Saturday, October 11, 2008

Live on Type Delay: Chase Race 5 at Lowe's

The starting lineup for Chase race number 5 at Lowe's Motor Speedway was determined by points standings, due to the rain out of qualifying Thursday. Jimmie Johnson takes the lead from the pole, and already, Jeff Gordon gets pinched against the wall. By lap three, Gordon has moved up to sixth, behind fifth place Dale Earnhardt, Jr, hits the wall again, and Tony Stewart takes sixth from him. Johnson is taking off in the lead while the rest of the field goes three wide at times battling for position. This could be a wild one.

Gordon has to pit on lap ten to pull out the fenders and change the right side tires. It is still early in the race, so this is not too bad of a deficit for the 24 team at this point.

Stewart takes third from Biffle on lap 24 and is still the fastest car on the track. Johnson still leads second place Carl Edwards by .7 seconds, and Stewart is .8 seconds behind Edwards. Johnson hasn't exactly got away from Edwards, but he is in a position where he can take it easy and preserve his car. This is one thing I like about the 1.5 mile tracks, is that every team and driver holds their cards close to their chests during the early going, so we don't know what to expect until the race nears the end. It keeps the drama going.

By lap 31, as Johnson runs up on the tail end of the lead lap, Stewart has caught Johnson, and takes the lead on lap 33. Dale Jr is also running well, and has moved into fourth, quickly approaching third place Carl Edwards. After Junior passes Edwards, he reports his car is "real, real loose," and he begins to drop back. As the coverage breaks for commercial, Jr has fallen back to sixth spot.

We have no radio play by play to go by this week, because the station that carries MRN and PRN--it would be PRN this week--cuts power at 6 PM Mountain Time on Saturdays, so we don't get it here. I am as blind as everyone else watching the race on TV.

Joe Nemechek hits the wall on lap 40 or something during the commercial. Everybody pits. Jimmie Johnson retakes the lead, exiting the pit road first, while Tony Stewart comes out fourth. Carl Edwards regains second spot. Jeff Burton is third, and Greg Biffle is fifth.

I have to say, I love the 800 lb gorilla Amp Energy commercial with Dale Earnhardt, Jr. That's great.

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AJ Allmendinger, in the MWR #00 car, spins and hits the wall hard on lap 51, bringing out the caution again. Carl Edwards, who had just pitted to investigate a vibration he was feeling from his car, gets caught in the pits, as the yellow waves, and gets put a lap down. Excuse me while I do a backflip in celebration.

More confusion as NASCAR gives the lucky dog pass to Jeff Gordon, but the 99 team seems to think that they should have the free pass, but NASCAR says the field was frozen at the caution, and the 99 car was still on the lead lap at the time, and was passed after the caution came out. I don't get it either, so there must be a better explanation than the one I gave here.

Johnson leads the restart at lap 60, with Tony Stewart in second. Greg Biffle is third, Jeff Burton fourth, and last night's Nationwide Series race winner, Kyle Busch is fifth.

On lap 64, the caution comes out again as Michael Waltrip gets shoved into the infield, comes back up, and Mike Skinner, stuck in the middle between Waltrip and Schrader, gets tangled up with Ken Schrader's #96 HOF Racing Toyota and they both wreck.

As the cars are getting lined up for the restart, Carl Edwards' car stalls, and he can not get it started. I really don't wish this kind of luck on anyone, even if it is my least favorite driver. As Edwards goes yet another lap down, we can see that the Chase standings will once again get shaken up, and the bad luck for the 99 team, which was 79 points out of first at the beginning of the race, is good luck for points leader Jimmie Johnson.

The restart is on lap 71, with Johnson leading, Stewart second, Biffle third, Burton fourth, and Kyle Busch is in fifth. Busch takes fourth on lap 72. Kasey Kahne, winner of the last two Sprint Cup races at Lowes, as been moving up steadily, and enters the top ten on lap 73.

I really do feel bad for Carl Edwards, who still can not get his car started, so please ignore the break dancing and back flips, because I am actually celebrating as Tomy Stewart takes the lead on lap 78.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr, racing dangerously close to the wall, as he is wont to do at Lowe's, has moved back up to sixth place, and Kyle Busch has moved into third by lap 81. Stewart is taking advantage of his lead position, and has left quite a gap between himself and Jimmie Johnson.

The #99 team finally gets the car fired up, and Carl Edwards returns to the race sixteen laps down. Jack Roush is taking it philosophically and manages to express his disappointment without blaming Toyota.

It looks like Kyle Busch is gaining on second place Jimmie Johnson as his car is gradually being adapted to track conditions. Tony Stewart is still moving away from the field.

My favorite AT&T commercial is still Mary, the "Phelps Phan," because I know someone like that, but this one with the guy being taken to jail because he didn't get the call about the alarm code for his friend's house is pretty good.

What is not pretty good is that Dale Earnhardt, Jr has lost his right front tire, and has hit the wall. When will the 88 team's luck change for the better? There is a lot of talent in the driver and on the team, and they still can't do better than run well in the first part of the race.

This race off of pit road is exciting, as Tony Stewart beats Kyle Busch by what looks like an inch or less, with Johnson coming out of the first pit nearly side by side with the 18 and the 20. Three cars trying for one position--first place. Matt Kenseth stayed out and will be leading at the restart.

Kenseth pits, so at the restart, it's Stewart first, Kyle Busch second, Jimmie Johnson third, Jeff Burton fourth, and Clint Bowyer is in fifth. Restart on lap 110, and Kyle Busch catches Stewart quickly and takes the lead on lap 111. Johnson is also good on the restart, and takes second place before lap 112, but Stewart is reporting that his car is loose and has fallen back to seventh position by lap 118.

It has been noted that the 20 car takes a few laps to come in to the track, so this could just be typical. Perhaps the handling will get better after a few laps. Now, Mike Wallace, in the GEM #10 car, blows a tire and spins out, and the caution comes out again. This is still too early to begin fuel strategy stops, so Kyle Busch leads the leaders to the pits. Now, we get some fuel only and two tire stops, as everybody is trying for position and makes me a liar about strategy. I am not surprised.

Johnson and Burton took fuel only and come off of pit road in first and second, while Kyle Busch took two tires and exits pit road in third. Ryan Newman stayed out and will restart in first, so the restart will be Newman, Johnson, Burton, Busch and Bowyer in the top five. Johnson makes a move at the lap 126 restart, but Newman hangs on and maintains the lead. By lap 130, Brian Vickers has moved into third, and his car is a rocket, as they say. Meanwhile, on lap 132, Johnson feints high then goes low to pass the Rocket, Ryan Newman. Vickers' # 83 car comes into second, and challenges Johnson for the lead. He takes the lead on lap 135. Kyle Busch has taken third spot from Newman, and Johnson is still in second as we head into commercial time.

I think Dale Earnhardt, Jr has gotten used to his bad luck, because he doesn't seem nearly as consternated about his luck as he has in the past.

Closing in on the halfway point, Vickers is first, Johnson is second, Kyle Busch in third, David Ragan is fourth, and Greg Biffle is fifth. On lap 150, Dale Earnhardt Jr;s team gets his car back on the track after extensive repairs, 45 laps down. It is important for a Chaser to finish the race, because you never know what is going to happen. Earnhardt needs to get as many points as he can, just in case the improbable happens and Knaus and Kompany have a run of bad luck. If there is any consolation, Jr is only one position behind Carl Edwards in this race.

Tony Stewart's team has his car running better now, and Tony Stewart has taken the # 20 car to fifth place, but he reports his engine is running hot. It is lap 176, and green flag pit stops have begun. The leader, Vickers pits on lap 180.

David Ragan and Regan Smith both incur speeding penalties on pit road, and have to serve drive through penalties. After the pit stops cycle through, it's V ickers in the lead, Greg Biffle moving up fast in second, Jeff Burton third, Jimmie Johnson fourth, and Kyle Busch is fifth. Caution for debris on lap 187, and Kasey Kahne gets the free pass. The leaders stay out.

We could say at this point that the 48 team is playing it safe and protecting Jimmie Johnson's points lead, but we said that about this time last year, and that proved not to be the case, as Johnson began running more aggressively than ever for the rest of the season.

Look for Biffle to make a move for the lead on this restart. But Vickers gets a good jump and pulls ahead, so Biffle hyas to wait a lap before he can make his move. He is running hard behind the leader, and looks like he just needs to be in the rightr place to take the lead. But now we have a big wreck on the back stretch, involving Tony Raines, Matt Kenseth, Chad McCumbee, and Travis Kvapil. I hate seeing this for Kenseth, especially because I have been secretly rooting for him to get his second championship this year. The Chasers have been having terrible luck this year.

They showed some great in car video and audio of Kasey Kahne threading the needle to avoid that wreck. We heard some great throttle control and saw some great car control as Kahne barely avoided disaster. Good save, we say. Bravo.

The leaders all pit this time during caution. Vickers takes two tires, but Jeff Burton comes out first, with Biffle second, Johnson third, and Kyle Busch fourth, while Vickers comes out fifth. Martin Truex, Jr stays out and leads a lap.

Restart with 132 laps to go. Truex is in first, Jeff Gordon second, and Mark Martin is third. Jeff Burton is the first car that pitted and is in fourth. Gordon takes the lead on lap 204. Another big wreck on lap 204, on the front stretch, involving Bobby Labonte, Casey Mears, and Michael Waltrip. It looked like it started when Jimmie Johnson got sideways and saved it, but causing an accordion effect where Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart also had to save their cars, and the guys behind them got all tangled up checking up. It looked like their may have been oil or fluid on the track. Close call for a lot of cars. Reed Sorenson gets the free pass.

TV is affecting my writing, so I have to write--and this is an entirely unsponsored comment--Orange Blossom Cream Ale is great stuff. If you like that kind of beverage, and it is available in your area, you should give it a try. It is currently keeping me mellow and satisfied. It has a great flavor, not too heavy, and has a nice aftertaste.

Maybe Buffalo Bill's Brewery will see this and send me some big bucks, hint hint.

Going to the restart, it's Jeff Gordon in first, Mark Martin second, Martin Truex, Jr in third, Jeff Burton in fourth, and Greg Biffle is fifth. Great racing between Jeff Gordon and Mark Martin for the lead, as they race side by side and both get loose and save it. Martin hangs in there for a lap, but gets loose again and has to fall back, allowing Jeff Gordon to keep the lead. Biffle takes second from Martin on lap 215. There are three other Chasers in the top ten, with Kyle Busch in sixth, Jimmie Johnson in eight, and Tony Stewart in tenth.

It is actually exciting with Jeff Gordon in the lead. Gordon in the lead always seems to result in a good race. While the commentators are talking about how much trouble Smoke is having, he makes his way up to sixth position.

On lap 235, Denny Hamlin almost wrecks it after contact with Clint Bowyer, but makes an amazing save. No caution.

As we approach another round of green flag pit stops, we know that Jeff Gordon fans are feeling that anxiety that accompanies the exciting feeling that maybe their driver will win his first race of the season. My readers know that, even though I am not a Jeff Gordon fan, I respect him immensly for his talent and demeaner, and I know how those fans feel. I would not be unhappy if Gordon were to win this one.

Pit stops begin with 83 laps to go. Vickers hits the wall, but saves it, and there is no caution. Paul Menard is black flagged for a loose panel on the rear of his car, then, after he can't get into the pits, is white crossed, which means he is not being scored. He finally makes it to the pits for repairs.

Aw man, too fast on pit road penalty for Tony Stewart. Dammit again. The 18 of Kyle Busch also gets pegged for speeding. This is the kind of stuff you do not want to have happen at Lowe's, especially in the final segments of the race.

Robby Gordon cuts a right rear tire and brings out the caution with seventy laps to go. After all the different pit strategies and cautions, and whatever happened, Greg Biffle will restart in the lead. Jeff Gordon re pitted, and is in seventh. Burton is in second, Tony Stewart is a lap down and trying to race his way back to the lead lap. Jonson is in third, and with 57 laps to go Jeff Burton is challenging Biffle for the lead. Burton takes the lead with 61 laps to go. Stewart has passed Biffle and is on the lead lap, though at the tail iend.

With forty laps to go, there should at least be some gas n go stops coming up. Now we will see strategy come into play. If there is a caution, Jeff Gordon's earlier strategy, may work out for him. Now a caution with 38 laps to go as Montoya wrecks from contact with the 2 car of Kurt Busch, as they are beatin and bangin for five laps. The contact cut a tire, and Montoya hits the wall. This is the money stop, and it will be interesting to see the various strategies. It's strategy or stragedy time.

Jeff Burton leads the field to the restart. Johnson is second, Kasey Kahne is third, Kurt Busch is fourth, and Greg Biffle is the first car that took four tires, restarting with 33 laps to go in fifth. Jimmie Johnson immediately begins racing Burton for the lead, and Burton is racing well and fighting hard to maintain the lead. This is pretty good stuff. Gordon and Kyle Busch are fighting hard for seventh place.

With 27 left to go, this is exciting watching the race for the lead, and now, Kurt Busch, in third, is moving to crash the party. Kasey Kahne is up there as well, and may be a factor in the finish. He takes third from Kurt Busch with 22 laps to go, and Kyle Busch is moving up to fifth, taking the position from Jamie McMurray with 21 laps to go.

Jimmie Johnson seems to have used up his car, and he starts falling back with a little more than ten to go. Jeff Burton increases his lead, but Kasey Kahne is moving up from second with seven to go. Kahne's car is faster than Burton, but you know a lot of us want to see Burton win at this point. Still it's exciting as it looks like Kahne has just about caught the leader with two to go.

We hold our breath, Burton takes the white flag, and Kahne is not close enough to challenge. Jeff Burton Wins!!!! Let's watch Kim, that is always fun.

This was a good race, technical and pretty much straight forward. There was nothing really exciting about it, but it had its moments. The 31 team did the right thing at the right time and their strategy for position paid off big. Good job for the 9 car in their second place finish for Kasey Kahne.

1 comment:

Josh Jones said...

I've got some pictures from the race on my blog if your interested.