[NASCAR] RaceDay Pulse 07.17.05

The New England 300

– Steve Price, the “Speed Addict”
For Inside Pulse Sports

Yes, Virginia, Speed Addict actually has a RaceDay Pulse! Aside from countless promises, you’ll be happy to hear that we at Speed Addicts Central felt you deserved a special break from the norm (not to mention a column of any sort from yours truly, since the Sports Department is taking its rounds on vacation. Luckily, the next vacation I’m taking is an off-week for the Nextel Cup, so you’re golden from now on as far as NASCAR/F1/IndyCar coverage goes.

Speaking of which, keep on the lookout for the absolutely biggest-freakin’ edition of Speed Addicts tomorrow, as we go nuts with continued coverage and fallout from New Hampshire, a look ahead to the Chase for the Cup, more MLB, NFL, NHL, NCAA and ESPY news than you an shake a stick at, and a Speed Addicts special: Sylvester Stallone’s nose goes head to head with Hillary Swank’s back muscles, as Redneck Theatre dives into Million Dollar Baby and compares it with Sly’s Rocky. Plus, more racing news and a bit on Tiger’s dominating Open performance to keep the wrestling guys happy. And, for more bang for your buck, we’ll be giving you the 2nd Inside Pulse NASCAR Quarter Special. Feel free to get excited, net junkies!

Now then, onwards and upwards, Tonto!

The RaceDay Pulse Rant for the New England 300
Location: New Hampshire International Speedway – Loudon, New Hampshire
Date: Sunday, July 17th, 2005
Pole Sitter: Brian Vickers (#25 ditech.com/GMAC Chevrolet)

Race Recap
Well, I’m sure most of you are familiar with the first two RaceDay Pulse columns. If not, double check over them before you check this bad boy out. Suffice to say, we lift a little bit from the retro-Scott Keith rants, but it’s pretty much a random show from here on in. If it’s news worthy, you’ll get it. With that, away we go…

– Your hosts are Bill Weber, Benny Parsons, and Wally Dallenbach.

Green… Green … and Yellow to start the race.

2:45 PM… Green, green, green! And we’re off!

Kasey Kahne quickly goes to the outside of Brian Vickers to take the lead! We’ve run six laps under caution to start the race, but Kahne will lead the unofficial “first lap” of the race. There’s a logjam from fourth place on back, as everyone struggles to pass on a sterile New Hampshire track. Jeff Gordon manages to get around Mark Martin…

Caution! Lap 10, Rusty Wallace spins out Jeff Green. Robby Gordon is also involved in the incident, though no significant damage is apparent from the accident. Pit Road is opened a lap later, but the leaders stay on the track.

Restart on Lap 14! We get a clean start, as Kasey Kahne continues to lead. The top five are Kahne, pole sitter Brian Vickers, Ryan Newman, and the Busch brothers, Kyle and Kurt respectively. Rusty Wallace has fender damage from the previous accident; he restarts in 41st position after a great qualifying run. Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman both advance their positions; Kyle Busch and Brian Vickers lose a spot. Tony Stewart, currently the fastest car on the track, is up to 6th Place. Last week’s Chicagoland winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. is fighting a poor handling car. Trouble! Scott Riggs spins out on the backstretch… but we stay under green!? Hard to tell if Riggs had help from the camera angles used, but he managed to keep it out of the wall in Turn 2 onto the backstretch, so we remain green for now. Jeff Gordon and Joe Nemechek have advanced ten spots each since the green flag waved at New Hampshire…

Caution! Lap 27, Jamie McMurray is spun out by Matt Kenseth, and McMurray is not a happy camper. He singles out Kenseth on the track, and the announcers speculate some fireworks. Meanwhile, McMurray has a small fire underneath his car. Pit road opens, and some of the leaders pit. Kurt Busch suffers from a terrible pit stop, first being too far over the pit box line, then having his jack man fall down in the middle of the stop. Busch restarts in the middle of the pack as a result.

Restart on Lap 32! Ryan Newman leads the field to the green flag…

Caution! Lap 35, Kurt Busch checks up in the midst of a log jam in Turn 4, and gets turned around by the #18 Interstate Batteries Chevrolet of Bobby Labonte. Busch suffers little damage, however. We restart on Lap 39, with few patrons on Pit Road. Ryan Newman leads for now, but Tony Stewart is charging fast. Ken Schrader, meanwhile, has moved from 41st position up to 10th place. Tony is up to 2nd place, and Newman pushes his machine a bit harder as a result. No use; Stewart assumes the lead with no challenge from Ryan on Lap 51. Robby Gordon and Rusty Wallace have rebounded from their earlier incident; both have cracked the Top 10 thanks to pit strategies…

Caution! Lap 59, a brief rain shower has brought out the caution flag at New Hampshire International. Tony Stewart remains in the lead. Pit road opens, and the leaders are in. There’s a mess on pit road, as a flow of cars catches an out-of-sync Robby Gordon napping; he collides with Sterling Marlin and nearly gets run into the pit crew of another car.

The NASCAR Guy – “We were dangerously close to having a fatality right there.”

Benny Parsons echoes the sentiment. Kyle Busch wins the race off pit road, while Robby Gordon is second off. Gordon is forced to come in with fender damage circa his collision with Marlin. Scott Wimmer and Morgan Shepherd stay out, though Shepherd comes in prior to the restart.

Restart on Lap 68! Wimmer leads, but Tony Stewart goes absolutely BALLISTIC, passing two cars down the backstretch on a tough passing surface. He barely misses passing Wimmer for the lead at the start finish line, but resumes the lead by Turn 1 on Lap 69. Through the first 70 laps, Tony Stewart is the class of the field. He just went from 5th to 1st in the span of one lap! Rusty Wallace is off the pace; he’s falling back rapidly, though Jeff Gordon is back inside the Top 10. Dale Earnhardt Inc. teammates Michael Waltrip and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have linked up; they’re 19th and 20th on the track. Casey Mears and Bobby Labonte have become the battle on the race track; they run side by side for nearly four laps before Labonte finally takes the position.

We take a break for lunch and miss a portion of the race. Scott Wimmer runs out of gasoline on Lap 115, and caution comes out on the race track two laps later for debris. We rejoin the race on Lap 135, with Tony Stewart still leading comfortably.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is up to 11th, despite complaining of a poor race car earlier. Kurt Busch has made it back to the Top 10, while Joe Gibbs Racing dominates the race. Kurt Busch suffered another terrible pit stop last time in, and is just now recovering from them. Kenseth and the returning McMurray find each other on the race track, but nothing results. Stewart leads at Lap 150, the halfway point. Tony, Kurt Busch and Kasey Kahne are among the fastest contenders on the track, though Kahne’s car is starting to go away. Greg Biffle finds the Top 10 for the first time in the race, while Brian Vickers is in second place, battling a tight car. Bobby Labonte and Jeff Gordon are in pursuit. The interval between Vickers and race-leader Tony Stewart is at 8.6 seconds and growing…

Caution! Lap 164, there’s debris in Turn 1. Dave Blaney is the lucky dog winner. And we have another near catastrophe as the field comes in to pit. Jeff Gordon pits near the outside of his box, which causes an approaching Dale Jarrett to nearly nail a tire carrier for the #24 team. The car did strike the tire, but the carrier was uninjured. Benny goes off on his rant about fewer cars on pit road again.

Restart on Lap 171! Tony Stewart, Bobby Labonte, Kyle Busch, Jeff Gordon, and Jimmie Johnson are your Top 5. Carl Edwards has improved to 15th place, while Rusty Wallace and Mark Martin do battle on the track to the delight of dramatists like I. Sterling Marlin has a left front tire down, but he makes it to pit road without a caution coming out. Michael Waltrip and Joe Nemechek have their own mini-battle going on for 20th place. Waltrip nearly takes the position, but Nemechek ultimately wins the battle. Three of the Top 5 cars are Hendrick-owned, the other two ride under the Joe Gibbs banner. Kurt Busch is up to 5th, and is -4 seconds and closing on Stewart. We’re at Lap 191, and Kyle Busch, not Kurt, just tuned the fastest lap on the track. Greg Biffle passes Jimmie Johnson and continues to advance his position. Tony, meanwhile, has led 135 of the 200 laps, including Lap 200 itself. With 100 laps to go, Kyle Busch is fighting a tight race car, while Stewart’s teammate Bobby Labonte is set-up for long runs; he’s garbage in the interim. Kurt Busch is pushing slightly, while Jeff Gordon is loose in the turns. The interval from 1st to 10th is a crisp 10.8 second gap. Kasey Kahne is too loose, while Junior’s car falls off towards the end of a run. Dale Jarrett is sitting pretty in 15th position, while a battle is brewing between Kurt Busch and Bobby Labonte. We’re up to Lap 213 and they’re still doing battle, though Kurt’s car is starting to fall off a bit…

Caution! Lap 216, Robby Gordon slows with a flat tire and draws out a caution. The leaders come to pit road for what will turn out to be their final stop of the day. Stewart is lightning on pit road, too; he wins the battle off it. Jeff Gordon is the big loser; he’s down to 10th, while teammate Brian Vickers is the big winner. He sits in 6th. Kyle Petty is the lucky dog beneficiary this time around.

Restart on Lap 221! Kyle Busch immediately challenges Tony for the lead, but he’s got nothing on him. Kyle is loose here and there, which may turn into a serious problem. We’ve reached the “Gotta Go!” point of the race. You’ve got what you’ve got. Fuel may be a concern for the Ford drivers if the race ends with a Green/White/Checker finish; they’re running nearly 80 laps on fuel and Ford makes have gotten less out of their fuel mileage traditionally…

Caution! Lap 229, Robby Gordon gets loose in Turn 4, and inadvertently sends Mike Wallace for a ride as a result. The pits are open, but no takers at this point. We’ve got green, green, green with the restart on Lap 234. Tony Stewart, Kurt and Kyle Busch your top 3…

Final Caution! Lap 235, Mark Martin gets into the back of Elliott Sadler, who ends up in the wall without a rear end. The car, not the driver. Kyle Busch, meanwhile, gets loose off of Turn 4 and nearly sends himself to the outside wall and Greg Biffle to the inside wall! No pit stops to be made by the leaders at this point. You have what you have. Stewart has led 170 of 236 laps at this point. Kyle Busch is great on restarts; if he wants to win, he has to get the jump on Stewart early and not let him get out to an insurmountable lead…

Final Restart on Lap 240! Kyle Busch challenges for the lead again and pulls up alongside Tony! Kyle gets loose, nearly takes Tony out… and Kurt Busch takes the lead? Kurt Busch leads the field, and suddenly the momentum looks to have shifted. Not so fast; an agitated Stewart retakes the lead on Lap 246. Busch tries a slingshot maneuver, but no dice – Stewart is on easy street. Bobby Labonte has arrived; he’s challenging Kyle Busch for 3rd Place. Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch, Bobby Labonte, and Greg Biffle are your Top Five with 50 Laps to go. Bobby Labonte is up to 3rd with 45 Laps to go. Tony is beginning to pull away through the veil of lapped cars. Jeff Gordon is the fastest on the track in 6th place, while Ryan Newman returns to the conversation in 8th position. Rusty’s up and down day continues; he’s up to 9th with 40 laps to go. Junior finally cracks the Top 10, while Jeff Burton radios in with news of a possible internal problem (announcers speculate the shocks). He sits in 14th place. 35 Laps to go, and Stewart is still unchallenged. 30 to go. Greg Biffle and Jeff Gordon are on the move, and fast, but you just can’t pass at New Hampshire! Jimmie Johnson is suddenly going the wrong way; he’s dropped from 6th to 12th in no time at all. 20 laps to go, and we’re heating up in Loudon!

Biffle and Kyle Busch collide, and we nearly have a major accident. We keep going, however. Stewart continues to dice his way through traffic… and Gordon has a brake problem. Scratch that, he has no brakes at all, and rapidly falls off the pace. Kurt Busch is actually faster than Tony Stewart, but Stewart still has a sizable advantage. Jeff Gordon is out of contention; he falls into 20th on the track. Kurt has too much traffic to deal with, as Stewart pulls away again. Fuel is no longer an issue, but Kurt Busch still needs a caution to catch back up. 10 Laps to go! Biffle and Kyle Busch are going door to door every other lap! Five to go and Stewart has just dominated all day long. Busch is going as hard as he can, but Stewart is just too good. Stewart takes the white flag with a two second lead, and it doesn’t look like it’s dissipating any time soon. Busch raced his guts out, but for Stewart in the end, no one had anything for him. Stewart brings it around Turn 4 to the roar of an approving crowd and brings home the New Hampshire 300!

Winner, and New England 300 Champion: Tony Stewart, #20 Home Depot Chevrolet.

After the race: Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle chase each other around the track, and have words on pit road after the fact. Biffle denies any bad blood or problems between the two in a post-race interview. Stewart, the driver of the race, celebrates with the customary burnout. But then a strange thing happens; Stewart pulls his beast to a stop at the flag stand and climbs out. We’ve seen him climb the fence before, but Tony decides to one-up himself to infinity by climbing over the rather weak-looking fence entirely and getting up into the flag stand! He then grabs the checkered flag atop the stand and sets the bar for victory celebrations as a result. Then, more burnouts as we’re off to victory lane. And I’m spent.

Cautions
Caution #1 – Laps 1 to 6 / Green & Yellow Start to the race because of rain.
Caution #2 – Lap 10 / Rusty Wallace spins Jeff Green, who collects Robby Gordon
Caution #3 – Lap 27 / Jamie McMurray is spun out by Matt Kenseth in Turn 3.
Caution #4 – Lap 35 / Kurt Busch is spun by Bobby Labonte while checking up.
Caution #5 – Lap 59 / Yellow comes out for brief rain shower.
Caution #6 – Lap 117 / Debris
Caution #7 – Lap 164 / Debris
Caution #8 – Lap 216 / Robby Gordon slows with a flat tire.
Caution #9 – Lap 229 / Robby Gordon gets loose into Turn 4 and involuntarily spins Mike Wallace.
Caution #10 – Lap 235 / Mark Martin spins out Elliott Sadler accidentally.

Unofficial Results
01. #20 Tony Stewart – The Home Depot Chevrolet
02. #97 Kurt Busch – IRWIN Industrial Tools Ford
03. #18 Bobby Labonte – Interstate Batteries Chevrolet
04. #5 Kyle Busch – Kellogg’s Chevrolet
05. #16 Greg Biffle – Post-it/National Guard Ford
06. #9 Kasey Kahne – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
07. #12 Ryan Newman – ALLTEL Dodge
08. #2 Rusty Wallace – Miller Lite Dodge
09. #8 Dale Earnhardt Jr. – Budweiser Chevrolet
10. #17 Matt Kenseth – DeWalt Power Tools Ford

11. #25 Brian Vickers – ditech.com/GMAC Chevrolet
12. #99 Carl Edwards – Roush Racing Ford
13. #48 Jimmie Johnson – Lowe’s Chevrolet
14. #31 Jeff Burton – Cingular Wireless Chevrolet
15. #6 Mark Martin – Viagra Ford
16. #88 Dale Jarrett – UPS Ford
17. #15 Michael Waltrip – NAPA Auto Parts Chevrolet
18. #01 Joe Nemechek – Chevrolet U.S. Army Chevrolet
19. #19 Jeremy Mayfield – Dodge Dealers/UAW Dodge
20. #07 Dave Blaney – Jack Daniel’s Chevrolet

21. #0 Mike Bliss – NetZero Best Buy Chevrolet
22. #29 Kevin Harvick – GM Goodwrench Chevrolet
23. #21 Ricky Rudd – Motorcraft Genuine Parts Ford
24. #11 Jason Leffler – FedEx Chevrolet
25. #24 Jeff Gordon – DuPont Chevrolet
26. #49 Ken Schrader – Schwan’s Home Service Dodge
27. #77 Travis Kvapil – Kodak/Jasper Engines Dodge
28. #32 Bobby Hamilton Jr. – Tide Chevrolet
29. #45 Kyle Petty – Georgia-Pacific/Brawny Dodge
30. #7 Robby Gordon – Harrah’s Chevrolet

31. #43 Jeff Green – Cheerios/Betty Crocker Dodge
32. #10 Scott Riggs – Valvoline Chevrolet
33. #41 Casey Mears – Target Dodge
34. #40 Sterling Marlin – Coors Light Dodge
35. #22 Scott Wimmer – Caterpillar Dodge
36. #66 Mike Garvey – Jani-King Ford
37. #37 Kevin Lepage – BoSPOKER.net Dodge
38. #4 Mike Wallace – Lucas/Wide Open Energy Drink Chevrolet
39. #38 Elliott Sadler – M&M’s Ford (DNF)
40. #42 Jamie McMurray – Texaco Havoline Dodge (DNF)
41. #89 Morgan Shepherd – Cornerstone Bancard/Victory In Jesus Dodge (DNF)
42. #27 Ted Christopher – Freddie B’s Ford (DNF)
43. #200 Carl Long – Buyer’s Choice Auto Warranties Chevrolet (DNF)

Race Analysis
232 of 300. That’s how many laps out of the scheduled 300 laps that Tony Stewart led. To call it a dominating performance is an understatement of the first order. Stewart made New Hampshire look like a restrictor plate race at points, meaning he could seemingly pass at will. New Hampshire is known for its one-groove races, and yet Stewart made his car work at almost every point on the track, high or low. He’s now won three of his last four races (Infineon, Daytona, New Hampshire) coupled with a great run at Chicagoland last week. Stewart is now the favorite heading into the Chase for the Cup.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. has also turned the corner, it seems. A win last week at Chicagoland saved his season, and this week’s ninth place finish (despite a mediocre car) has given his team something to shoot for now. It’s been a rough season for DEI, compounded by this week’s announcement by Michael Waltrip that he would be leaving the team following season’s end. If Junior can maintain his new found momentum, he may yet find his way into the Chase.

One man who is not carrying much momentum is Jeff Gordon. Despite a good run at Daytona, Jeff has just had a disastrous middle portion of the 2005 season. Ever since his Wrigley “Stadium” appearance, Gordon has done nothing but disappoint week in and week out. Even tracks where Gordon had looked to turn around at (Infineon, Michigan, Chicagoland) ended up biting Gordon. Jeff actually was on the move again today with twenty laps to go, and had a solid top five all but locked away. Then the brakes failed, and may have done more than just slow Gordon’s bid to finish high in the race, but also his bid to enter the Chase as well.

Some bad blood has resulted from Sunday’s race, most notably between Matt Kenseth and Jamie McMurray. The future Roush teammates tangled early and often, resulting in the Lap 27 accident that took McMurray out of contention. Despite some heated on-track exchanges, nothing else came of it during the race. Greg Biffle and Kyle Busch also exchanged a few parting shots during and following the New Hampshire 300, but both remain firm in that no bad blood exists between the two. Any other comments stemming from the many “auspicious” wrecks at New Hampshire today are unavailable at this time.

Inside Pulse’s RaceDay Pulse Awards – New Hampshire
Driver of the Race – Tony Stewart, #20 Home Depot Chevrolet. Race winner, led the most laps (232 of 300), led at halfway, and led the final 54 laps without challenge.

Move of the Race – Tony Stewart moves from 5th to 1st on Lap 68.

Moment of the Race – Tony Stewart scales the fence and climbs atop the flag stand for a photo op moment second to none.

Disappointment of the Day – Jeff Gordon, major contender suffers brake failure in final 10 laps, falls out of contention and sees another hit to his Chase hopes as a result.

“Man on a Mission” Most Impressive Run – Kurt Busch suffered two disastrous pit stops and an early-race crash to finish 2nd and gain points in the Nextel Cup Standings.

Victory Lap for the Pimps
Eric is probably going to be upset that no one really touched on the Open Championship. To him, I respond with good news; on Tuesday, I’ll chip in with my two cents on Jack’s farewell, Tiger’s dominance, and anything else I can dig up while pretending to give a damn. Golf May Suck, but This Doesn’t.

Tierney covers all the All-Star Game Festivities. Abreu shocks the world, and the American League wins again? Get out. Here’s the Derby…

and Here’s the Game…

Patrick Nguyen is my hero. And my liaison for pictures at the Pulse. Nguyen!

Here’s a little bit of that international flavor to make life more enjoyable. Cricket!

And, really, everyone needs to take a chill pill. Why can’t we all be happy like Aulbrook!!!

Victory Lane
That’s it! We’re over the hump, as another installment of the RaceDay Pulse has been logged. Don’t forget to check back on Tuesday for the return of Speed Addicts and the Quarter Special Double Shot! Until then, peace out, peeps. We gone.

3. 2. 1. See ya!