Sunday, March 6, 2011

Sprint Cup 2011: Race 3 -- Carl Edwards goes head over heels in Vegas

The third race of the 2011 season in Las Vegas lived up to a big show extravaganza as Ford’s fortune in qualifying played out to victory, four out of five in their last five races going back to the end of last season. Carl Edwards in his #99 car owns three of those victories holding off the new points leader, Tony Stewart to win the race. It was also a fortunate day for Australian, Marcos Ambrose who converted his outside pole position to a 4th place finish.

The cruel irony of the race saw last week’s winner, Jeff Gordon, blow a tire and crashed in turn four on lap 194. Earlier, bad luck befell the Busch brothers who had been 1, 2 in the points. Kyle Busch who had tire trouble on lap 96 causing a caution left the race on lap 108 when his engine exploded. Brother Kurt Busch brought out the 4th caution on lap 102 tangling with Kasey Kahne. The results: Kyle Busch finished 38th, Jeff Gordon finished 36th, but Kurt Busch recovered to finish 9th.

Here are the top finishers:

1- Carl Edwards (#99), Ford
2- Tony Stewart (#14), Chevrolet
3- Juan Montoya (#42), Chevrolet
4- Marcos Ambrose (#9), Ford
5- Ryan Newman (#39), Chevrolet
6- Martin Truex, Jr. (#56), Toyota
7- Denny Hamlin (#11), Toyota
8- Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88), Chevrolet
9- Kurt Busch (#22), Dodge
10- Brian Vickers (#83), Toyota
11- Matt Kenseth (#17), Ford
12- Paul Menard (#27), Ford
13- David Reutimann (#00), Toyota
14- Kasey Kahne (#4), Toyota
15- Clint Bowyer (#44), Chevrolet

Three cheers for Junior nation, they can finally celebrate Dale Junior’s accomplishment not another race that got away.

The Points Standings shake up as follows:

1- Tony Stewart, Chevrolet (113 pts.)
2- Kurt Busch, Dodge (113 pts.)
3- Carl Edwards, Ford, (106 pts.)
4- Juan Montoya, Chevrolet (106 pts.)
5- Ryan Newman, Chevrolet (103 pts.)
6- Paul Menard, Chevrolet (96 pts.)
7- Martin Truex, Jr., Toyota (95 pts.)
8- Denny Hamlin, Toyota (95 pts.)
9- A.J. Allmendinger, Ford (94 pts.)
10- Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Chevrolet (91 pts.)
11- Mark Martin, Chevrolet (91 pts.)
12- Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet (87 pts.)
13- Kasey Kahne, Toyota (87 pts.)
14- Kyle Busch, Toyota (86 pts.)
15- Bobby Labonte, Toyota (84 pts.)

Today’s race helped the fortunes of Matt Kenseth who gained 7 positions in the standings to 16th (77 pts.) and Marcos Ambrose to 17th place (76 pts.) gaining 10 positions. The big losers, as noted Kyle Busch fell back to 13th from 1st. Jeff Gordon dropped 14 positions winding up in 19th. David Gilliland plunged 11 positions to 21st (70 pts.)

Four drivers continued to disgrace their sport and dishonor their fellow competitors quitting the race with no attempt to compete at all pulling off the track sucking up their NASCAR welfare payments. We revile their presence in the starting lineup. All were gone by 45 laps, J.J. Yeley, Michael McDowell, Joe Nemechek, and Landon Cassill. The offending owners are for the #60, Landon Cassill, Germain Racing, Mike Hillman; Joe Nemechek #87 is his own family owned operation; J.J. Yeley in car #46 is the responsibility of Dusty Whitney, and #66 Michael McDowell running for the sham operation now called HP racing with SpeedTV commentator, Phil Parsons and Randy Humphrey supporting their disgrace on the track.


The Sprint Cup tour will take next week off to fill out their March Madness brackets to participate in what could surely be NASCAR’s version of March Madness at the great wrecking bowl in Bristol, Tennessee, a race that will surely shake up the standings and help determine which teams will be locked into the top 35 to be decided after the 5th race in Fontana, California.

A couple quick notes on Saturday’s Nationwide race, first congratulations to Mark Martin who adds to his record total wins in the series with Kyle Busch in hot pursuit. Additionally, race four found Danica Patrick finishing 4th landing her 4th in the standings. It looks like NASCAR’s first lady is getting accustomed to close quarter racing becoming the gutsy competitor she has proven to be in the IRL series. Her presence at the track will be sorely missed when she leaves to compete for the full Indy league competition which starts March 27th the week after Bristol. She’ll compete in Chicago, Montreal, and the 2nd Richmond race before closing the season in Kansas then the final three races. By then, race fans will know her plans for 2012 – perhaps full time in Nationwide and her debut in Sprint Cup??

Patrick’s #4 finish was the highest finish for any female driver in any of NASCAR’s top three touring series. She’s quickly eclipsed Shawna Robinson who had one Busch cup poll and one top ten finish in the 1990’s. Patty Moise, a contemporary of Robinson’s raced to 4 Busch top 10’s. With Jennifer Jo Cobb now competing in the Nationwide series and continuing selected truck dates along with Johanna Long in the truck series as Chrissy Wallace looks to find a ride, the roll of women competitors in NASCAR looks bright.

Now when will a driver come along to advance Wendell Scott’s legacy?


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