Monday, March 19, 2012

Hendrick Garage: It's Bristol, Baby!

Credit: Rainier Ehrhardt/Getty Images for NASCAR 
It's Bristol, baby! Welcome to Thunder Valley where tempers flare as fast as the engines roar.

Would the four Hendrick drivers have anger issues or would one of them come out a winner?

Kasey Kahne No. 5
Week after week Kasey Kahne has had bad luck, not getting the finishes he knows he should have. A A great finish Sunday at Bristol was the goal for Kahne.

Starting 10th could have paid off well for the No. 5, but on Lap 23 Kahne got into a seven car pile-up that looked to be from a bad judgment call by his spotter who said Kahne was clear to pass the No. 78 of Regan Smith, but Smith clipped Kahne, causing the accident. Kahne ended up finishing the day a disappointing 37th and is now 32nd in points.

“I hate it for everybody,” Kahne said after his wreck. “It’s really discouraging to have as fast of race cars as I’ve had and not have anything to show for it.”


Jeff Gordon No. 24
Starting fourth, Jeff Gordon looked like he had a fast car, quickly moving up to the front of the pack. Most of the day he had success battling for position. However, on Lap 347 Gordon was in fifth when teammate Dale Earnhardt Jr. came up to challenge him. Gordon and Earnhardt Jr. were racing hard for position when the No. 88  made contact with the No. 24, causing Gordon to get a flat tire and spin out. That would end Gordon’s strong showing,  He ended up finishing 25th and is now 23rd in points.

“I think we bumped more than we should have is the way it looks like,” Gordon said after his run-in with teammate Earnhardt Jr. “We definitely didn't hit in the right location, because I think the tailpipe or something just cut the left-rear (tire) immediately. We didn't hit that hard. We were a little bit too tight and he was pretty good on the restart there and we were racing hard. I know that it wasn’t intentional, but it certainly ruined our day.
Credit: John Harrelson/Getty Images for NASCAR


Jimmie Johnson No. 48
Qualifying would prove to be Jimmie Johnson’s weak point this weekend, starting in 23rd.

On Lap 23 Johnson missed the seven-car pileup, racing on by without scratching the No. 48. Johnson quickly moved his way on up to the top 10 where he would stay for the rest of the race. Johnson finished 8th, moving his points position up to 17th.

After the appeal being denied on Tuesday it was a slight victory for the duo of Johnson and Knaus to advance in the points standings. To find out the final outcome of the final appeal this Tuesday, stay tuned for more news on Skirts and Scuffs.

“We had a tough qualifying effort, a tough practice, but had a competitive car, said Johnson. "I think we had a top-five car. I don’t think we had anything for the win, but we got stuck on the inside lane there."


Dale Earnhardt Jr. No. 88
Starting 18th didn’t slow Dale Earnhardt Jr. down, he quickly gained positions early in the race.

On Lap 23 the first caution of the day came out. Earnhardt Jr. stayed out and restarted third and he  maintained top-six positions for most of the day.

Earnhardt Jr. felt terrible over the run-in with teammate Jeff Gordon and after the race took time to explain his part in the wreck.

 "I absolutely feel responsible. I got into his door a little bit. We were racing and having a good time, to be honest with you. I put the pipes up against the left rear tire of his car, and knocked the side wall out of it. I hate...I feel bad about that. I'm going to have to do some damage control this week. I know Jeff understands what was going on out there, but his boys work real hard on their car, and they had a good run going. They had a potential win, or good finish going too, and they deserve it."


With 23 laps to go the final caution of the day came out. Earnhardt Jr. and crew chief Steve Letarte decided to pit since the No. 88 was low on fuel. That decision would cost Earnhardt Jr. a top finish as he received a penalty for being too fast entering pit road. The No. 88 restarted 14th but on the final lap got a flat tire, finishing the day 15th and is now 6th in points.

 “I got busted for speeding on pit road,  Earnhardt Jr. said talking on his finish. "I really hate that happened. I don't think I was; but I don't (think) any driver ever thinks he was speeding. Congratulations to Brad (Keselowski, race winner); he drove a great race. We had a good, fast car. We didn't have a good car here last year. We're improving…”

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