Monday, July 04, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Brad Keselowski Dominates Coke Zero 400

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Jul. 4, 2016
Volume X, Edition CVIII

What to Watch: Monday

- In NASCAR, no one gets the Fourth of July off.  Everyone is back at work, preparing for this weekend's action at the newly-reconfigured Kentucky Speedway.  If anything breaks, we'll have it for you at Frontstretch.

Monday's TV Schedule can be found here.
Top News
by the Frontstretch Staff

Keselowski Wins Wild Coke Zero 400 At Daytona

Brad Keselowski led a race-high 115 laps and held off the pack on a green-white-checkered finish to take his first career victory at Daytona and third of the season.  Kyle Busch was second, followed by Trevor Bayne, Joey Logano and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.  Read more

Aric Almirola Wins Controversial Daytona XFINITY Series Race

On Friday night, a big wreck broke out on the backstretch during the final lap of NASCAR's XFINITY race.  Officials chose to withhold the yellow at first, then threw it coming off turn 4.  At the time of the caution, Aric Almirola was just barely out in front, enough to give Almirola his first "real win" in the XFINITY Series.  Justin Allgaier was second, followed by Ryan Sieg, Joey Logano and Brendan Gaughan.  Read more

Action Express Racing Earns 1-2 in Sahlen's Six Hours

Despite being at a speed disadvantage to the P2 machines, Action Express Racing's Corvette DPs claimed a 1-2 finish in Sunday's Sahlen's Six Hours at the Glen with Joao Barbosa and Christian Fittipaldi taking the win.  Starworks Motorsports won PC, Ford Chip Ganassi Racing earned a 1-2 in GTLM and Scuderia Corsa won GTD.  Read more

Have news for The Frontstretch?  Don't hesitate to let us know; email us at with a promising lead or tip.

Chasing the Chase: Kevin Harvick Gives Himself Breathing Room Over Kurt Busch
by Phil Allaway

Restrictor plate races can shake up the points quite a bit and Saturday night was no exception.  Kevin Harvick was eliminated in Daytona's big wreck, his No. 4 Chevy destroyed after burrowing under the rear end of Brian Scott.  Harvick's 39th-place finish probably should have cost him the points lead altogether.  However, Kurt Busch got dumped coming to the finish line, a certain top-5 result devolving quickly into 23rd.  Regardless, Harvick's lead is down to 14 points.  Brad Keselowski, who won Saturday night, is now up to second in the standings while Kurt Busch is down one spot to third after his last-lap spin through the grass.  Kurt Busch was none too pleased with the man fourth in points, Joey Logano.  Busch felt that Logano caused his spin.

Carl Edwards is down two places to fifth after getting caught up in a late crash and finishing 25th.  Edwards is four points behind Logano.  Further back, Kyle Busch is up three places to sixth after finishing second.  However, he is nearly a full race's worth of points out of fifth.  Martin Truex, Jr. and Chase Elliott are tied for seventh in points (Truex wins the tiebreaker thanks to his win at Charlotte); both men, however were caught up in the night's big wreck and saw their races ruined.

Jimmie Johnson is down to ninth in the standings after his contact with Jamie McMurray helped start the big crash on lap 90.  Daytona 500 winner Denny Hamlin moved up behind him, rising to tenth despite a middling 17th-place finish. Hamlin displaces Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Matt Kenseth, who was caught up in the big crash and struggled to finish 34 laps down in 28th.  

Among the Chase bubble drivers perhaps Austin Dillon benefitted the most from others' misfortune; the Richard Childress Racing driver rose two places to 12th after a strong seventh-place finish. Behind him, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. drops another position down to 13th after getting involved in the big crash while Ryan Newman is down one spot to 14th after an 18th-place result.  Ryan Blaney is up two places to 15th after finishing 14th Saturday while Jamie McMurray is back to 16th after crashing out in the Big One.  That leaves McMurray officially on the outside of the Chase right now since Tony Stewart (despite crashing late) managed to work his way up to 30th in points.

Point Standings (1-16): 1) Kevin Harvick 565, 2) Brad Keselowski -14, 3) Kurt Busch -20, 4) Joey Logano -34, 5) Carl Edwards -38, 6) Kyle Busch -73, t-7) Martin Truex, Jr. -83, t-7) Chase Elliott. -83, 9) Jimmie Johnson -90, 10) Denny Hamlin -119, 11) Matt Kenseth -122, 12) Austin Dillon -131, 13) Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -132, 14) Ryan Newman -140, 15) Ryan Blaney -156, 16) Jamie McMurray -160.

Outside the top 16, but Chase-eligible: 30) Tony Stewart -353

Race Winners: Denny Hamlin (Daytona-1), Jimmie Johnson (Atlanta, Auto Club), Brad Keselowski (Las Vegas, Talladega, Daytona-2), Kevin Harvick (Phoenix), Kyle Busch (Martinsville, Texas, Kansas), Carl Edwards (Bristol, Richmond), Matt Kenseth (Dover), Martin Truex, Jr. (Charlotte), Kurt Busch (Pocono), Joey Logano (Michigan), Tony Stewart (Sonoma)
Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at

Letter of the Race: Saturday night's Coke Zero 400 was brought to you by the letter "C," for Chance.  Restrictor plate racing can be complete guesswork at times.  Sometimes, you're in the right place to earn a great finish, go for the win or simply avoid trouble.  Other times, like what happened with Kevin Harvick, even dropping back to avoid the crash gets you wrecked.  That's the way the cookie crumbles, I guess. - Phil Allaway


Quotes to Remember: Coke Zero 400
compiled by Phil Allaway

"It was a good effort for us for sure. The wins are never easy to come by, and I think this one means a lot to me for sure because looking at our past here, it hasn't been all that rosy. I was telling Roger Penske when I was in Victory Lane and the fireworks were going off, usually I'm loading up the car and about to be at the airport, so it's nice to be here and have a great finish. We brought a completely different effort than what we've normally had here and completely different approach, which was made feasible by having the two wins earlier in the season and knowing that we could try something different here, and boy, did it pay off, so a lot of credit to my team, Paul Wolfe, crew chief, for all the things that they're doing. Three wins, midpoint in the season, that's a good start. Of course we want to finish it off and win another championship, and I think I told you guys at Pocono or told a bunch of the people at Pocono that I was ready for the Chase to start right now. I'm still ready for it to start right now. Let's go. I feel like we've got a great effort. We're as good as we've ever been, if not better, and we're ready." - Brad Keselowski, race winner

"It was really close to Talladega. We finished second at Talladega. Just there at the end of the race the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski) car was really, really fast. Really, really strong. It's really hard to get by him. I tried just about everything. The only thing I didn't quite have was a big enough push one time to just try to make a move. He was really good at making that thing pretty wide. I can't say enough about our Interstate Batteries team for all of the work and effort that they put in to bring us back from where we were a couple days ago and being able to get us this really good race car tonight. Our Toyota Camry was fast thanks to TRD (Toyota Racing Development) and their horsepower and everybody – NOS Energy drink, M&M's, Snickers, Skittles, everybody. I just wish that we had a little bit more in order to try and get the victory there. I had a big run from the No. 6. Trevor Bayne really helped us out there at the end in getting us a really good shot down the backstretch, but man, I just didn't have enough. I just couldn't get to the outside." - Kyle Busch, finished second

"I owe the guys behind me that were pushing me. I had a lot of help. The race was really crazy today. Just watching some of the guys working the middle you knew there would be trouble at some point. My spotter, who has a better perspective than I do told me to go to the back and ride and we did and got through some wrecks. It was a tough night. It was really hot out there so thanks to AdvoCare for getting me through that one. I am really proud of this Roush Fenway team. We had a pole this weekend, three cars in the top 10, two in the top 5. That last run, starting 12th and being on the top and getting a run in that lane and having a lot of help from the No. 3 we were able to work the top and get a P3." - Trevor Bayne, finished third

"It was hard fought, for sure. Anytime you have an opportunity to win and you are in the top four or five or six on the last restart you know you have a shot at it. I was able to get Brad a good push to clear and get a Penske car to Victory Lane which is really cool. Todd Gordon made a great call to put four tires on which allowed us to be aggressive at the end. I hate that I got into Kurt (Busch) there at the end racing to the line. I had a run to turn up underneath him and when you do that, the cars get free and then I was there and he tried to catch it and I was there again. It is a product of this racing but I hate that it happened. The last thing I want to do is hit someone like that. Unfortunately, it happened. Overall, a solid day for us. The No. 2 was the fastest car and he deserved to win the race. We need to find a little more speed in our race car." - Joey Logano, finished fourth

"I don't know about track position but I thought that No. 2 car was pretty darn stout.  He was the same way at Talladega and you just can't get to his back bumper.  He does a good job of keeping that bumper and that car is fast, so I really think fast cars pay off here and win races.   We are getting closer, we just have to keep working... you want to be safe. These are wild and crazy races. To come home seventh on all four this year is better than upside down. We had a good day. I've got to thank the good Lord for taking care of us and we'll keep working." - Austin Dillon, finished seventh

"Yeah, I'm disappointed because we ran so well. To be able to salvage a 12th place finish out of a night like this is pretty good, I guess. And I'm just happy. I'm proud of our guys. It's been a rough season for us. We've had really good cars and just terrible results. It's been one of those years. It was good to be competitive all night long and have fun and get to run up front and show people what we're capable of. Hopefully this gives us a little something to build from going into the second half of the season. It's indescribable how odd this year has been. We've had some of the best cars we've ever had and the team is the best it's ever been and we're just getting terrible results. It was nice to have a good night tonight." - Casey Mears, finished 12th

"We really had a car that drove well. I think that we needed a little bit more speed to contend for the win but our car drove nice and on the long runs we were really good. We just needed to restart on the outside lane those last two restarts — starting fifth and seventh we were just kind of a sitting duck on the bottom. Those guys in the second lane can get really good runs and then they can move to the third and on the bottom, you're just stuck. You don't have anywhere to go. Unless you restart on the front row the bottom is not that good of a choice. Great day for our Shriner's Hospital Toyota. It was a fun race and I'm glad to be in one piece." - David Ragan, finished 16th

"We positioned ourselves to be the car to get a good run off the bottom. It just didn't work out with him (Joey Logano) trying to drive straight through us. And it would have worked out better if he would have pushed us. We could have had a shot at the No. 2 (Brad Keselowski). And with just the way that it turned out, I feel disappointed that I didn't get the win for (Tony) Gibson (crew chief) and all these guys that work for our team. We did everything right tonight except cross the line where we were supposed to." - Kurt Busch, finished 23rd

"I got loose into one there. Hadn't been loose all day, but I got loose there and then overcorrected for it and drove it in the fence.  So definitely my fault." - Tony Stewart, finished 26th (Crashed out)

"Just a bunch of cars crashing – pretty much that was it. I was just trying to make my way back toward the front a little bit there. We had a bad pit stop exchange and came out way, way behind everybody. Carl (Edwards) was up towards the front and we were running with him before the pit stop. I probably should have just hung in the back, hindsight, but who knows when they're going to wreck, you never know if they're going to wreck. Just trying to get back towards the front and there was a wreck somewhere a few rows up in front of me and just nowhere really to go." - Matt Kenseth, finished 28th

"I didn't see a lot. I was on the outside and our lane seemed to get a good run entering Turn 1 and I saw guys check up and hands out the windows so I started checking up. Then the check-up kept going and it became an accordion effect. We were in the wall and jacked up and I guess the No. 4 came up under me and drove underneath my car and then I was up in the air. It was a pinball effect. It is an unfortunate end. You always seem to get those "Big Ones" here in the Fourth of July race. Sometimes, there is nothing you can do. There was no chance to ever miss that for our No. 44 Ford." - Brian Scott, finished 37th (Crashed out)

"It all happened in front of us. I tried to get on the brakes and just slid right into it. There was nowhere to go. I tried to go up the middle. There seemed to be fewer cars there at the time but by the time we got there, the hole filled up and we ended up in it. It was a really tough day. We really wanted to have a good weekend. We had the Special Forces Charitable Trust on the car with Love's this weekend and wanted to have a great Fourth of July weekend and it didn't turn out that good. I want to wish everyone back home a happy 4th." - Chris Buescher, finished 40th (crashed out)

Phil Allaway is the Newsletter Manager and a Senior Writer for  He can be reached via e-mail at



Thinkin' Out Loud: Coke Zero 400 Reminder of NASCAR Plate Race Problems
by Matt McLaughlin

by Bryan Gable


Q: Louisville Motor Speedway hosted five races for the now-Camping World Truck Series prior to the opening of Kentucky Speedway.  One of them, the 1996 Ford Credit 200 was marred by a red flag late in the race.  Why was it put out?

Check back Tuesday for the answer, here in the Frontstretch Newsletter!

Friday's Answer:

Q:  Watkins Glen has a long history with sports car racing.  Unfortunately for New Zealander Steve Millen, his career was effectively curtailed in the Esses in 1993.  What happened?

A: Millen collided with an open-top Spice driven by current Performance Tech Motorsports owner Brent O'Neil and crashed exiting turn 3.  Today, the walls on the left side of the track have been pushed back a bit, but in 1993, it was right next to the track.  The crash was blind to almost everyone, including Millen's teammate Johnny O'Connell.  O'Connell came upon the crash at full speed and locked up, crashing hard into Millen and O'Neil.  The wreck can be seen here.  Mike Joy and Dorsey Schroeder have the call for TNN.

All three drivers were hurt.  O'Connell and O'Neil both suffered injuries to their lower extremities, but hobbled away from their cars (in O'Connell's case, he just avoided being hit by the No. 72 Porsche shared by Jay Kjoller and Joe Cogbill).  Millen wasn't so lucky.  He suffered skull fractures, a broken jaw (it was wired shut afterwards for six weeks), a broken arm and five broken ribs.  Naturally, these injuries ended Millen's 1993 season.  However, he came back and won the GTS championship the following year.

In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have breaking news from Monday, Tom Bowles gives you a stats breakdown of Daytona in Numbers Game and S.D. Grady returns with Sitting In The Stands: A Fan's View.

Danny Peters returns with Five Points to Ponder following Sunday's action in Daytona.
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