What a busy weekend! There was racing all over the place, with all three of NASCAR’s top series at Dover’s “Monster Mile,” the IRL and Grand-Am at historic Watkins Glen, Champ Cars at even more history Milwaukee (racing since 1903), the World Rally Championship in Greece for the Acropolis Rally, the Le Mans Series cars (both American and European) at Le Mans for the annual test day in advance of the 24-hour race and the SCORE cars, trucks and buggies in Baja California for the Baja 500. Other than that, though, not much was going on. Here, in a nutshell or two, are the results:
NASCAR: Kenseth Tames the Monster
Matt Kenseth grabbed his first Nextel Cup win on the “Monster Mile” at Dover International Speedway on Sunday, blowing past Roush Racing teammate Jamie McMurray, who was on track for his second career win, with three laps to go.
McMurray took the lead on Lap 302 of 400 by choosing not to pit for tires when the leaders did and led almost all the rest of the way. When everybody pitted on Lap 291, he took only tires and maintained the lead, but paid the price in the closing laps as Kevin Harvick and Kenseth chased him down. Kenseth got past to take his second win of the season, but Harvick was unable to pass and had to settle for third. Harvick’s teammate Jeff Burton, who won Saturday’s Busch Series race, finished fourth ahead of Kyle Busch. Jimmie Johnson, Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. completed the top 10.
Johnson’s performance was one of the weekend’s big stories. He spun in qualifying, relegating him to 41st on the grid. He got a lap down early, fell a second lap down after a spin induced by a bump with David Stremme, but fought back with smart strategy and chassis adjustments to finish sixth.
The other big story was Tony Stewart, who broke his right scapula at Charlotte last weekend. The Joe Gibbs Racing team called in semi-retired vet Ricky Rudd as a replacement driver, and he qualified the car 10th. Stewart started the car from the back of the grid, and Rudd took over on the first caution period at Lap 37. Rudd struggled with the car and finished 25th, two laps down, but kept Stewart in the top five in the points.
The series heads to that unique 2.5-mile triangle known as Pocono Raceway next weekend.
NASCAR Nextel Cup Top Five:
1) Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Racing Ford Fusion, 400 laps
2) Jamie McMurray, No. 26 Roush Racing Ford Fusion, 400 laps
3) Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 400 laps
4) Jeff Burton, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 400 laps
5) Kyle Busch, No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 400 laps
Driver’s Championship: 1) Jimmie Johnson, 2011; 2) Matt Kenseth, 1937; 3) Mark Martin, 1795; 4) Dale Earnhardt Jr., 1729; 5) Tony Stewart, 1718.
NASCAR Busch Series: Burton Victorious at Dover
Jeff Burton picked up his second Busch Series win of the year at Dover International Speedway on Saturday, charging from 36th on the grid for the biggest come-from-behind win in series history at the “Monster Mile.” He took the checkered flag ahead of Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch.
The improbable key to Burton’s victory was the decision to stay out on old tires when the race’s final caution flew with 49 of 200 laps remaining. On the restart, Burton was second behind Busch (on new tires) and ahead of Edwards (also on new tires). Burton had to hold off Edwards while trying to get past Busch.
Burton managed to take the lead on Lap 182, and Edwards followed him past Busch to claim second. Edwards, who led the most laps in the race, chased Burton to the flag in a great duel while Busch hung on for third, leaving all three top finishers smiling and raving about how much fun they had. Clint Bowyer and Ron Hornaday finished fourth and fifth, while Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin, Greg Biffle, J.J. Yeley and Reed Sorenson rounded out the top 10.
The series will have a stand-alone event at Nashville Superspeedway next weekend.
NASCAR Busch Series Top Five:
1) Jeff Burton, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 200 laps
2) Carl Edwards, No. 60 Roush Racing Ford Fusion, 200 laps
3) Kurt Busch, No. 39 Penske Racing South Dodge Charger, 200 laps
4) Clint Bowyer, No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 200 laps
5) Ron Hornaday, No. 33 Kevin Harvick Inc. Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 200 laps
Driver’s Championship: 1) Kevin Harvick, 2221; 2) Carl Edwards, 1924; 2) Clint Bowyer, 1818; 3) Denny Hamlin, 1793; 5) Kyle Busch, 1744.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series: Martin Gets Over at Dover
Mark Martin won his third Craftsman Truck Series race in six attempts thus far this season on Friday at Dover International Speedway, winning by three seconds over his Roush Racing teammate Carl Edwards.
Martin battled with Kyle Busch throughout the first half of the 200-lap race, with Busch seeming to have the upper hand, leading more than half of the first 100 laps. However Busch was called to the pits with a loose hood pin, dropping him to 10th and handing Martin the lead. Edwards, driving in his first Truck race since 2004, had to fight his way back from 15th to second at the end after a late-race pit stop for fuel dropped him back in the pack.
Points leader Todd Bodine finished third, ahead of Mike Bliss and polesitter David Reutimann. Johnny Benson, Ron Hornaday, Rick Crawford, Jack Sprague and Busch completed the top 10.
The series will join the Indy Racing League for some high-speed fun at Texas Motor Speedway next weekend.
NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series Top Five:
1) Mark Martin, No. 6 Roush Racing Ford F-150, 200 laps
2) Carl Edwards, No. 50 Roush Racing Ford F-150, 200 laps
3) Todd Bodine, No. 60 Germain Racing Toyota Tundra, 200 laps
4) Mike Bliss, No. 16 Xpress Racing Chevrolet Silverado, 200 laps
5) David Reutimann, No. 17 Darrell Waltrip Motorsports Toyota Tundra, 200 laps
Driver’s Championship: 1) Todd Bodine, 1305; 2) Ted Musgrave, 1229; 3) David Reutimann, 1194; 4) Johnny Benson, 1098; 5) David Starr, 1078.
IRL: Dixon Repeats at Watkins Glen
Scott Dixon played his cards right at a wet and cold Watkins Glen International on Sunday afternoon, avoiding trouble on the track and making smart choices on tires as conditions changed throughout the race, to claim his first victory of the year and his second straight at the historic road racing facility in upstate New York.
While race favorites encountered all manner of difficulties, creating an unusual-looking top-five finishing order, Dixon’s Chip Ganassi Racing crew made all the right decisions to put their man in position to win the race, 2.3311sec ahead of Panther Racing’s Vitor Meira, who finished second for the fifth time in his career and gave the struggling Panther outfit a solid shot in the arm. Finishing third was former Ganassi driver Ryan Briscoe, standing in for Buddy Lazier in the Dreyer & Reinbold entry. Briscoe’s finish was the team’s best result since Sarah Fisher’s fourth-place finish at Nazareth Speedway in 2002.