It was another busy midsummer weekend for racing fans. NASCAR’s Nextel Cup series made its second visit to the triangular Pocono Raceway in six weeks, with similar results, while the Busch Series made its first visit to Martinsville Speedway in 12 years. Both American open-wheel series were in action, with the IRL at the historic Milwaukee Mile while Champ Car made its second visit to the excellent temporary circuit at Edmonton, and the ALMS and NHRA visited the Northwest, with the sports cars at Portland and the drag racers at Seattle. Here are your coast-to-coast results:
NASCAR: Hamlin Repeats at Pocono
Rookie Denny Hamlin is probably thinking about buying a house in Pennsylvania right about now, because he is the new King of Pocono. The youngster repeated his June win, which was his first official series win after shocking the paddock with a victory in the Budweiser Shootout at Daytona in February, on Sunday in overwhelming fashion.
Hamlin was fastest in Friday practice, qualified on pole and, after all Saturday practice was rained out, put an old-fashioned butt-whuppin’ on the field on Sunday, leading 151 of the 200 laps around the unique triangular 2.5-mile superspeedway. Kurt Busch, who won this race last year for Roush Racing, finished second today for Penske Racing South, ahead of Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Brian Vickers, with Kevin Harvick finishing fifth. Points leader Jimmie Johnson, defending champ Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Jeff Burton and Martin Truex Jr. completed the top 10.
The top four in points remained in the same order, with Harvick moving up three places to fifth with six races remaining before the Chase for the Championship begins. Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, Hamlin, Gordon and Stewart fill out the top 10 spots, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. (who finished 43rd Sunday for the second race in a row) and Greg Biffle on the outside looking in.
The series gets a rare weekend off next week before getting back to action at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway for the Brickyard 400.
NASCAR Nextel Cup Top Five:
1) Denny Hamlin, No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 200 laps
2) Kurt Busch, No. 2 Penske Racing South Dodge Charger, 200 laps
3) Jeff Gordon, No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 200 laps
4) Brian Vickers, No. 25 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 200 laps
5) Kevin Harvick, No. 29 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 200 laps
Driver’s Championship: 1) Jimmie Johnson, 2939; 2) Matt Kenseth, 2842; 3) Jeff Burton, 2621; 4) Kyle Busch, 2582; 5) Kevin Harvick, 2563.
NASCAR Busch Series: Harvick Dominates at Martinsville
The Busch Series made its first visit to the paperclip-like Martinsville Speedway since 1994 on Saturday, and Kevin Harvick scored his series-leading fourth win of the season in dominating fashion.
Harvick, who has a massive 348-point lead in the championship, led 149 of the 250 laps and was never seriously challenged for the lead. It was Harvick’s 21st career Busch Series win, tying him for seventh place on the all-time series wins list with Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Harry Gant. Mark Martin is the all-time leader with 47 victories.
Harvick was followed home by his Richard Childress Racing teammate Clint Bowyer, with Denny Hamlin, Reed Sorenson and Johnny Sauter completing the top five. Hamlin and Sorenson had to come from the back of the grid since they did not arrive from Pocono in time for qualifying and had their cars qualified by back-up drivers. Points runner-up Carl Edwards, John Andretti, Jason Leffler, J.J. Yeley and Jay Sauter filled out the top 10.
Harvick got plenty of chances to practice his restarts, since the race was slowed by a record 19 cautions, none of which resulted in serious damage.
The series will be the only one of NASCAR’s top three series in action next weekend as they travel to St. Louis’ Gateway International Raceway before joining up with the Nextel Cup and Craftsman Truck series in Indianapolis in two weeks.
NASCAR Busch Series Top Five:
1) Kevin Harvick, No. 21 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 250 laps
2) Clint Bowyer, No. 2 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 250 laps
3) Denny Hamlin, No. 20 Joe Gibbs Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 250 laps
4) Reed Sorenson, No. 41 Chip Ganassi Racing Dodge Charger, 250 laps
5) Johnny Sauter, No. 00 Haas/CNC Racing Chevrolet Monte Carlo SS, 250 laps
Driver’s Championship: 1) Kevin Harvick, 3282; 2) Carl Edwards, 2934; 3) Clint Bowyer, 2880; 4) Denny Hamlin, 2832; 5) J.J. Yeley, 2774.