Sunday, June 28, 2015

This just in...Kyle Busch is back.

Love him or hate him, there’s no denying 2015 has been one of the most stressful years in the career of Kyle Busch. He missed nearly three full months after suffering multiple broken bones following a wreck at the Daytona XFINITY race that opened the season in February.
Winning races took a back seat to regaining his health. The Chase was a distant thought, but Busch knew the sooner he could get back to full health and be cleared to race, the faster he could start the charge to get to the goal.
Win a race, get to the top 30 in points, and earn a spot for the Chase.
It took all of five races, but Busch can kick the first part of the mission off the to-do list.
Taking the lead away from Jimmie Johnson with five laps to go, Busch grabbed the checkered flag at the Toyota/SaveMart 350 on a sunny Sunday afternoon at Sonoma Raceway. Kyle beat Kurt Busch by .532 seconds and zoomed into Chase contention.
He may have one more hurdle ahead to make the Chase, but the win was the most satisfying moment for the younger Busch brother. Busch broke a streak of 10 straight different race winners at Sonoma and won for the first time on the 1.99-mile road course since 2008.
“Normally it's kind of a nightmare for us sometimes and this 18 team, but we had a great day today,” he said in the post-race media center interview. “We needed to come in and get tires, and that was going to be our best chance to win the race.”
After the last of the race’s five cautions came out at lap 100, only 10 laps from the finish, Busch’s crew chief, Adam Stevens, knew the timing was right to get the work done.
“We had decent short run speed and were able to show it on some mock runs,” Stevens said. “There at the end, it just kind of fell into the strategy that we wanted to run anyway, and we knew that we didn't have what we needed to outrun them on old tires, so it was a no-brainer call for me to come down and do everything we could to put him in a position where he could drive to the front.”
Mission accomplished, but the hard part is still to come.
With 10 races remaining until the Chase field is set, Busch sits 37th in points, 136 behind 30th-place Cole Whitt. The Joe Gibbs Racing driver likes his chances to be in the championship mix.
“Yeah, you know, certainly it's feasible. There's no reason why it shouldn't be,” Busch said. “This team is good enough to be that way, and I should be good enough to be that way.
“Now having a win, I think that that treats us a little bit better.  We don't have to race as hard for a 

NOTES: Kurt Busch and Clint Bowyer (who finished third after qualifying sixth) were the only drivers who qualified and finished in the top 10 Sunday at Sonoma. Pole-sitter and Los Gatos native A.J. Allmendinger had to replace a fuel cell in his No. 47 and finished 37th, 12 laps down. … Fox finished its 15th season of NASCAR broadcasts at Sonoma and will make one big change for 2016. Larry McReynolds will move from the booth to the Hollywood Hotel, and Jeff Gordon will join Mike Joy and Darrell Waltrip to call the races. … NBC Sports will return and start its coverage of the rest of the 2015 season at Daytona for the 4th of July weekend. The XFINITY Subway Firecracker 250 runs Saturday on NBC Sports Network, then the Coke Zero 400 happens next Sunday night on NBC. Rick Allen will call the races after 12 years as the voice of the Camping World Truck Series on Fox.

Daytona International Speedway (2.5-mile superspeedway), Daytona Beach, Florida
SPRINT CUP: Coke Zero 400 powered by Coca-Cola, Sunday, 7 p.m. ET/4 p.m. PT, NBC. Radio: SiriusXM Channel 90 or local MRN Radio affiliate.
Race distance: 400 miles, 160 laps.
2014 champion: Aric Almirola
XFINITY SERIES: Subway Firecracker 250, Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 PT, NBC Sports Network. Radio: SiriusXM Channel 90 or local MRN Radio affiliate.
Race distance: 250 miles, 100 laps
2014 champion: Kasey Kahne
CAMPING WORLD TRUCK SERIES: Off until July 9 for the UNOH 225 at Kentucky Speedway.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

I've got a new home

If you've been a somewhat regular reader of anything racing, you may recognize me (at least I hope you do) from my "Through the Gear Box" column/blog that I had published in print and online at The Spectrum & Daily News, a Gannett paper that serves St. George and Cedar City in the southwestern corner of Utah.
From 2006 to 2013, I was the reporter who wrote about NASCAR Sprint Cup and Busch/Nationwide/XFINITY races at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. I also covered the NHRA events every April and October at the Strip at LVMS.
In 2014 and 2015, I continued to cover the racing in Vegas, but on my own time and dime, mainly because the powers that be thought no one read what I wrote.
So what's a good writer to do? Move to where he can show off what he's been passionate about every year since he started covering dirt track races at Kings Speedway in Hanford, California, in 1997. Ladies and gentlemen, welcome to the debut entry of "Through The Gear Box" on Google.
Things progressed to my first NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Infineon Raceway in Sonoma in 2002. It was a day that changed my life and career direction.
I didn't have grand expectations, but I was excited for the assignment. It required me getting up well before dawn to travel to the track so I could beat the crowds. If you've never been to Sonoma, the road course is smack in the intersection of Highways 37 and 121, both two-lane roads that get heavy traffic throughout the race weekends that have happened since 1989.
On June 23, 2002, I witnessed some amazing stuff. With three laps remaining in the Toyota/SaveMart 350, Jerry Nadeau looked like he was going to cruise to the win.
Then something terrible happened for him. The rear gear box on Nadeau's car gave up the ghost, forcing him off the track.
Ricky Rudd was the first trailing driver behind Nadeau, and he went on to get his 23rd career victory. Little did we know at the time, but it would be the last Sprint Cup race Rudd would ever win. He had some close calls at Kansas (lost to Joe Nemecheck) and Sonoma (Tony Stewart beat him) before hanging up the fire suit for good after the 2007 season.
I moved on from there and covered my first races at Las Vegas in 2005. I've been going there every year since, as well as returned to Sonoma off and on to cover the race weekend in one of the best spots on God's green earth.
The stories have always been there, on and off the race track. I've seen how drivers like Kyle Busch make time for race fans -- by doing more racing. I've seen Busch Series rookies take on a cooking challenge at a Las Vegas hotel in front of more fans.
I've broken bread with people like Michael Waltrip, Larry McReynolds, Clint Bowyer and others at the pre-race press luncheon in San Francisco to help set up the race weekend on the first of NASCAR's two Sprint Cup road course races.
And there's been the evolution of the facilities at LVMS. From the birth of the Neon Garage prior to the 2008 race weekend, the track has taken the Sunday pre-race driver's meeting outside to huge crowds, starting a definite trend that's spread to other tracks on the circuit.
I've been a part of it for a long time. I want to continue to be a part of it until I can't work anymore. That's why I'm bringing this blog to the Google/Blogger universe. Thanks for reading and I hope you will share.