May 9, 2009

Gordon extends top-five streak

Jeff Gordon extended his top-five streak to six consecutive races, although he overcame long odds en route.

Our View: Gordon was forced to pit on lap 101 when he felt a vibration in his wheel. After that, he circled the track a lap off the pace for more than 110 circuits before getting NASCAR's "Free Pass." He stormed to the front as soon as he was back with the leaders and eventually finished fourth.

Darlington's rapid rookies

Rookies are not supposed to run strong at Darlington and everyone waited for Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano to stumble in the Southern 500. When the checkers waved, however, both of them were in the top 10. Keselowski finished seventh and Logano was ninth.

Our View: It's time to be cautiously optimistic about starting the rookies, especially now that we are closing in on the second half of the season.

Southern 500 Results

Hendrick Motorsports dominated the top five. In addition to Mark Martin winning the race, Jimmie Johnson finishing second and Jeff Gordon in fifth, their engines were in the Stewart-Haas cars raced by Tony Stewart in third and Ryan Newman in fifth. Another HMS driver, Brad Keselowski finished seventh.


FinishStartDriverLapsLaps LedStatusAvg. Fin at track
112Mark Martin36746Running12.00
242Jimmie Johnson3672Running6.91
318Tony Stewart3671Running11.94
43Ryan Newman36748Running12.45
52Jeff Gordon3676Running11.28
616Martin Truex Jr36761Running11.25
731Brad Keselowski367
811Greg Biffle367117Running14.00
95Joey Logano36719Running
101Matt Kenseth36716Running18.00
1124Kevin Harvick367
126Jeff Burton367
1323Denny Hamlin367
1419Elliott Sadler3672Running18.65
1540Paul Menard367
168Kurt Busch367
1738A J Allmendinger367
1827Bobby Labonte3672Running15.24
1941Reed Sorenson367
2025Juan Montoya367
2129Regan Smith367
2220Jamie McMurray367
237Kasey Kahne36645Running15.29
2434David Stremme366
2539Tony Raines364
2632Scott Speed *362
2726Dale Earnhardt Jr360
2828Robby Gordon353
2921David Reutimann347
304Sam Hornish Jr344
3135Brian Vickers333
329Carl Edwards314
3310Marcos Ambrose312
3414Kyle Busch3032Running20.40
3522Max Papis302
3613Casey Mears238
3717Clint Bowyer221
3815David Ragan199
3937Scott Riggs101
4036Michael Waltrip73
4133Dave Blaney56
4243Sterling Marlin38
4330David Gilliland27
Fuel Pump31.00
Jeremy Mayfield0
Did Not Qualify19.91
Scott Speed *0
Did Not Qualify

32Joe Nemechek0
Did Not Start24.38

* Speed failed to qualify, and then worked out a deal to race Joe Nemechek's car, so he's listed twice in this week's results.

Stewart-Haas sweep top five again

Stewart-Haas Racing placed both Tony Stewart and Ryan Newman in the top five for the second straight week. Tony Stewart finished third and Ryan Newman was fourth.

Our View: Last week, Stewart was second at Richmond and Newman was fourth. These two tracks could not be any more dissimilar, and that underscores just how strong Stewart-Haas is this year. It's only a matter of time until they win, so fantasy owners should treat them both as place-and-hold drivers.

Hendrick dominates Darlington

Hendrick Motorsports dominated Darlington. In addition to Mark Martin's victory in the Southern 500, Jimmie Johnson finished second, Jeff Gordon was fifth and rookie Brad Keselowski was seventh. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was running in the top 10 until he hit the wall late in the race.

Our View: There are horses for courses and HMS is one of the best values on nearly any track, and a rough-surface track brings the cream to the top.

Martin wins Southern 500

The "Old Man" did it again. Mark Martin stayed out during a lap 319 caution flag and held the field at bay on old tires and very little fuel to win his second race of 2009.

Our View: Rick Hendrick lured him into the No. 5 with promises that he could win and challenge for the championship. Looks like he was right.

IRL: Castroneves on Indy pole

Helio Castroneves held on to win the pole for the Indy 500, with an average speed of 224.864 mph during four laps.

Our View: A 500 mile race is a long event, but there is no more prestige for any other pole in American racing.

Mayfield suspended

Jeremy Mayfield has been indefinitely suspended for violations of NASCAR's substance abuse policy.

Our View: NASCAR has said the team may continue to operate, but someone else will have to head up the operation. Mayfield failed to qualify for the Southern 500.

Gordon scheduled for work on his back

Jeff Gordon will have some work done on his back in between the All-Star race and the Coke 600, according to Dustin Long.

Our View: "(The treatment) is nothing invasive," Gordon told Long. "It's just some injections that are going to do deal with the pain. They say it's sort of like an arthritis and it's excessive because of some of the trauma that my back has gone through, maybe through some wrecks or something. So that's what we're going to do. That's the plan.'' If this increases his comfort, Gordon will be even stronger on race day.

Pit stall selections has published the pit stall selection for the Southern 500.

Our View: As expected, pole sitter Matt Kenseth took the pit closest to pit exit. Jeff Gordon selected the final pit in the front group, with an opening behind him. Ryan Newman, Joey Logano and Marcos Ambrose are the remaining drivers with an opening in front of them.

IRL: Castroneves takes pole from Briscoe

With a speed of an average 224.864 mph, Helio Castroneves has taken the provisional pole from Ryan Briscoe.

Our View: You have to love the four-lap qualification procedures for the Indy 500. That means a driver has to make four perfect laps.

IRL: Philippe crashes

Add Nelson Philippe to the list of drivers who have crashed at Indy. He destroyed his primary car.

Our View: Philippe does not have a backup at the track today, so he will not get a chance to qualify in the top third of the field.

Speed to replace Nemechek

Scott Speed will replace Joe Nemechek in the No. 87 car, which will allow him to start the Southern 500 after failing to qualify on Friday, according to a Tweet from Dustin Long.

Our View: Part of Nemechek's stable of cars are some on Red Bull Racing Toyotas, so Speed should be right at home.

IRL: Wheldon crashes in Indy practice

Dan Wheldon crashed coming off turn two during practice for the Indy 500.

Our View: There appears to be major suspension damage at the back of the car, so this will certainly cause the team to roll out their backup. This is the second damaged car for Panther Racing after Scott Sharp crashed on Friday.

Diamond Hill Plywood 200 Results

Kyle Busch dominated the Diamond Hill Plywood 200, but he was denied the victory in the closing laps because of a cut tire from debris from a Scott Lagasse Jr. / Joe Nemechek crash late in the event. The accident occurred with two laps remaining.

Matt Kenseth was chasing him down at the time, however, and they would have had a heck of a battle.

FinishStartDriverLapsLaps LedStatus
16Matt Kenseth1534Running
27Jason Leffler153
33Carl Edwards1535Running
45Erik Darnell153
516Justin Allgaier153
62Ryan Newman153
719Mike Bliss153
89Jeff Burton153
931Scott Wimmer153
1010Brian Vickers153
118Brad Keselowski153
124Joey Logano153
1324Scott Speed153
1414Steve Wallace153
1511Jason Keller153
161Kyle Busch153143Running
1723Patrick Carpentier153
1817Kenny Wallace153
1915Brendan Gaughan152
2021Brian Scott152
2118Tony Raines1521Running
2213Scott Lagasse Jr152
2332Jeff Green151
2429Brian Keselowski151
2530Brandon Whitt150
2625Kevin Hamlin150
2728Danny O'Quinn Jr150
2827Eric McClure149
2920Michael Annett149
3026Jeff Fuller148
3133Morgan Shepherd148
3222Joe Nemechek142
3312Michael McDowell140
3435John Wes Townley117
3537Kevin Lepage57
3636Kenny Hendrick54
3743Mike Harmon36
3838Travis Kittleson19
3940Mark Green17
4039Kertus Davis15
4141Terry Cook13
4242Johnny Chapman12
4334Casey Atwood11

IRL: Wilson's time disallowed

Justin Wilson's first qualification attempt was disallowed because he had weight or ballast in an unapproved position. Speculation is that the team failed to accurately gauge how his body weight would affect IndyCar's allowable balance.

Our View: This counts as one of Wilson's three attempts on pole day, but he still has two chances to lock his team in the race in the front third of the field.

Southern 500 Starting Grid

Starting position is critical to running well at Darlington and a race has been won from the front row there 33 percent of the time. Matt Kenseth blistered the asphalt with a new track record, but the biggest news is that he bettered his average start by more than 20 positions.

Jeff Gordon has the best average start among Saturday's starters with a 6.76, and he padded that with his outside pole run.

Starting Grid

StartDriverAvg. Start at Track
1Matt Kenseth21.38
2Jeff Gordon6.76
3Ryan Newman9.00
4Sam Hornish Jr13.50
5Joey Logano
6Jeff Burton21.30
7Kasey Kahne10.00
8Kurt Busch11.23
9Carl Edwards15.00
10Marcos Ambrose
11Greg Biffle8.22
12Mark Martin13.07
13Casey Mears19.56
14Kyle Busch18.20
15David Ragan18.00
16Martin Truex Jr25.50
17Clint Bowyer14.75
18Tony Stewart17.18
19Elliott Sadler11.41
20Jamie McMurray16.00
21David Reutimann21.67
22Max Papis
23Denny Hamlin14.00
24Kevin Harvick16.23
25Juan Montoya28.33
26Dale Earnhardt Jr15.87
27Bobby Labonte15.69
28Robby Gordon30.86
29Regan Smith22.50
30David Gilliland33.67
31Brad Keselowski
32Joe Nemechek25.48
33Dave Blaney22.54
34David Stremme22.67
35Brian Vickers20.86
36Michael Waltrip23.19
37Scott Riggs23.50
38A J Allmendinger28.00
39Tony Raines38.00
40Paul Menard34.67
41Reed Sorenson28.00
42Jimmie Johnson12.00
43Sterling Marlin15.74