Saturday, June 6, 2009

Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson both find success at Dover International Speedway.

As I sit here watching the start of the NASCAR Nationwide Series race from Nashville, I just wanted to put a period on last weekend at Dover International Speedway for what made to be an interesting weekend that yet yielded some unique results. Dover is a 1 mile concrete racetrack on the NASCAR schedule that is anything but a walk in the park for the drivers and teams that race on it, this high-banked track normally shows some good side-by-side racing race in and race out and this past weekend was no different.

Wouldn’t you know it, controversy at the end of the Dover 200 for the Nationwide Series, anyone shocked? Already up ‘til the final restart, this race just wasn’t all that entertaining, Kyle Busch was leading, but in a few Nationwide Series races have gone this season, there was a crash and that prompted a restart.

On the restart, Kyle Busch was leading with Joey Logano in second and Brad Keselowski in third, Busch went down into turn 1, however Busch had a right front tire going flat, but didn’t say anything, went down into turn 1 with Logano on his rear bumper, following his line into the corner, Busch’s tire went down, he slowed and Logano hit him in the back bumper, which put Logano in the middle of the track and then Brad Keselowski went underneath Logano, took the lead and never looked back to capture his 3rd career victory (all Brad’s victories have come on concrete racetracks i.e. Nashville, Bristol and Dover.

The controversy was people though that Joey Logano wrecked Kyle Busch, no way, he didn’t and he has nothing to kick himself for, Logano went for the lead, Busch had a flap, Logano got into Busch which allowed Brad to go under and win the race, no damage done here and Kyle Busch made another mistake.

I always seem to love to hear what drivers have to say after the race regardless of if they won the race or not (of course if your waiting on Kyle Busch, unless he wins or finishes 2nd or 3rd, no dice there), so check out the Victory Interview with Brad Keselowski from NASCAR Nationwide Series at Dover International Speedway by Nationwide.com.

For the third consecutive Nationwide Series Race, Kyle Busch led the most laps but didn’t win—with the nightmarish ending happening this time on the Monster Mile in Dover, Delaware. With two laps to go in the Heluva Good 200, Busch was on the point followed by teammate Joey Logano. Between Busch’s 108 and Logano’s 87, the Joe Gibb’s duo led 195 laps. But on the re-start with the checkered flag about to fly, Busch had a problem. It could have been a flat tire, probably, or contact from Logano—maybe—Kyle stormed away without telling. Whatever the case, Brad Keselowski went from third to first and then on to victory lane.

Keselowski: I saw the 18 slow down and 20 making an evasive maneuver and I just saw a hole. Went for the hole and didn’t lift and got very fortunate that it didn’t turn into a lot of cars wrecked in the first corner and it’s just the way it goes. I didn’t know that was going to happen and I was there and ready for it and that’s really all that you can do and it worked out.
It didn’t however work out for Logano and he wasn’t sure what actually transpired between him and Busch.

Logano: He actually spun his tires on the re-start and that’s what allowed me to have a good start and get right up on him but as far as the right front down or anything like that , I don’t know, I can’t really tell you. I thought by the time I got off of him we were going slow enough that he should have been able to make the turn. But I’m not in his racecar and I don’t know exactly what happened.

Winding up third a somewhat unhappy Clint Bowyer.

Bowyer: He’s good, he just got way to loose there that last set of tires but we were good that last run or the next to last run just wasn’t our day.

Coming home fourth it was Brian Vickers who got into a heated battle for that position in the closing stages with Carl Edwards.

Vickers: I really had to earn that one. Carl did a great job putting the pressure on there the last 20, 30 laps especially right there at the very end. We were side by side there at the finish but he raced me hard and clean and I had a lot of fun.

Edwards: That was fun, I was working on him for I don’t know 25, 30 laps and there at the end we were side by side going down to turn three. My car had been hitting those bumps and I thought, man, Kyle just went behind us and all I could think of was points but then I thought, man, I got to race Brian so we went through that corner side by side. It was a pretty wild race. I just have to thank him for racing me so clean. That was fun.

Sixth across the stripe was Paul Menard with Scott Speed seventh then it was Jason Leffler, Jason Keller and Justin Allgaier rounding out the top 10. Eleven to 15: Michael McDowell, Brendan Gaughan, Kevin Harvick, Mike Bliss and Bobby Hamilton Jr. Kyle Busch limped in 17th. His lead in the Nationwide Series Championship standings cut to just 40 points over Carl Edwards. Jason Leffler is third minus 153. Brad Keselowski now has a Nationwide win to go along with his upset in the Talladega Cup race and in those two victories, he’s led a grand total of just three laps.

Keselowski: That’s awesome, I like that stat. It’s not how many you lead; it’s the ones that you lead. I race very differently than most other drivers around me and sometimes that makes them mad and sometimes that just works. You know, I work the race to where I’m in position on the last run to win and the rest of the race to me is just running laps. It’s just staying on the lead lap, gradually gaining position, keeping your car in one piece and I think that’s probably the anti-Christ to the way Kyle races. And I know that probably makes him madder than hell. But it works.

Yes it does. – The victory interview was from Nationwide.com

What about the Autism Speaks 400 last Sunday at Dover, what a race. I love watching the Cup Series races from Dover especially since NASCAR introduced this new COT racecar, yes I like the Cot on racetracks like Dover, New Hampshire, Phoenix, Bristol, but not on tracks like California, Las Vegas, but it will be a question mark on Michigan, need another viewing.

Anyway, the Autism Speaks 400 was all about rebounding, Jimmie Johnson made a 4-tire pit stop late in the race, restart around 10th and drive all the way up through the traffic to win the race and he did just that. That race had to be one the best late race battle’s I’ve seen since for example Dover last fall with Biffle vs. Kenseth vs. Edwards, however this time it was Johnson vs. Stewart vs. Biffle vs. Kurt Busch and what a race it was. I have to say, as a Tony Stewart fan I wanted to see smoke win that race and pickup his first career Cup Series (points) victory as a driver/owner, that would have been an amazing thing, but Smoke just wasn’t the best car out there, Jimmie Johnson was when he drove from that far abck passing car after car on the bottom, the middle and the top.

When Johnson got to around five to go, I know Stewart was in trouble because Johnson was right there on this bumper, Johnson tried high, he tried low, but that run off the corner on the highside made all the difference and once Johnson got past, it was basically over for everyone else as Jimmie Johnson would win the Autism Speaks 400 at Dover.

Unique way of looking at it, now what double-file restarts at Pocono tomorrow afternoon?

"No. 48 Jimmie Johnson takes the checkered flag ahead of No. 14 Tony Stewart in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Autism Speaks 400 Presented by Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips and Cheese on Sunday at Dover International Speedway. (Photo Credit: Nick Laham/Getty Images)"