Sunday, October 08, 2006
Brian Vickers wins at Talladega
Like Saturday's Craftsman Truck race, we had one crazy finish at the UAW-Ford 500 NASCAR Nextel Cup race at Talladega. The track was newly paved and the cars were so fast in Friday's practice that NASCAR gave everyone new carburetor restrictor plates on Saturday to slow them down a bit. They still ran in one big pack and everyone was worried about how the dreaded Big One would affect the Nextel Cup Championship race. But the fans love it. The drivers? Not so much though the new asphalt left the track very smooth. Rookie David Gilliland won the pole. At least he gets to run in the Bud Shootout in Daytona in February.
The nature of Talladega is that the draft causes guys at the front to go to the back and vice versa so there are way too many lead changes and a lot of them don't mean much untill the end. Also, the fuel cells are smaller than normal so there are more pit stops and more opportunities to make mistakes on pit road. This is supposed to break up the pack which seems like a good idea but doesn't work. Because of the new pavement, there was no tire wear so there would be a lot of fuel only pit stops. Jeff Gordon-#24 Dupont Chevy, Jamie McMurray-#26 Crown Royal Ford & Greg Biffle-#16 National Guard Ford led a lot early but they were shuffled to the back too. Matt Kenseth-#17 DeWalt Tools Ford was leading after the second set of green flag pit stops when a Dave Blaney-#22 Caterpillar Dodge flat tire brought out the first caution on lap 72. Everyone pits but Biffle, Carl Edwards-#99 Office Depot Ford & Sterling Marlin-#14 Waste Management Chevy stay out to run up front. That doesn't make sense at Talladega.
Jeff Gordon continues to run up front. Dale Earnhardt Jr-#8 Budweiser Chevy has a flat tire on lap 103 and goes a lap down. Brian Vickers-#25 GMAC Chevy leads after green flag pit stops. A debris caution comes out after lap 129. Clint Bowyer-#07 DIRECTV Chevy leads after pit stops. Matt Kenseth takes the lead on lap 135. Then the dreaded Big One came on lap 137. It looks like Joe Nemechek-#01 US Army Chevy checked up. That caused Carl Edwards to get loose and turn Casey Mears-#42 Texaco Havoline Dodge around and ten cars were damaged. This is because they're running so close together. Jeff Gordon's car is badly damaged and he finishes 36th. Kevin Harvick-#29 GM Goodwrench Chevy & Denny Hamlin-#11 FedEx Chevy are not as bad. Greg Biffle, Jamie McMurray & Sterling Marlin are all out.
Reed Sorenson-#41 Target Dodge blows an engine on lap 148. Everyone pits. With 38 laps remaining, it's right at the fuel window and some guys might try and get to the end without another pit stop. But if more cautions come out, it probably won't be an issue. Jimmy Johnson-#48 Lowe's Chevy & Dale Earnhardt Jr. come to the front. On lap 173, David Stremme-#40 Coors Light Dodge bumps J.J. Yeley-#18 Interstate Batteries Chevy into the wall. The other Joe Gibbs cars, Tony Stewart-#20 Home Depot Chevy & Denny Hamlin is involved in his secons crash and finishes 21st. Fuel mileage is no longer an issue.
When the green flag comes out on lap 178, Dale Earnhardt Jr. is leading followed by teammates Jimmie Johnso0n & Brian Vickers. Together they can probably pass Earnhardt and Johnson should get the win. Points leader Jeff Burton-#31 Cingular Chevy comes to pit road with a flat tire and finishes 27th. The white flag comes out. Johnson & Vickers finally make their move but Vickers clips Johnson's bumper and spins out Johnson & Earnhardt. Brian Vickers wins his first Nextel Cup race. Earnhardt is 23rd & Johnson is 24th. Vickers is booed unmercifully. He's going to hear boos for a while.
Congratulations to Brian Vickers, crew chief Lance McGrew and car owner Rick Hendrick on the win. Big top ten finishes for Martin Truex Jr., Jeff Green & Bobby Labonte. Jeff Burton still leads the points after his flat tire. Matt Kenseth is 6 points back and Mark Martin is 10 points back. Next week is Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte. Here's the top ten of the race.
2.9/Kasey Kahne/UAW-Dodge Dealers/Dodge/Ray Evernham
3.2/Kurt Busch/Miller Lite/Dodge/Roger Penske
4.17/Matt Kenseth/DeWalt Tools/Ford/Jack Roush
5.1/Martin Truex Jr/Bass Pro Shops/Chevy/Dale Earnhardt Inc.
6.29/Kevin Harvick/GM Goodwrench/Chevy/Richard Childress
7.66/Jeff Green/Microsoft Windows Live/Chevy/Gene Haas
8.6/Mark Martin/AAA/Ford/Jack Roush
9.99/Carl Edwards/Office Depot/Ford/'Jack Roush
10.43/Bobby Labonte/Cheerios/Dodge/Petty Enterprises