-handedness. Watson let Hamlin attempt his birdie putt on the final hole of the contest, which Hamlin failed to convert, before tapping in for par behind his back to help Watson finish at -1.
Looking back at an intense week of NASCAR competition at Martinsville Speedway. Kevin Harvick led 248 of 250 laps to dominate the Camping World Truck Series race, while in the Sprint Cup race, a David Reutimann caution with three laps to go led to a wild restart, during which dominant Hendrick Motorsports drivers Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson were taken out of contention. Ryan Newman went on to win the race.
It was an important week for Kasey Kahne, as he looked to turn his season around after ranking 27th in points through the first five races. He would lead a strong Hendrick brigade to the line on Sunday, but for the second time in as many pole starts this year, he would fail to lead the first lap (or any at all). His nightmare season continued when his engine let go mid-race; he would finish 38th, falling to 32nd in owners’ points in the process.
Reviewing the past week in NASCAR, as the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series visited Auto Club Speedway. Joey Logano won Saturday’s Nationwide race for the first win of the season taken by a Sprint Cup driver, while Tony Stewart outfoxed former teammates Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch to take Sunday’s rain-shortened Sprint Cup race. Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson climbed to ninth in points after his Daytona 500 penalties were reduced.
Chief appellate officer John Middlebrook overturned the 25-point penalty but allowed the $100,000 fine for Chad Knaus to stand in the team’s final appeal. The decision baffled many around the sport. NASCAR said it felt vindicated by the fine, while owner Rick Hendrick said he felt the same way about getting the points back. But if the penalty wasn’t justified, why would Middlebrook allow the fine to stand?