October 22, 2012
Cautions bog down NASCAR race
By Dean McNulty, QMI Agency
About half way through the NASCAR Sprint Cup Hollywood Casino 400 on Sunday it looked like the combination of new pavement on the 1.5-mile Kansas Speedway and a hard compound Goodyear tire would throw a grenade into the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship on Sunday.
But when the smoke and debris cleared from a record 14 cautions for various spins and crashes there was Brad Keselowski still on top of the standings in the No. 2 Penske Racing Dodge.
In fact, not much changed at all among the top-five drivers.
Jimmie Johnson started the race seven points back of Keselowski and his ninth place and the Blue Deuce’s eighth place maintained that margin.
What was incredible was that Johnson was able to get the result they did considering he hit the wall hard after blowing a right front tire on Lap 135, crunching the back of the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet.
Johnson’s crew, however, brought out the 200 mph bandages and put the car back on the track on the lead lap.
It is obvious they must have learned something in those five consecutive championships.
For Denny Hamlin, he lost five points to the leader but stayed in third place behind Johnson in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota and Clint Bowyer gained three points to move 25 behind the No. 2 Dodge.
Kasey Kahne rounds out the top five, with his fourth-place finish Sunday in the No. 5 HMS Chevrolet.
If there was a biggest loser at Kansas it had to be Greg Biffle and the No. 16 Roush Fenway Racing Ford who was another victim of a right front tire failure.
He finished 27th and dropped five spots to 11th in the Chase, 62 back of Keselowski. Biffle’s season is done.
And while Matt Kenseth won of the second time this Chase in the No. 17 RFR Ford he is still effectively out of it, 55 points in arrears.
SPENGLER WINS DTM
The decision by Mercedes bosses to let Canada’s Bruno Spengler go from its premier sports car racing team last season came back to bite them on the derriere on Sunday.
Spengler, who was hired by rival BMW in the DTM Series this season, won the final race at Hockenheim, passing Mercedes driver Gary Paffet both on the track and in the standings to win his first DTM championship.
And it was not even close, with Spengler crossing the finish line in the Schnitzer BMW Bank M3 a whopping 2.21 seconds ahead of Paffet in the HWA Mercedes.
“This is a sensational day and a perfect season,” Spengler said.
Augusto Farfus — who started in the pole in the RBM Castrol EDGE BMW M3 — finished third, 11.954 seconds back for Spengler.
Spengler’s win capped an incredible season for BMW, which had returned to DTM in 2012 after a 20 year absence.
Paffet had made a valiant effort to get close to Spengler in the late laps and came as close as one-second behind but he had used up the tires on his Mercedes and Spengler pulled away.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. will have two more medical tests this week before he will be cleared to return behind the wheel of the No. 88 Chevrolet next week at Martinsville after missing two races suffering from concussions. ... IndyCar driver Sebastian Bourdais was a big winner in the Australian V8 Supercars’ Gold Coast 600, winning the first race and a runner-up in the second with co-driver Jamie Whincup in the Triple Eight Holden. Other IndyCar drivers in the race were Will Power, who finished third, Ryan Briscoe, fifth, Simon Pagenaud, eighth, Graham Rahal, 11th and Mike Conway 16th. Oakville’s James Hinchcliffe failed to finish either of the two races as did his Andretti Autosport teammate Marco Andretti ... An amazing combination of good driving and good luck guided Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and the No. 6 Roush Fenway Ford to a win in the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Kansas after he came back from being two laps down. ... Congratulations to Alberta’s Erica Thiering. The 22-year-old Sherwood Park native was part of NASCAR’s Drive to Diversity test last week at Langley Speedway in Hampton, Va.
NUTS AND BOLTS
NASCAR SPRINT CUP
Matt Kenseth won his second race of the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship on Sunday in the Hollywood Casino 400 at Kansas Speedway.
His victory came in a race that had a track record 14 cautions — mostly caused by right front-tire failures — on the newly paved surface at the 1.5-mile oval.
Kenseth and the No. 17 Roush Fenway Racing Ford team beat runner-up Martin Truex Jr. in the No. 56 Michael Waltrip Racing Toyota by almost half a second to the finish line.
Paul Menard finished third in the No. 27 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet, followed by pole sitter Kasey Kahne in the No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet and Tony Stewart.
AMERICAN LE MANS SERIES
Europeans Neel Jani, Andrea Belicchi and Nicolas Prost won the 1,000-mile Petit Le Mans with a three-lap victory in their Rebellion Racing Lola-Toyota in the P1 class at Road Atlanta.
But the season-long championship went to Muscle Milk Pickett Racing with Klaus Graf and Lucas Luhr, who went off the track early, but had clinched the season title.
In the P2 class Level 5 Motorsports’ Scott Tucker and Christophe Bouchut were crowned driver champions with co-driver Luis Diaz in their No. 95 HPD ARX-03b.
Toni Vilander helped Ferrari in the GT class over Corvette and the return of the SRT Viper.