Day: May 9, 2014

SFP 250 - Qualifying

Kyle Busch wins at Kansas in NASCAR Trucks

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It’s not a Sprint Cup win, but after his well-documented problems at Kansas Speedway, Kyle Busch will gladly take a Camping World Truck Series victory there.

Busch took the lead with 21 laps to go and pulled away in the closing circuits to win a caution-marred SFP 250 for the Trucks tonight at Kansas.

Nine caution periods gave a disjointed feel to the evening, but Busch remained dominant and led 104 laps en route to his second Truck win of the season in as many starts.

After a wreck for Bryan Silas with 42 laps to go, Sprint Cup rookie Austin Dillon took the lead out of pit road under caution with a two-tire stop while Busch was second out after a four-tire stop.

But while Dillon held the point for some time after the restart, Busch slowly reeled him in and managed to make the race-winning pass on him in the tri-oval.

Dillon ultimately finished fourth behind winner Busch, runner-up Matt Crafton, and yet another Cup driver in Joey Logano, who had fallen back after making a green flag pit stop just three laps before the Silas incident took place. Tayler Malsam completed the Top 5.

Busch’s 37th Truck win marks the first time in 32 CWTS races that the pole sitter won the race. It also gave crew chief Eric Phillips his 29th career Truck win, making him the all-time wins leader among crew chiefs in the CWTS.

“Kansas! I’m a winner at Kansas,” Busch exclaimed with a touch of surprise in Victory Lane to Fox Sports. “I can’t say enough about everyone at [Kyle Busch Motorsports]. Everybody there, man, chassis shop, body guys, everybody there in the fab shop – they do such a great job for me whether it’s late models or whether its Trucks.

“They’re a lot of fun to work with and they’re a great group.”

Crafton’s runner-up enabled him to take the CWTS points lead by eight over Timothy Peters, who sustained damage in a Lap 1 incident that forced him to go to the garage for a time. He would come back to finish 14th, nine laps down.

Noted racetrack designer Alan Wilson answers critics of New Orleans IndyCar race in 2015

Noted racetrack designer Alan Wilson. (Photo courtesy

When officials of NOLA Motorsports Park announced Monday that they were prepared to begin hosting an annual IndyCar race starting in 2015, there was a great deal of positive feedback and excitement in New Orleans, the state of Louisiana and the IndyCar world over the news.

Louisiana Governor Bobby Jindal and New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu were especially jubilant that competitive professional auto racing will return to the Crescent City for the first time since sports cars raced through downtown and the Superdome in 1995.

Unfortunately, and honestly quite surprisingly given the caliber of NOLAMP’s chief designer, there were a number of critics who questioned the move, particularly those who feel NOLAMP’s design and layout is not conducive to hosting an IndyCar race.

Alan Wilson, the designer of NOLAMP, Utah’s Miller Motorsports Park and Barber Motorsports Park just outside Birmingham, Ala., where IndyCar had a fantastic race two weeks ago, really took those criticisms to heart.

In fact, Wilson took the rather unusual step of writing an op-ed column for Racer magazine’s, essentially quantifying why the critics were so wrong with their comments.

“Needless to say the announcement has brought forth the usual critics, complainers and know-everythings, which is very unfortunate because the preponderance of critics of IndyCar like these over the years has done nothing but hurt the series,” Wilson wrote on “While I have had absolutely nothing to do with the plan to bring IndyCar to NOLA, and have no idea what ‘upgrades’ are planned by either IndyCar or NOLA itself, I would like to clarify a few things.”

One of the most respected racetrack designers in the world, Wilson didn’t need to justify his design of NOLAMP to anyone.

But we’re kind of glad he did because we were cheering Wilson more and more with each paragraph of his op-ed that we read.

Even if you’re not an IndyCar fan, you owe it to yourself to click here and read Wilson’s fascinating and from-the-heart tome.

To Wilson for doing what he did, we have just one word: Bravo!

And to those who criticized Wilson and NOLAMP, we’re sorry you’re so short-sighted and narrow-minded. Check back with us in about five years when the NOLAMP race becomes one of the most popular on the IndyCar circuit, and we’ll see who was wrong in the first place.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

MRTI: Brabham, Hargrove, Owen score Friday Indy wins

Photo: Pro Mazda
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Mixed track conditions made for a barnburner of an afternoon in three Mazda Road to Indy races at the Grand Prix of Indianapolis. And for the most part, the drivers in the Cooper Tire-shod Indy Lights, Pro Mazda and USF2000 series did a good job in their respective races on the 2.439-mile Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course.

Two 2013 MRTI champions – Matthew Brabham (Pro Mazda 2013, Indy Lights 2014) and Scott Hargrove (USF2000 2013, Pro Mazda 2014) – took their first wins on the next rung of the ladder, while rookie Will Owen scored his first USF2000 win as well.


The 40-minute sprint race, the first of two for Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tire, saw a wealth of passes and action as drivers fought for grip and traction on a drying track.

From his first career pole, Matthew Brabham finally secured his first Indy Lights win. The Andretti Autosport driver got a great start and headed off challenges from outside pole sitter Gabby Chaves and rookie Luiz Razia throughout the day to take home the triumph.

Behind him it seemed a bit of process of elimination. Chaves retired with an engine failure, points leader Zach Veach had a spin and finished ninth, and Jack Harvey ran off course early but then completed a sterling comeback to return to third.

After the podium finishers, Zack Meyer posted a career-best fourth finish with Alex Baron fifth.


Several accidents peppered the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tire race, which saw Scott Hargrove (pictured) finally take his first win for Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing.

With erstwhile series dominant force Spencer Pigot, 4-for-4 to open the season, involved in a first corner accident and Hargrove’s teammate, Neil Alberico, surviving a clash with Ryan Booth in a battle for the lead, Hargrove made it through to take top honors.

A late-race restart saw Shelby Blackstock shoot himself out of a cannon to nearly take the lead from Hargrove, but he was unable to complete the move and ended second. Alberico ended third.


Pabst Racing called in rookie Will Owen to change from wet-weather tires onto dry weather slicks as the IMS road course dried out during the USF2000 race, and it paid major dividends.

Owen turned a major deficit into more than a 15-second victory as the only driver on the slicks, with Jake Eidson second and Aaron Telitz third.

Florian Latorre finished fourth and 14-year-old Colton Herta was fifth, in an impressive rebound from 22nd on the grid after his car had an infraction found during post-qualifying technical inspection.

All three series have their second races of the weekend on Saturday.

After owning NASCAR, Jimmie Johnson will soon own Charlotte: Receives ‘key to the city’ on Monday

Jimmie Johnson
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While he hasn’t been able to find the key to a win thus far in the 2014 Sprint Cup season, six-time and defending Cup champ Jimmie Johnson will soon have a different kind of key.

Johnson will receive a ceremonial “key to the city” on Monday night during the Charlotte (N.C.) City Council meeting, according to The Charlotte Observer.

Mayor Don Clodfelter will present the honor to Johnson for the philanthropic and charitable efforts by Johnson and wife Chandra, both in the Charlotte area as well as nationally with the Jimmie Johnson Foundation.

Since its inception in 2006, Johnson’s foundation has given nearly $7 million to charities and organizations, including nearly $1 million to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg and Cabarrus County school systems.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Hendrick, Toyota camps not able to hit sharp end of Kansas grid

Jeff Gordon
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It’s not where you start, but where you finish. But qualifying farther up certainly would’ve helped Hendrick Motorsports going into tomorrow night’s 5-Hour Energy 400 at Kansas Speedway.

The Hendrick camp will have a bit of work ahead of them, as all four of its drivers – Sprint Cup points leader Jeff Gordon (13th), defending Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson (14th), Kasey Kahne (17th), and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (22nd) – were unable to get themselves into the final round and contend for the pole.

Gordon and Johnson were surprised that they didn’t have the speed to advance from Round 2.

“I really thought in practice we had a car that would have easily qualified in the top 24 for that first round and made it into round 2 just to start working on how we could sit on the pole and be in the top five,” Gordon said. “I did not expect to be here in 13th or 14th.”

“We felt like we had a car that could get into the final round and came up short,” Johnson told MRN. “I ran my fastest lap of the weekend so far, but it wasn’t enough to get us there. So, we’ll have to do a little bit more work in qualifying trim to get it.”

Johnson was more optimistic about his car in race trim after successful practice sessions earlier today, but wasn’t ready to declare an idea of what to expect tomorrow, when the Sprint Cup Series holds its first-ever night race on the 1.5-mile Kansas oval.

“We kind of get trends that certain tires show us and certain surfaces, but until you get out there and live it and experience it for yourself, you’re just guessing until then,” he said.

Also having to come from the pack tomorrow will be several drivers from the Toyota camp. Only one of the manufacturer’s drivers, Brian Vickers (15th), was able to qualify within the Top 20.

Home-state hero Clint Bowyer will roll off 23rd for his 300th Sprint Cup start, and is joined in Row 12 by Kyle Busch. Busch’s JGR teammates, Matt Kenseth and Talladega winner Denny Hamlin, start 28th and 30th respectively.

Other Toyota runners starting deep include rookies Ryan Truex (31st) and Cole Whitt (36th), as well as veteran Joe Nemechek (43rd).