*THE FRONTSTRETCH NEWSLETTER
Presented by Frontstretch.com
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
*May 7th, 2012
Volume V, Edition LXXIX
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*Sprint Cup Race Recap: Keselowski Follows His Dream For a Talladega Victory
**by Jeff Wolfe
*Every race car driver dreams of winning, but not every driver dreams of
how to win. That different kind of vision helped Brad Keselowski to
Victory Lane Sunday in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Aaron's 499 at
Talladega. As is often the case at Talladega, the winning pass is made on
the last lap of the 2.66-mile superspeedway. Keselowski just made sure it
wasn’t made by Kyle Busch in the last corner heading to the finish line in
front of 108,500 fans.
“I had this whole plan, if I was leading, that I thought about, and thought
about and dreamed to do it,” said Keselowski, who was one of the 17 leaders
among 34 lead changes. “Going into Turn 3, it was just me and Kyle [Busch]
and I knew the move I wanted to pull and it worked, fhe guy in second
should have the advantage. I had this move all worked up in my mind. Now,
everybody has seen and knows it, but I was glad I was able to get a win
with it. I went into Turn 3 high and pulled down and off of Kyle and broke
the tandem up which allowed me to drive untouched to the checkered flag.
It wasn’t easy to convince myself to do it but it was the right move and
I’m glad it worked.”
After an 11-car crash brought out the yellow flag with five laps to go, the
race ended in NASCAR’s version of overtime, a green-white
checkered-finish. Matt Kenseth was the leader and appeared to have the
strongest car. His problem was it may have been a little too strong.
Kenseth, with help from Roush Fenway teammate Greg Biffle, led on the first
lap of the two-lap sprint to the finish. However, Kenseth, who won the
season’s other restrictor plate race at Daytona to begin the year,
unknowingly pulled away from Biffle by about four car lengths as the duo
ran on the inside lane. Keselowski and Kyle Busch teamed up on the high
side and found momentum and the lead in the final lap. Once Kenseth was
separated from his all-important partner on the restrictor plate track,
that left the race to either Keselowski or Kyle Busch.
“Greg got me a great push over in Turn 2 and by the time I realized we were
separated, we were separated by four car lengths,” said Kenseth, who led
the most laps at 73. “I knew if I slowed up, them two were going to pass
me and if I stayed in gas, them two were going to pass me. I kind of
waited for him (Biffle). It was just poor judgment on that last restart.
I should have dragged the brake and made sure we stayed sealed up.”
While Kenseth, who finished third, was lamenting getting away from his
helper, Keselowski knew that was the only chance he had.
“It was a race between him and I and somehow getting into 3 we got
disconnected,” said Busch, who also finished second in Saturday’s
Nationwide Series race. “Once that happened the race was over. It was all
his. I’m not sure if he did anything. If he did he’s pretty smart. I just
think our stuff came unplugged.”
Busch and Keselowski have had a contentious relationship over the last few
years. But, as is often the case at restrictor plate tracks, conflicts
from the past are forgotten if it means helping each other reach the front
of the pack, especially on the last lap.
“Kyle did a great job and it was nice working with him,” said Keselowski,
who gave Dodge its first win at Talladega since Dave Marcis won in 1976.
“We’ve had an up and down history but it was great to work with him to get
a 1-2 finish.”
Some other serious contenders were not around at the finish thanks to the
fifth and final yellow flag of the day. On the restart with five laps
remaining in regulation, A.J. Allmendinger and Denny Hamlin were in line on
the outside lane. As the pack headed for the green flag, Hamlin saw an
opening in the middle and appeared to go for it. Allmendinger then pulled
down in front of Hamlin and clipped Hamlin’s right front fender, hitting
Paul Menard, who was in the inside lane, in the side, starting the
carnage. The other contenders taken out included Tony Stewart, Kevin
Harvick and Michael Waltrip.
“I tried to block but Denny was already there,” a frustrated Allmendinger
said after the race.
Another frustrated driver was likely Kurt Busch. He was running second on
the inside lane when Keselowski clipped his bumper, sending him sliding and
into the infield wall on lap 182.
“At Talladega, patience is a bit of an oxymoron,” said Keselowski, who won
his second race of the year. “Because you have to go hard here to win this
race. I went hard a little bit early with Kurt. I’m going to say sorry to
Kurt. It was a miscommunication on our part.”
Following Keselowski, Kyle Busch and Kenseth in the top-10 were Kasey
Kahne, Biffle, Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, Trevor Bayne, Dale Earnhardt Jr.
and Jeff Burton. However, there weren’t much more than ten unscathed cars
running on the lead lap at the finish, so there were no problems on the
“Yeah, you know I figured the last one would be more calm than any of them
because pretty much everybody was crashed out already,” said Bayne, who has
two top-10 finishes in just four races this year. “There were like 15
cars. I looked in my mirror and saw like five behind me and I was ninth or
tenth. I was hoping we could push Junior up there because if we won, or he
won because we pushed him it would be a good day for us. I think it was a
good run for us and we ended up with a top-10 so that is good.”
It could be another crazy night Saturday when the Sprint Cup Series returns
to Darlington, also known as The Lady in Black, for the Bojangles Southern
500. Pre-race coverage is scheduled to start at 6:30pm, while actual race
coverage will start at 7:00pm on FOX.
Jeff Wolfe is a Contributor for Frontstretch.com. He can be reached via
e-mail at jeff.wo...@frontstretch.com.*
Tracking the Chase: Kenseth Gains Two Places; Edwards Out of the Top-10
**by Jeff Wolfe
*Matt Kenseth didn’t win Sunday’s Sprint Cup race at Talladega, but his
third-place finish and the bonus point for most laps led helped him jump
from fourth to second in the standings. After ten races in NASCAR’s
26-race regular season, Kenseth is seven points behind Roush Fenway Racing
teammate Greg Biffle in the Chase for the Championship standings.
Having bad days at the track were five-time Sprint Cup champion Jimmie
Johnson and last year’s runner-up Carl Edwards. Johnson dropped from sixth
to eighth in the standings with a 35th-place finish because of engine
problems. Also, Edwards dropped from ninth to 11th in the standings, two
points behind Clint Bowyer, when he was caught in an accident and finished
31st. Ryan Newman dropped from tenth to 13th in the standings with a
36th-place finish because of engine failure. However, Newman does have one
win on the season, so he would still be one of the two wild-cards to make
Also having his Chase chances take a big hit was Jeff Gordon who dropped
six places to 23rd in the standings. Gordon finished 33rd Sunday after he
got caught in an accident.
Brad Keselowski certainly helped his case to make the Chase with the win
Sunday. He’s 12th in points and has two wins this season. For the time
being, that is good enough to place him as the top Wild Card.
The biggest gainer on the day was Kasey Kahne with his fourth-place
finish. After a horrendous start to the season, he is now up to 19th in
the standings, jumping up four spots from last week.
*Standings:* *1)* Greg Biffle 378, *2)* Matt Kenseth -7, *3)* Dale
Earnhardt, Jr. -9, *4)* Denny Hamlin -27, *5)* Kevin Harvick -45,
*6)*Martin Truex, Jr. -46,
*7)* Tony Stewart -50, *8*) Jimmie Johnson -54, *9)* Kyle Busch -70,
*10)*Clint Bowyer -76
*Wild Cards:* Brad Keselowski 12th in points, 2 wins; Ryan Newman, 13th in
points, 1 win.
*Race Winners:* Matt Kenseth (Daytona), Denny Hamlin (Phoenix, Kansas),
Tony Stewart (Las Vegas, Fontana), Brad Keselowski (Bristol, Talladega),
Ryan Newman (Martinsville), Greg Biffle (Texas); Kyle Busch (Richmond).
*Tracking The Top 35: Don’t Look Now, But No. 10 On The Bubble Again**
*While NASCAR guarantees a starting spot for the top-35 in the points
standings each week, those close, or the one on, the 35th place bubble have
plenty of cushion now. While the No. 83 car driven by Landon Cassill sits
in what can be a precarious position at 35th in the points standings after
Sunday’s race, he does have 30-point cushion over the No. 33 car that was
driven by Tony Raines this week.
The only other notable move around the 35th-place marker was that the No.
21 car driven by Trevor Bayne finished eighth and moved up four spots to
37th, but is still 39 points behind the No. 83 machine. The No. 21 has
been in just four of the ten races this season due to lack of sponsorship.
Here's your owners point standings around the all-important cutoff.*
*29)* Front Row Motorsports (No. 34 - David Ragan), 67 points ahead of 36th.
*30)* BK Racing (No. 93 - Travis Kvapil), 61 points ahead of 36th.
*31)* Front Row Motorsports (No. 38 - David Gilliland), 60 points ahead of
*32)* FAS Lane Racing (No. 32 – Terry Labonte), 40 points ahead of 36th.
*33)* Tommy Baldwin Racing/Stewart-Haas Racing (No. 10 - David Reutimann),
37 points ahead of 36th.
*34)* Tommy Baldwin Racing/Stewart-Haas Racing (No. 36 - Dave Blaney), 35
points ahead of 36th.
*35)* BK Racing (No. 83 - Landon Cassill), 30 points ahead of 36th.
*36)* Richard Childress Racing/LJ Racing (No. 33 – Tony Raines), 30 points
*37)* Wood Brothers Racing (No. 21 - Trevor Bayne), 39 points behind 35th.
*38)* Inception Motorsports (No. 30 - David Stremme), 54 points behind 35th.
*39)* Robinson-Blakeney Racing (No. 49 - J.J. Yeley), 62 points behind 35th.
*40)* Front Row Motorsports (No. 26 - Josh Wise), 71 points behind 35th.*
Jeff Wolfe is a Contributor for Frontstretch.com. He can be reached via
e-mail at jeff.wo...@frontstretch.com*.
*Got NASCAR-related questions or comments?
*Send them John Potts' way at john.po...@frontstretch.com; and if you're
lucky, you'll get your name in print when he does his weekly column
answering back to you – the fans that keep Frontstretch afloat. Potts'
Shots will run on Thursdays with a whole new set of Fan Questions and
*Secret Star Of The Race: The Best Run You Never Saw*
The four restrictor plate races are a bit more important to Front Row
Motorsports than for other squads. For the small Denver, North
Carolina-based operation, they often rank as the only events where the team
can compete for top-10 finishes. It's an opportunity they cash in on more
often than not, most notably with David Gilliland's third-place result in
last year's Daytona 500.
On Sunday, two of the three cars at FRM were at it again (rookie *Josh
*David Ragan*, whose No. 34 was unsponsored for the weekend, managed to
keep the car out of trouble, then took advantage of the struggles suffered
late by other drivers to finish in *seventh*, a season-best. Meanwhile,
David Gilliland fought back from having to start in the rear due to
unapproved adjustments and a bad pit stop that put him a lap down. After
getting the Lucky Dog on the third caution (when Casey Mears crashed),
Gilliland avoided the additional wrecks that followed to finish *13th*,
also a season-best. * – Phil Allaway
*STAT OF THE WEEK: 108,500. *According to NASCAR, this number represents
the attendance at Sunday's Aaron's 499. It is a far cry from the high
times, when over 170,000 fans split between the grandstands and infield
would be present. On Sunday, large swaths of the upper level exiting Turn
4 were covered by tarps, and areas uncovered were not full. It's a sad
sight to see.* – **Phil Allaway**
Quotes To Remember: Aaron's 499*
*Audio of Bizarre, full Tony Stewart interview <http://chirb.it/3MK2II>:
Stewart talked with the media tongue-in-cheek after the race about the
current style of restrictor plate racing, the rules package and the
wreckage caused by several late incidents at the track.*
"We just didn't have a great car. It was just between me and Steve
(Letarte, crew chief), we can improve quite a bit. We've got all the tools,
we just really didn't bring the best package here. Good engine. We have all
the tools. It ain't nothing anybody at the shop did. Between me and Steve,
we can do a better job." - *Dale Earnhardt, Jr., finished 9th*
"On the restart, everybody was getting after it. I tried to block, if Denny
(Hamlin) was already there, my apology. Everybody on the Shell/Pennzoil
Dodge and the Penske organization gave us fast racecars. We had a chance to
win. I’m happy the 2 car won.” - *A.J. Allmendinger, finished 15th
*"I would love to know. It's Talladega, you know. Some people call that
exciting. I don't. It sucks. We were staying out of trouble. I hadn't even
used the bumper. We were running a smart race. Somebody runs out of gas,
somebody hit him and threw him right into us. It sucks. It sucks to lose so
many points for the Chase and everything like this. But I guess it's the
racing." - *Juan Pablo Montoya on his lap 142 wreck
"*Man this is just one of the most bizarre years that this DuPont Chevrolet
team and Drive To End Hunger Chevrolet team has ever gone through. I mean
it's almost comical at this point." - *Jeff Gordon on his wreck
*"I guess two guys got crossed up there and just blocked the track. Another
one of those deals. It's fun racing to watch. I enjoy it, but NASCAR has
got us in a terrible box here as far as temperatures and things like that.
You run around in a pack at 260 (degrees), but I love this style racing.
They just have to figure out a way to do it without the engines." - *Kevin
Harvick, finished 25th, on the temperature problems*
“It looked like guys were running out of fuel and going down in there in
turn three the guys in front of me stopped and it was just over. We got
wrecked. This is Talladega. You come here and you just hope you make it
through all that stuff. We have done a really good job the last couple
years. When people run out of fuel like that – I don’t know if they
miscalculated their fuel mileage or if they were stretching it but that was
really tough. I probably should have just pulled out of line and gotten
back when I noted people were running out of fuel.” - *Carl Edwards on his
*TODAY ON THE FRONTSTRETCH:
Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud: Talladega-1 Race
**by Matt McLaughlin**
<http://goog_17826446/>The Big Six: Questions Answered After The
*by Amy Henderson*
**Pace Laps: Nielsen Nightmares, Childress Cringes, And Momentum
*by the Frontstretch Staff*
*Temperatures Rise In Wake of 'Dega
*by Ron Lemasters
**Three Years, One NASCAR Superstar: A Winning
*by Tom Bowles
**Nationwide Series Breakdown: Danica And Sam Go At
by Bryan Davis Keith** <http://www.frontstretch.com/mstallknecht/38649/>**
Q:* The 1988 Gatorade 200 for the Busch Grand National Series was a
relatively tame race won by Harry Gant. In fact, Gant was at one point on
a lap of his own. However, something very unusual happened after the
race. What was it?
*Check back Tuesday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!
Q:* The 1999 Touchstone Energy 300 for the Busch Series at Talladega is
likely best known for its photo finish for the victory between Terry
Labonte and Joe Nemechek (Labonte was declared the winner with a margin of
victory of .002 seconds). However, a number of the contenders were
eliminated shortly after halfway. What happened?
*A:* *Ken Schrader was bumped in the rear by Kelly Denton just past the
start-finish line and turned head-on into the wall. Only Schrader and Jeff
Green from the lead pack were actually involved in the crash, though; the
majority of the crash damage came from the second group that was running a
couple of seconds behind. Much of that pack piled into Turn 1, creating a
virtual roadblock. Over 20 cars were involved, which can be seen in this
clip <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XvJOobr1SOU>. Dr. Jerry Punch, Benny
Parsons and Kyle Petty have the call for ABC.
*Frontstretch Trivia Guarantee: If we mess up, you get the shirt off our
backs!* *If we've provided an incorrect answer to the Frontstretch Trivia
question, be the first to email the corrected trivia answer to **
tri...@frontstretch.com* <tri...@frontstretch.com>* and we'll send you a
Frontstretch T-Shirt ... FREE! *
*Coming Tomorrow in the Frontstretch Newsletter:*
-- *Top News* *from Kevin Rutherford
-- **Sitting In the Stands: A Fan's View **by S.D. Grady***
-- Links to your favorite Frontstretch articles, and more!
*Coming Tomorrow On The Frontstretch:*
*5 Points To Ponder **by Bryan Keith
*Bryan's back with plenty of storylines that will have you thinking hard
about racing this Tuesday.
*Who's Hot / Who's Not in Sprint Cup Presented by StarCoach Race Tours:
Talladega-Darlington Edition* *by Brett Poirier
*With ten races in the books, Brett looks at what trends are developing in
NASCAR's two top series and which drivers are doing great, and who simply
*The Yellow Stripe* *by Danny Peters
*Danny returns with another thoughtful commentary looking ahead to
*Couch Potato Tuesday* *by Phil Allaway
*This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series, along with the
ARCA Racing Series Presented by Menards each competed at Talladega
Superspeedway. Were the race telecasts for these events up to snuff? Find
out in this week's edition of the TV Critique.
*Tech Talk **by Mike Neff*
We'll have a special guest stop by on a weekly basis to discuss the
technical aspects of our sport.
*Talk back to the Frontstretch Newsletter!
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