Race Weekend Central

Pace Laps: Wild Races, Crazy Spins, and Speed Records

Cup Series: Unexpected Wild Race at Pocono Leads to Victory for Matt Kenseth – It was quite the 400 miles at Pocono Raceway. With wrecks filling the first half of the race, the second half seemed like it would get even more wild. However, the field set a steady pace for the final 80 laps, and that is when fuel strategy came into play.

After an intense duel between Joey Logano and Kyle Busch, it appeared the two could make it to the end of the race after pitting with just 37 laps to go. But when Logano ran out of gas, it left Busch in the lead until the final lap. The No. 18 car dropped out of line with a half-lap left as the tank dried up and he was regulated to a finish outside of the top 20.

Busch’s Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth earned the victory, which marks his second in 2015 and gave the organization its fourth consecutive win. Brad Keselowski finished second, nine seconds behind the No. 20 car, with Jeff Gordon finishing third in his final event at Pocono.

The race was halted early on, when Kasey Kahne slammed into the wall inside of pit road. Creating major damage, NASCAR red-flagged the event for 14 minutes. Evidently, he finished 43rd, which puts him in the final spot on the Chase Grid. – Joseph Wolkin

IndyCar: Montoya Questions Karam Spin – A late-race spin from Chip Ganassi Racing’s Sage Karam led to a race-changing yellow in Sunday’s Honda Indy 200 at Mid-Ohio Sports Car Course.

The timing, just after teammate Scott Dixon’s final pit stop, led to claims of a fix from championship points leader Juan Pablo Montoya.

“When everyone else pitted they had to save fuel from that point,” said Montoya. “It was hard for them to make it without a caution. And, you know, it’s kind of weird that all the Ganassi cars pitted and Sage spins. So it is what it is.

“I don’t know if it was on purpose or not, but I hear the spin was really dodgy.”

While the concerns of Karam’s spins involve his Ganassi teammates, Karam’s crash also set up Graham Rahal for his third-career Verizon IndyCar Series victory, moving him within 10 points of Montoya in the championship battle.

Asked if foul play was involved, Montoya didn’t hold back. “Karma is a *****, so we’ll see.” – Aaron Bearden

NHRA: One Still Alive for the Western Sweep – Fast Jack Beckman is proving that he really is worthy of his nickname. Beckman set the national elapsed time record for Funny Car during qualifying for the NHRA Sonoma Nationals at Sonoma Raceway this weekend with a 3.921, making him officially the quickest Funny Car driver in history. He didn’t stop there though, as he went on to win the race too, defeating teammate Tommy Johnson Jr. in the finals.

Beckman’s run of 4.037 seconds, 310.63 mph was good enough to beat Johnson’s 4.073 seconds, 308.99 mph. He also defeated Tony Pedregon, Chad Head and Robert Hight on his way to the finals.

“I feel like I have the best crew in drag racing right now,” said Beckman. “Winning the race and being No. 1 qualifier and setting the national record is icing on top of icing on top of the cake. It couldn’t have been any better. I don’t think this weekend will sink in until I’m on the plane going to Seattle.”

After failing to qualify for the season’s first event in Pomona, Beckman said he wasn’t worried and had confidence that new crew chief Jimmy Prock would have things sorted out and headed in the right direction in short order. Beckman has gone on to win five races, including two of the three Western Swing events, setting him up for the possible sweep, and sits second in points.

“I think the world of Jimmy to say the least. I’m thrilled he’s come on board,” said Don Schumacher, owner of Beckman’s team. “I’m hoping that he’s having a great, great time. That’s really the special part about it.”

In Pro Stock, the third time was the charm for Chris McGaha, appearing in the third final round of his season (and of his career). This time he took on Jonathan Gray and his pass of 6.531 seconds, 212.13 mph gave him the win over Gray’s 6.560 seconds, 211.03 mph. McGaha ran by V. Gaines, Erica Enders and Jeg Coughlin en route to the finals.

“This has been 30 years in the making,” McGaha said. “All those years that my dad [Lester] ran in Comp and with me in Pro Stock. There were plenty of times when we’d leave the house and think, ‘Maybe this is the week.’ My dad came close a few times, and we had a few heartbreakers along the way. This takes the monkey off my back. I really want more, but if I only get one of these [Wally trophies], I can live to be content with that.”

In Top Fuel, Antron Brown came out on top with a 3.787 second, 320.74 mph run to defeat Dave Connolly‘s 3.808 second, 319.14 mph pass in the finals. Brown defeated Steve Chrisman, Richie Crampton and Tony Schumacher in earlier rounds to make this appearance in the finals.

In Pro Stock Motorcycle, it was Steady Eddie Krawiec for the second event in a row, scoring the win over Jerry Savoie in a close one. Krawiec posted a 6.881-second, 191.00-mph run to Savoie’s 6.891 seconds, 194.13 mph, winning by just 0.0042 seconds. Krawiec defeated Angie Smith, Steve Johnson and Scotty Pollacheck to get to the matchup with Savoie.

Fast Jack… Fast Antron… Fast Chris… and Fast Eddie. All four Pro class winners were also the number one qualifiers for the weekend, the first time in NHRA this has happened. – Toni Montgomery

Xfinity Series: Late Spins Sinks Poole – After struggling throughout the last two months, NASCAR Xfinity Series rookie Brennan Poole put together his best performance of 2015 in Saturday’s U.S. Cellular 250. Consistent throughout the day, Poole was a constant feature in the top 10, threatening to score his second-straight top-10 after finishing 10th in his most recent start at Loudon.

Poole’s hopes for a good finish were dashed when the “Bull”, as his fans and friends call him, was involved in the race’s final incident on lap 255. Poole spun out after contact with Chris Buescher, forcing him to head to pit road and go to the end of the lead lap for the final green-white-checkered finish.

Poole would rally to finish 14th, a finish that failed to equal his performance.

The Woodlands, Texas native suffered multiple setbacks in the early portion of the season, finishing 26th or worse in four of his first 10 starts. However, Poole has shown progress in recent weeks, finishing 12th and 10th before his run at Iowa. – Aaron Bearden

Camping World Truck Series: Reddick Capitalizes on Problems for Crafton, Jones – Tyler Reddick entered Pocono Raceway staring down a 14-point deficit in the championship standings, but by the time the checkered flag flew, he walked away 11 markers out in front, thanks to problems for both Matt Crafton and Erik Jones. The latter actually managed to salvage a 10th-place finish to minimize his losses after a late-race spin on the first of three green-white-checkered attempts.

Crafton, however, wasn’t so lucky. Just seven laps into Saturday afternoon’s Pocono Mountains 150, the first caution flew following contact between Crafton and Keselowski, causing terminal damage to both trucks. While Crafton was able to continue for a handful of laps, he still only completed 13 circuits and brought home a disappointing 28th-place finish that dropped him out of the championship lead for the first time since March.

Crafton, who was none too pleased with Keselowski, confronted the 2012 Sprint Cup champion in the garage area before implying the wreck was intentional to help Brad Keselowski Racing driver Reddick get to a better spot in the standings. Meanwhile, Keselowski defended what happened, while denying he was trying to get in the middle of the championship battle.

Only the two drivers involved know what really happened, though the replays truly make it look like Crafton didn’t turn as early as Keselowski anticipated, which closed up the outside lane when the pair got three-wide with Kevin Harvick. Based on the No. 88 team’s performance this season, Crafton shouldn’t have any major issues running toward a historic third consecutive championship. But what will be interesting to see is whether Crafton takes his frustrations to the next race at Michigan and if that changes how he races around Reddick as the schedule moves ever closer to Homestead. – Beth Lunkenheimer

Short Tracks: Asphalt modified fans certainly had a good deal to celebrate over the weekend. Starting off in New Jersey, Wall Stadium Speedway held the $5,000 paying Summer Scorcher for their local ground pounders. Trevor Alspach took the lead in the second half of the 125-lap feature and held off familiar veteran Jimmy Blewett and another previous big event winner Eric Mauriello for the victory. While the race had a big paycheck and awarded points toward the track championship, the event also serves as a tune up for the track’s annual Turkey Derby during Thanksgiving weekend later in the year.

Over to Mahoning Valley Speedway in Pennsylvania, points were not on the line but money, bragging rights, and poker cards were during twin 50-lap races. Zane Zeiner and Nevin George came away with the wins, while many others continued improving their hands in the Central States Modified Gamblers Series, a six-race series that awards cards for the top 13 finishes ranking from Ace down to a 2. The drivers with the best five-card poker hands after the final race in October are awarded cash bonuses.

In Upstate New York, Holland Speedway held their annual George Decker Memorial 100 with Tommy Catalano continuing his impressive season as he climbed from 12th starting position to get the win. It wouldn’t be easy though with a large portion of the race going without a caution, and a few late restarts involving Catalano battling with George Skora III and Andy Jankowiak for the victory.

Even down south, enthusiasts welcomed the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour to Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. Northern visitor Ryan Preece got the lead on a final restart, but was ordered to give the position back after it was determined that he had jumped the start. New Jersey’s Danny Bohn re-inherited the top spot and went on for his second straight win in the 199-lap event. – Aaron Creed

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The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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