November 18th, 2012
“Ford EcoBoost 300”
Written By Rick A. Talford
HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA – The Nationwide Series ran their final race of the season at the Homestead track. 200 laps on the 1.5 mile track. There are a couple different stories that will end with this race. Kyle Busch is trying to get a victory, to extend his winning seasons to nine consecutive years with at least one win. The record is nine, and it is held by Mark Martin. Busch has been winless this season, in the Nationwide Series. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. will try to win his second consecutive series championship. Elliott Sadler is trying to win the championship, and not finish second in as many seasons again. Austin Dillon, a Rookie is trying to win his first title, and finish every lap of the race. He would finish the season, with only one lap not finished all year. This has only been done twice before. The Pole sitter was Kyle Busch (54), with Elliott Sadler (2) starting second. Austin Dillon is starting third, with Ricky Stenhouse Jr. starting fourth. In the Pre-race ceremonies, The Redondo Elementary School provided the Pledge of Allegiance. Scott Clauncher provided the Invocation. Chelsea Bain sang the National Anthem, while two F-5’s flew over the race track. The Grand Marshal was Amy Marentic.
The first caution came out on lap 66, when Ryan Truex (20) spun out and hit the wall. The second caution came on lap 73, when Robert Richardson Jr. ran into the wall. The third caution was also Richardson Jr. on lap 94. During the pit stops, Elliott Sadler (2) was penalized for having a lug nut loose when he left his pit box. The fourth caution came out on lap 172, when debris was seen on track. The fifth and final caution flew on lap 180, when Joey Lagono (18) spun and crashed Joanna Long (70).
Kyle Busch led the most laps early, and Austin Dillon led many near the end. He looked like he was going to win the race with ease, until the late cautions changed everything for him. He did not run well during the re-start, and lost many positions. Regan Smith (5) was able to take the lead on the late re-start, and pull away from Kyle Busch (54) for the first win of his Nationwide career. He was debuting for JR Motorsports. He will drive full time next season for the team.
The rest of the top ten were: Brendan Gaughn (33), Sam Hornish Jr. (12), Austin Dillon (3), Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (6), Brian Scott (11), Ryan Blaney (22), Elliott Sadler (2) and Cole Whitt (88). Danica Patrick finished in thirteenth position, on the lead lap.
The final points standings were: Ricky Stenhouse Jr. – Leader, Elliott Sadler (-23), Austin Dillon (-24), Sam Hornish Jr. (-105), Michael Annett (-169), Justin Allgaier (-175), Cole Whitt (- 257), Mike Bliss (- 349), Brian Scott (- 398) and Danica Patrick (- 403). Note- Johanna Long finished the season in twentieth.
The car owners championship went to the 18 team. The Nationwide Champion was Ricky Stenhouse Jr. Rookie of the Year will most likely be Austin Dillon. The most popular Driver will most likely be Danica Patrick. The next race will be Daytona in February.
“Ford EcoBoost 400”
HOMESTEAD, FLORIDA – The Sprint Cup Series schedule for 2012, ends at the 1.5 mile track near Miami, Florida. On related news this week, Brad Keselowski made some comments after last weekends poor ending to the Phoenix race. This apparently did not sit well with NASCAR, being they fined him $ 25,000 for using his cell phone while in the race car, under caution. He has used his phone in a number of races this season, without any actions by NASCAR. They claim they told all drivers after the Daytona 500 that they were not allowed to use their electronic devices in their cars. This was never documented by any reporters throughout the year though. After the issues between Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer, NASCAR fined Gordon $ 100,000 and docked him 25 points. He was also placed on probation until the end of December. Gordon’s Crew Chief was also placed under probation for the same period. Bowyer’s Crew Chief was fined $ 25,000 and placed under probation until the end of December also. Bowyer received no form of penalty for his part in the incident, nor was any of the crew members that went after Gordon on pit road.
The Pole sitter for the final race, was Joey Lagono (20). He unfortunately crashed in final practice, and had to start at the rear of the field. Started second. The race was scheduled for 267 laps on the 1.5 mile track. In pre-race ceremonies, Scott Clauncher provided the Invocation. Chris Mann sang the National Anthem, while four F-15’s flew over the speedway. The Grand Marshal for the race was Jonathan Hillstrand, of TV Show World’s Most Dangerous Catch. The in-race reporter was Tony Stewart (14).
The race began with Brad Keselowski (2) starting in the top spot, due to Joey Lagono crashing in final practice. Keselowski would have began the race in third, but will be allowed to move forward on spot when Lagono goes to the rear of the field. The start of the race, had Kyle Busch taking the lead by lap 15. For the first half of the race, he was at the front most of the time. Martin Truex Jr. (56) was a strong contender, swapping the lead back and forth with Busch. The first caution came on lap 79 for Debris. The second caution on lap 143, was also for Debris. During this stop, Jimmie Johnson (48) only took two tires in order to get the lead off pit road. Six to eight cars copied him, while the majority of the field took four tires, including the points leader Keselowski. A third caution flew on lap 154, when Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (6) had a tire failure before hitting the wall.
With one-hundred laps remaining, Kyle Busch (18) earned the point for leading the most laps. This kept Johnson from earning max. points in the race. He would need to lead the most laps, and win the race to get max. points. During a green flag stop, Kasey Kahne (5) was caught speeding on pit road. His chance at victory went out the window with the penalty. Jimmie Johnson’s team tried to stretch their fuel mileage, to get a victory and only have to make one final stop in the race. The rest of the field was going to make two stops to get to the end. He left pit road with a lug nut missing. He was penalized with a stop and go penalty, dropping him from the lead, back to twenty-fifth. Just a few laps later, Johnson’s chances went up in smoke. His race for his sixth championship had come to an end. In the garage, the mechanics found that the rear gear had gone bad.
Kathy Penske sat on top of Keselowski’s pit box for the last few races, as a good luck charm for the team. Kathy is Roger Penske’s wife. This will be Roger’s first championship in the Sprint Cup Series. Keselowski won Penske’s first Nationwide Championship as well. If Keselowski can win the championship, it will put him with Jeff Gordon as to the fastest to a championship after starting his career. Dale Earnhardt Sr. did it in only two seasons. Jeff and Brad would be the only two drivers that did it in their third season.
Brad Keselowski made his final stop on pit road, with nineteen laps remaining. When Keselowski returned to the track, he passed Denny Hamlin (11) who went down a cylinder. The race went down to fuel mileage once again, keeping Kyle Busch (18) out of victory lane. He needed to make a final stop for fuel, and ended the race in fourth. Jeff Gordon (24) was able to win the race, ahead of Clint Bowyer (15). The rest of the top ten were: Ryan Newman (39), Kyle Busch (18), Greg Biffle (16), Martin Truex Jr. (56), Aric Almirola (43), Kevin Harvick (29), Kurt Busch (78) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (88).
The final standings in points were: Brad Keselowski -Leader, Clint Bowyer (-39), Jimmie Johnson (-40), Kasey Kahne (-55), Greg Biffle (-68), Denny Hamlin (-71), Matt Kenseth (-76), Kevin Harvick (-79), Tony Stewart (-89), Jeff Gordon (-97), Martin Truex Jr. (-101) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (-155).
Paul Wolfe is Keselowski’s crew chief, and Roger Penske is his car owner. Both can now say, “We are the 2012 Nascar Sprint Cup Champions”, thanks to a great season that driver Brad Keselowski was able to put together for his team. This was also Dodge’s final race, as they are leaving Nascar after this race. Penske thanked Dodge for a great year, without any failures by the car or engines.
The next race will be at Daytona in February, in 98 days. A new car design will also be brought out next season.
The Camping World Truck Series came to an end with a race at Homestead on Friday Night. Cale Gale (33) won his first Series race over Kyle Busch, who was unable to win a race this year, as an owner. James Buescher (31) won his first Series Championship. The rest of the top ten were: Joey Coultier, Ty Dillon, Peter Kligerman, Matt Crafton, Nelson Piquet Jr., Juston Lofton, Johnny Sauter and Miquel Paludo.
Note- Ty Dillon is the younger brother of Austin. He was a strong title contender all season, as a rookie. He will likely be named Rookie of the Year. He drove the famous 3 Truck, that his brother Austin took to a Championship one year ago.
NASCAR crowned three “Champions” this weekend. James Buescher in the Camping World Truck Series, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. in the Nationwide Series and Brad Keselowski in the Sprint Cup Series.
Congratulations to each of these drivers and their respective teams. As a Nascar Enthusiast, I look forward to the new season beginning in February.