Monday, October 24, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Joey Logano Defends Hellmann's 500 Title, Advances

Presented by
The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Oct. 24, 2016
Volume X, Edition CLXXXVIII

What to Watch: Monday

- With restrictor plate action complete for the season, teams are now focusing on the action at Martinsville this weekend. If anything of note breaks, we'll have it for you at Frontstretch.  Also, tickets top out at $85 at Martinsville. If you'd like to go, they can be purchased here.


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

Joey Logano Wins Elimination Race in Talladega

Joey Logano and the No. 22 team won the race off of pit road on lap 148, then held off the pack for the final 45 laps to take his second win of the season and guarantee advancement in the Chase.  Rookie Brian Scott finished a career-best second, followed by Denny Hamlin, Kurt Busch and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.  Read more

Kevin Harvick Upset with Teammate Kurt Busch in Talladega

It appears Stewart-Haas Racing has some intra-team strife coming out of Talladega.  Kurt Busch was unhappy with a move Kevin Harvick made on the final restart and bumped Harvick on the cool-down lap.  Harvick retaliated by potentially throwing a punch at his own teammate; see the video and judge for yourself.  Read more

Brad Keselowski Blows Engine at Talladega

For most of the race, Brad Keselowski dominated the proceedings at Talladega, leading 90 of 192 laps.  However, the dreaded trash on the grille was his downfall.  The No. 2 Ford overheated and Keselowski couldn't get the debris off quick enough to prevent a failure.  The resulting 38th-place finish knocked him out of the Chase.  Read more

Blown Motor Hurts Championship Hopes for Martin Truex, Jr. in Talladega

Martin Truex, Jr. qualified on the pole and seemed to run well Sunday.  However, he developed a vibration early on he thought was a tire issue. However, the vibration persisted after the stop.  Shortly afterwards, the power decreased and the engine failed, putting Truex out.  The 40th-place finish cost him a spot in the Round of 8.  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: Jimmie Johnson Wins the Round of 12, but Just Barely
by Phil Allaway

Sunday's Hellmann's 500 at Talladega did shake up the points - just not the way everyone thought.  Jimmie Johnson entered the day with the points lead and already locked into the next round.  He didn't exactly take it easy, but Johnson did finish 23rd, enough for him to finish this segment on top.  Stewart-Haas Racing's Kurt Busch finished fourth on Sunday to wind up the Round of 12 in second, just one point behind Johnson.  Joey Logano's victory moved him up five places from the bubble to third.  Matt Kenseth dropped two places to fourth after hanging back for the whole race and finishing 28th; it was a conservative strategy for Joe Gibbs Racing but one that worked out for three of their cars.

Kyle Busch, using the same strategy as Kenseth wound up 30th.  Like Kenseth, it cost him two places in the standings, but it was still enough to transfer.  Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards ended up tied for sixth after using two completely different strategies.  Edwards hung back with Kenseth and Kyle Busch to finish 29th; Harvick, meanwhile was right up in the hunt and climbed to seventh.

Denny Hamlin and Austin Dillon ended up tied for eighth in points.  However, since Hamlin got himself in the front group late in the race, that boost to third place gave him the tiebreaker and allowed the No. 11 team to advance.  Dillon finished ninth, but fell a half a car length short of earning another position and moving forward.  

The other three drivers didn't come close to the Round of 8. Martin Truex, Jr. fell to tenth after suffering an engine failure on lap 42 and finished 40th.  Chase Elliott gained a spot to 11th, leading nine laps and running 12th but that wasn't enough.  Last but not least, Brad Keselowski rounds out the Chasers after leading 90 laps before falling victim to an engine failure and slumping to 38th.

Chase Point Standings: 1) Jimmie Johnson 3100, 2) Kurt Busch -1, 3) Joey Logano -11, 4) Matt Kenseth -12, 5) Kyle Busch -16, t-6) Kevin Harvick -18, t-6) Carl Edwards -18, t-8) Denny Hamlin -22, t-8) Austin Dillon -22, 10) Martin Truex, Jr. -40, 11) Chase Elliott -50, 12) Brad Keselowski -57.

Best of the Rest: 13) Kyle Larson 2155, 14) Tony Stewart -14, 15) Jamie McMurray -45, 16) Chris Buescher -46, 17) Kasey Kahne -1352, 18) Ryan Newman -1361, t-19) AJ Allmendinger -1438, t-19) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. -1438, 21) Ryan Blaney -1442, 22) Trevor Bayne -1456, 23) Danica Patrick -1534.

Regular Point Standings: 1) Kevin Harvick 1027, 2) Brad Keselowski -37, 3) Joey Logano -50, 4) Kyle Busch -71, 5) Kurt Busch -76, 6) Denny Hamlin -82, 7) Carl Edwards -101, 8) Martin Truex, Jr. -106, 9) Jimmie Johnson -142, 10) Matt Kenseth -158, 11) Austin Dillon -185, 12Chase Elliott -190, 13) Kasey Kahne -224, 14) Kyle Larson -229, 15) Ryan Newman -233, 16) Jamie McMurray -241, t-17) AJ Allmendinger -310, 18) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. -310, 19) Ryan Blaney -314, 20) Trevor Bayne -328.

Outside the top 16, but in the Chase: 26) Tony Stewart -431, 29) Chris Buescher -531.

Race Winners: Denny Hamlin (Daytona-1, Watkins Glen, Richmond-2), Jimmie Johnson (Atlanta, Auto Club, Charlotte-2), Brad Keselowski (Las Vegas, Talladega-1, Daytona-2, Kentucky), Kevin Harvick (Phoenix, Bristol-2, Loudon-2, Kansas-2), Kyle Busch (Martinsville, Texas, Kansas-1, Indianapolis), Carl Edwards (Bristol-1, Richmond-1), Matt Kenseth (Dover-1, Loudon-1), Martin Truex, Jr. (Charlotte-1, Darlington, Chicagoland, Dover-2), Kurt Busch (Pocono-1), Joey Logano (Michigan-1, Talladega-2), 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: Sunday's Hellmann's 500 was brought to you by the Letter "S," for "Stalling."  NBCSN did a great job in displaying what this can do.  A driver can place himself at the right or left rear corner of another car to intentionally slow it down.  Brad Keselowski made great use of this to keep himself up front for 90 laps on Sunday. - Phil Allaway


Quotes to Remember: Hellmann's 500
compiled by Phil Allaway

"It's never a layup here at Talladega.  It's always close.  You never get a big lead.  A good Shell/Pennzoil Ford.  Todd (Gordon, crew chief) made some good adjustments during the race and found some speed in the car, so that was pretty neat to see some of that.  We got that track position and just hung onto it.  I was able to stay on the bottom and try to run the bottom and keep everyone in line, and that worked out really well.  Kevin (Harvick) did a good job with that, which ultimately got us all a great finish.  It was fun racing there at the end.  I was really confused.  I didn't know what lane to pick coming to the last restart, but I knew Kevin had a lot of experience in these situations and is great at speedway racing, so he did a good job of pushing me out and then had to defend the top lane with Brian Scott, so a couple of Fords out front here at Talladega is pretty cool." - Joey Logano, race winner

"I just got to say thank you to Richard Petty Motorsports, Roush Yates Engines, Goody's, everybody for being on board.  I gave it everything I had.  I mean, if I could have stuck my feet through the floorboard and ran to try and get a little more horsepower, I would have done it.  Joey Logano just did all the right moves up front.  I've got to thank Denny Hamlin and everybody that worked with me and tried to push me up there.  I probably wasn't their first choice, but I gave them no choice but to work with me and I'm just proud of these guys.  It was a soild day with no mistakes.  We capitalized on every opportunity we had and brought home a good finish... a good finish always helps.  It helps with the team, it helps with the guys at the shop – the morale – just trying to get any bit of a bright spot in this year has been difficult and I think that this is by far the brightest spot that we've had in a really challenging year for Richard Petty Motorsports.  I guess the results and what this does for us going forward is yet to be determined, but I'm just proud.  The guys have worked hard all year.  They've deserved a lot better finishes than we've given them, and I'm just proud to deliver a good, solid top 5 – to do my job behind the wheel to give us a shot at the win, just have a good day for Richard Petty Motorsports." - Brian Scott, finished second

"It was crazy. I mean, it was very tough in there not having any teammates, but there were a lot of guys that acted like teammates today to me and can't thank enough for that. They know who they are. I don't want to get them in trouble with their race teams because they're probably a different team, different manufacturer, but thank those guys for that. No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) cut me a break at the tri-oval. I mean, just – we had something go our way for crying out loud. One time, we had something go our way and we just battled at the line right there with the No. 41 (Kurt Busch), so just – I'm just so happy." - Denny Hamlin, finished third

"It was really fun. Every time I would make a mistake and get shuffled to the middle it seemed like the crew guys would bring back a solid pit stop to put us in position and to be in control.  It feels good when we have that plus alongside our name in points.  I was trying to ease it for Tony Gibson (crew chief) and all these guys that work so hard. There was some rooting and gouging at the end and I got some damage.  I don't even know where we finished, but all I was shooting for was top 15... [On the post-race confrontation with Kevin Harvick] "He has a misunderstanding of the call at the end of the race.  He will understand it and I'm sure he will clear it up in his interview.  For us, we are great teammates.  We are doing good together.  We have to work together to beat all these other teams out there and he knows that." - Kurt Busch, finished fourth

"Yeah, the final laps everybody is just pushing and shoving and then he (Kurt Busch) cleaned the side of our car out after the checkered flag.  I don't really understand that, but all-in-all the Jimmy John's Chevrolet team did a great job and didn't have a scratch on it until then.  That is pretty good for Talladega." - Kevin Harvick, finished seventh

"Yeah it's really close.  I guess it wasn't our day to do it.  It wasn't planned for us to do that. We tried.  We didn't really have enough speed all day to do much.  I'm proud of my guys and all my teammates helped me as much as they could.  We just couldn't get another spot.  We got a couple there at the end on the last little straight, but the No. 43 (Aric Almirola) was the car we needed and it didn't work out." - Austin Dillon, finished ninth

"The car rolls, the car is going to roll back onto the hauler so that is probably our best superspeedway effort so far this year.  Just kind of sat in the back there and bided our time.  When it was time to go got a good line on the bottom there and it kind of got us back up to the lead pack.  From there, it was just trying to hold the guys off.  I thought we were going to be pretty good there coming to the checkered and I think the No. 4 (Kevin Harvick) got kind of left out and lost all of his momentum, so I had to check up just a little bit.  It cost us a couple of spots, but it rolls and a top 10 that is what we can do here." - AJ Allmendinger, finished 10th

"We were trying to be as aggressive we could and try to make stuff happen. It's tough to do as you get back in the pack and try to make your way through the pack. It just takes time. There's definitely a lot of power in numbers. We're disappointed that we came up short. The NAPA team has been fighting hard the past few weeks. We've had some awesome racecars. It's unfortunate to come up short." - Chase Elliott, finished 12th

"It goes against everything you ever want to do as a race car driver. You want to go try to win races, so I think it's just kind of an unintended consequence of the way – being the cutoff race and the way the Chase works. You can't afford to go up there and get wrecked and not have a chance to race for a championship, so it was just kind of the cards we were dealt and we had to play them. I don't think any of us had any fun and none of us enjoyed it, but it was just what we had to do to make sure we got to Martinsville and trying to race four more weeks and hopefully have a shot at the four of us trying to race for a championship." - Matt Kenseth, finished 28th, on race strategy

"It's frustrating, but to have a dull day today it's certainly going to make for a heck of a lot more exciting days down the road. You have to look at it as you have to take the good with the bad sometimes, no different in that sort of scenario. Today was one of those having to ride around bad type days, but the reward is being able to race on and go into the next round and have a chance to race for another championship. I feel really good about the next round too. We won Martinsville in the spring and Texas we did – going to Phoenix we've gotten a lot better as well too over the years and have been able to finish inside the top 10. We'll reset our goals in what we need to do and what we need to accomplish from here on out. From where we ran today, it didn't show anything about our Joe Gibbs Racing Snickers Camry. We had a really good car, it just wasn't the day that we needed to be out there racing anybody or some of the things that those other guys were doing. We made the most of our day with what we needed to do." - Kyle Busch, finished 30th

"It looks like we lost an engine.  I'm pretty confident I lost a rod or something in the lower end.  That's just the way it goes.  I don't know.  I'm not an engine guy, but the car was really strong and we definitely kept finding debris.  I thought I got it cooled off and only got it slightly over, but I don't know." - Brad Keselowski, finished 38th (blown engine)

"[The engine] just developed a vibration and started to lose a little bit of power. Originally I thought it could have been a tire because it was shaking worse and worse and worse until it was time to pit. I slowed down to hit pit road and felt the vibration still there and knew it was the engine. Definitely not the way we wanted today to go – it's a tough way to go out, but proud of the effort and proud of all the guys. The engines have been great all year and every once in a while you'll have a failure and it's unfortunate that it was with everything on the line. I don't know, it is what it is and it's racing. It's part of it and we'll move on. We're going to go try to win the last five races or whatever is left and have a good end to our season." - Martin Truex, Jr., finished 40th (blown engine)

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



by Mike Neff


Q: Here's an easy one. Which of the three current car manufacturers has never won at Martinsville in the history of the Chase format (2004-present)?

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

Friday's Answer:

Q:  The 1998 Winston 500 at Talladega was the first of two restrictor plate races in six days due to wildfires in Florida postponing the Pepsi 400 in July.  For Ernie Irvan, Talladega effectively marked the end of his 1998 season.  What happened?

A: Irvan was already not having the best day.  He was running a lap down and had suffered with braking issues that made it difficult to run in a pack.  Just after getting lapped, he was tapped entering turn 1 by Sterling Marlin.  Irvan spun the Skittles WildBerry Pontiac and backed into the wall.  He then came back across the track and was hit hard by Dick Trickle.  Ultimately, 11 cars were involved.  The crash can be seen here.

Irvan ended up having to be cut out of his car and was taken to a local hospital.  Irvan managed to start the Pepsi 400 at Daytona the next week.  However, he took relief at the first yellow from Ricky Craven.  He then sat out the last three races with concussion-like symptoms.


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 Talladega in Underdog House.
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