June 13, 2009

N'Wide: Two, two, two? for Busch

In two races this weekend, Kyle Busch finished second in both. How interesting would it be for him to finish second in Sunday's Cup LifeLock 400.

Our View: NASCAR is filled with symmetrical finishes just like that, but Busch's crew is going to have to find something overnight. In terms of average speed during long runs in the combined practice sessions at Michigan, the No. 18 was only 12th quickest with a speed of 183.370 during 74 laps.

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N'Wide: Perfection for Logano at Kentucky

Perfection is an overused word in auto racing, but it fits tonight. Joey Logano won back-to-back races from the pole at Kentucky Speedway. He became the first repeat driver in both of those statistics.

Our View: Kyle Busch led the most laps, but you had the sense that Logano was biding his time. Busch certainly thought so and credited his teammate with having the best car.

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Burton on crate engines


“It’s a double-edged sword because on the surface a crate engine thing sounds like a great idea, but at the same time there is a lot of resources that are channeled through Hendrick Motorsports, through RCR, through Roush that make our companies that make our companies more stable and enable us to make the investments necessary to be here.

"So on the surface of it the crate thing for a lower budget Nationwide team the crate engine thing makes a lot of sense. For the Nationwide teams that are winning races, I don’t think it makes a lot of sense. I think in some ways it lessens a team’s ability to serve the sport.

"If you go to a crate motor it takes away and there are a lot of people that are employed today that would not be employed. You know every time we start talking about saving money we are talking about people. That’s what it ends up being. We have to be careful because it’s a double-edged sword.

"I’ll tell you that if I owned a Nationwide team and somebody said your engine bill is going to be cut in half that would sound pretty enticing to me. At the same time, it's kind of like paying taxes. I don’t want to pay any more taxes than I need to pay, but if me paying some taxes makes our infrastructure better and health care better then I’m okay with it. So in some ways, spending more money in our sport makes our sport stronger and spending less money is not all positives.

"If you do the crate thing, I think it really hinders our opportunity for Chevrolet to want to be involved in the Nationwide series or Ford to want to be involved in the Nationwide series. So that’s probably not a good thing either.

"With the IRL and Honda doing that, I don’t know how that thing works but in these times, it's like hey man if we weren’t relying on the manufacturers that might be a good thing but the majority of the time the manufacturers being here has been very beneficial to this sport. Marketing, merchandising, technology. The manufacturers have brought a lot to this sport. The manufacturers really started pushing the safety thing and put funding into that safety thing before anyone else. The manufacturers have brought a lot to this sport so going to that sounds good but there also some real serious negatives to it that aren’t as good as it looks on the surface of it.“

From a GM Press Release

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N'Wide: Kentucky lineup, with avg. start/fin

Qualification at Kentucky Speedway was about perfection. Joey Logano won last year's edition of this race from the pole and he's picking up where he left off. He'll lead the field to green with a lap of 174.865 mph and should be considered one of the favorites to win Saturday night.

The only other driver in his league was teammate Kyle Busch, who had the other car that broke the 174 mph mark. That gives Joe Gibbs Racing a perfect sweep of the front row and these two drivers will be each other's toughest competition.

The next four spots were all taken by rookies—which is as close to perfection as they are likely to find in their first year. Justin Allgaier qualified third, Michael Annett is fourth, Erik Darnell is fifth and Brendan Gaughan will start sixth.

Lineup, with average start/finish

StartDriverAvg. FinAvg. StartAttempts
1Joey Logano1.001.002
2Kyle Busch14.675.004
3Justin Allgaier
4Michael Annett
5Erik Darnell
6Brendan Gaughan
7Ricky Stenhouse Jr
8Trevor Bayne
9Brad Keselowski4.0011.002
10Carl Edwards22.509.405
11Jason Leffler19.2516.205
12Stephen Leicht5.5015.003
13Steve Wallace16.6713.254
14John Wes Townley
15Scott Lagasse Jr
16Jason Keller16.5711.638
17Bobby Hamilton Jr22.3310.577
18Burney Lamar25.5020.333
19Kevin Hamlin21.0024.002
20Kenny Wallace23.3323.717
21Mike Bliss12.7514.405
22Mark Green23.5028.005
23Michael McDowell
24Shelby Howard27.0021.502
25Brandon Whitt
26Chris Horn38.3337.254
27Kevin Conway
28Derrike Cope31.0031.502
29Morgan Shepherd42.2532.605
30Scott Wimmer6.4019.336
31Johnny Chapman36.0034.002
32Kenny Hendrick26.3333.754
33Danny O'Quinn Jr30.5017.003
34Brad Baker18.0038.502
35Stanton Barrett30.5030.005
36Ken Butler III
37Eric McClure34.3338.254
38Tony Raines8.5029.405
39Chad Blount22.0030.502
40Mike Harmon38.6734.504
41Brian Keselowski35.0038.502
42Kelly Bires13.0026.333
43Justin Hobgood38.0032.002
DNQJeff Green31.002.001
DNQJ C Stout

DNQBenny Gordon

DNQBlake Bjorkland

DNQKevin Lepage18.0024.502
DNQTravis Kittleson

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N'Wide: Logano on Kentucky pole

Last year, Joey Logano won the Kentucky race from the pole and he's picking up where he left off. He will lead the field to green in tonight's Meijer 300.

Our View: Logano was one of the favorites to win before this lap and he's even more highly regarded now. He also started from the pole in his last effort at Dover and finished second in a car that could have won.

In that race, his teammate Kyle Busch cut a tire and did not inform Logano that he would be slow on the restart, causing both Joe Gibbs Racing drivers to slow dramatically.

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N'Wide: Bires crashes in quals, rolls out backup

Kelly Bires crashed during his qualification lap and will be forced to roll out a backup car, according to @NASCAR_NNS.

Our View: His Kevin Harvick, Inc. backup car will be fast and this shouldn't automatically disqualify him for your roster. If he fits a niche, keep him, but if you're considering another driver at his level, err on the side of caution and park him.

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Trucks: Michigan results, with avg. finish

It doesn't matter what series is on the track; if Jack Roush is fielding a car or truck, its driver is a favorite to win. Roushketeer Colin Braun dogged Kyle Busch during the final green flag segment and forced him into a mistake. With 25 laps remaining, the No. 51 tried to go low beneath a lapped car and Braun pounced on the outside. Once in the lead, the victory was never in question.

After pacing the field for 62 laps, Busch was forced to settle for second, but his protégé made him proud. Brian Ickler sat on the pole and we predicted he would fall back through the pack. He had plenty of opportunities to prove us correct when he nearly crashed early and often. As the race settled down, Ickler maintained and finished third.

Matt Crafton finished fourth and padded his point lead. This was his sixth consecutive top-10 finish in the Camping World Truck Series, which has made him a place-and-hold driver.

Results, with average finish

FinishStartDriverLapsLaps LedStatusAvg Fin
112Colin Braun10026Running3.50
24Kyle Busch10062Running3.25
31Brian Ickler100
42Matt Crafton100
57Mike Skinner100
614Tayler Malsam100
75Ron Hornaday Jr1001Running14.33
818Timothy Peters100
911Dennis Setzer100
1021Terry Cook100
1120David Starr100
1210Rick Crawford100
133Todd Bodine1006Running7.40
1413Jason White99
1530Chris Fontaine99
166Johnny Sauter98
1732Norm Benning95
1819T J Bell83
1916Stacy Compton70
2024J J Yeley68
218J R Fitzpatrick63
2225Ryan Hackett513Accident22.00
2325Wayne Edwards32
Fuel Pump28.00
2415Chad McCumbee27
2526Chris Jones21
2623Ryan Matthews19
2736Trevor Boys18
2831Andy Ponstein17
2933Brandon Knupp15
3028Brent Raymer13
3122Mario Gosselin121Quit30.00
3227Nick Tucker9
339James Buescher8
3417Brian Scott8
3534Sean Murphy6
3629John Jackson4

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N'Wide: Logano looking to repeat at Kentucky

In eight previous Nationwide races, no one has repeated as winner at Kentucky Speedway. Last year's winner Joey Logano hopes to end that streak, according to Kypost.com.

Our View: To do so, however, he's going to have to beat his teammate Kyle Busch who won in 2004.

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Braun's first, Roush's 50th Truck win

Colin Braun made a dramatic pass on Kyle Busch as the two drivers negotiated traffic with 25 laps to go and it was clear sailing after that. With 10 to go, Busch admitted defeat as the No. 6 continued to extend its advantage. This was Braun's first Truck victory and Jack Roush's 50th in the series.

Our View: Roush continues to absolutely dominate Michigan International Speedway, which is a good prediction of how his drivers will run in Sunday's Cup race.

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Bowyer wins Michigan Happy Hour

Clint Bowyer posted the quickest average speed in Michigan's Happy Hour with a speed of 181.688 mph during nine laps.

Our View: Running so few laps is kind of a double-edged sword. He was happy with his car, but we would have preferred to see a little more track time to form a firm opinion.

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Martin fastest in Michigan Happy Hour

On the heels of posting the quickest average speed in the morning session, Mark Martin posted the fastest single lap in Happy Hour with a speed of 185.257 mph.

Our View: Better yet, he was second quickest over the course of 24 laps and that makes him a must have on your roster.

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Martin wins Michigan practice 2

Mark Martin may have had only the second fastest single lap, but over the long haul, he was best. The No. 5 posted an average speed of 183.169 mph during 22 laps.

Our View: Races are not won in a single circuit, so Martin has to be considered one of the best values of the LifeLock 400.

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Hamlin fastest in Michigan practice 2

Denny Hamlin posted the fastest single lap in Michigan's Saturday morning practice session with a lap of 187.911 mph.

Our View: Hamlin should simply be happy that he was not one of the many drivers who crashed or spun. Still, this is not one of his better tracks and he is riding a wave of misfortune, so it's hard to recommend him.

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Biffle also spins in Michigan practice 2

Add Greg Biffle to the list of drivers who suffered incidents in the Saturday morning session. He spun in practice two, according to a tweet from @NASCARSays.

Our View: Apparently he also survived without significant damage. This has been a wild session.

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Action packed Michigan practice 2

Looks like television picked the wrong session to go dark: In the first practice, Jimmie Johnson spun either just in front of or off the nose of Tony Stewart and then Max Papis crashed with Dave Blaney, according to tweets from @NASCAR_Says and @NASCAR_TNT. And this is just practice.

Johnson and Stewart appear to have survived without damage.

Neither Papis nor Blaney returned to the track in that session.

Our View: Rain is in the forecast for later in the afternoon, and apparently there is a sense of desperation.

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Trucks: Ickler on Michigan pole

Rookie Brian Ickler will lead point leader Matt Crafton and the remainder of the green for the Michigan 200, according to a tweet from @NASCAR_Trucks.

Our View: If he can hang onto a top-10 finish, he will be a good value, but don't expect miracles. Ickler has only four previous Camping World Truck Series starts and one top-10. Notably, that was a fifth in his first Truck start at Kansas this April.

His teammate Kyle Busch starts one row back in fourth, and he remains a better value.

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LifeLock 400 lineup, with avg. start/finish

Brian Vickers has become a qualifying fool. On Friday, he earned his third pole of the season, tying him with Mark Martin for the most this season. This track type has been incredibly kind to him since his switch to Red Bull Racing and Toyota. He's finished 12th or better in his last seven attempts at Michigan International Speedway and Auto Club Speedway, so this is a promising start.

Vickers grabbed the pole from Kyle Busch, who has similarly been grateful to the two-mile tracks. He's finished 13th or better on these tracks in the last 10 attempts and the winner could very well come from the front row.

Results with average start/finish

StartDriverAvg. FinAvg. StartAttempts
1Brian Vickers17.3012.1010
2Kyle Busch17.388.508
3Jimmie Johnson14.369.1414
4David Reutimann21.7521.754
5Kurt Busch20.1313.5016
6A J Allmendinger26.0037.673
7Juan Montoya33.0024.754
8Kasey Kahne16.4014.8010
9Clint Bowyer25.1718.336
10John Andretti23.9019.6721
11Tony Stewart12.4522.3520
12Kevin Harvick15.2518.3816
13Robby Gordon26.1123.2218
14Denny Hamlin15.5014.506
15Bill Elliott13.9110.2556
16Matt Kenseth9.1120.6319
17Bobby Labonte14.4813.2733
18Ryan Newman18.6011.8015
19Martin Truex Jr13.8315.506
20Greg Biffle13.1715.1712
21Scott Speed
22Jeff Burton15.8018.3330
23David Ragan12.5022.004
24Joey Logano
25Elliott Sadler22.6018.8520
26David Stremme27.0026.504
27Jeff Gordon11.758.5932
28Reed Sorenson23.5029.676
29Carl Edwards6.5618.339
30Dale Earnhardt Jr16.6812.5819
31Jamie McMurray18.5029.5812
32Mark Martin13.1311.3946
33Marcos Ambrose43.0039.001
34Sam Hornish Jr22.0029.002
35David Gilliland27.2026.805
36Michael Waltrip20.4322.4747
37Casey Mears19.4219.5812
38Paul Menard21.2034.805
39Dave Blaney23.5625.0018
40Joe Nemechek25.0019.1730
41Tony Raines33.8933.789
42Sterling Marlin18.4520.1644
43Max Papis
DNQMike Skinner27.1324.1316

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Burton on Kyle Busch's role as villain


“He is certainly one of them. He has that personality and the success that people are going to love or hate. You don’t sit on the fence with Kyle. He invokes passion. There are a lot of people that don’t like him at all and there is [sic] an awful lot of people that passionately like him.

"That’s the same way you feel about the Boston Red Sox or the New York Yankees and that is a good thing. That’s what makes the fans come and that is what makes sports fun because it's just as fun to pull against someone as it is to pull for them.

"I think that our sport needs those people. Kyle seems to enjoy it and seems to relish in it and many times provoke it just because he wants to. And you know, that’s his business and that is the way he wants to do it and its okay with me. I think it's funny when he gets out and bows because I know that three-quarters of those people want to throw something at him and the other quarter want to throw something at the people that threw something at him. That’s cool. That fan passion is what makes our deal work.

"I don’t think you should fabricate it. I don’t think it's something that can be fabricated because you either invoke that passion or you don’t and I don’t think he does fabricate it. I think it's just him being him. And I think he likes it when he pisses somebody off to be quite honest and he stands pat and says this is how it is, this is who I am and this is what it is and that’s okay.

From a GM Press Release

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Gordon on starting last at Michigan


“It is, but I feel like there is always a lot of pressure on anybody on this team to step up and do their part and I’m just one of those guys. We all make mistakes including myself and you have to support everybody on the team when it happens. Then you have to go out there and do your best not to overdrive or panic or anything like that and slowly but surely work our way back to the front. You saw what a great job Tony Stewart did last week coming from the back and it’s the same thing for us because we know we can do it and we’ve got the car and the team that can do it and we have to make good decisions all day long.

From a GM Press Release

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