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Race Rewind: Looking back at the Camping World 301

- jutter@charlotteobserver.com
Sunday, Jul. 14, 2013

Observations

• While Mark Martin drives most of the races for Michael Waltrip Racing's No. 55, Sunday's race at New Hampshire was not on his schedule. However, he was present - in a way - during the Victory Lane celebrations. Throughout his post-race celebration and press conferences, Brian Vickers was wearing a No. 55 Aaron's hat with Mark Martin's name stitched on the side. Ty Norris, MWR's general manager and vice president, joked afterwards joked you have to run at least 10 races a season to get your own hat.

• MWR certainly didn't plateau after its most successful season to date in 2012. After putting two drivers in the Chase last year and Clint Bowyer finishing second, two of MWR's three Sprint Cup teams have already won this season and Bowyer is second in the series standings even though he hasn't registered a victory as yet.

• NASCAR racing certainly seems to remain popular in New England. The crowds for Saturday's Nationwide and Sunday's Cup races were both very strong. New Hampshire Motor Speedway even got a good turnout for its Global Rallycross race on Thursday night.

Notebook

NASCAR to announce new initiatives: NASCAR is set to unveil a set of initiatives on Monday which will include several changes to its research and development and competition areas, sources familiar with the changes told the Observer.

NASCAR has scheduled briefing with members of the media on Monday at its research and development center in Concord in which it is expected to address the changes.

According to sources, among the changes to be adapted include ending the practice of NASCAR inspectors being assigned to specific series and a change to the process for approval of parts. A reshuffling or reclassification of some responsibilities is also likely, sources said.

NASCAR officials elected to defer comment until their briefing on Monday.

The initiatives have been in the works for some time but do address issues which arose as recently as last week at Daytona when 31 Sprint Cup and Nationwide teams had roof-flap spacers confiscated because they did not conform to rules.

NASCAR eventually elected not to penalize the teams.

Several teams recently penalized by NASCAR or had parts confiscated for being unapproved have complained of difficulties with the approval process.

Logano takes big hit: Joey Logano's hopes to make the Chase this season took a big hit early in Sunday's race when a tire failure led to a wreck on Lap 4.

The left rear tire blew out. It is something they need to look into because that is two cars this week and I am surprised it happened," Logano said. "It isn't like we touched anyone and rubbed it to make it go down, it just blew out."

Logano is now 18th in points, 47 outside the Top 10 with seven races left before the Chase field is set.

Stewart thought he had it made: Tony Stewart had worked diligently to save fuel and utilize pit strategy to get up front but was passed by Brian Vickers with 16 laps remaining. His shot at a good finish disappeared on the last lap when he ran out of fuel.

"It's hard to calculate how much we are saving on the cautions so we thought we were about three quarters of a lap to the good there before that last caution," Stewart said."Obviously we didn't save as much as I thought we would."

5 key moments

1. Brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch dominated the race early, leading 111 of the first 123 laps.

2. Tony Stewart elects not to pit, hoping to make the distance on fuel, and takes the lead for the first time on Lap 203.

3. Kurt Busch, who looked like he might have a chance at a win, gets involved in a multi-car wreck on Lap 225 which ends his day.

4. Brian Vickers ran down Stewart to take the lead for the first time on Lap 287.

5. On the last restart on Lap 301, first Stewart and then Kyle Busch tried to get by Vickers but to no avail as he quickly pulled away for the win.

Next race

Brickyard 400

Where: Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway

When: 1 p.m. ET Sunday

TV: ESPN

Radio: Indianapolis Radio Network

Last year's winner: Jimmie Johnson



Utter: 704-358-5113; Twitter: @jim_utter
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