Another busy weekend for race fans, with NASCAR rocking the house with all three divisions at the wonderful Bristol Motor Speedway bullring, IRL on the road course at Infineon for the first time, Champ Car in Montreal along with Trans-Am and Toyota Atlantic, Grand-Am at Mid-Ohio and the World Rally Championship in Germany.
School’s back in session, so everyone take your seats and enjoy the following recap:
NASCAR: Kenseth Does
The other NASCAR Nextel Cup competitors at Bristol Motor Speedway should have had an inkling of what was in store for them in Friday’s qualifying, when Matt Kenseth took the pole.
The 2003 series champ is a notoriously bad qualifier, and this was only the second pole of his career. As far as his competitors were concerned, the writing was on the wall.
Kenseth backed up his qualifying performance with a dominating victory at the high-banked half-mile Saturday night, leading 415 of the 500 laps to claim his first victory since March 7, 2004 and move himself up four positions to 11th in the championship standings, just nine points out of the top 10 that will clinch a spot in the 10-race “Chase for the Cup.”
It was a night for rebounders, as Jeff Burton finished second, ahead of Greg Biffle and Ricky Rudd. Rusty Wallace, who received a special tribute from the track and the fans during the pre-race ceremonies, finished fifth in his final appearance at
Jeff Gordon, Mike Bliss, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch completed the top 10.
The series for the left coast next week, the sunny
NASCAR Nextel Cup Top Five:
1) Matt Kenseth, No. 17 Roush Racing Ford Taurus, 500 laps
2) Jeff Burton, No. 31 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 500 laps
3) Greg Biffle, No. 16 Roush Racing Ford Taurus, 500 laps
4) Ricky Rudd, No. 21 Wood Brothers Racing Ford Taurus, 500 laps
5) Rusty Wallace, No. 2 Penske Racing South Dodge Charger, 500 laps
Driver’s Championship: 1) Tony Stewart, 3410; 2) Jimmie Johnson, 3197; 3) Greg Biffle, 3186; 4) Rusty Wallace, 3139; 5) Mark Martin, 3014.
NASCAR Busch Series: Newman Again at
Ryan Newman is tearing a late-season swath through the NASCAR Busch Series, winning his third consecutive race Friday night under the lights at the always-tough Bristol Motor Speedway. In light of the fact that he’s only entered four Busch Series races this year, that’s a pretty stout batting average.
Two lengthy rain delays, 12 cautions and a green-white-checker finish only served to add to his competitors’ misery, as Newman led almost every lap from 139 on. He held off a number of challenges from Kasey Kahne, who wound up spinning himself out while trying a low-side pass on Newman with 30 laps remaining. Kahne’s challenge was then taken up by Greg Biffle, who was thwarted in a passing attempt 13 laps later by a timely (for Newman) caution. One last caution set up the overtime finish, and Newman was masterful on his restarts all night, holding off the competition to take the checkered flag.
Biffle wound up second, followed by Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Johnny Sauter. Defending series champ and current points leader Martin Truex Jr. finished sixth, with Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jamie McMurray, Tony Raines and Bobby Labonte filling out the top 10.
Newman became the first driver to score a Busch Series hat trick since Earnhardt Jr. in 1999, and if he wins one more he will tie Sam Ard’s four-in-a-row record set in 1983.
Pror to the race, rookie phenom Reed Sorenson’s crew chief Brian Pattie and a crewman were ejected from the facility when NASCAR officials discovered the crewman putting an unauthorized substance on Sorenson’s tires prior to qualifying. Sorenson wasn’t allowed to qualify, and started the race last. Look for a a very stiff penalty later this week.
The series will accompany the Nextel Cup to the west coast next weekend for an appearance at California Speedway.
NASCAR Busch Series Top Five:
1) Ryan Newman, No. 39 Penske Racing South Dodge Charger, 252 laps
2) Greg Biffle, No. 66 Brewco Motorsports Ford Taurus, 252 laps
3) Kevin Harvick, No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 252 laps
4) Clint Bowyer, No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo, 252 laps
5) Johnny Sauter, No. 1 Dodge Charger, 252 laps
Driver’s Championship: 1) Martin Truex Jr., 3756; 2) Clint Bowyer, 3562; 3) Reed Sorenson, 3412; 4) Carl Edwards, 3331; 5) Denny Hamlin, 3182.
Craftsman Truck Series: Skinner Gets Monkey Off Back in
Two-time (1995-96) NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series champion Mike Skinner returned to the truck series in 2004 after after seven frustrating years in the Nextel (nee Winston) Cup Series, and suffered even more frustration.
On Wednesday night at Bristol Motor Speedway, Sprague won his first race since returning to the series in the best possible way, stomping the competition in a dominant performance that saw him lead all but 10 laps to score his first victory in the series since 1996.
Sprague was able to hold off a late challenge by Todd Bodine, who finished second. Jack Sprague, Johnny Benson and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five, with Ted Musgrave, Jimmy Spencer, David Starr, Mike Wallace and Ken Schrader completed the top 10.