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Thinkin’ Out Loud

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Phoenix-2 Race Recap

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Phoenix-2 Race Recap

*Key Moment* - Jeff Gordon intentionally wrecked Clint Bowyer, collecting Joey Logano and Aric Almirola as the field was coming to the white flag. The result was a green-white-checkered finish, one that saw Danica Patrick wreck on the first of two laps, lay down a large amount of oil on the track, then cause a complete melee on the front straight as the cars came to the checkered flag. The final wreck tore up over half-a-dozen race cars while the incident between Gordon and Bowyer set off a rumble in the garage, one reminiscent of the Tide team vs. the Kodiak crew at the 1989 Winston. *In a Nutshell* - For Phoenix, the word "wild" doesn't do it justice. For NASCAR officials, some controversial moments that will be argued well into the coming week. For the championship? Perhaps the moment Brad Keselowski sealed the deal. Read More »

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Texas-2 Race Recap

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Texas-2 Race Recap

*Key Moment –* During the seventh caution flag of the night, Brad Keselowski took two tires on his pit stop to regain lost track position while Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch took four. That got Kes the lead, for a series of restarts but kept what was likely the fastest car from having the speed to pull away. While Busch faded into the background, that decision would ultimately result in Johnson and Keselowski finishing first and second. *In a Nutshell –* Jimmie Johnson started on the pole and dominated the first 165 laps of the race. Kyle Busch and Brad Keselowski owned the next 161. But when the money was all in the center of the table, it was the two combatants for the 2012 championship who stood toe-to-toe, trading haymakers until Johnson prevailed on the green-white-checkered restart that finished the race. Read More »

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Martinsville-2 Recap

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Martinsville-2 Recap

*Key Moment -* During the pit stops for a lap 476 caution, Brad Keselowski and Dale Earnhardt Jr. stayed out while Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, and the rest of the lead lap cars came in for two tires. Johnson restarted behind Keselowski and worked him over for four laps before taking the lead for good. In the end, Keselowski ended up about where he would have finished with tires, while some of the other top contenders on the day ended up falling back to unsatisfying results. *In a Nutshell -* Jimmie Johnson owned Martinsville from the Fall of 2003 through 2009, but his last few races there have been less than dominating. On Sunday, he made a statement that he is the man to beat in the Chase and that Martinsville is still his house as much as anyone else’s. Read More »

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Kansas-2 Race Recap

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Kansas-2 Race Recap

*Key Moment* - Matt Kenseth slapped on two fresh tires, came out the leader with 49 laps left and became the de facto winner in an event where there were exactly two on-track, green-flag passes for the lead over the course of 400 miles – Lap 1 and during a mid-race wreck. *In a Nutshell* - Dorothy, Kansas changed since we left. Blown tires. Crash central. Aero crazy. Oh, my. *Dramatic Moment* - When the No. 48 hit the wall, self-induced the collective shock from 90% of fans and media who had already anointed him six-time champion was so massive, it could have fended off a lightning strike. Read More »

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Charlotte-2 Race Recap

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Charlotte-2 Race Recap

*Key Moment* - Brad Keselowski ran out of gas, down the backstretch with 58 laps left, allowing Clint Bowyer to breeze by. That left the No. 15 team virtually unencumbered as they turned on the fuel mileage jets, put a Rip Van Winkle spell over the stands, and advanced to a shocking intermediate oval victory at Charlotte. *In a Nutshell* - Welcome to “cookie-cutter” NASCAR 2012! Your template for the race is as follows: x car leads a majority of laps while cars behind run in a single-file parade behind him. X driver starts saving fuel early, leaving the rest of the field copy-catting and a bunch of drivers slowing down like there’s a hidden cop about to ticket them for speeding. X debris caution helps encourage said finish, where engineers spend more energy using their calculators than drivers pushing their cars to the ragged edge. Eventually, x driver tries to actually _race_ and runs out of gas, or doesn’t, leading to two minutes of semi-drama that determines the winner. Read More »

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Dover–2 Race Recap

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Dover–2 Race Recap

*Key Moment* - The caution flag flew for Matt Kenseth breaking a track bar mount on lap 310. The lead lap cars pitted and Brad Keselowski never visited pit road again, making his tank of fuel last 89 laps en route to his fifth win of the season and second of the Chase. *In a Nutshell* - Denny Hamlin led early, Kyle Busch led the most, Jimmie Johnson was poised to lead at the end, but Brad Keselowski made his fuel go the furthest while going the fastest at the end of the race. Read More »

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Chicagoland Race Recap

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Chicagoland Race Recap

*Key Moment* - Brad Keselowski took the lead after the final round of green flag pit stops and had a car that was simply better than everyone else for the final run to the checkered flag. *In a Nutshell* - Another insomnia curing mile-and-a-half race starts off the Chase with a handful of “title contenders” already all but out of the hunt. Jimmie Johnson dominated the race but when it came time to claim the big, fake check his car just couldn’t keep up with the blue deuce. Read More »

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Richmond-2 Race Recap

Matt McLaughlin’s Thinkin’ Out Loud: Richmond-2 Race Recap

*The Key Moment* – On lap 313, Clint Bowyer managed to pass Ryan Newman and he never yielded that position the rest of the night. The true turning point of the race, though, occurred at lap 277 when a caution flag flew for a light rain shower. Most of the leaders, including the dominant cars of Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. decided not to pit figuring given the late hour and dismal weather radar screens the race would not resume. When it became clear the green flag was going to fly again, both the Nos. 11 and 88 ducked into the pits and out of contention. Read More »

Thinkin’ Out Loud – ADVOCARE 500 – Atlanta Motor Speedway

Thinkin’ Out Loud – ADVOCARE 500 – Atlanta Motor Speedway

*Key Moment –* A green-white-checker finish saw Denny Hamlin grab the lead and hold off Jeff Gordon to take his series leading fourth win of the season. *In A Nutshell –* The first 35 laps of the race saw five on-track passes for the lead. The next 285 laps saw typical aero-dependent, intermediate track racing that had long green flag runs with little suspense. The last five laps saw a caution, a green-white-checker finish, a heartbreak, a second consecutive win, and a four-time champion second-guessing if he should have moved the eventual winner. Read More »

Thinkin’ Out Loud: Bristol Night Race Recap

*In a Nutshell –* The latest “new” Bristol is still not the Bristol of old. But between the buzz, the wrecks and a decent crowd, the August night race resembled its former self for the first time since the pre-Chase era. *Dramatic Moment –* Matt Kenseth aggressively drove underneath Tony Stewart battling for position on lap 333, leading the two to both crowd each other exiting the corner and ending with both drivers ending up slamming the inside wall with wrecked race cars. Kenseth was able to drive away, but his damage wasn’t complete; one lap later, an angry Stewart threw his helmet at Kenseth’s No. 17 exiting pit road, nailing the Fusion decal on the front hood of the vehicle. Stewart went after Kenseth in post-race remarks, noting “I’m going to run over him every chance I get” when asked how he’d race a likely-to-be Chase competitor going forward. Read More »