Monday, August 08, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Clauson Succumbs to Injuries at Belleville; Denny Hamlin Wins the Glen

Presented by
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Aug. 8, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXXXIII

What to Watch: Monday

- Teams are arriving back in North Carolina (or in the case of Furniture Row Racing, Colorado) today.  While the Cup Series is off next weekend, the XFINITY Series teams are prepping for Mid-Ohio this weekend.  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

Bryan Clauson Dead at 27

During a press conference Monday morning at Indianapolis Motor Speedway, United States Auto Club (USAC) officials announced that Bryan Clauson succumbed to injuries suffered in a Saturday crash at the Belleville Midget Nationals in Kansas late Sunday night.  He was 27.  Read more

Denny Hamlin Stays Clean for Watkins Glen Victory

Denny Hamlin took the lead on a lap 81 restart when Brad Keselowski and Kyle Busch slid off the road in turn 1.  From there, Hamlin held off the pack to take his first win on a road course and second win of 2016.  Joey Logano was second, followed by Brad Keselowski, AJ Allmendinger and Tony Stewart.  Read more

Martin Truex, Jr. Upset with Brad Keselowski Over Last Lap Finish

Martin Truex, Jr. was in second on the final lap, pressing Denny Hamlin for the win.  However, Brad Keselowski got a little impatient and ran in the back of him in the final turn, spinning out the No. 78.  Truex would finish eighth and wasn't too pleased about the situation.  Read more

Erik Jones Moves to the Cup Series with Furniture Row Racing in 2017

Prior to Sunday's race, Furniture Row Racing announced an expansion to two full-time entries for 2017.  The new No. 77 will be driven by Erik Jones and will have primary sponsorship for part of the season from 5-Hour ENERGY.  Read more

Chris Buescher Overcomes Crash to Gain on Top 30

Sunday was not the greatest day for Pocono winner Chris Buescher.  Issues kept him down the order quite a ways.  Getting involved in a crash with a few laps to go looked to make things worse.  However, Buescher's closest competitor David Ragan was also involved.  Ultimately, Buescher cut his margin to 30th to just three points.  Read more

Joey Logano Survives for Repeat XFINITY Win at Watkins Glen

On Saturday, Joey Logano led 67 laps and claimed victory for Team Penske in the Zippo 200.  Paul Menard was second, followed by Kyle Larson, Daniel Suarez and Trevor Bayne.  Read more

Large Crash Halts XFINITY Series Race at Watkins Glen

Saturday's Zippo 200 had a long red flag on lap 18 due to a multi-car crash in the Esses involving Todd Bodine, Tomy Drissi, Kyle Busch, Scott Heckert and others.  While the wreck did not block the track, the track was covered in debris and fuel, leading to a long cleanup.  Read more

IMSA Announces 2017 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship Schedule

On Friday, IMSA announced the schedule for the 2017 WeatherTech SportsCar Championship.  There will be 12 rounds, with a couple of changes in class lineups at certain rounds.  The Mazda Raceway Laguna Seca and Circuit of the Americas rounds will swap places on the schedule.  Read more

IMSA CTSC Brings Endurance Back, Prototype Lites is the New PC

On Friday afternoon, IMSA announced two new four-hour endurance races for the Continental Tire SportsCar Challenge in 2017.  Other races will be two hours in length.  Also, IMSA Prototype Lites will be overhauled into IMSA Prototype Challenge with LMP3's as the new headlining class.  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: Brad Keselowski Assumes Control
by Phil Allaway

Despite contact on the last lap of the race, Brad Keselowski's strategy to run to the end from lap 49 worked great.  He walked out of Watkins Glen with a third-place finish and assumed the points lead.  Keselowski's margin is nine over Kevin Harvick, who was eliminated in a late crash exiting the Inner Loop.  Kurt Busch remains third, but is now 38 points behind Keselowski after finishing 11th.  Kurt's younger brother Kyle Busch was in position to potentially win until he blew turn 1 on the lap 81 restart.  He would eventually finish sixth.

Carl Edwards had a real chance to make some gains on Sunday. However, the speeding penalty and a later on-track incident resulted in a 15th-place finish.  It was enough to maintain his spot, but not much more.  Edwards is just one point in front of Joey Logano, who finished second on Sunday.  Race winner Denny Hamlin is up two places to seventh, but currently sits 32 points out of sixth.  Martin Truex, Jr.'s spin in the last turn dropped him to an eighth-place finish, which precluded him from gaining any spots in the standings.

Matt Kenseth had a quiet run to tenth on Sunday.  That was enough to move him up one place to ninth in points.  Jimmie Johnson had nowhere to go and plowed into Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. on lap 53.  That ended an already terrible day and left him with a 40th-place finish, dropping him three places to tenth.  Ryan Newman, despite a late-race spin, finished 16th and moved up to 11th in points.  One point behind Newman is Chase Elliott, who finished a solid 13th and gained ground as well.

Austin Dillon is down two places to 13th after getting caught up in the big wreck on lap 53.  With the help of three Lucky Dogs, Dillon got back to 31st, one lap down.  Jamie McMurray remains in 14th after finishing eighth.  Kyle Larson was close to a top 5, but was hit from behind on the final lap by AJ Allmendinger.  He dropped from fourth to 29th.  It didn't cost him a place in the standings, but cost a bunch of points.  Trevor Bayne is up to 16th after finishing ninth on Sunday.

Point Standings (1-16): 1) Brad Keselowski 727, 2) Kevin Harvick -9, 3) Kurt Busch -38, 4) Kyle Busch -57, 5) Carl Edwards -74, 6) Joey Logano -75, 7) Denny Hamlin -107, 8) Martin Truex, Jr. -115, 9) Matt Kenseth -127, 10) Jimmie Johnson -149, 11) Ryan Newman -165, 12) Chase Elliott -166, 13) Austin Dillon -168, 14) Jamie McMurray -177, 15) Kyle Larson -207, 16) Trevor Bayne -215.

Outside the top 16, but Chase-eligible: 26) Tony Stewart -338.

Outside the top 30 with a win: 31) Chris Buescher -435, three points out of 30th.

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

Letter of the Race: Sunday's Cheez-It 355 at the Glen was presented by the letter A for Aggressive.  With the hard tires in use this past weekend, drivers often had to get what they could early on.  This led to very aggressive behaviors on the track.  Denny Hamlin took advantage of the aggression to sneak in his pass for the win.  - Phil Allaway


Quotes to Remember: Cheez-It 355 at the Glen
compiled by Phil Allaway

"[The win] means a lot. I can't tell you how disappointed I was we didn't win the first one. I just tried the best I could and overshot the corner and I didn't want to do it this time and so I probably under drove and let those guys be a little closer than I should've. But, hated to see the 78 (Martin Truex Jr.) turned around down there. They've been great Toyota teammates of ours and thanks to all of our teammates who tested here and obviously gave us a good baseline setup and a fast car.

"Well, I was probably driving a little bit more conservative there after my last lap shenanigans at Sonoma I thought look don't overshoot the corner and it probably lent itself for them getting closer than they probably should've. Just can't thank my Toyota teammates enough. They came here and tested and gave us a good baseline setup and allowed us to have a car that could win today." - Denny Hamlin, race winner

"The final lap or the final 15 (laughter)?  It was crazy any way you look at it. Typical Watkins Glen.  I mean, it's just awesome, crazy racing, full contact.  Just insane out there.  So a lot of fun from the driver's seat and I'm sure the fans loved it as well in front of a sold‑out grandstand.  It was pretty cool when I pulled over for the red flag in front of the grandstands and I could hear just fans screaming and yelling and loving it.  I thought, Man, this is really cool to be in the driver's seat right now. Having those moments, I thought it was neat. Overall our car was really good today.  Driver shot himself in the foot a little bit with getting some damage in the Bus Stop when we were working our way back through the field.  Ripped the splitter up.  That was kind of the beginning of the end.  Really hurt our racecar through the fast parts of the racetrack, so through the esses, the Carrousel, a little bit in 11.  Didn't hurt us in the Bus Stop, that's where we were the fastest car. We got ourselves in position to win the race, but I didn't have the speed in the racecar to make it happen.  It wasn't anyone's fault but mine.  A little mad at that.  Got close to that sweep again here at Watkins Glen, winning yesterday, getting second today.  Just so close.  Wish I could take one corner back out of the whole race and we'd probably be sitting in Victory Lane right now.  I thought we were faster than the 11 through the parts that we needed to be early in the race to be able to beat him. Unfortunately we're sitting here second.  But not awful considering what our car looked like." - Joey Logano, finished second

"I thought we had a really good Miller Lite Ford Fusion and got pushed back on a couple of the restarts. I was trying to sort my way back to the front and just couldn't quite get there at the end. I got right up to the bumper of the 78 and couldn't do anything there and he made a move to get by the 11 on the inside and the 11 blocked him. I went high and the 78 went high and by then I was already deep in the corner and got into him and turned him. That was really unfortunate and the last thing I wanted to see. This track here, when you drive into the corner, you commit and sometimes you don't know what will happen when you commit. The last thing I wanted to do was turn him. I am proud of my guys for a really fast race car and it was another crazy Watkins Glen day." - Brad Keselowski, finished third

"Ah long, cost us a couple of times there.  Cost us down pit road on speeding there and I just tried to fight back and just trying to get everything I could.  Our last corner there, racing with Kyle (Larson) I just… I can't sorry enough. It doesn't help the case, I spun him out.  I didn't mean to spin him out. The No. 78 was spinning and I was starting to get my nose under Kyle to try to drag race him to the checkered.  He was turning to come back down, but it was my fault.  For fourth place it would be different if we were battling for the win, but I just hate it for him.  It's not going to help to say sorry, I know, I would be pissed off.  He should be.  I was going to be okay with that until that." - AJ Allmendinger, finished fourth

"Yeah, definitely unfortunate. I wish we could've seen what would've happened when we got to the start finish line. I felt like I maybe had the 11 (Denny Hamlin) squared up a little bit off (turn) 11 and maybe could've drag raced him to the line but it'd have been fun to see but it was all not to be with getting hit in the left rear. It's unfortunate, but hard racing at the end, all of us going for a win and all of us locked in the Chase it's – I guess he (Brad Keselowski) kind of races with that mentality that hey, it doesn't really matter where we finish or if we finish so just have to be mindful of that when we're around him for the rest of the time. All in all a good day for us. We had a good race car. Had a battle all day long to get from 14th to the front and got a shot at winning at the end. That's all you can ask for." - Martin Truex, Jr., finished seventh

"We had a really good car.  We qualified well and the first run I thought we had a fifth to eighth place car, pretty good.  I got blocked in on my last pit stop and lost about 20 spots.  We did fuel only and we were the 43rd stall.  Somebody was coming in and I had to stop.  We lost a lot of track position.  Honestly, the last couple of laps I probably could have held off the No. 47 and No. 18, but you are kind of point's racing right now.  It looked like they got the No. 42.  It was a really good point's day for us though because a few guys had bad days." - Jamie McMurray, finished eighth

"This is a good weekend. A fifth and a ninth. That is a good road course weekend for me considering I am not a road course ace. The thought was to try to get better and I think we did that this weekend. We made progress and that is really good. We are excited. Hopefully we can keep getting better at these and contend for a win one day." - Trevor Bayne, finished ninth

"We were about a 10th place car and we were going to get a top five day out of it.  We were running sixth coming to (Turn) 7; the No. 47 was behind me.  He is always aggressive.  I figured he would be smart.  Obviously, the No. 78 was spinning in front of us.  That is a free spot for both of us and just dumped me.  He had already ran me down to the front stretch wall once with about 15 to go or so.  Pretty dumb move right there too, but I was the smarter one racing for points, lifted, could have wrecked him, but didn't.  I don't know.  I don't know.  He wrecked me earlier in the year at Vegas.  He has ran me hard, but we always race pretty well, but today was flat out stupid.  I love his crew chief (Randall Burnett) to death; he was our engineer last year.  It just sucks they are going to have to start building some more race cars because he has got a few coming." - Kyle Larson, finished 29th

"Yeah, really proud of the guys for getting it knocked out.  That was unfortunate that I had to get out.  Just spoiler stuck in the mud over there, around the Carrousel.  I just couldn't get moving.  Couldn't get it in reverse.  It wouldn't stay in.  You know, just basically had to get out. They assessed the damage during the red flag.  Got back into the car.  As soon as the caution came back out, they hustled, got it back fixed up, rolling, pretty much saved our day. Owe a lot to them today.  They made sure we were able to stay in the points hunt.  Not the way we want to do it.  Really can't have more days like that if we're going to try and get in that top 30, but proud of them for their efforts to get it turned around." - Chris Buescher, finished 30th

"We were just hustling hard on that restart and got loose over the curb and just kind of spun. From that point we were just along for the ride. It looked like everybody scattered and it was probably pretty hard to see. We got hit pretty hard. The guys had a fast car. We had some issues yesterday in qualifying that put us toward the back and we were fighting all day to get back up there. We had done that at one point then messed up in the pits and got blocked in. We were trying to get that position back and made a lot of passes that first lap. We were hustling the car and just got loose." - Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., finished 38th (Crashed out)

"It just looked like the 17 started wrecking up in front of us. I started slowing up to avoid it. I remember the 24, a vivid memory of him going up and hitting and coming back across. I started slowing up because I wasn't sure where the 17 was going. I thought he was coming back across so I started slowing up and got wrecked from behind. They were on both sides of me. They hit me from behind and both sides to send me spinning. It is tough. You can't see up there. I just happened to catch the 17 on the left side. I saw his back end all the way out and knew he would be coming across the track. I saw it early and started slowing up but the guys coming off the corner couldn't see that. I just got hit from behind and in the side. It wasn't those guys' fault. There are no spotters over there either so it is hard. It is hard to spot that area anyway. We are kind of on our own." - Greg Biffle, finished 39th (Crashed out)

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



Thinkin' Out Loud – Denny Hamlin Wins at Watkins Glen
by Aaron Bearden

by Bryan Gable

by Dustin Albino


Q: At Mid-Ohio, XFINITY Series teams compete on a 2.258 mile circuit.  However, this particular layout has not always been available.  When was it created?

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

Friday's Answer:

Q:  In 1991, Tommy Kendall was a young up-and-coming racer with a bright future.  He nearly won the Banquet Frozen Foods 300k at Sears Point racing in place of the injured Kyle Petty.  However, his career was derailed later that year at Watkins Glen.  What happened?

A: Kendall was running towards the front when the left rear wheel came off his Intrepid LMP at the end of the backstretch.  Kendall spun his car into the runoff at turn 5 and went head-on into the tire barriers.  The crash can be seen here.

Kendall broke a leg in the crash and was out for the rest of the season.  He has a permanent limp as a result of the crash.  Kendall's height didn't do him any favors here (he's roughly 6'5").

Ultimately, this crash, along with J.D. McDuffie's fatal crash during the Cup race later that year led to the creation of the Inner Loop for 1992.


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