Monday, October 31, 2016

The Frontstretch Newsletter: Truck Series Feud, Martinsville Mayhem Revisited

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The Best Seat at the Track, The Best View on the Net!
Oct. 31, 2016
Volume X, Edition CXCIII

What to Watch: Monday

- It's Monday, so it is a work day once again.  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

Jimmie Johnson Wins Martinsville for Ninth Time; Advances to Championship 4

Hendrick Motorsports' Jimmie Johnson once again started out a Chase round in the best possible way.  He took the lead from Denny Hamlin with 92 laps to go, the benefactor of a confusing caution and held on to take his fourth win of 2016, locking the six-time series titlist into the Championship 4.  Brad Keselowski was second, followed by Hamlin, Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch.  Read more

Jeff Gordon Frustrated by Scoring Issue in Martinsville

Sunday's Goody's Fast Relief 500 will probably be best remembered for the 29-lap caution due to scoring issues.  Jeff Gordon was not very happy about that after the race.  Read more

Carl Edwards Hits Wall Hard in Martinsville

While some of the Chasers had problems Sunday, none had it worse than Carl Edwards, who blew a tire and crashed on lap 357.  The 36th-place finish makes it nearly impossible for Edwards to get into the Championship 4 without winning.  Read more

Johnny Sauter Wins Martinsville; Punches Ticket to Championship 4

Saturday, Johnny Sauter passed Chase Elliott with 25 laps to go and held on from there to win the Texas Roadhouse 200.  With the victory, Sauter earns passage to the inaugural Championship 4 at Homestead.  Elliott was second, followed by John Hunter Nemechek, Christopher Bell and Timothy Peters.  Read more

Ben Kennedy Confronts Ben Rhodes Following Martinsville Truck Race

On lap 176, Ben Kennedy spun in turn 2 after contact from Ben Rhodes.  Kennedy was none too pleased with the incident and demanded an explanation from Rhodes after the race in an incident Frontstretch caught on videotape.  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 Has Advanced, Carl Edwards is in Trouble
by Phil Allaway

Jimmie Johnson once again has put himself where he needs to be by winning Sunday's Goody's Fast Relief 500.  Johnson's locked into the Championship 4 at Homestead-Miami Speedway, the first time he's advanced to that point under the current Chase format.  Johnson's win cost Joe Gibbs Racing the chance of sweeping the final round, but three of their cars are still looking good.  Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth are currently tied for second, five points behind Johnson after finishing nose-to-tail in third and fourth.  Kyle Busch is fourth in the standings, another two points back after finishing fifth.

Joey Logano is four points behind Kyle Busch, the first driver on the outside looking in after finishing ninth Sunday.  He's still within striking distance.  Behind them comes Stewart-Haas Racing, for whom Sunday was miserable for all four cars, including their Chasers.  Kevin Harvick was the strongest of the group early on, but as the race wore on his car hated long runs.  Harvick finished 20th, two laps down and is now 16 points out of fourth.  Kurt Busch had it worse, dropping three laps down and slumping to 22nd.  

Finally, Carl Edwards crashed on lap 357 after blowing a tire.  The 36th-place finish more or less will require him to win in order to advance since he's 32 points behind Kyle Busch.

Of those outside of the Chase, Martin Truex, Jr. is the best of the bunch.  Truex led 147 laps Sunday and finished seventh.  He has a 19-point lead on Brad Keselowski, who finished second on Sunday.  Austin Dillon is another 20 points back in 11th, while Chase Elliott sits 12th. Kyle Larson is two points behind Elliott in 13th and very well could have moved up to 12th had he not had problems and hit the wall late in the race.  Tony Stewart is 14th, 27 behind Larson, followed by Jamie McMurray and Chris Buescher

Chase Point Standings: 1) Jimmie Johnson 4044, t-2) Denny Hamlin -5, t-2) Matt Kenseth -5, 4) Kyle Busch -7, 5) Joey Logano -11, 6) Kevin Harvick -23, 7) Kurt Busch -25, 8) Carl Edwards -39.

Best of the Rest: 9) Martin Truex, Jr. 2226, 10) Brad Keselowski -19, 11) Austin Dillon -39, 12) Chase Elliott -41, 13) Kyle Larson -43, 14) Tony Stewart -70, 15) Jamie McMurray -83, 16) Chris Buescher -106, 17) Kasey Kahne -1396, 18) Ryan Newman -1410, 19) AJ Allmendinger -1480, 20) Ryan Blaney -1494, 21) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. -1511, 22) Trevor Bayne -1512, 23) Danica Patrick -1591.

Regular Point Standings: 1) Kevin Harvick 1048, 2) Brad Keselowski -19, 3) Joey Logano -38, 4) Kyle Busch -55, 5) Denny Hamlin -64, 6) Kurt Busch -78, 7) Martin Truex, Jr. -102, 8) Carl Edwards -117, 9) Jimmie Johnson -119, 10) Matt Kenseth -140, t-11) Austin Dillon -182, t-11Chase Elliott -182, 13) Kasey Kahne -215, 14) Kyle Larson -222, t-15) Ryan Newman -229, t-15Jamie McMurray -229, 17) AJ Allmendinger -299, 18) Ryan Blaney -313, 19) Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. -330, 20) Trevor Bayne -331.

Outside the top 16, but in the Chase: 25) Tony Stewart -461, 28) Chris Buescher -553.

Race Winners: Denny Hamlin (Daytona-1, Watkins Glen, Richmond-2), Jimmie Johnson (Atlanta, Auto Club, Charlotte-2, Martinsville-2), Brad Keselowski (Las Vegas, Talladega-1, Daytona-2, Kentucky), Kevin Harvick (Phoenix, Bristol-2, Loudon-2, Kansas-2), Kyle Busch (Martinsville-1, 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 Goody's Fast Relief 500 was brought to you by the Letter "C," for "Confusion."  The 29-lap caution late in Sunday's race during a round of green-flag pit stops completely ruined the flow of the race and made NASCAR look bad.  It was not the first time in which a caution has completely screwed up a race, though and definitely not the first race that scoring issues have affected the outcome.  It seems that NASCAR didn't learn from past mistakes (Rockingham 1995, Dover 2004 are some recent examples). - Phil Allaway


Quotes to Remember: Goody's Fast Relief 500
compiled by Phil Allaway

"We really had great long run speed.  We lost track position through a couple of different means there at the first half of the race.  Honestly, that caution with the No. 19 car put us in the catbird seat.  I wasn't sure I could get by the No. 18 or the No. 11, but we got going and I got by both of those guys.  I thought 'man, I hope this stays green' because that really suits what our racecar was doing all day long... There were a lot of moments but anything in life you have to work for it. It's not going to come easy and we knew that coming into this race. There are so many challenges with this track. I'm so thankful for this race team. To win on this weekend at this track with the tragedy we had in '04, we're thinking of all the loved ones that we lost in the plane crash. We want to thank our family and friends. It's a great time to start winning races." - Jimmie Johnson

"It was a good day for us, not the win though.  I think we had the speed capable to pull it off, but still a really strong day.  The car was good.  The team executed really well, we just kind of missed out on the racing Gods today.  We have a lot to be proud of, a great effort, and showed that we're still a strong team if not the strongest in the garage and I'm really proud of that." - Brad Keselowski, finished second

"It's hard racing those guys [teammates] and racing very, very tough. Out of character for him [Kyle Busch] over the last few years in the Chase, but they're doing what they think is successful, but upsetting me is not going to make their job any easier. I think that he nearly wrecked us at New Hampshire and then we raced him hard for the lead. It's one thing if it's the lead at Charlotte because I was upset about New Hampshire and then we race like a bunch of dummies for seventh or eighth or something like that during halfway. That's their prerogative and they can race however they want and we can race the way we want, but in turn they're doing what they think they need to do to win a race." - Denny Hamlin, finished third

"We had a good day, not a great day. The guy doing a great day is the guy doing a burnout. We had a great car, we just got a caution when we didn't need one – we were on pit road and then at the end when we needed a caution, I saw a car hit the wall and a car smoking so I was hoping to get another yellow and get a shot at it, but just didn't get it. The chips just didn't fall our way today, but we had a good car, we led some laps and ran a little better than we finished, but we still got a pretty decent finish out of it." - Matt Kenseth, finished fourth

"Well, I had a lot of fun out there.  It is great to be here in front of all these awesome short track and Martinsville NASCAR fans.  It's just a special place to me and I had a lot of fun and had a great car.  This No. 88 Nationwide Chevrolet was really good. I knew we didn't have the short run speed for some of those Gibbs cars.  I don't know where Jimmie (Johnson) came from, wow; he is just so good here.  You get him out front like that and he is just unbelievable.  Congratulations to those guys stamping that victory and getting them to Homestead; that is amazing, just like we did last year.  Had to overcome a lot of adversity, but that last run I don't know if it was from running so many caution laps there trying to figure out the scoring, which was kind of a disaster, but that was a tough one for NASCAR to figure out.  I don't know if that had an effect on our tires or what, but the car just didn't feel the same on that last run and had to settle for sixth."  - Jeff Gordon

"This was a good step forward for us at Martinsville. Probably had the best car we ever had here. We started up front (on the pole) and led a bunch of laps early (147). We were up there all day, but have to figure out how to be better the second half of the race at Martinsville. Once we can do that, we'll have a shot at winning one of those grandfather clocks.  I really want one of those clocks. The second half of the race it was typical Martinsville — tight in the center and too loose on exit. We fought that for almost the entire second half of the race." - Martin Truex, Jr., finished seventh

"Overall, we had a top-5 car, but we didn't have the race play out the way we needed it to.  No one made a mistake or is at fault, but that caution came out that jumbled the field up and we had the wave around to get back on the lead lap.  Then, when we waved around we were like thirty-something on the racetrack, so we just maintained.  I just needed a caution to get caught up.  I was hoping for a quick five-lap run and a caution so we could get caught up with those guys, but our car was better than ninth.  We raced in the top 5 early in the race and that's probably where we should have finished, but that's racing sometimes.  Sometimes, you're on each end of it.  We got an OK day out of it – nothing bad and nothing great – but we got through it." - Joey Logano, finished ninth

"Just a good day.  Just missed it a little bit, couldn't quite get the car to turn kind of right through the exit of the center of the corner to get it pointed.  Just kind of struggled with the same thing all day.  Compared to the spring, I thought we were just a little bit off, but we still had good speed, ran in the top 10 all day.  The way that played out I thought we were actually going to be real fortunate and have a shot and unfortunately I just ran out of fuel and had to make the decision to try to go right to pit road there to make sure we didn't get stuck on the racetrack.  Never seen a race at Martinsville last 100 laps green, I thought if we could have got a caution there we could have maybe fought back up to sixth, seventh, or eighth that is kind of where we could run, I thought on outright speed.  Third top 10 in a row, I think it's the first time I've ever had three top 10s in a row.  I think it's the first time the team has ever had it.  Martinsville has always been a good place, but it just shows we are getting more speed in the car.  A lot of these places that we are going to it's definitely helping.  Looking forward to the last three races - brand new cars and Texas and Phoenix are places we have kind of struggled at, look forward to going there and trying to improve." - AJ Allmendinger, finished tenth

"This is progress and it's something we need to keep doing.  It was a solid day for us.  That's what we need to do.  Our team is capable of running top 15 and that's what we need to do.  It takes executing perfectly and getting everything right and today we did that.  We did a good job on pit road.  We executed the best we could and the car was decent.  I'm proud of everybody on the Smithfield Ford Fusion.  We'll get ready for next week." - Aric Almirola, finished 15th

"We missed it.  I don't know where, how, why, we missed it.  Even SHR (Stewart-Haas Racing) as a group, we didn't perform well.  That was not the day we needed.  Sorry to State Water Heaters, their only race of the year and we didn't perform well for them.  We just missed it." - Kurt Busch, finished 22nd

"Goodyear was kind enough and I have a lot of respect for them – they came down here and looked at the tire and said it was a belt failure so that's really big of them to say, 'Hey, there's nothing you could have done about it.' We had a really good race going and sometimes that's just what happens in racing. I just feel bad for Sport Clips, I think we had a top-3 car. I was having a lot of fun and now we just go to Texas and try to win there and Phoenix – we could win at either one of those racetracks." - Carl Edwards, finished 36th

"It was the same thing that happened in qualifying.  I just got on the brakes and the rear end started hopping.  You lose all grip as soon as it happens, so that seems to be a typical thing for us at Martinsville – not finishing these races clean.  I hate it for all the Fastenal guys and all of our fans." - Ricky Stenhouse, Jr., finished 40th (crashed out)

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



by Mike Neff


Q: In the 1998 Pronto Auto Parts 400k, Mike Bliss had a pretty good setup at the start of the race. He'd qualified fifth and the engine in his truck was pumping out 718 horsepower, one of the highest numbers in the series at the time.  However, his night did not last long.  What happened?

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

Friday's Answer:

Q:  The Busch Grand National Winston Classic in 1992 at Martinsville was a wreckfest.  Specifically, there were 14 cautions in a 200-lap race (Note: Yellows seemed to be really popular that year, as the all-time record for yellows was set at Hickory that April (26)).  Jeff Gordon was having a great day until a restart not long before halfway.  What happened?

A: Gordon was leading on a restart and Tommy Ellis did not seem to like that much since the two drivers had contact on the previous restart.  Ellis (who was a lap down) spun, while Gordon continued.

On this particular restart, Ellis got immediate payback.  He got in the back of Gordon's Baby Ruth Ford and spun him into the turn 1 wall, duplicating and elaborating on the previous incident.  The crash can be seen here

Gordon continued after multiple pit stops for repairs and finished a lap down in 14th.  Ellis was parked by NASCAR, who felt that he intentionally wrecked the leader.  Ellis did not agree with that assertion, claiming that Gordon brake-checked him.


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 Martinsville in Underdog House.
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