2011-11-17 / Sports

Kasey Kahne Ends Winless Streak

By Gerald Hodges

Kasey Kahne Kasey Kahne AVONDALE, Ariz. – Kasey Kahne won Sunday’s Sprint Cup race for his first win in 81 races, but Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart dominated the action in their battle for the 2011 championship.

“I felt it coming,” said Kahne. “We had a great run today. The car went away once, but as the tires heated up, it came back. It feels good to finally get another win.”

Carl Edwards was gaining on Kahne as the race ended, but came up short.

“We would have liked to win, but we did what we needed to do, and that was to finish ahead of Tony. It’s pretty exciting the way Tony and I are racing each other, but I think we’ll be good at Homestead.”

Tony Stewart, who led the most laps (160), got around Jeff Burton near the end of the race to finish third. He trails Edwards by only three points.

“It’s going to be exciting,” said Stewart. “I’m going to keep the pressure on him (Edwards). We made an air pressure adjustment there at the end and we just couldn’t get up to where we needed to be.”

Jeff Burton’s fourth-place finish was one of his best this season.

“We had a good car and a lot of momentum, but I wasn’t going to try and hold Tony back,” said Burton.

Ryan Newman, A.J. Allmendinger, David Reutimann, Marcos Ambrose, Paul Menard, and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top-10 finishers.

Kevin Harvick, who is third in points, finished 19th and is now 51- points out of first.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. came in 24th.

Top-12 Chase leaders with one remaining: 1. Edwards 2359, 2. Stewart-2356, 3. Harvick-2308, 4. Keselowski 2294, 5. Johnson-2291, 6. Kenseth-2289, 7. Earnhardt- 2257, 8. Kurt Busch-2252, 9. Newman-2252, 10. Hamlin- 2249, 11. J. Gordon-2247, 12. Kyle Busch-2224

Hornish gets first Nationwide victory

Sam Hornish Jr. cruised to his first Nationwide Series victory Saturday at Phoenix.

Hornish held off teammate Brad Keselowski, followed by Carl Edwards, Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Elliott Sadler, who entered the race 17 points behind Stenhouse, saw his championship hopes disappear on Lap 175, when Jason Leffler got into the back of his No. 2 Chevrolet and sent him into the outside wall.

Trevor Bayne, Clint Bowyer, Ryan Truex, Justin Allgaier and Michael Annett were the remaining top-10 finishers.

Top-10 leaders with one remaining: 1. Stenhouse- 1179, 2. Sadler-1138, 3. Allgaier 1074, 4. Almirola-1059, 5. Sorenson-1043, 6. Leffler- 996, 7. K. Wallace-952, 8. Annett 918, 9. Scott-912, 10. S. Wallace-911

Despite his actions, NASCAR needs Kyle Busch.


If it weren’t for Busch what kind of excitement would we look forward to each weekend?

Could we expect “Vanilla” Jimmie to thrill us if he wins another championship?

Or should we continue to wait and hope that “Multi- Millionaire” Junior will some day win another race?

I think Busch got a bum rap, because there has been wrecking ever since the first car race was held.

NASCAR’s actions were too harsh and inappropriate, given that it has completely avoided any penalties for those who appeared to have committed crimes as great as Busch.

Does NASCAR carry a vendetta against Busch, who has been a constant source of irritation for years?

I think so.

He goes against mainline NASCAR policies. Racing is an emotional sport, but NASCAR wanted Busch to lay aside his emotions and conduct himself in a machine like, business manner, designed to promote NASCAR.

With their decision to suspend, fine and put Busch on probation, it appears NASCAR polished their image. In reality, under the NASCAR fa├žade lurks a dark shadow. They employ hundreds of trained professionals to promote a pristine image.

They announced last week that First Lady Michelle Obama and Dr. Jill Biden will serve as Grand Marshals for the Cup Series season-finale Ford 400 at Homestead.

All for the sake of boosting NASCAR’s image.

Cross them and you’re chopped liver.

In only eight years, Busch has won 23 Sprint Cup races, a record 51 on the Nationwide Series and 30 in trucks.

He was released from Hendrick Motorsports in 2008 to make way for the sport’s most popular driver, Dale Earnhardt Jr. Since leaving Hendrick, Busch has won 19 Cup races while Earnhardt has one.

It took Mark Martin 27 years to win 48 Nationwide races, and then along comes a young devilish kid and upstages him in less than a third of the time.

NASCAR set the stage for some on-track altercations when it established the “Boys, have at it” philosophy, which encouraged drivers to settle differences among themselves.

This was in response to fans’ complaints that drivers had become too politically correct and the true roughand tumble spirit of stock car racing had been lost.

NASCAR said that it would step in if things got out of hand, when they thought a line had been crossed.

Instead of refining Busch’s emotions, NASCAR’s heavy-handed action may break his racing spirit.

My wife pretty much summed it up, when she said, “Most of the drivers are NASCAR Clones.”

What makes the situation even more deplorable is that car owner Joe Gibbs and sponsor M&M’s have also apologized to NASCAR.

My hope is that somehow, Kyle Busch can survive this hit with his competitiveness intact, because NASCAR needs him. If he doesn’t, who’s in line to replace him?

Weekend racing: It’s down to the final race of the season. The Cup, Nationwide and Trucks will be at the 1.5-mile Homestead, Fla., track.

Friday, Nov. 18, Camping World Trucks Ford 200, 25 of 25; Starting time: 7:30 pm; TV: SPEED.

Saturday, Nov. 19, Nationwide Ford 300, race 34 of 34; Starting time: 4 pm; TV: ESPN2.

Sunday, Nov. 20, Sprint Cup Ford 400, race 36 of 36; starting time: 2 pm; TV: ESPN.

Racing trivia question: Which Cup team will Kasey Kahne drive for in 2012?

Last week’s question: Which Nationwide team does Elliott Sadler drive for? Answer. He drives the No. 2 Kevin Harvick Chevrolet.

Contact the Racing Reporter at hodges@race500.com.

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