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B2 Commonwealth Journal Thursday, April 26, 2012 Somerset, Kentucky
F amily o f D ealerships
345 S. HWY. 27, SOMERSET
Four T urns
1 Lsports hasFbOR 200ittingendrickreerotor-up
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
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
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
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
Greg Biffle (1)
Martin Truex Jr.
Matt Kenseth (1)
Dale Earnh ardt Jr.
Denny Ham lin (2)
Jimmi e John so n
T ny Stewart (2)
Ry an Newman (1)
Clint Bo wyer
Joey Log an o
K Bu sc h
Brad Keselowski (1)
Juan P lo Montoya
Aric Almiro la
, CHASE FOR THE SPRINT CUP'
N ationwide S tandings
Elliott Sadler (2)
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (2) 243
Sam Hornish Jr.
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
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
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
" 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
"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
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
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
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
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
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
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
Jame s Buescher (1) 159
Nelson Piquet Jr.
Park er Kligerman
Ron Horn aday
John King (1)
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
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 lonSports.com
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."
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
Denny Hamlin takes the checkered flag in Sunday's STP 400 at Kansas Speedway.
T ruck S tandings
-T racks o n T ap
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 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
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