Eliminated from the Chase: Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Biffle and Almirola

3 Comments

While 12 other drivers will advance to the next phase – the Contender round – of the Chase for the Sprint Cup, four drivers unfortunately fell short in Sunday’s AAA 400 at Dover International Speedway.

A.J. Allmendinger, Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle and Aric Almirola failed to advance to the next round and are the first four drivers to ever be eliminated from the Chase.

Here’s how things played out for those four drivers and their thoughts (courtesy of post-race interviews on ESPN):

* A.J. Allmendinger, finished 13th in the standings, fell short of advancing by just two points:

“We sucked overall all day today,” Allmendinger said. “We weren’t good enough. We didn’t deserve to make it. I’m not disappointed we didn’t make it. I’m just disappointed in running like this.

“That’s all I had. I’m worn out, tried to give everything, tried to get every spot possible. … We just weren’t good enough all day. We never hit it all weekend. I know I’m way better at this place than that looked like.

“… We’ve got seven races left. Just because we didn’t make it doesn’t mean the season is over. Not bad for a single-car team like ours to come up three points short.”

* Kurt Busch finished 14th, six points out:

“It just was tight the last 100 miles,” Busch said. “I felt we were in a good position to advance. … We gave it a good run.

“We don’t get to advance to the championship, but we can still run for pride and for wins. You can’t expect to advance running 18th. … I just chalk it up to me not getting the job done, that we didn’t advance.”

* Greg Biffle finished 15th, seven points out:

Biffle did not speak to ESPN after the race.

* Aric Almirola, finished 16th, 18 points out:

“(I’m) just sad, disappointed,” Almirola said. “We picked a real bad day to run like that.

“That’s kind of what we fought this year, we were just really inconsistent. We had really good weeks and we had really bad weeks. We don’t ever run consistently, and this week was proof of that.

“It’s frustrating to run like that, but we’ll regroup. … I guess our goal from here on out is just not to finish 16th in points.”

Follow me @JerryBonkowski

March 28 in Motorsports History: Adrian Fernandez wins Motegi’s first race

Leave a comment

While auto racing is an international sport, oval racing remains uniquely American. 

That almost always has remained the case since the inception of the sport, but in 1998, the citizens of Japan got their first taste of American oval racing.

Having opened the previous year, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in an effort to bring Indy-style racing to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Adrian Fernandez was the first driver to win at the facility, taking the checkered flag in CART’s inaugural race after shaking off flu earlier that day.

Fernandez held off a hard-charging Al Unser Jr to win by 1.086 seconds. The victory was the second of his career and his first since Toronto in 1996.

Adrian Fernandez celebrates with Al Unser Jr and Gil de Ferran after winning the inaugural race at Motegi. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The race was also memorable for a violent crash involving Bobby Rahal.

Running third with 15 laps remaining, Rahal’s right front suspension broke in Turn 2, causing his car to hit the outside wall and flip down the backstretch.

Luckily, Rahal walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The car was on rails through (turns) 1 and 2, and all of a sudden it just got up into the marbles, and it was gone,” Rahal said. “Thank God we’ve got such safe cars.”

The following season, Fernadez went back-to-back and won again at Motegi. The track remained on the CART schedule until 2002.

In 2003, Honda switched their alliance to the Indy Racing Leauge, and Motegi followed suit.

The track continued to host IndyCar racing until 2011 with the final race being held on the facility’s 2.98-mile road course, as the oval sustained damage in the Tōhoku earthquake earlier that year.

Also on this date:

1976: Clay Regazzoni won the United States Grand Prix – West, Formula One’s first race on the Long Beach street circuit. The Grand Prix would become an IndyCar event following the 1983 edition of the race.

1993: Ayrton Senna won his home race, the Grand Prix of Brazil, for the second and final time of his career. The victory was also the 100th in F1 for McLaren.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter