Rewind: Looking back Sunday race
Monday, Jun. 07, 2010
This having-at-it business continues to allow confrontations to escalate as NASCAR delegates its authority to drivers - emotional, greedy, ultra-competitive drivers. Tony Stewart even is calling for an intervention. Accept the sideshow, and NASCAR eventually will have to accept the fallout when the line is crossed.
Five hundred miles at Pocono is ridiculous. Shorten it.
Kurt Busch continues to have those battler's days that win championships. His wins in the Coca-Cola 600 and All-Star Race renewed confidence in observers that the 2003 series champion again can be a title contender. He showed just as much in finishing sixth Sunday, battling back from a lap down after 19 laps when a faulty valve stem cap forced him to pit under green.
Maybe it's a good thing Kasey Kahne and A.J. Allmendinger aren't going to be teammates at Richard Petty Motorsports much longer. Allmendinger ruined potential top-10 runs for both when his self-described defense of his position started a nine-car wreck. Teammate Elliott Sadler also was erased in the incident.
"I don't know what AJ was doing there," said Kahne, whose mangled No.9 Ford flew atop the outside wall, relegating him to 27th place. "I don't ever really talk to him much, but you can bet I will be talking to him this week."
Allmendinger, who finished 10th, said he wasn't completely sure what happened, but added, "By the time I defended, he was in the grass. That is my bad. I feel bad about that, I really do."
So did Greg Biffle, who finished 28th after being caught up in it.
"I don't know what his deal is," he said of Allmendinger. "He totally caused that whole thing. You can't run your teammate down onto the grass. That is horrible. He could have backed out of that before he put him down like that."
Kahne will leave RPM after this season before joining Hendrick Motorsports in 2011.
Kevin Harvick maintained the points lead with a fourth-place finish, now holding a 19-point advantage over Kyle Busch, the runner-up Sunday. Denny Hamlin advanced two spots to third with his fourth win of the season.
Start me up
Tony Stewart called restarts Sunday "idiotic," and forecast more of the same during coming weeks. Apparently he plans to get in on the madness.
"I've seen some of the worst driving I've ever seen in my life in a professional series right here today," he said. "So for anybody that's looking for drama for the next couple races, start looking 'cause I can promise I'm going to start making the highlight reel the next couple weeks."
Jimmie Johnson agreed with Stewart's assessment.
"It wasn't much fun at all to be honest with you," he said. "There's so much to lose and so much chaos on the track. It's one thing when you're at Bristol (Tenn.) going 100mph; but when you're running 200mph and seeing some of these moves, it was pretty crazy."
The tussle between friendly rivals Roger Penske and Chip Ganassi for supremacy of open-wheel and sports car racing has spilled into NASCAR.
"I respect what he's doing," Penske said of Ganassi, who this year became the first owner to win the Indianapolis and Daytona 500s in the same season. "We've raced each other a long time. We've known each other. I said, 'If you can't win, I want to win.'"
Ganassi joined Penske as the only owners to win the Indianapolis and Daytona 500s with Jamie McMurray's win this February, then formed his own exclusive club with Dario Franchitti's IndyCar win last weekend. Later that day in Charlotte, Penske's Kurt Busch outlasted McMurray to win the Coca-Cola 600 and deny Ganassi another milestone.
Then Saturday, Penske won the Nationwide race at Nashville (Tenn.) with Brad Keselowski and the IndyCar event in Texas with Ryan Briscoe as Ganassi won the Grand Am race at Watkins Glen, N.Y., with points-leading Scott Pruett and Memo Rojas.
Ganassi's two IndyCar drivers and Penske's three hold the top five spots in points, with Franchitti on top. Busch is sixth in the Sprint Cup standings with two wins. Keselowski leads the Nationwide series standings and has three wins.
Penske said the team's role as Dodge's only Sprint Cup teams has been beneficial. The organization has taken advantage of increased engineering support, unlimited wind tunnel time and use of a robotic welder to construct chassis.
"Obviously we don't have the benefit of the cross-pollenization of so many different teams, but at the moment I don't feel it's a disadvantage," he said. "I wouldn't change unless they didn't want to go racing."
Clint Bowyer to a National Guard member directing drivers to their heavy trucks for the prerace introduction: "Put those Busches in the same truck so they can both get booed."
No such luck. Kurt Busch piled into the camouflaged flatbed with Bowyer and Dale Earnhardt Jr., which was buffeted by a lusty but mixed reception. Pole-winner Kyle Busch got his own truck and a less cordial reception down the long grandstands.
New Hampshire Speedway general manager Jerry Gappens said ticket sales for the June 26 Nationwide race marking the return of IndyCar star Danica Patrick to NASCAR were up 35percent from a year ago before she finished sixth in the Indianapolis 500 and second Saturday at Texas Motor Speedway.
"The only thing different from last year is her," Gappens said. "On the Cup dates, when most tracks are seeing a decrease in ticket sales compared to last year, that speaks volumes."