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Articles filed under NASCAR

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  • NASCAR must address dangers in qualifying format Mar 10, 2014 8:08 PM
    NASCAR would be hard-pressed to find many fans who don’t prefer the drama and intrigue of the new, knockout qualifying format over the old system of single-car runs. But the rules have created a wrinkle that drivers up and down the grid say is far too dangerous. Finding an immediate solution to what Brian Vickers called “the most dangerous thing I’ve ever done in racing” should be NASCAR’s only item on the agenda this week.

     
  • Keselowski edges Junior on last lap in Las Vegas Mar 9, 2014 5:46 PM
    Brad Keselowski surged ahead on the final lap when Dale Earnhardt Jr. ran out of fuel, claiming a dramatic victory Sunday in the NASCAR race at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. When Earnhardt’s Chevy slowed in the final miles, Keselowski roared past in his Penske Ford for the first weekend sweep in his career. He followed up Saturday’s Nationwide Series victory with his first Vegas Cup win. Keselowski, the 2012 Sprint Cup champion, also virtually assured himself of a spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship after missing it entirely last season, a thought was already on his mind immediately after the finish. “Locked in the Chase early,” Keselowski said. “I don’t have to hear all that crap about not being in the Chase.” Earnhardt was just a few ounces of fuel shy of earning his second victory in three races to start the season. The Daytona 500 champion also finished second last week at Phoenix before improving the best start to a season in his NASCAR career. “We weren’t supposed to make it,” Earnhardt said. “We were trying to save as much as we can and make it work, but we knew we were short. We wouldn’t have finished second if we didn’t have that strategy.” Paul Menard finished third in front of Keselowski’s teammate, pole-sitter Joey Logano. Carl Edwards was fifth, and Jimmie Johnson came in sixth. The Las Vegas race is the first of 11 on 1.5-mile tracks, and NASCAR spent much of the offseason working on ways to improve the racing on these tracks with a new aerodynamics package and other improvements. The changes resulted in 23 drivers breaking the track speed record during qualifying, but the racing wasn’t particularly thrilling until that final lap. Keselowski and Earnhardt are the only two drivers to finish in the top five in each of the season’s first three races, and they dueled down the stretch after Earnhardt passed him for the lead on a restart with 42 laps to go. Earnhardt had gone to the pits on the 211th lap and attempted to stick it out, while Keselowski had pitted several laps later. Earnhardt praised NASCAR’s new Chase setup, which allowed him to take a fuel gamble in Vegas after winning already this season. Additional wins are worth bonus points in the Chase, while a second-place finish doesn’t help his position much — hence the motivation to go for broke on an empty tank. Keselowski was in fine form after his third-place finish in Phoenix last week without crew chief Paul Wolfe, who had returned home for his child’s birth. Keselowski also finished third at Daytona.

     
  • Spellman’s Scorecard: A way to keep stars in college Mar 7, 2014 5:30 AM
    How do you keep kids from leaving college too soon to join the NBA? Show em' the money.

     
  • Coach Q would love to go for the gold someday Feb 27, 2014 8:45 PM
    OK, so, if Hawks coach Joel Quenneville can’t be the head coach of Team Canada, at least the guy should have a spot behind the bench in some capacity, right? More than deserves it.

     
  • Earnhardt’s Daytona 500 win lifts ‘heavy weight’ Feb 24, 2014 5:01 PM
    There was a moment late in the Daytona 500 when Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a moment to catch his breath. It was clearly his race to lose and the tension ran thick through Junior Nation, all the way into his car. It had been 10 years since he won his first 500, and after three runner-up finishes the last four seasons in a race that had caused his family so much heartache and joy, the moment was overwhelming. “It’s a big race and you want to win it so badly, and your team wants to win so badly,” he said afterward.

     
  • Mike North video: Daytona delay ends in victory for Earnhardt Feb 24, 2014 11:11 AM
    The Daytona 500 , won by Dale Earnhardt Jr., should have been called off till Monday because of the 6 hour rain delay so fans and TV viewers could have seen the end of the race.

     
  • Earnhardt Jr. wins his 2nd Daytona 500 Feb 23, 2014 11:04 PM
    Through rain and wrecks, Dale Earnhardt Jr. ended the only drought that mattered. NASCAR’s most popular driver won the Daytona 500 for the second time, a decade after his first victory in the “Great American Race.” Earnhardt snapped a 55-race winless streak Sunday night that dated to 2012. It ended a streak of futility at Daytona International Speedway, where he finished second in three of the previous four 500s. He radioed to his crew “this is better than the first one,” as he circled the track on his cool-down lap in his Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet. Rain stopped the race about 45 minutes after it began for a delay of more than six hours. When it resumed, Earnhardt dominated at the track where his father was killed in an accident on the last lap of the 2001 race.

     
  • Danica Patrick continues to shake off Daytona doubters Feb 22, 2014 4:53 PM
    Jamie Dodge is a 64-year-old die-hard Danica Patrick fan who made the trek from Huntington Beach, Calif., to watch her favorite driver in the Daytona 500. Dodge says she’s battling cancer and uses Patrick as an inspiration to continue her fight. “I was in an all-male profession for 25 years, so I know what she goes through every day,” the former police officer said.

     
  • Regan Smith wins Nationwide opener at Daytona Feb 22, 2014 5:01 PM
    Regan Smith had the checkered flag in sight at Daytona a year ago and a freight train of cars in his rearview mirror. He moved high to throw a block on Brad Keselowski and it backfired badly. The desperate attempt to preserve the win triggered a 12-car accident, Kyle Larson’s car sailed into the fence and debris from the wreck injured nearly 30 fans. It was a racing accident, nobody’s fault. But Smith was racked with guilt. So it was sweet redemption Saturday when he nipped Keselowski at the finish line to win the Nationwide Series opener — finally, a year later — at Daytona International Speedway. “I think it hurt him deeply that the fans were involved in the accident,” said Dale Earnhardt Jr., who along sister, Kelley and Rick Hendrick owns the JR Motorsports Chevrolet that Smith drove to victory. “I think that he personally and privately (bore) some responsibility for his involvement in the crash, just being in the crash, to have someone in the grandstands get hurt had to affect him tremendously. That was definitely probably one of the toughest things he went through personally as a driver.” Smith said he went to dinner with Earnhardt after the accident and leaned on his boss. “I’m fortunate that I’ve got a boss who has been in a lot of different situations in this sport and understands a lot of different things over the years in Dale,” Smith said. “He just basically said ‘You’ve got to shake it off, it’s racing and no fault of anybody. Circumstances sometimes happen. He offered up a lot of good advice in that situation. It did bother me. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t.” Nothing bothered Smith on Saturday. He beat Keselowski by 0.013 for the second-closest finish at Daytona International Speedway and seventh closest in series history. It was the 300th victory for the Hendrick Motorsports engine shop. Keselowski said last year’s crash-marred finish never entered his mind as he plotted his strategy over the closing laps. Smith and Keselowski raced side-by-side at the front of the pack over the final two overtime laps. They were door-to-door exiting the final turn and Smith edged him at the line. “I’m not that smart and I’ve got a terrible memory,” Keselowski said of not worrying about a repeat of last year. Trevor Bayne finished third, followed by Kyle Busch, winner of Friday night’s Truck Series race, and his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Elliott Sadler. Brendan Gaughan was sixth and followed by Ty Dillon. Earnhardt Jr., who was 11th, ran into the back of Joe Nemechek after the finish. He said he was being pushed by Kyle Larson and traffic slowed too quickly. It caused heavy damage to Nemechek and Ryan Sieg’s cars that Earnhardt said he’d pay to repair. “We were slowing down. I was looking all around trying to figure out where everybody was at,” he said. “Totally my fault. Really wasn’t paying attention. I hate it for Joe and those guys ‘cause they don’t need to be tearing up race cars.” NASCAR issued its first drafting penalty of the season 86 laps into race when James Buescher was called for push-drafting Keselowski. Buescher’s car seemed to be under the rear of Keselowski’s car for several seconds, which violates NASCAR’s ban on drafting. NASCAR vice president of competition Robin Pemberton said the penalty was called because Buescher appeared to be the aggressor regardless of what the television angle showed. Keselowski said the penalty “set the tone for the rest of the race as far as what guys were looking at for driving their cars.”

     
  • After Busch truck win, NASCAR might limit drivers’ double duty Feb 22, 2014 4:39 PM
    Kyle Busch’s thrilling move in the final few hundred feet of the Truck Series season opener led to his 99th win outside NASCAR’s top series. The victory infuriated many fans. NASCAR heard them loud and clear. NASCAR said Saturday it is looking at potentially limiting the number of second- and third-tier event Sprint Cup regulars can run during the season.

     
  • Naming any sport’s Mount Rushmore not easy task Feb 21, 2014 5:17 AM
    Now that everyone in the world has come up with their personal sports Mount Rushmore, maybe it's time to move on to a new topic. How about Olympic hockey?

     
  • Spellman’s Scorecard: Bears GM positively special Jan 3, 2014 5:30 AM
    Bears GM Phil Emery has done it again.

     
  • Jimmie Johnson wins 6th NASCAR championship Nov 18, 2013 5:45 AM
    Jimmie Johnson has a sixth NASCAR championship in hand and two legends within reach. Johnson staked his claim as one of the most dominant competitors Sunday by winning his sixth Sprint Cup title in eight years. "We'll see if I can get seven," Johnson said. "Let's wait until I hang up the helmet until we really start thinking about this."

     
  • Sez here that Bears should retire Peanut’s number Nov 15, 2013 1:21 PM
    What if the Bears found a way to retire one more jersey number and the three guys they had to choose from to receive that honor were Brian Urlacher, Charles Tillman and Lance Briggs? Whom should they select?

     
  • Spellman’s Scoreboard: What do to with all this extra time Oct 18, 2013 5:58 AM
    Bears fans better enjoy Sunday's game against Washington because it's the last time they'll see the beloved for two weeks. What to do when they're gone? There are plenty of options. That and more in Spellman's Scorecard.

     
  • Late caution helps Keselowski to first win of year Oct 12, 2013 10:47 PM
    Brad Keselowski snapped a 37-race winless streak Saturday night by chasing down Kasey Kahne in the closing laps at Charlotte Motor Speedway. The defending Sprint Cup Series champion, who failed to qualify for the Chase this year, grabbed his first win of the season and first since Sept. 30, 2012, at Dover, by passing Kahne with nine laps to go in his Penske Racing Ford. Keselowski became the first non-Chase driver to win a Chase race since Jamie McMurray at Charlotte in 2010. “I never give up. I didn’t qualify well. But I kept working my way forward. I knew we had a good car,” said Keselowski, who started 23rd. The race changed dramatically with 27 laps remaining and Jimmie Johnson seemingly on his way to an easy victory. But a debris caution sent the leaders to pit road and ended Johnson’s march to a record seventh Charlotte win. Hendrick teammates Kahne and Jeff Gordon took only two tires and raced off pit road first, while everyone else took four tires and lined up behind them. Johnson came out in third, and should have been in good shape on four fresh tires. Instead, Johnson had a terrible re-start and fell back to seventh. “There was a caution that shook things up,” Johnson shrugged. Kahne pulled away with the rest of the leaders. Championship leader Matt Kenseth was in the mix for a moment, but Keselowski, sixth on the restart, got past him and took over second. Keselowski then set his sights on Kahne once and for all. He had picked his way through traffic but getting past Kahne wasn’t easy — Keselowski needed several attempts before making it stick. “I love hard racing and there are a handful of guys who can’t race hard and they freak out — he’s not one of them,” Keselowski said about Kahne. “He’s an excellent driver. He ran me hard but ran me clean and that is great racing. He did a hell of a job and deserves a lot of credit for it.” Kahne finished second in a Chevrolet and was followed by the Toyota of Kenseth, who takes a four-point lead over Johnson into next week’s Chase race at Talladega. “I’m happy we finished third,” said Kenseth, who was the lowest qualifying Chase driver at 20th. “I was so far behind because I qualified so poorly and needed all night to get back up there. Then at the very end they gave me a shot to win and I’m slightly disappointed that I didn’t take advantage of that opportunity.” Johnson wound up fourth and said he had trouble when he tried to push teammate Kahne on the restart. “Evidently I was too close to him and in his way, and my car washed up a little bit,” Johnson said. “A couple of guys were able to get inside of me. I just lost track position at that point, which was unfortunate. Once I got rolling again I was fine, but I lost too much at that point.” Kyle Larson made his Sprint Cup Series debut driving a Chip Ganassi Racing-prepared car. He was impressive early, driving from 21st inside the top-12, and he lingered there alongside Juan Pablo Montoya, the driver he’ll replace next season for Ganassi. Larson eventually dropped to 16th, where he stayed until his engine lost a cylinder and eventually failed, sending him to the garage with 87 laps remaining. “I had a lot of fun tonight,” said Larson, who finished 37th.

     
  • Spellman’s Scorecard: Minor red flag on Trestman Sep 19, 2013 10:34 PM
    Things have gotten off to such a strong start for Bears coach Marc Trestman, but one thing he said this week sent up the red flag. That and much more in Spellman's Scorecard.

     
  • NASCAR’s SpinGate spun out of control early Sep 16, 2013 5:45 PM
    Everything could have been handled better from the moment Clint Bowyer spun at Richmond to trigger the biggest credibility crisis in NASCAR history. That spin started as the well-intentioned desire to help a teammate earn a valuable spot in NASCAR’s version of the playoffs, and with a little honesty, a few deep breaths and some clear thinking, it might have ended there. The situation snowballed, and NASCAR quickly had a full-blown scandal on its hands.

     
  • Kenseth wins opening Chase race in Joliet Sep 15, 2013 11:47 PM
    Matt Kenseth restored order to a chaotic week for NASCAR with a steely victory over teammate Kyle Busch in the opening race for the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship. The top seed at the start of the Chase, Kenseth slid into Chicagoland Speedway under the radar as all the attention centered squarely on NASCAR’s investigation into the manipulation attempts of at least three teams to alter the outcome at Richmond the previous week. It led to severe sanctions against Michael Waltrip Racing, Martin Truex Jr. was replaced by Ryan Newman in the Chase field, and after NASCAR continued to review incidents long after cars began to practice for Sunday’s race, NASCAR chairman Brian France took the unprecedented step of expanding the field to 13 drivers to add Jeff Gordon. Then he held an ethics meeting for teams on the eve of the opening race to outline new “rules of the road,” demanding drivers give 100 percent going forward and banning any attempts to artificially affect the outcome of races as France sought to restore the integrity of NASCAR. A strong opener to the 10-race Chase would go a long way, but rain made for another bad day for NASCAR. The start was delayed by mist for almost 90 minutes. Once the race began, it made it almost to the halfway point before the sky opened up again. In all, there were two stoppages totaling six hours, 30 minutes and Kenseth didn’t cross the finish line until early Monday morning. It was worth the wait, though. He passed Busch on a restart with 27 laps remaining — in part because of a push from Kevin Harvick — then led Busch across the finish line for a 1-2 finish for Joe Gibbs Racing and Toyota. It’s bad news for the rest of the Chase field: JGR drivers have won six of the seven races so far this season on 1.5-mile tracks, and four of the nine remaining races in the Chase are tracks covering the same distance. Kenseth, a six-time winner this season, has four wins on 1.5-mile tracks. This latest victory denied Busch a weekend sweep yet again. He’d won the Truck race and Nationwide Series race this weekend, only to come up short in the main event. The same thing happened last month at Bristol, where Busch won the first two legs of the trifecta only to be denied the sweep by Kenseth. Harvick finished third, Kurt Busch was fourth and teammates Jimmie Johnson and Gordon were fourth and fifth as Chevrolet took spots three through six and Chase drivers swept the top six spots. Gordon, who only learned he made the Chase 48 hours before the race, was in great shape until he got a flat tire that forced him to pit and claw his way back for his finish. “That was an incredible accomplishment. It just shows how much fight this team has in them. They just never gave up,” he said. “To think how far down we were with 40 laps to go — I know we were 18th on one of those last restarts — to be able to come up through there and get sixth, and have a shot at top-five, was a lot of fun. That’s what we needed to get this thing started off right.” Defending series champion Brad Keselowski, who failed to qualify for the Chase this year, was seventh. Keselowski was the defending race winner. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was eighth. Clint Bowyer, the driver who first triggered all the trouble last week at Richmond when he spun with seven laps to go in an effort to help teammate Truex make the Chase, finished ninth. Newman was 10th, Carl Edwards 11th and Kasey Kahne 12th. Chase driver Greg Biffle was 16th. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (35th) and Joey Logano (37th) had the worst nights of the Chase drivers as both failed to finish because of engine issues. “I am pretty angry. That was such as fast race car we had,” said Logano, the pole-sitter. “Unfortunately the motor blew up. You have these every once in a while. It is a bummer to have it in the Chase when you are running for a championship.” Joe Gibbs Racing has won six of the seven 1.5-mile races this season.

     
  • Kyle Busch dominates to win at Chicagoland Sep 14, 2013 9:12 PM
    Just when it appeared Kyle Busch couldn’t be any stronger in a Nationwide Series race, he broke the record for most laps led on a 1.5-mile track in a Nationwide race in winning the Dollar General 300 race at Chicagoland Speedway in Joliet on Saturday.

     
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