Another stop in California left the road course specialists of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wishing for another try. They’ll get one eventually, but for now, the Chase picture remains unchanged. Carl Edwards added another victory, a first ever at Sonoma, and helped Roush Fenway Racing get back in the win column. Next up is …
Ah, road course racing. For the first time in 2014, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series turned right in both California and Wisconsin. After months of oval track coverage, it was good to see some NASCAR TV showing a slightly different picture than usual. However, before we start, we must talk about some expected but …
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What is there to say that’s positive about a type of racing where one driver makes a small mistake and a dozen or more others pay the price? Talladega, along with Daytona, is the epitome of what racing should not be: artificially restricted power that allows no throttle response, huge crashes that destroy a dozen or more innocent bystanders, drivers not racing for most of the race because it doesn’t matter until the last few laps. Yes, the finishes are close, but is a close finish worth watching a race just waiting for the inevitable Big One and wondering who will get taken out this time?
On lap 16, Tony Stewart attempted to change lanes and make a move on race leader Matt Kenseth. While he wasn’t cleared by his spotter, Stewart chose to shift down low which resulted in his left rear corner making contact with the right front of Marcos Ambrose. Stewart’s car got out of shape, made contact with the apron and sent a shower of sparks over several cars that were pursuing him. Jimmie Johnson checked up in the high line, which caused Denny Hamlin to make contact with the five-time champ, turning him down in front of the oncoming pack and ultimately taking out one-third of the field. The accident eliminated defending champion Kyle Busch, two-time Unlimited champion Jeff Gordon, 2006 winner Denny Hamlin and 1999 winner Mark Martin. Just like that, the field was reduced by one-third, many contenders sat idle in the garage and the drafting – along with the racing – became a shell of its former self.
Any of his six wins looked awful good, but the high point of the season for Ricky Stenhouse Jr. came on a night where the No. 6 team didn’t visit victory lane.
Jeff Gordon was among the drivers who pitted on a quick caution on lap 155. In the end, it resulted in the No. 24 having enough fuel to make it to the finish when Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. had to pit from the front of the field. Gordon ended the night taking the first win for Hendrick Motorsports at Homestead-Miami Speedway while his teammate Jimmie Johnson sat in his car in the garage, having lost the championship due to a faulty rear end.
Although Marcos Ambrose and Brad Keselowski were making the last lap at Watkins Glen one for the ages, another driver was quietly posting his team’s second top-five run of the year. Sam Hornish Jr. followed up his third-place finish in the Nationwide Series race on Saturday with a fifth-place run on Sunday. But the numbers don’t tell the whole tale. Because Hornish has an open wheel background, it’s often assumed that he has extensive road-course experience. But he doesn’t; Hornish’s three IZOD IndyCar Series titles came when the series ran almost exclusively on oval tracks. Hornish had just 11 road-course starts under his belt when he made the move to NASCAR.
ONE: The Irrelevance of the Firecracker 400 at Daytona
When one thinks of stability with regard to Sprint Cup racing, it’s likely that one thinks of Matt Kenseth and his iconic No. 17 Ford.
Jack Roush announced on Tuesday (June 26) that Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will be competing full time for the 2013 Cup Series championship.
Each week, Frontstretch will break down the racing, series by series, to bring you the biggest stories that you need to watch during the week ahead.