Did you see all of the race action this weekend? Or, like a lot of busy fans, did you miss a late-night adventure, a Friday controversy, or a juicy piece of news? If you did, you’ve come to the right place! Each week, The Frontstretch will break down the racing, series by series, to bring you the biggest stories that you need to watch moving forward. Let our experts help you get up to speed for the coming week no matter what series you might have missed, all in this edition of Pace Laps!
Sprint Cup Series: Hamlin Makes it 8 – With Denny Hamlin earning the victory at the racetrack roulette known as Talladega, eight different drivers are now in line to make the postseason. For Hamlin, who has endured a less than stellar 2014, the win should provide a sense of optimism and might be just what he needs to return to being a weekly contender for wins.
For a different perspective about the results from Talladega however, consider the fact that just two of the top 12 drivers, Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch, have wins in 2014. That does not mean that Hamlin’s win is any less impressive as much as it is to say that, after the myriad of wrecks, there was a good chance that an eighth different victor was bound to emerge.
Perhaps no track on the schedule offers so much of hope of making the Chase as does Talladega, and with Brad Keselowski trying to do his best to take out as many drivers as possible, being in the right place at the right time was all it took.
Taking another view from the race, the Hendrick juggernaut could manage a high of only eighth, with Kasey Kahne, while the rest of the team finished in the 20s or worse. It’s all the more reason for Hamlin to enjoy the victory and his place racing for the title in the Fall. – Huston Ladner
Nationwide Series: Elliot Sadler Finds Success at Talladega – Elliott Sadler has long been determined to give everyone a new talking point when it came to his name and Talladega Superspeedway. Saturday afternoon he finally made that happen.
The dominant car was the No. 11 Toyota, which led 40 laps and guided Sadler to his first Talladega victory and first of 2014 when he held off a hard-charging rookie in Chris Buescher and defending race winner of Regan Smith. The win finally gives Sadler something to celebrate with Joe Gibbs Racing, where he went winless last year after joining the high profile and high-powered Nationwide Series team.
But the Virginia driver seemed to be more pleased with the fact that now his Talladega highlight reel will consist of more than big wrecks and scary flips. Now he can talk to the fans that constantly ask about those instances about the time he was out front when the checkered flag waved and he was there on all four wheels.
In the bigger picture, Sadler now sits second in points and looking as prepared as ever to chase his first Nationwide Series championship. But the circuit is off until May 18th when they’ll return to action at the Iowa Speedway, a place that Sadler won at in late 2012.
Should he do so again, he would make it an even score of five each across the Nationwide Series board. That being the number of wins both the Cup drivers and Nationwide regulars have in 2014 as one of its more entertaining and diverse seasons hits their next destination. – Kelly Crandall
Sports Cars: The P2’s Break Through at Laguna Seca – Extreme Speed Motorsports’ Johannes van Overbeek set a sports car track record to win the pole on Saturday evening, then passed Jordan Taylor with 16 minutes to go to claim the overall victory in the Prototype/GT-Le Mans race on Sunday. It is the first TUSC victory of 2014 for a P2 prototype. Van Overbeek’s team car, shared by Ryan Dalziel and Scott Sharp, was also right in the hunt. However, gearbox failure put the No. 1 out of the race.
In GT-Le Mans, Corvette Racing reigned supreme once again with their C7.R. The No. 3 of Jan Magnussen and Antonio Garcia won from pole over the No. 55- BMW Z4 GTEof Andy Priaulx and Bill Auberlen. After the race, the No. 911 Porsche North America 911 RSR was handed a time penalty that dropped them to ninth in class, lifting the No. 62 Ferrari F458 Italia of Giancarlo Fisichella and Pierre Kaffer to the podium.
The Prototype Challenge/GT-Daytona race was won by the pairing of Mirco Schultis and Renger van der Zande for Starworks Motorsport. While the action was decently close much of the race, van der Zande won by over 12 seconds after runner-up Sean Rayhall (sharing with Luis Diaz) spun out late. RSR Racing’s Bruno Junqueira and Duncan Ende rounded out the podium.
In GT-Daytona, Flying Lizard Motorsports’ Spencer Pumpelly and Nelson Canache dominated the race until running out of fuel on the final lap exiting the Corkscrew. That allowed Turner Motorsport’s Dane Cameron and Markus Palttala to claim victory in the lone GT-Daytona BMW Z4 in the field. Cameron just held off the No. 48 Audi R8LMS shared by Christopher Haase and Bryce Miller. Magnus Racing’s John Potter and Andy Lally rounded out the podium. Pumpelly failed to cross the start-finish line and was credited with a sixth-place finish.
The next TUSC race is the Chevrolet Sports Car Classic, May 31st at Belle Isle Park as part of the Chevrolet Duals at Detroit featuring the Prototype and GT-Daytona classes.
Camping World Truck Series: Back on Track This Weekend – After more than a month off track since their last race at Martinsville Speedway in late March, the Camping World Truck Series returns to action Friday night at Kansas Speedway for their first ever event under the lights at the 1.5-mile oval. Heading into the unknown, Matt Crafton, who won at Martinsville, is the defending winner in Kansas. He looks to continue his quest to become the first back-to-back champion in series history, and the rest of the field would like to prove otherwise. _ – Beth Lunkenheimer_