2010-10-14 / Sports

Stewart Gets California Win

THE RACING REPORTER
By Gerald Hodges

FONTANA, Calif. – Tony Stewart is definitely back in the Chase. Stewart jumped out front on a green/white/checker restart, and won Sunday’s California Cup race, ahead of Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson. It was Stewart’s 30th career Cup victory, but his first at the Fontana track.

He moved up five spots and is now 107 points back of Johnson, the leader.

Clint Bowyer passed Jimmie Johnson on the final lap, then held on to finish second.

Bowyer remains last in the 12-man chase field, 247 points out.

Johnson challenged for the lead in the final laps of the race, but had to settle for third.

Kasey Kahne, Ryan Newman, Mark Martin, Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon and David Reutimann were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Kyle Busch, winner of Saturday’s Nationwide race, lost an engine and finished 35th. He dropped from seventh to ninth in points.

“There was a loud pop coming out of turn2 when I had it wide open,” said Busch. “I don’t know what happened. The engine just broke.”

Chase Leaders with six to go: 1. Johnson-5673, 2. Hamlin-5637, 3. Harvick- 5619, 4. J. Gordon-5558, 5. Stewart-5566, 6. Kurt Busch-5533, 7. Edwards- 5511, 8. Burton-5496, 9. Kyle Busch-5486, 10. Biffle-5458, 11. Kenseth-5432, 12. Bowyer-5426

Kyle Busch gets 12th Nationwide win

Kyle Busch needs to buy his pit crew a steak dinner, because they deserve the credit for his win in Saturday’s Nationwide Series race.

Strong on short runs but no match for Kevin Harvick on longer ones, Busch rallied from a pit-road speeding penalty to beat NASCAR Nationwide points leader Brad Keselowski to the finish line by 1.034 seconds.

“The pit stops were what got us there,” Busch said. “Just being able to have the guys give us a good pit stop on that last time and get out front when it mattered most and kind of set sail on the restarts.

“Harvick had a really, really good car on long runs. He showed that today—he probably had the best car. We could keep up with him for about eight or 10 laps, but after that, he started getting away from us.”

The victory was Busch’s 12th of the year, leaving him six behind series leader Mark Martin in career wins.

To Kevin Harvick, on the other hand, there was little doubt that his pit crew lost it.

“The guys in the shop did a great job in transitioning to some new setup packages and doing the things they need to do to make them fast – and those are the guys I feel the worst for,” Harvick said. “We’ve got guys that just roll up on the weekend and just flat out aren’t doing a very good job on pit road.”

Harvick ran third, despite leading a race-high 86 laps. Carl Edwards, second in the series standings, came home fourth and trails Keselowski by 384 points with five races left. Joey Logano finished fifth.

Danica Patrick saw a promising run spoiled when contact from James Buescher turned her No. 7 Chevrolet into the wall on Lap 141 of 150 to cause the sixth and final caution. Patrick was running 17th at the time, hoping for her first lead-lap finish in her eighth NASCAR Nationwide start, but the wreck relegated her to a 30th-place result.

Top-10 Nationwide leaders after 30 of 35: 1. Keselowski 4764, 2. Edwards- 4380, 3. Kyle Busch-4279, 4. Allgaier-3938, 5. Menard-3866, 6. Harvick-3763, 7. Lognao- 3392, 8. Bayne-3391, 9. S. Wallace 3351, 10. Leffler-3315

Top-10 Camping World Truck Series leaders after 20 of 25: 1. Bodine-3196, 2. Almirola-2934, 3. Sauter- 2896, 4. Dillon-2808, 5. Peters- 2773, 6. Crafton-2773, 7. Hornaday 2687, 8. Skinner-2549, 9. Starr-2504, 10. Lofton-2379

NASCAR and ESPN are constantly talking about what it will take to regain the number of television viewers that have left the sport.

There have been many statements made by both parties about race starting times, the Chase, the Car of Tomorrow and several other factors that have caused the sport to lose viewers.

If they were to ask me, I’d tell them it’s the lack of excitement during the races.

I make my living writing about NASCAR, but yesterday I became painfully aware of how much NASCAR racing has lost its lustre.

I enjoy watching college football. Last Saturday night there were two games on at the same time, LSU against Florida, and Auburn versus Kentucky. Both games went right down to the wire. The outcome of neither game was decided until the last eight seconds.

Watching these four teams play kept me on edge. They were so packed with action, that I constantly switched channels to catch as much of the action of each as possible.

Both had thrilling, exciting finishes. They grabbed my emotions. Why?

Here were groups of young men putting forth individual effort. Each trying to give his best.

NASCAR racing on the other hand is about a set of polished drivers, piloting a mechanical machine around a set course, with a backup of 40-50 other people and a multi-million dollar budget.

Big-time racing used to be about individual effort, but that went out the window when it succumbed to Corporate America’s greed.

I will continue to faithfully write about NASCAR, but until it can reach me emotionally, it can never be number one.

Weekend racing: Race number five in this year’s Chase for the Sprint Cup championship will be held at Charlotte.

Friday, October 15, Nationwide Series Dollar General 300, race 31 of 35; Starting 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: ESPN2.

Saturday, October 16, Sprint Cup Bank of America 500, race 31 of 36; Starting time: 7:30 p.m. ET; TV: ABC.

Racing trivia question: How many Cup wins did Earnhardt Sr. have?

Last week’s question: How many Cup championships did Dale Earnhardt Sr. win? Answer. Seven; 1980, ’86, ’87, ’90, ’91, ’93, ‘94.

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