(Photo: Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)

After 62 starts, Brad Keselowski finally earns first career Trucks win at Bristol

Leave a comment

Brad Keselowski has done quite a bit in his NASCAR career. He won the 2012 Sprint Cup championship (as well as 13 wins to date), the 2010 Nationwide Series title (and 30 wins to date).

But one thing the Michigan native had never done prior to Thursday is to win a Camping World Truck Series event.

Keselowski can finally scratch that off the bucket list, as in his 62nd career start in a truck, he dominated en route to victory in the rain-rescheduled UNOH 200 at Bristol Motor Speedway.

“He’s wanted this so bad for so long,” teary-eyed crew chief Doug Randolph told Fox Sports 1. “I’m just really excited for Brad. … I’m sure he’s relieved.”

Keselowski led 119 of the event’s 200 laps, holding off a late charge by Darrell “Bubba” Wallace Jr. He becomes the 25th driver in NASCAR history to win in all three major series, Trucks, Nationwide and Sprint Cup competition.

“It’s huge, huge,” Keselowski said. “I’ve been wanting to win in this series for a long time. It’s been a long time coming.”

Later, in Victory Lane, Keselowski added, “My family has been a part of this series since the inception, and I feel like I have, too, either as a kid watching or now as a team owner and driver. I nearly went bankrupt in this series, trying to make it. … I’ve had all the success in the Cup series and Nationwide, but never here.

“It took a long time to get here and we made it and I’m thrilled. It’s great to win as a driver. … This is a special day.”

It was also the first win for a Ford truck this season.

Wallace was runner-up, followed by Ron Hornaday Jr., Matt Crafton and last week’s winner at Michigan, Johnny Sauter.

“We finished second. I wish we could take it back. I thought I got on his bumper pretty good getting into (turn) one and not enough,” Wallace said. “I’have had to wreck him to get by him (but) I respect Brad and what he does. Congrats to him. … We just came up short.”

Added Hornaday, “I had to burn the tires off, trying to catch those guys.”

Sixth through 10th were John Hunter Nemechek, followed by Joey Coulter, Cole Custer, Ben Rhodes and Corey LaJoie.

Jeb Burton was 11th, followed by Max Gresham, Ryan Blaney, German Quiroga Jr., Caleb Holman, Justin Jennings, Brennan Newberry, Tyler Young, Jimmy Weller III and Brandon Jones.

Pole-sitter Kyle Busch was the only other driver to lead a lap in the event, leading 81 laps, but wound up finishing six laps behind the leaders in 24th. Busch was running third with 24 laps to go when he slammed into the wall due to a flat right rear tire.

Busch led at the halfway point of the 200-lap event.

With 55 laps remaining, John Wes Townley got loose in the center of Turn 3 and triggered a multi-truck wreck, including those of Newberry, Brandon Jones, Justin Boston and Gray Gaulding.

In the season standings, Sauter retains the No. 1 spot, holding an eight-point edge over teammate Crafton. Hornaday remains in third, 17 points back, Ryan Blaney is 24 points in arrears and Wallace is fifth, 33 points back.

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

Shirley Muldowney surgery update: ‘Couldn’t have gone much better’

NASCAR Media Tour
(Getty Images)
1 Comment

Even though she hasn’t raced since 2003, Shirley Muldowney still has scores of fans.

And many of them, when they heard the news that she would undergo surgery today to remove her right lung due to Stage 2 lung cancer, offered prayers and well wishes on this site, as well as on social media.

Well, even though details are slim, it appears that a five-hour surgery Wednesday morning was a success for the 75-year-old, three-time NHRA Top Fuel champion and one-time AHRA champ.

Muldowney’s agent, Rob Geiger tweeted updates earlier this evening that is great news:

We plan on keeping Muldowney fans updated with more information in the coming days as she begins her recovery.

As Geiger said, “#ShirleyStrong.”

Follow @JerryBonkowski

MRTI: Freedom 100, new USF-17 launch highlight Indy oval weekend

4cb8bc43-1273-4786-8015-73d1bf7d1aee
Photo: Indianapolis Motor Speedway, LLC Photography
Leave a comment

INDIANAPOLIS – The Mazda Road to Indy has a double dip of content this weekend with the Indy Lights Presented by Cooper Tires at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval and the Pro Mazda Championship Presented by Cooper Tires and Cooper Tires USF2000 Championship Powered by Mazda at the Lucas Oil Raceway short oval in Clermont, Ind., outside Indianapolis.

Both events are on Friday; the Freedom 100 airs at noon ET and local time as part of NBCSN’s Carb Day coverage. Kevin Lee, Anders Krohn and Katie Hargitt will have the call for the Freedom.

The Freedom 100 is arguably the marquee race of the year for Indy Lights, and a good springboard to the Verizon IndyCar Series – no less than 24 of the 33 starters in this year’s Indianapolis 500 field have some degree of Mazda Road to Indy experience.

That being said, the randomness of the Freedom 100 has produced a variety of winners who haven’t exactly gone on to huge things in IndyCar.

Here’s the past winners list:

  • 2015: Jack Harvey
  • 2014: Gabby Chaves
  • 2013: Peter Dempsey
  • 2012: Esteban Guerrieri
  • 2011: Josef Newgarden
  • 2010: Wade Cunningham
  • 2009: Wade Cunningham
  • 2008: Dillon Battistini
  • 2007: Alex Lloyd
  • 2006: Wade Cunningham
  • 2005: Jaime Camara
  • 2004: Thiago Medeiros
  • 2003: Ed Carpenter

That’s three past winners in Carpenter, Newgarden and Chaves who are racing on Sunday. Harvey, Dempsey and Guerrieri have a combined zero starts; meanwhile all of Cunningham, Battistini, Camara and Medeiros had less than a season of in IndyCar.

Polesitters have been random too, with some surprises including Ethan Ringel (last year) and Ken Losch (2007) of note.

Traditionally Schmidt Peterson Motorsports has fielded strong entries at the Speedway, and that puts any of its four cars – talented sophomore RC Enerson, Pro Mazda champion Santiago Urrutia and fellow rookies Andre Negrao and Heamin Choi into contention almost from the off. Enerson, in particular, is due his first win of the year after niggling turbo issues have hampered most of his season.

Belardi Auto Racing, given its engineering strength in depth, is also a strong contender and a winner here twice previously in dramatic fashion with Chaves and Dempsey. This year they have Zach Veach, who topped the 200-mph mark during testing on Monday, and Felix Rosenqvist, who will look for a significantly better second oval start than his first at Phoenix.

Either of Enerson and Veach would make it seven winners in eight races this year. The other six thus far are, in order, Felix Serralles, Rosenqvist, Kyle Kaiser, Ed Jones, Urrutia and Dean Stoneman.

Kaiser expects to be better than both he and the Juncos Racing team were here last year. Another potential surprise is Neil Alberico, who was strong in testing despite a slight incident in the first session.

Choi, replacing Scott Anderson, is the only driver change among the 16 entered for the Freedom 100. It’s the biggest field for this race since 2012, when 18 cars started – only 11 have started each of the last three years.

USF17-1
Rendering: Andersen Promotions

Arguably the more intriguing part of the weekend from the Pro Mazda or USF2000 perspective is the launch of the new Tatuus USF-17 car, which gets unveiled Friday morning, 9 a.m., at IMS.

It’s the second new car to be unveiled at IMS in recent years, with the Dallara IL-15 Mazda having been unveiled in May 2014 ahead of its race debut for 20115.

The Pro Mazda and USF2000 races occur later in the day on Friday at IMS.

In Pro Mazda, the question is whether anyone can stop the Pato O’Ward roll of awesomeness for Team Pelfrey. The young Mexican has won five of six races to date, although teammate Aaron Telitz is a past winner at Lucas Oil Raceway in USF2000. The remaining six drivers in the field will look to end O’Ward’s run of form.

USF2000 sees its field temporarily cut in half for its lone oval race of the season, down from 27 cars entered at the Angie’s List Grand Prix of Indianapolis weekend to a mere 14 cars on the 0.686-mile oval.

While Cape Motorsports with Wayne Taylor Racing and Pabst Racing have three cars entered apiece – Parker Thompson and Anthony Martin have propelled Cape to four straight wins this year -known oval setup ace John Walko will likely have Victor Franzoni’s car ready to go to contend.

Driver helmets looking very stylish for Sunday‘s Indianapolis 500

JHH_5709
Photo IndyCar
Leave a comment

If it’s spring and time for the Indianapolis 500, the best-dressed man and woman are sporting the newest fashions – on their heads, that is.

There’s a number of fascinating liveries on helmets for this year’s race. Some are tribute liveries, some homages to the race itself and some just switched up for the sake of it.

Here’s some of the more interesting helmets drivers will be wearing in the 100th running of the Indy 500 this Sunday at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

 

It’s a dog’s life: While ‘dad’ Simon is away, Norman Pagenaud will play

simon pagenaud and norman
2 Comments

Current Verizon IndyCar Series points leader Simon Pagenaud — who comes into Sunday’s 100th running of the Indianapolis 500 riding a three-race winning streak — has a new addition to the family: Norman Pagenaud.

The newest Pagenaud already has his own Twitter account and while ‘dad’ was in Detroit Tuesday during the annual NASCAR cross-country media tour day, Norman REALLY got to know his new home away from home: Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Check out some of Norman’s best tweets of the day, as well as a few from Simon.

Oh, and did we mention that Norman is a puppy? He’s sooooooo cute!

Follow @JerryBonkowski