Kyle Busch Wins Second Straight Brickyard 400

Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images
Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images

Thanks and Courtesy Onpitroad.com

In the 107 year history of the Indianapolis Motor Speedway there hasn’t been a more dominant performance then the one Kyle Busch delivered this weekend.

After leading 62 of 63 laps in Saturday’s victory in the Lilly Diabetes 250, Busch saved the best for last on Sunday leading 149 of 170 laps en route to becoming the first driver in history to sweep both poles and races at the Brickyard holding off Matt Kenseth by 2.126 seconds to score the victory.

Busch also became the second driver in history to win back to back Brickyard 400’s joining Jimmie Johnson as the only drivers to accomplish the feat.

“I felt pretty good to be up front and obviously you’ve got to do everything in your power to not screw it up,” Busch said.

“I can imagine if I would have … beaten one of those guys with the super fast cars [in the past] how they would have felt because I know how I would have felt here today.”

Busch talked about how important the restarts were today at Indy with track position being at a premium.

“We had the race in our hands that we can manipulate the restarts how I needed to and make sure that I got to the No. 1 spot and Matt [Kenseth] was able to do the same thing last week [at New Hampshire],” Busch said.

“Each and every week, it’s power to the leader. That’s what we’ve all kind of asked for with this bigger restart zone and stuff, too, so when you are the race leader that you’ve earned that right to restart how you want.”

Jimmie Johnson was able to rally to a third place finish after being a lap down late in the going. He was followed by: Denny Hamlin and Kyle Larson rounded out the top five.

Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano, Martin Truex Jr., Austin Dillon, and Paul Menard rounded out the top ten.

Notables included: Tony Stewart 11th, Jeff Gordon 13th, Chase Elliott 15th, Kurt Busch 16th, Brad Keselowski 17th, Kasey Kahne 18th, Clint Bowyer 21st, Danica Patrick 22nd, Ryan Newman 31st, and Carl Edwards finished 35th after being caught up in a late race incident.

In a race lacking highlights, the highlight of the race came after the checkered flag had fallen when Stewart and Gordon took a ceremonial lap around the 2.5 mile oval side by side in what was likely barring unforeseen circumstances the last Brickyard 400 for both sure fire hall of famers. After coming back on pit road, Stewart and Gordon hugged.

“For us to share that moment together, I mean that’s probably our last lap around here in a professional race, and I’ll cherish that moment,” Stewart said. “It’s something that doesn’t happen very often.

“It was pretty cool. … We’re never going to get that chance to do that again.”

“Tony and I have gone through a lot over the years, but he and I have become really good friends,” Gordon said. “I was with him when he got hurt this year. … I learned a lot about Tony Stewart. He’s driven. He’s tough.

“To see him in that pain I saw him in and come back and win Sonoma [last month] and be out here driving like this with a chance at a championship when this whole thing is over, that’s impressive.”

Jeff Gordon to drive Corvette Z06 pace car as five-time Brickyard winner starts the 99th Indianapolis 500

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INDIANAPOLIS, Wednesday, April 29, 2015 – Indiana racing legend and five-time Brickyard champion Jeff Gordon will drive a Corvette Z06 pace car to kick off the 99th Running of the Indianapolis 500, on May 24 at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Gordon, who grew up in nearby Pittsboro, Indiana, is no stranger to the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. He won the first NASCAR race in the history of the famed 2.5-mile oval – the 1994 Brickyard 400 – and has won four more times, including last year. His 2014 victory made him the first five-time Brickyard champion and the only five-time winner of a major race on the IMS oval.

“Indy is hallowed ground for racers like me and I couldn’t be more thrilled to drive the Corvette Z06 pace car around the track that helped drive my success over the years,” Gordon said. “The Indianapolis 500 is one of the most celebrated races of the year and an event I always dreamed of racing while growing up in California and in nearby Pittsboro. I’ve won five NASCAR races at IMS and the track will always be a special place for me, so to be able to participate in such a historic day will be something I remember for the rest of my life.”

Race fans can follow Jeff Gordon and his Corvette Z06 pace car experience on Twitter at #JGPace2Race.

Gordon’s drive will mark the 13th time a Corvette has been the official pace car, dating to 1978, and the 26th time a Chevrolet has led the pack for “The Greatest Spectacle in Racing.” Corvette has served as the pace car more than any other vehicle in the race’s history.

“Jeff is a great choice to lead this year’s starting 33 drivers in the Indianapolis 500 to the green flag,” said J. Douglas Boles, president of Indianapolis Motor Speedway. “Jeff has such a strong connection to the state of Indiana and the Indianapolis Motor Speedway and his appearance in the Corvette Z06 pace car reinforces Chevrolet’s important place in the past, present and future of the Indianapolis 500. We also look forward to seeing him back here on July 26, to see if he can make it six wins in the Crown Royal 400 at the Brickyard.”

With 650 supercharged horsepower, a seven-speed manual transmission and a track-capable chassis system, Gordon will have no trouble keeping in front of the race field in the production-spec Corvette Z06. Featuring an Arctic White exterior and Adrenaline Red interior, only its unique Indy graphics package and safety strobe lights distinguish it from other production models.

Like Gordon, Chevrolet has a long, shared heritage with the Indianapolis Motor Speedway. Chevrolet was founded in 1911, the year of the inaugural 500 Mile Race, and the Chevrolet brothers – company co-founder Louis, Arthur and Gaston – all competed in early Indy 500 races. Arthur Chevrolet competed in the 1911 race and Gaston Chevrolet won it in 1920.

“It’s great to have Jeff Gordon serve as this year’s pace car driver,” said Jim Campbell, Chevrolet U.S. vice president of performance vehicles and motorsports. “He is a true champion who has earned the respect and admiration of competitors and race fans alike. It will be very special to have Jeff lead the Indy 500 field to the green flag, behind the wheel of the most powerful and capable production car ever from Chevrolet – on a day he’ll also be competing in the Coca Cola 600 NASCAR race at Charlotte.”

In addition to its frequent use as a pace car in the Indianapolis 500, official partner Chevrolet is the only car to ever pace the Brickyard 400.

Blowing ‘Smoke’ Up Your Tail Pipe

Smoke

Written by Cliff Tanner

Host of Radio Speedtalk and Balance Contributor

Two weeks of promises. Tow very long weeks of anticipation. All it did was remind me of Heinz Catsup. Really?

Don’t get me wrong it was a great race Sunday at Martinsville. The race wasn’t a total disappointment. It was typical Martinsville short track racing. There was a great amount of beating and banking for sure. New rivalries started I believe. But not like Fontana.

Tony Stewart promised to get Joey Logano back for his blocking of Stewart at Fontana. Now granted I know that it doesn’t necessarily mean it would be the nest race but you can’t tell me you weren’t looking for it too. Hell the whole NASCAR Nation was looking for it. Tell me I’m wrong.

There were a couple of opportunities for it to happen. Logano was very strong early on in the race. He came around Stewart with no issues at all. Now you tell me that you were not thinking alright here we go.

Now I have to believe that there are several reasons for that. One is that being early in the season no one wanted to take the chance and get fined or lose points. Secondly Stewart admitted that it was so last race. Yes there can be some tempers that flare up and they can say they forget.

Yeah right I believe that last one. You see in all the years I have been around racing a driver never forgets. The memory of an elephant they say. There will be repercussions I can promise you that. However it could be weeks, months or even years.

Now that I have said that we find Joey Logano with some more enemies. Yes I know Denny Hamlin said that he is upset and he won’t forget. Believe it or not I am not talking about that. I am not sure how many of you caught the comment made by Kurt Busch earlier in the race. Busch had cut down a tire and had to head to pit road. They played audio later and he said, “You know that was the 22 that caused that.”  Poor Joey.

I will tell you this I am so glad to see Logano start to be the driver I felt he was capable of being. He is out there starting to not take anything from anybody. He is just starting to finally earn the respect of the other drivers. Remember it wasn’t all that long ago that his teammate Brad Keselowski went through the same thing.

Enough about that. Yes there was still a race that went one. What a race it turned out to be. Jimmie Johnson took the pole and dominated the race. He led a total of 376 of 500 laps. It wasn’t without drama though I guarantee you that.

After having a car that just didn’t work right Jeff Gordon and his crew got that 24 car fixed right and he was charging hard. He was picking off drivers like they put a jet engine in his car. He definitely had the car to beat on the long run. However a late caution flag meant he had to finish the race on a less than 20 lap race.

Gordon had driven through the field to second place when Kurt Busch caught tire and crashed into the wall. It was a sight to see. We witnessed what the under the hood fire extinguisher can do. It put out the engine fire out fast.

So with Johnson and first and Gordon in second we were sure to see a great finish. However with Gordon not doing well and Johnson starting on the inside made it a tough task. Johnson immediately ran to the bottom and put some distance on the rest of the field. Jimmie cruised to victory the rest of the way. The win broke a tie for third place on the all time wins list at Martinsville. Johnson took home his eighth grandfather clock.

Clint Bowyer came in second followed by Jeff Gordon. Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch rounded out the top five. Mark Martin who substituted for Denny Hamlin in the 11 car overcame a horrible day to finish 10th. Marcos Ambrose started second but had some bad racing luck as well but recovered to finish eighth.

However the most impressive drive of the day came from a rookie. Danica Patrick spun out early in the race. Twice she came back from two laps down. She drove a nice clean race and until the final lap she had the best looking car out there. I don’t mean mechanical wise but clean. Hardly a dent or scratch on it. Which as you know is pretty damn good for Martinsville.

Whether you love her or hate Danica she gained a lot of respect from me. She got out there on the track with the feeling of just wanting to get some time and experience on the track. She got it alright. She finished 12th overall. She was also the top finishing rookie in the race.

Now earlier I said two things. One is that a new rivalry started and that Danica had a clean car until the last lap. Now on the last lap Brian Vickers who I would say had the worst looking car out there cosmetically decided to have a drag race with Danica, Kevin Harvick and himself. He banged off of Danica several times which in turn she banged into Harvick. Danica held her own and won the drag race. Harvick finished 14 and Vickers 13.

Well apparently Harvick didn’t like the move and turned Vickers as they crossed the finish line. As we all know Harvick doesn’t like to take stuff off others more than most. It didn’t stop there. As they approached the pits Harvick turned into Vickers a couple of more times to let him know his displeasure. So there you go a new rivalry. Funny thing was it wasn’t covered very heavily by FOX.

Well the bottom line here folks is simply this. If you saw the race you will see why I say we need more short tracks. NASCAR was built on the short tracks and they should remain that way. Kenny Wallace has agreed with me on Speed Talk. He mentioned that we should put some short tracks inside the bigger ones. This was we have one race that is the big race and the second be the short track. I agree Kenny Wallace.

I’m outta here,

 

 

Chris Economaki dead at the age of 91

 

If your race fan here in Indy or anywhere in the world you remember the voice of Chris Economaki.

Chris Economaki, known as the “Dean of American Motorsports,” died early Friday morning. He was 91.

Here are some thoughts around the racing community.

“The passing of Chris Economaki is a tough loss for me on both a personal and professional level, having known Chris throughout my life,” said Brian France, NASCAR chairman and CEO. “Many people consider Chris the greatest motorsports journalist of all time. He was, indeed, ‘the Dean.’ Chris was a fixture for years at NASCAR events, and played a huge role in growing NASCAR’s popularity. I’ll miss seeing him and of course, I’ll miss hearing that voice. Our thoughts and prayers are with his daughters Corinne and Tina and the rest of Chris’ family.”

Others offered their thoughts on Economaki’s legacy and contributions to motorsports journalism.

Jeff Gordon: “Speed Sport News is something that I read religiously. Chris did a lot for that newspaper and for motorsports, and he was passionate about all of it. The last time I saw him was earlier this year, and still that is all he thought about was racing. And he cared so much about what was happening in this sport and wanted to make a difference and wanted to get those stories out there. It’s just not very often that you come across somebody that puts their heart and soul and entire life mission into that.”

Matt Kenseth: “You would hear him when NASCAR racing first started being on TV, or at least being on TV in Wisconsin before I could see it in person, and you couldn’t help but notice Chris. He was one of the first and probably the most recognizable and famous voices there was with motorsports, and I’m sad to hear about his passing.”

Danica Patrick: “I just know how instrumental he’s been in certain things and how long he’s been around. It’s sad. It’s sad that any time someone who has been around forever and is a legend dies.”

Grant Lynch, Talladega Superspeedway chairman: ” “Our hearts are heavy at the loss of Chris Economaki. Chris was a legend of motorsports media and will truly be missed. He touched so many lives during his time in our sport, not just those he that interviewed, but the thousands of readers and viewers who enjoyed his stories. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family during this time.”

Mike Joy, NASCAR on Fox and Speed play-by-play announcer: “Chris Economaki became the prototype for all radio and television journalists in his sport. His depth of knowledge and skilled questioning made network execs understand that auto racing needed specialists to properly cover the sport. Chris opened the door for a whole generation of voices you hear today, and we are all indebted to him.”

Dr. Dick Berggren, veteran motor sports journalist and Speed reporter: “Chris was the most premier auto racing journalist who ever was and ever will be. We’ll never again see someone as incredibly diverse and successful at his craft. Chris was every bit as at home with a microphone at a local short track as he was covering the Indianapolis 500 or Daytona 500. Dave Despain and I had a similar conversation with Chris regarding how we could improve our performance. Chris said simply, ‘Ask a good question.’ How appropriate today when some journalists make a statement to the driver or athlete and expect him or her to agree, but they don’t ask a question.”

Ralph Sheheen, voice of AMA on Speed and co-owner, publisher of National Speed Sport News: “Chris Economaki was the Dean of American Motorsports Journalism. With his typewriter and unmatched enthusiasm he made National Speed Sport News the most-read racing publication and his Editor’s Notebook an absolute must-read. With his voice he made racing exciting and helped to elevate it in the mainstream sports world through television and radio. Everyone in the racing community, whether they are members of the media, racers or fans, owes Chris a debt of gratitude for his passion and dedication to racing.”

Steve Byrnes, host of NASCAR Race Hub: “Chris was the standard for motorsports journalism. He essentially invented the business of covering motorsports. I was fortunate enough to cover some races for WTBS with him in the ’80s and learned volumes from him. He always told me to ask a question. ‘Don’t answer the question.’ This day, I still hear his voice in my head, ‘Don’t answer it. Just ask it. Ask the driver how they won. Ask the team how they won.’ That was just one specific lesson I learned. They called him the Dean for a reason. But not only did he work incredibly hard and ask the hard questions, he enjoyed life and could tell a joke to lighten the mood in a flash. He will be greatly missed.”

Adam Alexander, host of Speed Center: “When it comes to motorsports, you simply cannot measure Chris’ contributions. His dedication and tireless work helped promote the sport and its many drivers over the years. His presence on the air and his knowledge of all forms of racing made him one of a kind. No one does it today like Chris did it for so many years.”

Bob Dillner, SPEED reporter: “Chris was someone after whom many of us tried to model ourselves. He always asked the tough question and always took into account what the fans wanted to know, whether they were watching him on TV, listening to him on radio or reading his newspaper. … Chris always gave me great advice and taught me to look for the story inside the story because you may not realize what really is there. He loved all types of racing from the Cup Series to the short tracks. He was a true racer and an inspiration in my career. Chris Economaki was one of the real pioneers of our sport who helped build it to what it is today.”

Edsel B. Ford II, member of the Ford Motor Co.board of directors: “All of us at Ford Motor Company are sorry to hear of Chris Economaki’s passing last night. He was an icon of the sport of auto racing and a familiar, knowledgeable face and voice to millions of race fans around the world. His influence on the growth of auto racing in the United States cannot be underestimated. National Speed Sport News covered everything from the greatest drivers around the globe to the local short trackers who competed for their families and fans around this country. Chris respected and loved them all, and they loved him back.”

Kevin Kennedy, Ford Racing Communications director: “Chris’ passing marks the end of a great era of auto racing and how it was covered in this country. He truly loved the sport, probably more than any journalist I knew, but he also loved the people who made up the sport, and was quick to tell a great story, say a kind word to those new to the sport, and hold court on any subject the sport could dish out. I’ll miss that great voice, and the fabulous stories, the Monday morning calls as he was finishing his weekly column, and, of course, the manual typewriter that every media center kept for him. His influence on the media, and the PR people who work in the sport, will never be matched.”

From  my facebook fans remember…

  • Angela Lee Stepro He will be missed!]
  • Alan Distel I had a chance to speak with him when I was doing some work for the Speed Sort News. Great ambassador for the sport. RIP
  • Ken Marshall I remember when Chris wanted to liven up 3rd day qualifications and chose to do a quick story about the “new fireproof uniforms’..He said that he was going to set a bucket of fuel (then used) at the track on fire with his foot in the bucket. His plan was to show how the “fire suit” and boot would protect the driver in a crash fire situation. What he did not think of at the time was that “this might be hot”. Thus, Chris gave himself a sophisticated “hot foot” on Wide World of Sports, much to the entertainment of many. The 3 Stooges could not have done this better. Gee, what was he thinking? BUT he did not get burned. (I am sure his fellow workers did the burning much later off camera). I think that was 1974. Can someone confirm the year. Thanks !

 

 

R.I.P. Christopher “Chris” Constantine Economaki (October 15, 1920 – September 28, 2012)