UPDATE: Kyle Busch wins rain-shortened Nationwide race

Leave a comment

After battling for several hours to dry the Phoenix International Raceway, another rain shower forced NASCAR to end the Blue Jeans Go Green 200 for the Nationwide Series 32 laps short of the scheduled distance, giving Kyle Busch his 64th career win in the series.

“Rowdy” led 155 of the 168 laps that were ran today. He immediately set the tone for the afternoon by taking the lead from pole sitter Brad Keselowski on Lap 6.

Busch, the all time leader in NNS wins, now becomes the first driver ever to win three consecutive Nationwide races at PIR. Kevin Harvick, Keselowski, Kyle Larson and Matt Kenseth rounded out the Top 5 finishers.

Keselowski attempted to mount a challenge to Busch on a restart with 58 laps to go but after about a lap and a half of racing, Busch was able to clear him on the outside.

“There was a lot of trash on the outside line, but I knew I had to choose the outside just because I wanted that line,” Busch said to ESPN about his restart battle. “But there was a lot of trash from the previous caution with the oil-dry and everything else down the front straightaway.

“Essentially, I got into Turn One a little too deep and it didn’t turn like I was expecting it to just because it was all dirty. Brad can always hang in there on the inside for a little while – or the outside, for that matter. But our car’s just so strong, it’ll get going and once the momentum gets built up, you can see the gap widen.”

With 35 laps to go, amidst reports of rain falling on the one-mile PIR oval, Ryan Reed lost control coming out of Turn 1 and slid into the inside SAFER Barrier to bring out the caution flag.

As the rain picked up, the drivers came down pit road with 32 laps remaining and their cars were promptly covered as the red flag came out.

The rain delay officially lasted for two hours, seven minutes, and 54 seconds before NASCAR decided to end the race.

Accuweather.com is forecasting a 25 percent chance of rain in Phoenix for tomorrow’s Sprint Cup race, The Profit on CNBC 500.

IndyCar 2017 driver review: Ed Carpenter

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MotorSportsTalk continues its annual review of the Verizon IndyCar Series drivers that raced in 2017. The 2017 season behind the wheel was better for Ed Carpenter than either of the last two years, but still wasn’t ideal results-wise in his six oval starts.

Ed Carpenter, No. 20 Ed Carpenter Racing Chevrolet

  • 2016: 25th Place (5 Starts), Best Finish 18th, Best Start 5th, 0 Top-5, 0 Top-10, 1 Lap Led, 11.2 Avg. Start, 21.8 Avg. Finish
  • 2017: 22nd Place (6 Starts), Best Finish 7th, Best Start 2nd, 0 Top-5, 1 Top-10, 5 Laps Led, 11.3 Avg. Start, 12.3 Avg. Finish

Ed Carpenter’s 2017 season was largely one of frustration, both behind the wheel and as a team owner.

While a respectable turnaround in results occurred – Carpenter finished between seventh and 12th in five of his six oval races after a nightmare season of ending 18th or worse in each of his 2016 starts – this is still not what he sets out to strive for in the races he does. Lost opportunities loomed larger than any official result he or the Ed Carpenter Racing team achieved.

Carpenter and new teammate JR Hildebrand, in for the departed Josef Newgarden, dominated preseason testing in Phoenix but Hildebrand could only muster third in the race, Carpenter a season-best seventh. Then at Indianapolis, Carpenter (second) and Hildebrand (sixth) flew the flag for Chevrolet in qualifying and practice pace, but they fell to 11th and 16th on race day owing to a front-wing change and late-race penalty for passing before a restart.

Both drivers got collected in incidents at Texas. Hildebrand qualified and finished a season-best second in Iowa but that result came only after the ECR crew rebuilt his car from a crash in practice. Then Carpenter had a practice crash in Pocono and despite a rapid rebuild, they missed the clock to qualify by mere minutes and were unable to do so. Carpenter’s spin on a slick Gateway track at the start of the race sent him over Will Power’s nose assembly in one of the scarier looking incidents of the year, although fortunately he was OK.

In a similar refrain as we often write, it’s not that Carpenter’s lost his ability to drive and he remains one of the series’ savviest and smartest people in the paddock. There have been a lot of extenuating circumstances of late, and it almost felt as though this team had “empty nest” components. Since September, Carpenter has had to secure his team’s future with a move away from its Speedway, Ind. shop, line up Spencer Pigot for a full-time drive replacing Hildebrand in the No. 21 car, find a new road/street course driver in the No. 20 car, and manage both driving and owning himself.