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.