2011-08-25 / Sports

Kyle Busch Wins At Michigan

By Gerald Hodges

Kyle Busch and car owner Joe Gibbs. Kyle Busch and car owner Joe Gibbs. BROOKLYN, Mich. – Kyle Busch caught and passed Jimmie Johnson on Lap 187 of the 200-lap Sprint Cup race at Michigan International Speedway on Sunday, then survived a greenwhite checkered finish after his brother Kurt hit the outside wall with four laps remaining to bring out the race’s last caution.

“I wasn’t sure we would make it,” said Busch. “With about 10-to-go, the water climbed to 250 degrees. We had a good car. I just had to movearound the track and figure things out so we could win.”

It was Busch’s fourth win of the season. The win allowed him to clinch a spot in the Chase with three races to go before the Chase begins.

Johnson was not able to regain the lead, once he lost it to Busch.

“We made a very valid effort,” said Johnson. “We had good pit stops, and I thought we had a shot at it on the last restart, but Kyle had a little stronger car today.”

Brad Keselowski, Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Clint Bowyer, Tony Stewart and Matt Kenseth were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Polesitter Greg Biffle was dominant early in the race. He led five times for 86 of the first 100 laps, but wound up 20th.

Carl Edwards had mechanical problems with his No. 99 Ford and lost 28 laps before his team could make repairs. He finished 36th and dropped to fourth in Chase standings.

Top-12 Chase contenders after 23 of 36: 1. Kyle Busch- 799, 2. Johnson-789, 3. Harvick 760, 4. Edwards-760, 5. Kenseth-759, 6. J. Gordon- 739, 7. Newman-725, 8. Kurt Busch-722, 9. Earnhardt 700, 10. Stewart-694, 11. Bowyer- 670, 12. Keselowski-642

Ambrose hangs tough at Montreal

Marcos Ambrose came all the way from Michigan where he was practicing for Sunday’s Cup race, to win Saturday’s Nationwide race at Montreal, Canada.

“It has been a heck of a day that started with the Cup practice in Michigan at 10 this morning, a helicopter ride, a plane ride here, another helicopter ride, then a boat ride to finally jump in another race car to come in and finally win this race,” said Ambrose, who had led the most laps in the first four races at Montreal but did not have a win to show for it.

The victory was Ambrose’s fourth in the Nationwide Series and second NASCAR road-course victory in six days – he won his first Sprint Cup Series race Monday at Watkins Glen.

Alex Tagliani came in second, followed by Michael Mc- Dowell, Steve Wallace and Canadian J.R. Fitzpatrick. Rounding out the top-10 were Scott Speed, Carl Edwards, on whose plane Ambrose flew to Montreal, Justin Allgaier, Jason Leffler and Elliott Sadler.

Top-10 leaders after 20 of 34: 1. Stenhouse-834, 2. Sadler-826, 3. Sorenson-825, 4. Allgaier-772, 5. Almirola- 770, 6. Leffler-739, 7. K. Wallace 714, 8. S. Wallace-676, 9. Scott-658, 10. Annett-649

Harvick gets second consecutive truck win

Kevin Harvick claimed his second consecutive truck race in a green-white-checkered flag finish at Michigan International Speedway on Friday.

The victory was owner/ driver Harvick’s second in four starts this season and the 11th of his career.

Timothy Peters ran second, followed by Miguel Paludo, James Buescher and David Starr.

Top-10 leaders after 14 of 24: 1. Sauter-519, 2. Buescher 514, 3. Dillon-511, 4. Peters 507, 5. Whitt-487, 6. Crafton-475, 7. Hornaday- 473, 8. Coulter-468, 9. Kligerman 460, 10. Bodine-448

Get ready for Danica

The moment many reporters have been waiting for is about to arrive.

Danica Patrick will move to NASCAR full time in 2012.

Her presence is regarded by the news media and NASCAR officials as big and welcome news.

But as far as a major racing storyline goes, even though she is a female, she is just another driver behind the wheel of a NASCAR racecar.

Larry McReynolds, former crew chief for Dale Earnhardt Sr. and current television analyst for Fox Sports, said, “I have to tell you, folks, I like what I’m hearing. I think Danica truly wants to be in NASCAR. And you know what? NASCAR needs Danica Patrick. The sport needs a female or minority driver that will be in good equipment – no matter whether it is in Nationwide, Trucks or in Sprint Cup.”

But what about her racing skills? Isn’t NASCAR about racing?

Even though she won a 2008 IndyCar race, she has not been an outstanding driver in that series.

For a time, Danica delivered new fans to IndyCar racing, but there was backlash from male drivers, and also from a large group of fans who were turned off by the level of adulation lavished upon someone who ran in the middle of the pack.

During two part- time years in the Nationwide Series, her performance has been lackluster. In 19 starts, there has been only one top five. Best driver or good driver? No!

Danica Patrick is the only woman in NASCAR racing and that makes her an attention getter. She is an oddity. I remember going to the fair with my dad when I was a boy, and they had this tent with a bunch of odd animals and such. Everybody had flocked to it to see what was so different.

Sex sells.

She has already drawn criticism from some NASCAR fans for perceived preferential treatment, but the truth is she will become NASCAR’s most marketable driver.

Patrick will earn big bucks for riding along with NASCAR, because they are constantly seeking new promotional material. She will do just fine until another shining star comes along. Then it will be off to the races with another marketing blitz.

Weekend racing: It’s on to Bristol for three nights of racing.

Wednesday, August 24, Camping World O’Reilly 200, race 16 of 25, starting time: 8 p.m..; TV: SPEED.

Friday, August 26, Nationwide Food City 250, race 25 of 35, starting time: 7:30 p.m..; TV: ESPN.

Saturday, August 27, Sprint Cup Irwin Tools, race 24 of 36, starting time: 7:30 p.m..; TV: ABC.

Racing trivia question: Do you think Kyle Busch is showing more maturity this season? Send us an e-mail with your comments. If we use them in next week’s column, we’ll send you a photo of your favorite driver.

Last week’s question: Who are the two Cup teammates of Joey Logano? Answer. They are Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin.

Contact the Racing Reporter at hodges@race500.com.

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