Double File Restart Benefits Martin

The 50 year old racing veteran, Mark Martin scored his 4th victory of the year in the Sprint Cup series. The newly instituted double file restart rule gave Martin a fast start with just 2 laps to go. After leading a race high, 195 laps, Martin closed the deal by taking the checker flag by passing Jimmy Johnson and Kurt Busch during their end of the race contact.

The contact between Johnson and Busch has slowly become an on track rivalry over the course of the season as the two have traded paint on occasion in prior races. Busch and Johnson also banged and tangled at Sonoma, perhaps one reason for Busch's bad feelings. Johnson at one point lost his lead to Hamlin late in the race and fell back into line while going 3 wide. Gordon and Bush surrounded Johnson and the 48 got loose and slid into the Bush's Dodge. It appeared that Bush retaliated against Johnson after the contact. After the Chicago incident, Johnson said,
"The No. 2 (Busch) and I touched and he bodyslammed me after that,'' Johnson said."He's one of those guys that his temper can get away from him, when he first hit me it was like, all right man, this is racing. This isn't necessary. And then he (Busch)backed off."

Kurt Busch responded to the on track battle at Chicago by stating,
"I am starting to lose faith in his ability as a three-time champion," Busch said of Johnson. A couple of runs spoiled by the 48 car, I'm not digging it."
The contact hurt the position of both drivers but certainly helped out Johnson's teammates, Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin.
Gordon could only be thankful for the Chicago battle as he said,
"It looked like it was pretty crazy up there, but it worked good for me.
Gordon finished 2nd for Hendrick Motorsports as Martin won yet again this season.


Smokin' Daytona and Bush's Complaints

Races are won or lost many times on the last lap and most of the time on restrictor plate tracks like Daytona and Talledega Super Speedways. The 2009 Coca-Cola 400 was no different. Tony Stewart in the new #14 Burger King paint scheme and Kyle Bush in his Toyota powered Camry would send the sparks flying on the last lap battling for the win.

Stewart had the dominant car, leading a race-high 86 laps and flawless pit-road performance by his crew set the team up for their second win as a new team. But Busch had other ideas, taking the lead seconds before the last lap to start a frantic 2.5-mile chase between the former teammates under the Joe Gibbs Racing banner.

Busch passed Stewart with a little help from Denny Hamlin right before the final lap to take the lead, but Stewart ran him down and planned his next move at 180+ miles per hour.The battle began to mirror what happened last year between Stewart and Bush at Daytona heading out of turn 4 only this time Bush was leading instead of Smoke. Stewart closed in on Busch's bumper, and slight contact got Busch loose heading into the tri-oval. Bush had to slide down a car width below Stewart to regain control and this opened the door for Stewart to pass to take the lead. In a huge mistake, Bush tried to block Stewart's move but was apparently unaware he had the #14's nose at his right rear quarter panel. Stewart held his line during the attempted Bush block. Bush was not so lucky. The contact sent the #18 careening nose first into the outside wall as Stewart finished the race in first with no damage to his vehicle.
"That's not the way I wanted to do it," Stewart exclaimed."I just don't like it to end that way," Stewart said. "You know, you work hard to get to this level and you don't want to see races decided by guys wrecking coming to the finish line. That's not what it's about. Maybe I am being hard on myself, I don't know. A frustrated Stewart stated, "But I just don't like the way that ended up."
Most if not all viewers would agree that Bush was in the wrong and made a bad choice by trying to block when Stewart had position on Bush. But some drivers win being overly aggressive and some do not. Bush finished 14th behind the #14 after Kasey Khane #9 Dodge Charger smashed into him after contact with the wall. Stewart voiced his displeasure again by stating,
"I went where I had to go, and he went where he had to go," Stewart said. "You hate seeing a guy that's been up front all day, especially a guy that's helped me the whole race, wreck like that. You're kind of forced in that position. But I made my move to the outside and he went to block us and we were already there."It still doesn't mean you like it. That's not the way to win these things. If I did something wrong, I'm sorry."
After the sparks ended, the top 10 panned out as Jimmie Johnson was second, and Denny Hamlin, Busch's teammate, finished third. Edwards was fourth, and Kurt Busch fifth. Marcos Ambrose was sixth, followed by Brian Vickers, who came back from an accident, and Daytona 500 winner Matt Kenseth. Juan Pablo Montoya rallied from a lap down to finish ninth, and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top 10.

As typical for Kyle Bush when he looses in glorious fashion, he had no comment after the race after being forced into the emergency vehicle for a health inspection. Most fans of the Sprint Cup series would agree that Bush would have been all talk had the results placed him into the winner's circle. The move was exactly the same thing Carl Edwards tried on Brad Keselowski at Talladega back in April and we all remember how that race finished.

On Thursday, July 9th, however, Bush spoke out and stated Stewart should be black flagged for the accident at Daytona.Busch claimed Stewart “dumped him,” or, caused him to wreck, and questioned if drivers should be allowed to win if they cause an accident that lets them take the lead.
“I gathered my stuff up and tried to block high and it was too late,” Busch explained. “Tony was already alongside.” “I think NASCAR can take a step in looking at it, and if the second-place driver bumps the leader, then black-flag (him),” Busch said Thursday at Chicagoland Speedway. “"NASCAR can take a step in looking at it and if the second place driver dumps the leader, then black flag his ass," he said. "He doesn't get the win, you know. If he's on him from behind and moves him out of the way and there's no wreck then fine he can win the race but if you're up along side the guy and you dump him then I say black flag him and give the win to the third-place driver.”

You can view his comments at Nascar.com here

Other drivers, including 4 time champion Jeff Gordon defended Stewart's driving at Daytona.
“I certainly would not say that he got dumped,” Jeff Gordon said. “If Carl Edwards would have said that, I would have said the same thing. It’s not getting dumped when the guy has got a fender or bumper inside you and you turn and come across.”
Added Kasey Kahne who was involved in the follow up accident,
“It was a long way from a dump in my mind. I’d say they were both battling for the win. It’s Daytona, Talladega, those kinds of tracks you do that stuff.”


Rain, Rain Don't Go Away

You can imagine the song in the back of Joey Logano's head as the rain began to fall at New Hampshire Motor Speedway but instead of singing for the rain to go away, I'm sure he prayed for it to stay. And it did. As a result, the youngest driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series took the checker flag and became the youngest driver to win in the Sprint Cup series replacing Kyle Bush as the record holder.

Some might argue that Lagano didn't earn the win by racing for it or by having the best car, blah blah blah. Jeff Gordon's crew chief, Steve Letart, would certainly disagree. Logano, who topped off on fuel after a spin on lap 182, was able to stretch his last tank farther than most of the leaders who made their penultimate stop under a caution about 30 laps earlier. Logano also pitted again on lap 194 just before the field went back to green following a caution for the wrecked car of Scott Speed.According to Letarte,
“When you have an off-day you have those opportunities, and they took advantage of that opportunity and that’s a veteran crew chief and a veteran team making the most they can out of the situation,” Letarte said. I was surprised they made it as far as they did, but I wasn’t surprised they tried. It was a lot of cautions in there, it was a great strategy!”
Races are won or lost by drivers and by the call's of their crew chief. In this case, Tony Stewart's long time ex-crew chief and Lagono's first, Greg Zipadelli, made the best call of the race. That strategic call made NASCAR history as the young driver took the trophy at New Hampshire.

Check out NASCAR.com for the official results here.


Rain Benefits Stewart At New Hampshire

Tony Stewart had to thank the rain that pummeled New Hampshire Motor Speedway as the weather put him on the pole to start the Lenox Industrial Tools 301. Unfortunately for the Stewart-Haas Racing Team, Stewart had only himself to thank after he wrecked his #14 Office Depot Chevrolet during the practice session on Friday.
"I just got loose going in the corner," Stewart said. "Goodyear came down and was worried, but it wasn't a tire problem. I just got loose and once out of the groove I was staying right with it -- I just needed another 50 feet to finish getting gathered up. I just ran out of race track."
On a normal race weekend, Stewart would have to start at the rear of the field on race day, however, the wreck occurred during the practice session before qualifications and according to NASCAR rules, a driver may maintain his qualifying position based upon owner points if the qualification session is rained out after practice. Because Stewart is first in point standings and is the co-owner of his team, he will start first on Sunday. Luckily for Stewart, the heavens smiled on Stewart. Stewart was upset at the wreck but felt even worse for his team.
As a driver you hate having to have those guys do that -- you hate putting them in that position," Stewart exclaimed. "These are long, hard days each day of the race weekend anyway without having to throw bringing the backup car and all the switching."
Unlike Pocono where there is plenty of racing room and time to go from last to first as Stewart did, starting at the back at New Hampshire is a more challenging endeavor. The co-owner of the Stewart-Haas racing team did feel his backup car this week is comparable to his primary car.
By going out [to practice], we made sure that the package we had on the other car worked on this car -- each car has got a little bit different characteristic," Stewart said. "I do feel like it's a car that's very comparable to the one we started with, which was very, very good. "I'm not sure we're in a situation we were in at Pocono where the second car is better than the first one, but I feel like this one [backup] is even to the first car."
Mark Martin on the same practice lap also scrapped the wall and spun out in his #5 Kellogg's Chevrolet, but the damage was very minor and did not require a backup car.

The rest of the top 10 qualifiers are based upon owner points. You can check out the field line up here at NASCAR.com or by viewing the following:


Paperclips and Rocket Ships

This Sunday, the Sprint Cup series returns to New Hampshire Motor Speedwayto begin the 10 race countdown to the Chase For The Sprint Cup Championship. The LENOX Industrial Tools 301 is touted as the first "Race to the Chase" as drivers scramble to make it into the top 12 in the points standings.

The track itself is often called a "paper clip" track do its shape and layout resembling a paper clip. It is just over 1 mile long so it can be classified as a short track that guarantees lots of bumping and rubbing.
The place is pretty flat with regards to banking in the turns, so you can bet the brake system on the cars will receive another workout this week. There isn't much racing room and drivers are limited to two grooves to race in. The straights are only 65 feet wide and 1,500 feet long. The inside line around each turn is the preferred line as they grow to 92 feet wide with only a 2/7 degree in the banking. But with a decent setup, a driver can pass on the outside if he can carry momentum into each turn and hold onto the car coming out of the bank. Fuel mileage does play an important part in a drivers run at New Hampshire, so not only will the driver have to be spot on, his crew chief will have to make the right calls especially with regards to fuel mileage and the adjustments on the last run of the race. It will be especially interesting to see how the new double file restarts will effect the outcome of the race as well.

Due to the relative flatness of New Hampshire, drivers who have done well at Pocono or Martinsville, figure to run well here. One driver who appears to have New Hampshire figured out is Stewart-Haas Racing's Ryan "The Rocketman" Newman. Newman, an Indiana native and driver of the #39 U.S. Army Chevrolet, posted the qualifying record at New Hampshire with a top speed of 133.57 mph back in 2003 and has won twice, posted 4 pole positions, 5 top fives, and 9 top tens at this track throughout his career. Tony Stewart, Newman's teammate also has run well at New Hampshire. Like Newman, he has posted 2 wins as well. Stewart has also put up 10 top fives, and 12 top tens in his career at New Hampshire Motor Speedway.


Kahne And The King Chrisen The Season

Kasey Kahne Holds Off Stewart For The Win At Sonoma

Double file restarts late in the race helped very little as the driver of the Budweiser Number 9 Dodge Charger driven by Kasey Kahne crossed the finish line. After a series of late race cautions, Kahne held off Tony Stewart to win his first race of the season, 10th of his career, and his first road race career win. Richard Petty Motorsports owner, Kyle Petty was just as thrilled with Kahne's performance as anyone else.
"I feel just as good as he does," said the King, clad in his trademark cowboy hat and sunglasses. "It's great, man! It's great!"
For Kasey, a dirt track racer from Washington,it was unbelievable.
"Unreal! Gosh, we had to hold him [#14, Tony Stewart] off for a while. We won a road-course race! Oh, my God, I can't believe this...to come out and win on a road course ... it feels great. I can't believe it."
Kahne didn't have to pass to win as a late caution pit stop and error free performance by the #9 pit crew enabled Kahne to exit pit row in front of Stewart. Flawless driving on the last run helped Kasey hold off Stewart until the checker flag waved.
Stewart said "When he came out in front of us after that last set of pit stops, I was like, 'Oh, we might be in trouble here. "We could run about the same pace. I just couldn't get [to him]. I was a little too loose in the right-handers. Kasey just never made a mistake at the end he did an awesome job those last 20 laps and just never slipped a wheel, never missed a corner and never made a mistake."
Stewart would finish second, increasing his season point standings over Jeff Gordon by 84 points. Marcos Ambrose would finish third, a great accomplishment considering he blew an engine during practice on Saturday and started at the rear of the field on Sunday. The third place finish matched Marcos career-best finish at the other road course at Watkins Glen last year when he also started 43rd. Marcos is definitely a contender at both road courses in the Sprint Cup series.
"Maybe if I started 42nd, I might finish second; and if I started 41st, I might win. Who knows?" Ambrose reflected. "But when you're down in the dumps like that after the Saturday we had, to finish with a day like what we had, we've got to be proud of ourselves."

The rest of the top 10 included, Jimmie Johnson finishing in 4th after he spun Kurt Bush. The apologetic Johnson apologized to Bush over the radio and in person after the race. Denny Hamlin placed 5th, Juan Montoya came in 6th, A.J. Allmendinger arrived in the 7th position, Clint Bowyer,Jeff Gordon and Elliott Sadler rounded out the top 10.

The win ended a 37 race drought for Kahne and ensured Richard Petty Motorsports would be financially back in action next week for the LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. The trip to victory lane also propelled the #9 to the 13th spot in the season point standings, just one away from the coveted top 12 that will compete for the 2009 Sprint Cup Championship.


Vickers Beats Bush For The Pole At Infineon

Vickers Pole Run

Brian Vickers scored his fourth pole position award of the season by having the fastest qualifying time at Infineon Raceway at Sonoma, California.

Vickers was able to rattle off a 93.678 mph qualifying run edging out 2nd place ,Kyle Bush's 93.415 mph, and 3rd place Marcos Ambrose's 93.138 mph.

Vicker's #84 Red Bull Toyota cited numerous qualities that enabled him to score the fastest lap at 76.475 seconds around the 1.99 mile 10 turn race track.
"It was a combination of a lot of things," said Vickers, who is on the pole for a Cup race for the ninth time in his career. "We ran a lot more tape on the car, which does help. Some of it was the changes we made. We made a couple of changes that I think dramatically improved our forward drive off the corner.
"That can reward [you] in a lot of time. Turning a little bit better in the center doesn't always reward in a huge [decrease] in time, whereas drive-off does. The track was probably a little bit quicker, and I didn't make any mistakes. I don't think I did anything special -- I didn't find some particular line -- I just didn't make any mistakes at any turn around the race track, and when all that adds up, it turned out to be a pretty good lap."

Congratulations to Brian Vickers for his second pole position of the season. If poles equated to wins, Vickers would be having a great season. However, he is running 17th in the points position, 5 spots out of the Chase For The Cup where only the top 12 drivers can compete for the championship.

Maybe the fine wine drinkers in Sonoma will acquire a new taste for Red Bull energy drinks when the checker flag waves on Sunday.

Let Justice Be Served

Embattled driver, Jeremy Mayfield will have his case heard in Federal Court. Jeremy Mayfield is the lead NASCAR driver for Mayfield Motorsports. He began his own race team in 2009 and has grown his business to nearly 20 employees.
According to Jeremy's own website,
“Mayfield Motorsports is a collaboration of a team of good people and friends of mine”. He adds that “In owning my own racing team, we are able to put people back to work, which has given everyone here a real connection to the team.”
Unfortunately, those fine people have not worked at the track for over a month. On May 1st at Richmond International speedway, Mayfield tested positive for an illegal substance. NASCAR which has the most stringent drug testing policy of any professional sport, and rightly so due to the inherent danger of driving a race car at 200mphs, suspended Jeremy on May 9th for failing the random drug screen. Mayfield requested a second sample be tested per NASCAR policy and that sample also tested positive. NASCAR has not released to the drivers a list of banned substances which might have helped Mayfield in his decision making process with regards to drug use, either legal or illegal.

The drug allegedly found in Mayfield's system have not been disclosed to the public. Mayfield contends that he tested positive for an illegal substance due to the combination of over the counter medication and Aderol, a prescribed drug for adult attention deficit disorder. The Masked Writer spoke with a knowledgeable therapist and a pharmacist, and they both stated that Aderol can show up as a methamphetamine in a person's system. Rumors speculate that Mayfield did indeed test positive for methamphetamine use.

In a press release, Mayfield stated:
"As both a team owner and a driver in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, I (Jeremy Mayfield) have immense respect for the enforcement policies NASCAR has in place. In my case, I believe that the combination of a prescribed medicine and an over-the-counter medicine reacted together and resulted in a positive drug test. My doctor and I are working with both Dr. Black and NASCAR to resolve this matter."
The soap opera like drama will soon end as Mayfield has been granted a hearing in a Federal Court. U.S. District Court Judge Graham Mullen has added Mayfield's preliminary injunction request to his work schedule. If the Judge's ruling is in favor of the driver, Mayfield might be able to compete in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona International Speedway on July 4th. If the Judge rules against Mayfield, he will be required to meet detailed criteria prescribed by NASCAR's outside experts in order to be considered for reinstatement for competition and will most likely miss the rest of the 2009 season.


Mayfield's Mayhem

Mayfield's Mayhem-Mis-communication Could Discredit Mayfield's Expert

NASCAR Sprint Cup driver, Jeremy Mayfield, has just been pitched another curve ball in his ongoing battle to be reinstated to the Sprint Cup Series after failing a drug test drivers are required to pass in order to race.

Harvey MacFenerstein, president of Analytical Toxicology Corp., a drug-testing laboratory in San Antonio, Texas, is the man Mr. Mayfield has submitted as his expert witness in Federal Court.

The problem lies in Mr. MacFenerstein's educational background as listed in an affidavit. According to the Associated Press:
Among MacFenerstein's qualifications listed in the affidavit are: he has a bachelor of science degree in medical technology from "Mid Western State University of Texas"; he obtained a medical doctor degree in clinical pathology from CETED University in Mexico; he is certified as a medical review officer, and has membership and certification from two different clinical agencies.

But NASCAR submitted six affidavits Tuesday disputing each of his claims with regards to his expertise and educational background.

MacFenerstein fires back in communication with John Buric, an attorney for Mayfield.

MacFenerstein said he informed Buric he was not an MRO, he only attended a few classes at Midwestern State and his 1982 degree is from the Universidad Centro de Estudios Tecnologicos, which is more commonly called Universidad C.E.T.E.C. in the Dominican Republic. "I told him that I am not a medical review officer because I did not go to school for that and I am not qualified for that," MacFenerstein said. "I told them I went to C.E.T.E.C. There is no such CETED that was listed in the affidavit. I was told not to worry, it would all be deleted. When I found out it wasn't, they said 'Oh, we mustnot have deleted it'"
The mis-communication or Buric's error has enabled NASCAR to file a legitimate complaint about the affidavit filed by MacFenerstein.

NASCAR demanded that the affidavit from MacFenerstein should be tossed from the record because of the errors which disqualify the expert witness. And by all rights, NASCAR should. If the affidavit is not removed from court, it could enable Mayfield's legal team to argue that NASCAR did not follow Federal workplace guidelines that require a second independent lap to test a back up sample for drugs. NASCAR used the same lab, Ashville, Tenn.-based Aegis Sciences Corporation to test both samples.

If this were the case, why doesn't Mayfield's legal team simply find another expert witness to describe the Federal guidelines instead of relying on what appears to be a discredited witness?

As far as Harvey MacFenerstein is concerned he is done.
"No way I am getting involved in this case anymore. It's been a nightmare."
I think Jeremy Mayfield feels the same way. Perhaps if NASCAR finds in its good graces to let Jeremy race in the Sprint series again, he will make better decisions and consult an expert before ingesting drugs that could ruin his career.


Wine and Wins-Mark Martin Improves With Age

Wine and Wins

Like a fine wine imported from the vineyards of France, Mark Martin continues to improve with age. Mark posted his 3rd win of the season under the Hendricks banner with an exciting conservation fuel run finish at Michigan International Speedway.

In case you missed it, on the final lap of the race, it appeared that Jimmie Johnson would post another win with a healthy lead but instead the tank ran dry and Jimmie drifted to the bottom of the track to get out of the way. I'm sure Greg Biffel's thoughts of victory came screaming into his head like a freight train only to discover his engine would grow silent do to lack of fuel. That left Mark Martin, the eldest veteran of the bunch at age 50, screaming past the first and second place runners on his march to victory. Although Mark didn't approach his fuel strategy like Tony Stewart did at Pocono(lifting off the throttle completely half way down the front and back stretches), he did manage to squeeze a bit more mileage than his teammate in the Number 48 Jimmy Johnson Chevy Impala and Rousch racing opponent, Greg Biffle behind the Number 16 Ford Fusion. Some might say Mark Martin used a bit of luck on his final run at Michigan, instead, I would simply call it experience gained from 27 years of racing in the National Association of Stock Car Auto Racing.

Greg Biffle would end up coasting into a the 5th spot instead of victory lane while Jimmy Johnson traveled the wrong direction-from 1st to 22nd in a matter of half a lap.

Martin in his number 5 Chevy Impala would gain 5 spots and the largest jump in the points standing placing him in the 8th spot well within the Chase qualifications if he continues to run consistently. Jimmy Johnson held onto the 3rd spot only loosing pride and points to Jeff Gordon in the 2nd spot and Tony Stewart leading the pack.