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Image 12 of Commonwealth Journal April 26, 2012

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Page Designed and Edited by Steve Cornelius; B2 Commonwealth Journal Thursday, April 26, 2012 Somerset, Kentucky 3D?'4E@?WR>?' 4@S>RH'DC' 3F@RFEQP>VQ'LPF' SDQL'APD>AFQ'>?' 6F?LOAWHMMM NFEG>?B'HDO >?'LPFQF RDA@L>D?Q NDSFEQFL =DROSK>@ T@EIQLDU?' 7D?ID? 7>KFELH /OQQFRR'NVE>?BQ F amily o f D ealerships 4>?@?A>?B' CDE'FGFEHD?F' BDDIJ'K@I'DE ?D'AEFI>LM CHRYSLER - -a-- ~ Lincoln 345 S. HWY. 27, SOMERSET !"#$%&'()(*(+,*-.-.'#/'.*,,,*(+,*-.-.'0'11123#$4/5$678$59:#;#:8<%2=#; 1,000 'VEFDU?FI' GFP>ARFQ'>?' QLDAWMMM Commonwealth Journal Four T urns 1 Lsports hasFbOR 200ittingendrickreerotor-up OOKING H M een s on ca C Plains Dealer victory No.1 99 since Jimmie Johnson won at Kansas Speedway in Oct. 2011 - a spa n of 14 races. In that time, HMS entries have finished second or third eight times. Six of those runs are credited to Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Denny Hamlin outguns Martin Truex Jr. at Kansas Speedway 2 HOOKINGwFinORin2t00, NPo.ART1 2JoeDenny L amlin 's he 1 Gibbs Racing Toyota was the 199th Grand National/Cup win for a car numbered 11 . All of Hamlin's 19 career wins have come in the No. 11 car. The list of other drivers who have piloted a No. 11 car is a who's who of racing greats: Junior Johnson (11 wins), Ned Jarrett (49), Bobby Allison (3), Buddy Baker (2) , Cale Yarborough (55), Darrell Waltrip (43), Terry Labonte (4) and Bill Elliott (6). 3 (OdatingROLLk Ooverhethealllast 13 rracesin NA bac t t T adega ace Oct. 2011), Martin Truex Jr. has enjoyed the best average finish of any driver on the Cup circuit. Truex's 8.38place average finish nips Tony Stewart's 8.53 . Stewart, howev er, has earned five wins in that span, along with a Sprint Cup title. 4 TURNING THE CORNER IN 2012 T nty-two year old James we Buescher is off to a flying start with Turner Motorsports thi s season. The Plano, Texas, native scored an unlikely - and his first - win in the Nationwide Series race at Daytona to start the season. Last weekend at Kansas, Buescher drove to his first career Truck Series victory. Buescher, who fin ished third in the Truck Series standings last season, is currently ranked seco nd with three top 10s in four races. S print C up S tandings 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. DRIVER (WINS) Greg Biffle (1) Martin Truex Jr. Matt Kenseth (1) Dale Earnh ardt Jr. Denny Ham lin (2) Kevin Harvick Jimmi e John so n T ny Stewart (2) o Carl Edwards Ry an Newman (1) 11. 12. 13. 14. 15. 16. 17. 18. 19. 20. Clint Bo wyer Joey Log an o K Bu sc h yle Paul Menard Brad Keselowski (1) Juan P lo Montoya ab Jeff Burton Jeff Gordon Jamie McMurray Aric Almiro la POINTS BEHIND 312 -15 297 -17 254 -21 253 249 -23 242 -25 -37 234 -47 233 -61 225 -63 219 , CHASE FOR THE SPRINT CUP' 215 192 192 184 183 179 177 174 172 170 -85 -91 -94 -94 -95 -105 -111 -112 -122 -125 N ationwide S tandings 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. DRIVER (WINS) POINTS BEHIND Elliott Sadler (2) 247 Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2) 243 -4 Austin Dillon 227 -20 Sam Hornish Jr. 193 -54 Michael Annett -64 183 -65 Cole Whitt 182 Trevor Bayne -67 180 Taylor Malsam -84 163 Justin Allgaier 163 -84 Mike Bliss 147 -100 By MATT TALIAFERRO Athlon Sports Racing Editor It seemed a forma li ty that once Maltin Truex Jr. had fended o ff a vicious challenge from Jimmie Johnson that Michael Waltrip Racing would score its first Sprint Cup Series w in s in ce 20 I O. Truex had led 173 laps and seemed on virtual crui se control as the laps ticked away in the STP 400 from Kansas Speedway. He pulled away for chunks o f laps at a time after green flag pit stops - 45, 8 1 a nd 43 consecutive laps led on successive occasions separating himself from the runner-up competitor by whole seconds. Then, with about 35 laps to go, something happened to Truex's Toyota. According to team co-owner Michael Waltrip, the sun came out and changed the track, loosening up the car. Truex, however, was unhappy with the last set o f tires that he reckoned did not agree with his machine. Whatever the reason, a charging Denny Hamlin caught Truex a nd got by shortly after the final round o f green flag pit stops to score hi s second win o f the season. Hamlin's race-winning pass came on lap 237 o f267, and despite a la stditch banzai effort with three laps remaining by Truex to reclaim the lead, the aero advantage Hamlin enjoyed carried him to the win . "I knew that the only advantage that I had is when his (Truex 's) car got so loose that last run, I was able to make up a lot o f time on entry and a lot o f time on exit (in and out o f t he corners) because he was really fighting his car," Hamlin said. "So really, as the driver behind, you can manipulate hi s car and make it worse for him by gett in g up close to him - and that's what I kind o f did a few laps leading up to when we passed him, is that I tried to run as close up to him on entry as I could and as close on exit. I t takes away rear grip, and to a c ar that was as loose as what hi s was, they have no choice really but to back o ff and not wreck their car." The win at the 1.5-mile intermediate oval was somewhat o fa surprise, in that Hamlin' s best finish on a comparable track this season was I I tho " We j ust need to make 10 race cars j ust like this one and w e'll be fine," Hamlin said. ' There 's always things, areas th at you need to work in. We feel like we ' ve identified • Dodge continues to search for a flagship N ews team for the 2013 season and beyond since Penkse Racing 's announcement that it will switch to Ford next year. & N otes those areas and w e've gone to work on them. " So right now I feel like we ' re bringing better race cars to the racetrack than what we have, and it 's sti ll going to take time. As for Truex, he and crew c hief C had Johnston continue to knock on Victory Lane's door. Six o f his finishes have been eighth or better this season and he has yet to fi ni sh outside o f the top 20. That perfornlance - he has averaged a 4.8-place finish in the last five races - places him second in the S pr int Cup point standings. "The NAPA team was phenomenal today," Truex sa id. " Just not rea ll y sure what to think about that last set o f tires. (The) car had been really good a ll day, (then we) put the last set on and I was wrecking loose for the first 20 laps o f that last run and Denny was ab le to get by me and once he did the race was over. "(The) car got better longer in the r un and I was ab le to get back to him, but I 'd g et three, four c ar lengths from him and pick up the aero push." Johnson held on for third after pit strategy forced him to climb o ut o f a late-race hole. Matt Kenseth and points-leader Greg Biffle rounded out the top 5. Ford teams) and chassis from RFR. What appears to be paramount is that Dodge needs a team that can produce its own engines and chassis . However, when asked at Kansas, Richard Petty was neutral on the speculation linking his team with Dodge . Penske was the only multi-car team that sported the Dodge brand, building engines and chassis out of its own shop. What team will land with Dodge is the question at the m omentand no one seems to have any clues as to which organization will make what amounts to a momumental shift. "Right now, we've got our sponsors pretty much lined up for next year," Petty told ESPN . " Where we go with the cars and engines and things like that ... we've got a plan , but I don 't know if anybody is going to go along with it. Richard Petty Motorsports - at least in the rumor mill has been at the forefront of speculation . RPM currently runs Fords as a satellite operation of Roush Fenway Racing. RPM receives Roush-Yates engines (which supplies most of the "(Dodge) got a plug pulled out of them and wasn't really expecting it. We'll consider going anywhere to make a living out of this. Right now, we ' re still up with the Ford deal and we 're doing everything we can to win races with them ." CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES Track: Charlotte Motor Speedway When: Frid ay, May 18 TV: SPEED (7:30 p.m . ESn 2011 Winner: Kyle Busch C lassic M oments Richmond International Raceway After winning nine of the previous 10 Richmond race s at what was then the .542- mile Richmond Fairgrounds, Richard Petty's magical run came to an end co urtesy of a blo wn engine in October 1975. After Petty's motor expired 34 laps into the Capital City 500, Dave Marcis, Lennie Pond and Cale Yarborough traded licks, with P nd o having led the most laps (205) on the afternoon. Ho wever, Darrell Waltrip, racing the No. 88 DiGard Chevy, passed Pond on lap 375 and lapped the field from there . Waltrip's win was th efirst of 43 career Cup victories for the DiGard operation (26 wit h Waltrip). After Waltrip left in 1980, the DiGard team wou ld find succ ess with Bobby Allison, Ricky Rudd and in the F irecracke r 400 at Daytona with Greg Sacks . A thlon F antasy S tall Looking at Checkers: Th is is D nn y Hamlin 's e home track, and he treats it as such , wi th two wi ns and only one finish outside of the top 15 in his 12 Cup starts at Ri ch mond. Pretty Solid Pick: H mlin 's teammate , Kyle a Busch, needs to turn his seaso n around. His three wins and 12 top 10s in 14 Cup starts bode we ll. Good Sleeper Pick: Might Clint Bawyergiv e MWR its first win of the 2012 seaso n? Runs on Seven Cylinders: Brad Keselowski has yet to score a top 10 in Cup competition at RIR in five starts. Insider Tip: This is one of Da le Earnhardt Jr. 's best tracks and Steve Letartecan tune the car her e. HMS win No. 200? A thlon S ports H orsepower R ankings 1. Greg Biffle DRIVER (WINS) POINTS BEHIND Timothy Peters 163 -4 Jame s Buescher (1) 159 Justin Lofton 152 -11 Ty Dillon -14 149 Nelson Piquet Jr. -23 140 Park er Kligerman 137 -26 Ron Horn aday -34 129 John King (1) 124 -39 -4 3 Jason White 120 Matt Crafton 115 -48 2. Jimmie Johnson 3. Martin Truex Jr. 4. Matt Kenseth 5. Dale Earnhardt Jr. 6. Tony Stewart T hrottle U plThrott'e D own 7. Denny Hamlin KASEY KAHNE Since th e Cup Series' off weekend, Kahne and his Hendrick Motorsports team have rebounded o earn seventh- and eighth-p lace showings. In that time , he 's jumped from 31st to 26th in the standings. BOBBY LABONTE The NASCAR veteran hasn 't scored a top-5 finish with hi s JTG Daugherty Racing team since the 2011 Daytona 500, a span of 43 races. 8. Carl Edwards ~ 9. Kevin Harvick 10. Brad Keselowski 11. Ryan Newman 12. Kasey Kahne 13. Kyle Busch 14. Jeff Gordon 15. Clint Bowyer Just off the lead pack: ~ Compi led and written by Matt Ta liaferro. Follo w Matt on Twitter @MattTa liaferro or email atMatt.Taliaferro@Ath SPRINT CUP SERIES Track: Richmond Internation al Raceway Location: Richmond , Va. When: Saturday, Apr il 28 TV: FOX (7:00 p.m. ESn Layout: .75-mil e D-shaped oval Banking/Turns: 14 degrees Banking/Frontstretch: 8 degrees Banking/Backstretch: 2 degrees 2011 Winners: Kyle Busch /Kev in Harvick Crew Chief's Take: "Ric hmond is a fast short tra ck that has a lot of challenges. It almost drives like asuperspeedway because th e corner speed is very high . It takes the right balance of having the car turn in the center of the corner without giving up fo rwa rd drive off the corner. Fuel mi leage and pit strategy come into play at times , so yo u need to make sure you stay on top of that throughout the race. Richmon d is atrack where a driver ca n make a big difference. If you wa nt to tal k about a balance between what the drivers like and what the fans like , Richmond probably strikes the best balance in NASCAR. There aren 't many races that teams look forward to more." NATIONWIDE SERIES Track: Richmond International Raceway When: Frid ay, April 27 TV: ESPN2 (7:00 p.m. ESn 2011 Winners: Denny H mlin /Ky le Bu sc h a Denny Hamlin takes the checkered flag in Sunday's STP 400 at Kansas Speedway. T ruck S tandings 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. 9. 10. -T racks o n T ap Greg Biffle ASp, Inc. The Biff's fifth-place run at Kansas was his series-best fifth top-5 showing of the season. This re-vamped Roush fenway group is clicking on all cylinders at the moment. One of only four drivers this season with six top 1Os, Johnson see ms poised to be the man who gets Rick Hendri ck his 200th career Cup win . Gatta get over the hump , though . Enjoying th e most productive string of races in his Cup career, Truex need only worry about peaking too soon. Though it's doubtfu l ra ce car drivers worry about stuff like that. Bet you didn't notice , but Kenseth is rolling with three co nsec utive top 5s. This is a team that will cruise through the season at thi s level and prob ab ly have someth ing in reserve for the Chase. The good news: Junior is tied with three other drivers for the most top 10s in 20 12 (6). The bad ne ws ... we ll , I thin k we all know what the bad news is. Richmond may put an end to it, though . Stewart is all over the board, which mak es him a hard one to figure. He 's either scoring a win or finishing somewhere between 13th -25 th. H mlin is a tough one to figu re , as well. Despite the fact that Joe Gibbs RaCing, as a whole, is having a a down year, he's still manag ed a pair of win s. He 's gunning for a third in hi s home state on Saturday. Edwards finally led a lap after going throug h the first seven race s without sitting atop the pylon. Unfortunately for Carl, he on ly led one at Kansas, but drove to a respectable top-10 finish. Watching Harvick race with nemesis Kyle Busch at Kansas, yo u ju st got the ide a Harvick was toying with him. If Penske could clean up the mechanical bugs, Keselowski could contend for a title. For a driver kno wn for his consistency, Newman has been downr ig ht inconsistent this year. Consecutive top 1Os follo wing th e off wee k which fo llowed a disasterous start to the seaso n. The 18 team appears to be heading in the right direc tion , but we'll see .. It's almost time for Gordon to start gunning for wins in order to rece ive a Wild Card slot in the Chase. Like many others , Bowyer's engine we nt sour at Kansas. Give this te am some time. Joey Lagana, Mark Martin, Jamie McMurray, Pa ul Menard , Juan Pablo Montoya

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