Monday, September 12, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Denny Hamlin Dodges Wrecks, Takes Victory at Home

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Sep. 12, 2016
Volume X, Edition CLVIII

What to Watch: Monday

- Preparations are in full swing for the first weekend of the Chase for the Sprint Cup (and the final weekend of the regular season for both the XFINITY and Camping World Truck Series).  If anything of note breaks today, we'll have it for you at Frontstretch.


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

Denny Hamlin Outruns Chaos to Win Richmond

Saturday night's Federated Auto Parts 400 was a wild affair with 16 cautions, frayed feelings and bent sheetmetal.  Denny Hamlin, though stayed above the fray, chose to stay out on the final caution and held off a charging Kyle Larson to win.  Martin Truex, Jr. was third, followed by Brad Keselowski and Kevin Harvick. Read more

Kyle Busch Wins Eighth Race of XFINITY Season at Richmond

Friday night, Kyle Busch returned to the No. 18 and stomped the field once again.  For Busch, it was his eighth XFINITY win of the season and the tenth for Joe Gibbs Racing's No. 18.  Teammate Erik Jones was second, followed by Brad Keselowski, Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier.  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: Harvick Tops Point Standings at End of Regulation
by Phil Allaway

With the Chase now on the horizon, the regular season points after Richmond technically don't matter.  Regardless, we will still be compiling them for you in this space, hand-in-hand with Chase recaps for those interested in how a non-playoff NASCAR world would play out.

Kevin Harvick had another good run Saturday night, bringing his No. 4 home in fifth.  That performance was good enough to effectively stand pat, closing the regular season as the champion.  Brad Keselowski was right in front of him at the finish and gained a grand total of one point, leaving him 42 behind after Richmond.  Keselowski's four wins, though leave him tied for the top seed entering the playoffs with Kyle Busch.

Joey Logano finished tenth at Richmond and wrapped up the regular season third in the standings.  Denny Hamlin's victory moved him up to fourth, giving him that all-important momentum heading into the playoffs.  Hamlin, who initially struggled after winning the Daytona 500 has fought back strong, wrapping up the last two months with a pair of victories and eight straight top-10 finishes.

Kurt Busch, running eighth on Saturday night ended the regular season fifth in points.  Right behind him was Kurt's younger brother Kyle, struggling a bit heading into the Chase but still holding that share of the playoff's No. 1 seed.  

Carl Edwards lost three positions in the standings, dropping to seventh after being the innocent third man in the Ryan Newman-Tony Stewart sandwich at Richmond.  The spring winner at the short track wound up 32nd. Martin Truex, Jr. is still eighth in points, ending the regular season with a top-5 Richmond run but his car flunked post-race laser inspection Saturday.  We'll have to wait and see what comes of that.

Jimmie Johnson's 11th-place finish boosted him up two places to ninth in the standings.  However, he sits a full 50 points behind Truex and remains an enigma of unsteady performances heading into the postseason.  Chase Elliott, who has also struggled over the summer had to wait until the checkered flag fell at Richmond to lock up a rookie Chase bid. He rounds out the top 10 in regular season points, one of three winless drivers to qualify for this year's postseason.

Austin Dillon, also clinching his first spot inside the Chase after Richmond wound up 11th in the standings. Jamie McMurray finished seventh at Richmond and ended up as the last driver in the field on points; he sits 12th.  Matt Kenseth's crash at Richmond, the result of him coming together with Keselowski dropped the veteran back to 13th.  Kenseth, however sits just six points back in the Chase standings by virtue of two regular season victories. 

Kyle Larson's epic charge on the final restart pushed him from 12th to second at Richmond. That moved him up to 14th in points and gives the driver three straight top-5 finishes for the first time in his Cup career.  He is also the last driver in the regular season standings to make the field; Tony Stewart and rookie Chris Buescher, despite being well back in points round out the Chase field by virtue of scoring one victory apiece during the regular season.  Stewart ended up 27th in points, a solid performance despite crashing out of the race at Richmond (keep in mind he missed the year's first eight races). Buescher moved up to 29th in the standings after dodging trouble at Richmond to come home 24th.

Ryan Newman and Kasey Kahne ended up tied for 15th in points, 43 behind McMurray.  However, they were the last two drivers eliminated from the Chase as both saw their bids for the win at Richmond fall short.

Chase Point Standings: t-1) Kyle Busch 2012, t-1) Brad Keselowski 2012, 3) Denny Hamlin -3, t-4) Kevin Harvick -6, t-4) Carl Edwards -6, t-4) Martin Truex, Jr. -6, t-4) Matt Kenseth -6, t-4) Jimmie Johnson -6, t-9) Joey Logano -9, t-9) Kyle Larson -9, t-9) Tony Stewart -9, t-9) Kurt Busch -9, t-9) Chris Buescher -9, t-14) Chase Elliott -12, t-14) Austin Dillon -12, t-14) Jamie McMurray -12.

Best of the Rest: t-17) Ryan Newman 633, t-17) Kasey Kahne 633, 19) Trevor Bayne -47, 20) AJ Allmendinger -50, 21) Ryan Blaney -58, 22) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., -59, 23) Greg Biffle -138.

Point Standings (1-16 after Richmond): 1) Kevin Harvick 876, 2) Brad Keselowski -42, 3) Joey Logano -93, 4) Denny Hamlin -103, 5) Kurt Busch -114, 6) Kyle Busch -117, 7) Carl Edwards -121, 8) Martin Truex, Jr. -140, 9) Jimmie Johnson -190, 10) Chase Elliott -195, 11) Austin Dillon -197, 12) Jamie McMurray -200, 13) Matt Kenseth -203, 14) Kyle Larson -230, t-15) Ryan Newman -243, t-15) Kasey Kahne -243.

Outside the top 16, but Chase-eligible: 27) Tony Stewart -442, 29) Chris Buescher -501.

Race Winners: Denny Hamlin (Daytona-1, Watkins Glen, Richmond-2), Jimmie Johnson (Atlanta, Auto Club), Brad Keselowski (Las Vegas, Talladega, Daytona-2, Kentucky), Kevin Harvick (Phoenix, Bristol-2), Kyle Busch (Martinsville, Texas, Kansas, Indianapolis), Carl Edwards (Bristol-1, Richmond-1), Matt Kenseth (Dover, Loudon), Martin Truex, Jr. (Charlotte, Darlington), Kurt Busch (Pocono-1), Joey Logano (Michigan-1), Tony Stewart (Sonoma), Chris Buescher (Pocono-2), Kyle Larson (Michigan-2).
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 Federated Auto Parts 400 was brought to you by the letter "T," for Tempers.  Night races are said to be where all heck goes down and people start to lose their patience.  Well, Saturday saw multiple instances of anger, including Ryan Newman destroying his former employer in an interview and an unhappy Matt Kenseth after wrecking.  No punches were thrown, but we'll have to see what happens for the rest of the season. - Phil Allaway


Quotes to Remember: Federated Auto Parts 400
compiled by Phil Allaway

"It was great. I'll tell you our cars were really running well. Wheels (Mike Wheeler, crew chief) and the whole group just gave me a great car. Really got it tuned in there the last half of the race. Just good restarts – finally everything just kind of worked well for us all day. I didn't think staying out was the right thing to do, but great call there. Proud of this whole FedEx Ground Camry team. Everything has been great. Thank everyone from the Greenbrier, the Jordan brand, Coca‑Cola – everyone who's been just so good to us throughout my career and hopefully we'll go on another Chase run... That's what's so special about [winning], you get to do it at home and there's just – I see all the extra Denny Hamlin shirts and hats and everything fires me up every time I get here. I've also got to thank Sport Clips for their support this year as well. Got all that covered and, man, this is a great car. Hopefully we can use it in the Chase." - Denny Hamlin, race winner

"It was a long road to get to where we are at.  We didn't start the year off good and midway through the season we got going good.  Jamie (McMurray) has been pretty consistent all year.  We were up and down and able to get that win there at Michigan and lock ourselves in.  Jamie was extremely strong today.  He was super consistently in the top five to nine.  Definitely outran those guys he needed to and did a really good job.  To have two cars in the Chase, both Chip Ganassi Racing cars in the Chase it's awesome.  It's great for our little team." - Kyle Larson, finished second

"I think it all started with [Denny Hamlin] getting out of the pits in front of us and it translated into all those cautions coming out of those short runs. It seemed like I would feel like I just got even with him or typically all night I was off a little bit from a few of those guys – for five or six laps on restarts – and then I'd maintain and then I would start to reel them in and I could pass them within 10 laps. Just never got that opportunity. The caution would come out every time before it happened and then at the end – I don't know at the end. I think I used my tires up having to get back by the 18 (Kyle Busch) and the 42 (Kyle Larson) that had passed me on restarts. All in all, it was an awesome night for us. We had a great race car. We had a new sponsor on board with Tanger Outlets. It was good to give them a good run. We did everything pretty good tonight – it just didn't work out, but really proud of that effort. We've struggled here at Richmond the last few times and to do what we did tonight was just incredible. The car was lights out on long runs and nobody could touch us, so that was a lot of fun.  Just wish it went green the rest of the race, but it didn't." - Martin Truex, Jr., finished third

"I just missed a shift and ruined Matt's day. I didn't hear what he had to say but I am sure it deserved to be said. I made a mistake and it is crappy for everyone. Hopefully, he will accept the apology. I don't want to miss a shift for myself, let alone him. I got in the corner and just missed the corner. I was trying to get it in gear and just missed it and got him. It looks like it cut his tire, so apologies to him and his team. It isn't anything anyone wants to see. As far as the rest of the day is concerned. I thought it was just a hard-fought Richmond night race with a lot of yellows at the end and hard to keep up with. The Nos. 11 and 78 ran a great race, so did Larson at the end. We finished right behind him. I wish I could have cleaned up a few mistakes. We just needed a little more." - Brad Keselowski, finished fourth

"I'm especially excited about the last month that we are coming off of with the performance.  I am probably most excited about tonight because pit road was awesome.  They did a great job on pit road.  This is probably the worst car that we've had all year, all weekend and they just kept fighting and kept punching numbers in the computer and kept changing things.  I got a speeding penalty there trying to get too much and got us behind even more and then still came back to get a top 5.  Just really proud of the effort that we had tonight, but you look at Michigan and then you look at the Bristol win and Darlington, everything just seems to be clicking at the right time.  Just really happy with everybody on our team." - Kevin Harvick, finished fifth

"Just lots of fun all night long with the way we got to lead a little bit.  We were off sequence a little early on and then it seemed like how are we supposed to balance out how many sets of tires we have left?  What do the other guys have for tires?  That is really what created the excitement of the guys passing, the guys trying to preserve their position.  It felt great to race three-wide at a short track and everybody gave each other room.  I was impressed with the show from inside the cockpit.  I hope the fans were as well." - Jamie McMurray, finished seventh

"We did pass a few cars there early in the run, but that was sort of when we felt like we were good on the front side of the run all night, but we would just taper off after four laps. That was our front side. It needed to be about 45.  But we just couldn't – we just didn't hit it. I thought we were really good in practice. I thought we had a good shot at it and I don't know what happened, but tonight just wasn't our night. It's unfortunate that we didn't have a better M&M's Camry, but we move on and we go to next week to Chicago. We tested there a few weeks back for all of our team guys here, so hopefully we've got a good package." - Kyle Busch, finished ninth

"It was a long night, just like everybody else. We had a good long run car and not a good short run car. It took us 10-15 laps to start clicking them off and then we were really fast but it was just too late. Those cautions were coming out like every 15 laps. Every time we got going a caution would come out. Overall we were a lot better than what we were in the spring, at least on the long run. The way the race played out with tires and short runs it just didn't play in our favor." - Joey Logano, finished tenth

"That is a really cool stat [making every Chase in history], something that I'm definitely proud of and I'm proud of this team for accomplishing.  Tonight was a scrappy race.  We had trouble early and it seemed like everybody in the field started having trouble.  I think we had two run ins with the wall, damage on the left side from some racing incidents and kept it straight and somehow finished 11th.  It was a long night.  I'm glad our guys kept our heads in the game and were able to almost get a top 10 out of it." - Jimmie Johnson, finished 11th

"I'm just proud of our effort, our team, everything we went through this year.  We shouldn't have been in this situation.  We had good enough cars to not have to be in this situation, but, hey, we were in a tight situation down to the end.  Especially, with the No. 5 (Kasey Kahne) up there near the end, but we were racing the No. 1 (Jamie McMurray) all night, we did our job, we stayed in that buffer.  I'm proud to be here.  I'm just excited.  The stress level is off of me.  I'm not going to take stress into the Chase.  I'm going to go have fun and try to win, look at it as a no pressure situation." - Austin Dillon, finished 13th

"Getting in is the first very small step of these last 10 races.  Obviously, you would rather have won your way in and have a win at this point, but I would much rather win in these last 10 races if I had a choice.  We will take it a week at a time.  I think we have to leave here with the mentality that we could go to Homestead and give ourselves a chance.  I think if we don't have that mentality as a team and as a group and as an organization we should have just let the guy behind us get in.  We are going to give it our best effort and we are going to fight as hard as we can and give it the best shot we can." - Chase Elliott, finished 19th

"It's obviously a big night for Front Row Motorsports and Bob Jenkins for a small team like we are to be able to pull it off and get that win at Pocono and find ourselves in the Chase right now.  It's pretty special.  It was a crazy race.  I can't believe how many cautions we had.  We got involved in one of the accidents, had a tire go down, just a very eventful day.  Just so proud to be here.  It's a home race for CSX.  I had a Bryan Park shop visit right down the road early this weekend when we got out here.  It's cool to have them out here.  All the help we've got from Love's Travel Stops this year and Roush Yates Engines and Ford and everybody that's working so hard to get us here.  It's been a wild ride.  We've had some great support from Roush Fenway at the same time.  Everything worked out the way we needed it to to pull this night off the way we needed to.  It's hard going that slow to start.  We were finally making progress and getting the car balanced better.  We were to the point where we felt like we could start driving forward, and they said, we don't need to.  There was just no risk at this point." - Chris Buescher, finished 24th

"Yeah, everybody was driving really hard. It's fun. I don't know what happened with Ryan (Newman) and Tony (Stewart). I'm hoping that wasn't intentional because that was very frustrating. But, yeah, everybody was really trying hard and it's really a good time. This race is so much fun with these tires and this downforce package. Just sliding the car all over. My car never handled right and that's fun when you've just got work the whole time." - Carl Edwards, finished 32nd (crashed out)

"Oh, I'm fine. I think it was pretty obvious watching the video. I don't even have to watch it. The No. 14 (Tony Stewart) cut across my nose into Turn 1 and I got into him after that, but he'd already chopped into me and messed up my line and I clipped him a little bit coming off of (Turn) 2; but he just cut across my nose. Going down the back straightaway there, I guess he thought he was in a Sprint Car again; did not know how to control his anger. We'll keep fighting like we always do. It's just unfortunate not to end the way we wanted to. The Caterpillar Chevrolet and Grainger and Sprint and everybody else who helps put us on. But, it's just disappointing that you've got somebody old like that, that should be retired the way he drives. It's just ridiculous.  I don't think there was any reason other than him just being bipolar and having anger issues. Google Tony Stewart; you'll see all kinds of things he's done. Look it up. YouTube and everything else. Quite the guy." - Ryan Newman, finished 35th (crashed out)

"I don't think anybody's perspective will be any different than mine. It looks like Brad (Keselowski) missed a shift or something and then he just had his angle all wrong and drove into the corner three car lengths too far because he didn't want to lose his spot and he cleaned me out and knocked the fender down on a tire and we ended up blowing a tire and wrecking." - Matt Kenseth, finished 38th (crashed out)

"I don't really know what happened, to be honest with you. I thought I was clear. It looked like we were clear and could get down. The No. 6 got us in the left rear pretty good and it eventually cut our rear tire down. I don't know. I have to see it but I thought I was clear and he didn't think the same way.  It stinks we are behind the wall so early in the race. I wish we could have worked on our car and and got it better throughout the night.  I should know better than that.  We didn't even give ourselves a shot at it." - Ryan Blaney, finished 39th

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



by Mike Neff

by Bryan Gable


Q: In 2002, Brian Vickers was a 18-year-old racing for his family's team in the Busch Series.  He was still very green.  The 2002 Tropicana Twister 300 is a good example of his inexperience on superspeedways.  Vickers qualified a decent 12th, but made an error that resulted in the end of his race.  What happened?

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

Friday's Answer:

Q:  In the 1987 Wrangler Jeans Indigo 400 at Richmond, current XFINITY Series car owner Jimmy Means earned his 17th and final top-10 finish in Cup by placing ninth.  It could have been much better than that, too had Means not run into a problem late in the race.  What happened?

A: Much like many of the teams that Saturday night, Means ran out of fresh tires in the pits later in the race.  With no funds to go acquire tires from other teams, Means was forced to re-use sets.  That dropped him down the order to his eventual ninth-place finish, three laps down.


In The Frontstretch Newsletter:
We'll have breaking news from Monday, Tom Bowles returns with Numbers Game and S.D. Grady is back with Sitting In The Stands: A Fan's View.

Amy Henderson takes a closer look at how some of the sport's smaller teams fared at Richmond in Underdog House.
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