A full day of racing kept racing fans busy with the Camping World Truck and Nationwide Series racing back-to-back from Saturday afternoon into the evening.
The day began with the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Kroger 200 at Martinsville Speedway with Kyle Busch on the front row. Busch’s toughest competitor was expected to be Kevin Harvick, since anytime both drivers have been in a CWTS race together, one of them ends up in Victory Lane.
However, Ron Hornaday Jr. had other ideas. While Todd Bodine, Johnny Sauter, Harvick, and Busch led most of the laps, Hornaday led the final 11 laps en route to his second victory of the season and second at Martinsville.
“This is unbelievable,” Hornaday said. “I won at Martinsville fair and square. I want to thank [car owners] Kevin and Delana [Harvick]. It’s cool they still believe in the old man and give me a chance to do this.”
The feel-good story of the day, though, had to go to Bodine. Bodine’s mother passed away the night before, and there was no doubt Bodine wanted a victory for her that day. Though he led the most laps, Bodine would have to settle for a third place finish.
“I’m really proud of this team,” said an emotional Bodine after the race. “[Crew chief, Mike Hillman] Jr. does such a good job in strategizing the race and giving us the track position. We may have had a fifth-place or a seventh-place truck and we finished third. That’s because of what Jr. did and those guys in the pits.”
Bodine extended his points lead to 282 points over Aric Almirola with four races remaining in the season. However, the owner points continue to remain close between Steve Germain’s No. 30 truck and Kyle Busch’s No. 18 truck with both trucks separated by just 39 points.
Following the CWTS race, the NASCAR Nationwide Series 5-Hour Energy 250 at Gateway International Raceway began with Justin Allgaier on the pole and the Sprint Cup Series double-duty drivers starting at the back of the field for missing qualifying.
Allgaier remained at the front of the field for most of the race, further proving the case that he should be given a full-time ride in 2011. He and teammate Brad Keselowski dominated the race, leading all but 10 laps in the day.
Allgaier was leading the race until a late race caution involving Danica Patrick and Steven Wallace sent all the leaders to pit road. Allgaier lost several positions, while Keselowski gambled and took four tires. This would prove to be the right call, as Keselowski beat Mike Bliss on the final lap and won his sixth race of the season. This would also be the final race at Gateway.
“We had the dominant car in the race and unfortunately we just couldn’t get off of pit road tonight and we made a bad pit call there at the end that put us behind those guys,” said a disappointed Allgaier. “I think if we’d have started on the outside like Brad did we would have been ok, but it’s unfortunate.”
Keselowski now has a 485 point lead over Carl Edwards, and could potentially lock up the title next weekend.
The final race at Gateway brought memories back from the July race at Gateway earlier this season, in which a last lap battle with Edwards sent Keselowski careening into the outside wall and getting T-boned by oncoming traffic. Edwards would end up in Victory Lane and Keselowski with nothing more than a battered racecar. However, Keselowski said that wasn’t on his mind this time around.
“I try not to hold grudges or think about that,” said Keselowski. “You’ve gotta focus on your next race if you’re going to be able to win it. That was key to being able to win today. You can’t be panicked about the past. You’ve got to move forward and move on with your life and our team did that today.”
With the races come opinions and a few fans chimed in with their thoughts on the Kroger 200 and the 5-Hour Energy 250:
“both highly entertaining-lots of carnage-and some really stupid pit calls lol” ~@racecrazy
This is most likely in reference to the end of the Nationwide Series race in which a late-race pit call for Allgaier seemingly lost him the race. Lots of fans really wanted to see Allgaier win the race and prove he deserves a ride in 2011, not to mention any Sprint Cup Series drivers that might potentially steal the show. It wasn’t meant to be, but many fans are still pulling for Allgaier for the rest of the season and throughout the rest of his career.
“NNS race was very good but I was heartbroken at end” ~@CPain20fan
Again, fans really wanted to see Allgaier win that race, or at the very least a Nationwide Series regular. Gateway was most likely their best opportunity to do so with the remaining races being companion events with the Sprint Cup Series.
“both races today were very racey, great day but sorry to see #gateway gone from the circuit” ~@ncblondegardner
Many fans are disappointed to see a great track like Gateway removed from the circuit, but financial issues with the track kept the track from asking NASCAR for another event. Now it seems like GIR is on its way to shutting down, but some fans are hoping some new ownership can revive the track that has molded many NASCAR stars.
“I thought the truck race was very exciting! Ron Hornaday finally has a grandfather clock from Martinsville!” ~@mwoodruff8829
This was the first time the Camping World Truck Series drivers were awarded with the grandfather clock the Sprint Cup Series drivers have received for years. Now I wonder where Hornaday’s wife, Lindy, will put the clock?