Monday, July 11, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Brad Keselowski Wins Kentucky on Fumes

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Jul. 11, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXIII

What to Watch: Monday

- Today is a work day at the shop for NASCAR teams.  A number of teams will be sending transporters out in the middle of the night (if not earlier) to get to a test session that starts tomorrow at Indianapolis Motor Speedway.  If anything of note breaks news-wise, we'll have it for you at Frontstretch.

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

Brad Keselowski Beats Carl Edwards for Fuel-Mileage Kentucky Victory

On Saturday night, Kevin Harvick was the man to beat for much of the night, but fuel mileage came into play late.  When that happens, Brad Keselowski is your man.  Keselowski made his fuel last the final 100 miles to take his fourth win of the year and second in a row.  Carl Edwards was second, followed by Ryan Newman.  Stewart-Haas Racing teammates Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart rounded out the top 5.  Read more 

Ryan Newman Lands First Top 5 on 2016 at Kentucky

For Ryan Newman, consistency has been his hallmark since arriving at Richard Childress Racing.  Newman has been decent, but not spectacular so far in 2016.  Saturday night at Kentucky saw Newman finish third to earn his first top 5 in nearly ten months.  Read more

Kurt Busch Rises from the Back, Stretches Fuel For Top-Five

Kurt Busch started Saturday night's Quaker State 400 at the rear of the field in a backup car with no laps on it.  From there, Busch used pit strategy and good form to rise through the field and bring home a fourth-place finish.  Read more

Pit Road Penalty Spoils Promising Night For Martin Truex, Jr.

Martin Truex, Jr. was one of the primary contenders for the win on Saturday night.  However, he got busted for passing leader Kevin Harvick while entering pit road under yellow.  That ruined his night and forced him to settle for a tenth-place finish.  Read more

Rookies Elliott, Blaney Crash in Kentucky

For Chase Elliott and Ryan Blaney, Saturday night was shaping up to be a good night.  Both drivers restarted in the top 5 on lap 88. Unfortunately, Blaney got loose entering turn 3 on the restart and tapped Elliott.  The result was that both drivers ended up in the wall.  Read more

Jimmie Johnson, Joey Logano and Others Crash Out Early in Kentucky

For point contenders Jimmie Johnson and Joey Logano, Saturday night was miserable.  Johnson spun by himself and hit the wall on lap 32.  Logano hit the wall after the restart for Johnson's crash, then blew a right front tire and crashed 15 laps later.  Read more

Kyle Busch Slays Field for 2nd Kentucky Win

On Friday night, Kyle Busch dominated the proceedings, leading 185 of the 201 laps to win the XFINITY Series ALSCO 300 for his 81st career win.  Austin Dillon was second, followed by Daniel Suarez, Erik Jones and Darrell Wallace, Jr.  Read more

Confusion Costs Erik Jones Potential Kentucky Race Win

While teammate Kyle Busch did lead all but 16 laps Friday night, Erik Jones was able to get past him on a restart.  Jones then accidently shut his car off under caution while trying to hit the switch for the radiator fan.  Unable to keep pace with the pace car, Jones was penalized and Busch made the pass for the win at 55 mph.  Read more

Darrell Wallace, Jr. Unfulfilled After Salvaging Top Five in Kentucky

As mentioned above, Darrell Wallace, Jr. finished fifth Friday night at Kentucky Speedway.  However, he wants more than to just luck into a top 5.  He wants paydirt.  Read more

Ryan Blaney Close, Brad Keselowski Quiet As Penske's NXS Winless Streak Continues

The dominance of Joe Gibbs Racing in the XFINITY Series in 2016 has overshadowed the struggles of Team Penske. On Friday night, things were looking up briefly before the same obsolescence set in.  Read more

Josef Newgarden Dusts the Field for Iowa Corn 300 Win

On Sunday, Josef Newgarden annihilated the field at Iowa Speedway, leading 282 of 300 laps to win the Iowa Corn 300, a race in which he had lapped all but second-place at one point.  Will Power was second, followed by Scott Dixon, Simon Pagenaud and Mikhail Aleshin.  Read more

Ryan Hunter-Reay's Bid for Three-Straight Iowa Wins Burns Out Early

Ryan Hunter-Reay entered Iowa as the two-time defending champion of the race.  However, he had a miserable weekend, starting with a bad qualifying effort.  The race was no better.  He was already a couple of laps down when the engine blew.  Read more

Action Express Racing Scores Second Consecutive 1-2

On Sunday, Action Express Racing was the beneficiary of issues for Mazda and fresher tires.  Dane Cameron took the overall lead with 55 minutes to go and held on for the win.  Joao Barbosa/Christian Fittipaldi finished second to give Action Express Racing their second straight 1-2 finish.  Read more

Multimatic Dominates CTSC at CTMP, CRG-I Do Borrow Wins ST

On Saturday, Multimatic Motorsports' duo of Billy Johnson and Scott Maxwell dominated to win the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge race at Canadian Tire Motorsports Park.  CJ Wilson Racing's Marc Miller and Danny Burkett was second.  In ST, Owen Trinkler passed Spencer Pumpelly with three minutes to go to take the win (along with co-driver Sarah Cattaneo) for CRG-I Do Borrow.  Pumpelly and Nick Galante was second while HART's Ryan Eversley and Chad Gilsinger were third.  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 Holds On by a Slim Margin
by Phil Allaway

Kevin Harvick likely feels like he should have ended up in Victory Lane.  Leading 128 laps, Harvick was the man to beat for most of the night.  However, Brad Keselowski is better on fuel mileage than anyone and Saturday night was no exception.  Harvick finished ninth after a late pit stop, while Keselowski won the race.  That cut Harvick's points lead to a mere four points.  Kurt Busch also made some slight gains and is now 16 points out in third.  Carl Edwards is up one place to fourth after his second-place finish.

Joey Logano dropped one place to fifth after crashing out early Saturday night.  Kyle Busch maintains sixth after finishing 12th.  Martin Truex, Jr. breaks the tie with Chase Elliott and regains sole possession of seventh after finishing tenth.  Elliott, despite crashing early and finishing 57 laps down in 31st, maintained the eighth spot in points.  He's just 22 points behind Truex.

Jimmie Johnson is still ninth, but like a number of drivers around him, he lost a bunch of points due to his early crash.  Matt Kenseth returns to the top 10 after finishing in eighth Saturday night.  Denny Hamlin is down to 11th in points after finishing 15th.  Ryan Newman is up two places to 12th after finishing third.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. didn't do anything to truly help himself Saturday.  He started and finished in 13th, which allowed him to keep the 13th spot in points.  Austin Dillon is down two places to 14th after fading late to a 16th-place finish.  Jamie McMurray is up one place to 15th, while Trevor Bayne is up one place to 16th. 

Bayne is currently outside of the Chase thanks to Tony Stewart's win in Sonoma.  For Stewart, his fifth-place finish allowed him to gain all of two points on Harvick.  However, he is now 31 points ahead of David Ragan in 31st.

Point Standings (1-16): 1) Kevin Harvick 599, 2) Brad Keselowski -4, 3) Kurt Busch -16, 4) Carl Edwards -33, 5) Joey Logano -66, 6) Kyle Busch -78, 7) Martin Truex, Jr. -85, 8) Chase Elliott. -107, 9) Jimmie Johnson -115, 10) Matt Kenseth -122, 11) Denny Hamlin -127, 12) Ryan Newman -136, 13) Dale Earnhardt, Jr. -138, 14) Austin Dillon -139, 15) Jamie McMurray -160, 16) Trevor Bayne -170.

Outside the top 16, but Chase-eligible: 30) Tony Stewart -351.

Race Winners: Denny Hamlin (Daytona-1), Jimmie Johnson (Atlanta, Auto Club), Brad Keselowski (Las Vegas, Talladega, Daytona-2, Kentucky), 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 Quaker State 400 was brought to you by the letter "T" for Treacherous.  Even with the lower-downforce settings from Michigan in June, the groove never really expanded out as far as it did during the Truck race Thursday night.  One false move and you were shaking hands with the SAFER Barrier. - Phil Allaway


Quotes to Remember: Quaker State 400
compiled by Phil Allaway

"Well, rolling right into them last few laps, gosh, that was something. We weren't the best car tonight. That's for sure. The 78 car, he was really good. I thought the 4 car looked really good, 19, 20, 18 looked really good. We seemed to kind of hover right in that fifth‑to‑eighth‑place range, and we came down pit road fifth with 72 to go, 73 to go, and left pit road fifth. I thought, well, you know, who knows how these things are going to go but then the 78 got the penalty, moved us into the outside line on the restart, which I think we saw all night was the preferred line. I was able to clear the two inside cars. I don't remember who they were, and get into Turn 3 behind Kevin and I was about half a car width back, which, I had a pretty good ideal that if I could stay within a half a car length of him that I could create an aero wake behind his car and loosen him up a little bit without touching him, and sure enough, we went down in the corner and it looked like he got really loose and I was able to make the move and get by him.

"That's kind of a product of this package, just how hard the cars are to drive with somebody behind you, and that worked out beautifully. We had a great car on restarts to kind of complement that, and once I got to the lead there, I was like, okay, well, we'll see how this all plays out. I kind of expected another restart, and our car was really fading on long runs. It was losing grip kind of rapidly, and with about 20 or 30 to go I thought I'm going to be in trouble here and I was probably not going to be able to hold off the 78 and the 20. That hadn't been our strength. I think Paul Wolfe, my crew chief, he saw that, made an aggressive call to go to fuel mileage. I knew we were way short of being able to make it, so I got as aggressive as I could, and somehow we made it. I'm not even sure you can really say we made it because we ran out with about two to go, and it was‑‑ by running out, I mean it stumbled really, really bad, and I was able to just somehow limp it around the last two laps and stay ahead of Carl and bring her home.

"That was something. This is a night I'm not going to forget. Last year we came, and I thought we were the best car, and we didn't catch a single break, didn't execute, and those two things kept us out of victory lane, not just here, but a lot of times last year. This week we caught some breaks, we executed, and we were able to win. Not the fastest car, but still a hell of a team effort to be proud of." - Brad Keselowski, race winner

"I thought I had him, too. He played it perfectly and he did it – he won at the absolute slowest possible speed he could. I thought he was out of fuel and that was that. I just appreciate the crowd coming out here, it's always neat to come to Kentucky. It's the site of my first win 13 years ago and it's a special place. I was hoping we could get a victory tonight for ARRIS and everybody, but it wasn't meant to be. That's a tough one to be that close. We were getting such good fuel mileage with our TRD (Toyota Racing Development) engine, I think we might have had a little extra there. That's going to be the hard part, going to bed knowing you could have gone a little faster." - Carl Edwards, finished second

"I don't think there's a driver here that didn't have a handful at some point in Turn 3 tonight. But a good well‑played race by Luke and all of us to get the finish that we did. We did have a good car. We just never seemed to be able to get good track position and played the fuel game there at the end, did what I thought I had to do, and with no fuel gauge or any kind of telemetry was able to make it to the end. Was hoping that we were going to be the first guy that could pull that one off, not the third guy, but just proud to get our first top‑5 of the season with the Caterpillar Chevrolet and the guys at ECR and RCR have been working really hard and a night like this is definitely something that we are really proud of." - Ryan Newman, finished third

"It's just tough conditions out there tonight.  I mean especially when the sun was still out it was sketchy going into (Turns) 1 and 3 in a big pack of cars.  We hope we were going to get more green flag stops where we could come in and take off on fresh tires without being in a was like that, but all the wrecks happened within zero to five laps after a caution. Really hard to figure out what to do, but just had to try to keep it stable to where you could race.  It's really nobody's fault.  I mean Goodyear is trying to do what they can to protect themselves and make sure they don't have tire problems. They didn't have to worry about that.  It was the hardest thing on the planet.  NHL doesn't have anything on them on a hard puck.  Like every other repave, as they get laps and more races on this track it will get to where they can come off the hardness of the tire and it will be better for everybody.  This is as bad as it's going to get.  It will get better from here." - Tony Stewart, finished fifth

"It's all you do in instances like that is keep your head down and dig. We went all the way to third place from the back. That was cool, all in all we still finished 10th. It's just one of those deals. I'm not sure why we got penalized. It's a timeline thing, everybody does it. You get your line and you gas it up to your pit, it's what I did. I don't know. I guess it wasn't my night on that deal. It's frustrating, we had the car to beat and I felt like if we didn't get the 4 (Kevin Harvick) on the pit stop, we weren't going to be able to pass him. It was so hard to pass. We came out with the lead and they took it away from us. It's just the way it goes I guess." - Martin Truex, Jr., finished tenth

"Not fun.  One groove, slick, slick, slick.  Okay, so a new repave has a lot of grip.  Goodyear brings a real conservative tire that is going to be extra careful on blistering.  They had some blistering in the test that scared them, so they went really conservative on the tire.  I think personally I believe they can make that right-side tire as hard as they want, go as safe as you want there so we don't have the blistering, but soften the left up some.  The racing will be better.  We have issues with all the recent repaves with the left-side tires being a little bit too hard.  It hurts the racing because you just can't get any grip and turn and go underneath nobody.  You just slide that left-front all night long through the center and on exit.  You can't drive around and underneath guys.  There is nothing you can do to get that left-front tire any grip except for soften the tire up.  That wouldn't be hard to do.  It's a conservative tire.  I understand why they did it because of the blistering they had in the test.  We can't come here and blister and blow right-front's and have guys pounding the fence at 190 mph.

"And the low downforce…I don't know if all that stuff is a great combination.  The driver's want less downforce.  If you take me to Texas with the tire we have there and a worn out old race track and a softer tire or a tire that gets grip into the track would probably love this type of package.  But, it's just a bad combination for the new surface and how conservative that tire is.  I mean you couldn't hustle the car at all.  You are just on pins and needles all the time on restarts like … uhhh… I don't want to lose any ground and boy if I have a big slip I'm going to lose all kinds of track position, which happened over and over to a bunch of guys myself included. That sucks to race that way.  You want to drive and hustle and try to get in there and beat guys.  You can't even run side-by-side.  Guys who run side-by-side were a second slower.  What the hell?  That is awful; we have a problem man that is no good. But the track will take some time to get better and we have all heard about what they did with the pavement and stuff to try to make it age quicker.  We will see how it goes, but I think the Trucks race well and Xfinity cars ehhh they were okay.  They were closer together.  They had a softer tire and a little more downforce, but I don't want to say that I think we need more downforce.  I just think the tire is super conservative, super hard; we need to change the left.  We need the tires to wear out before the fuel runs out. We can't just go out there and keep putting right's on. That is not racing." - Dale Earnhardt, Jr., finished 13th

"Just blew a right-front tire.  I don't know how many laps we had on them or what not. We had seen a couple of issues with guys earlier in the night.  I think we were just doing what we could to try and get back on a decent lap sequence with the leaders.  We had kind of dug a hole for ourselves.  It's frustrating, disappointing we struggled all weekend long and it was just one of those weekends.  We will work hard and try and get back to Loudon and see if we can't figure something out there.  I'm appreciative of Advance Auto Parts and Quaker State they are both the title sponsor of the race here and on our car tonight.  I'm disappointed we couldn't give them a better showing." - Regan Smith, finished 34th (Crashed out)

"Uh, just trying to get some sympathy points now, at this point. I figured there would be more points in sympathy than I'm going to get on the race track. I'm fine. My thumb hurts a little bit. But we'll figure it out. We'll get it x-rayed later to see what the exact diagnosis is. But, I said I wasn't having a lot of fun before; and I'm definitely not having a lot of fun right now. The guys will try to get the car back together, but I don't know if we blew a tire, or what; the hood came up. It was a big hit. I've taken a lot of big hits lately and it's getting a little bit old." -

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



Thinkin' Out Loud: Brad Keslowski Survives War of Attrition, Stretches Fuel for Kentucky Triumph
by Aaron Bearden

by Bryan Gable


Q: The 1996 Jiffy Lube 300 is best known as the comeback win for Ernie Irvan after his near-fatal crash in 1994 at Michigan International Speedway.  However, he didn't dominate the race (he led 38 laps all day).  What happened to make Irvan the primary threat for the win late in the race?

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

Friday's Answer:

Q:  Speaking of Kurt Busch's rookie year in trucks, partway through the season, his sponsorship situation changed and Roush Racing was forced to take on co-sponsors on Busch's truck.  What happened to Exide Batteries, his primary sponsor at the beginning of the season?

A: Around that time, Exide Industries had been acquiring a number of companies and taking on their debts as part of the deals.  This was being done in an attempt to make Exide Industries a bigger company that could more readily compete with bigger competitors.  However, the assumed debts took a toll on the company, resulting in cost-cutting moves.  Dropping the amount paid to Roush Racing led to co-sponsors on Kurt Busch's truck and Exide outright leaving Jeff Burton's No. 99 in Winston Cup prior to the end of the 2000 season.  These debts eventually drove Exide Industries into bankruptcy.

In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have breaking news from Monday, Tom Bowles gives you a stats breakdown of Kentucky 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 Kentucky.
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