NASCAR-Subway Fresh Fit 500 2011

February 27, 2011
by Lee
Youth Won Last Week, Experience Brings It Home This Week

NASCAR concludes its Phoenix weekend with the Subway Fresh Fit 500 this afternoon. There is really only one question on everyone’s mind at this point, will Rowdy Kyle Busch get the job done today to sweep the weekend. A weekend sweep in all three of NASCAR’s top series has only occurred one time. Guess who did it, Kyle Busch at the Bristol Summer weekend last year.

Before the race gets started, a quick note on Phoenix International Raceway. When the racing is done today and only the hot dog wrappers are left in the stands, PIR will begin renovations which will include laying a new track surface with progressive banking. When the boys return to Phoenix in November during The Chase, it will be an all new surface and race track.

The cars have been fired and are about to roll onto the track for the parade laps. Another something a little bit different for this race and recap today, I am watching Trevor Bayne’s Hot Pass channel on Direct TV. Throughout the race I will be able to hear how Bayne communicates about this car. This way we will have a little better perspective on how well he communicates what the car is doing, instead of Darrell Waltrip just telling us from a five second clip how well Bayne communicates. I am not saying at this point Bayne cannot communicate what the car is doing, just want to hear how he really reacts to changes in the track and car throughout the race.

Rain fell last night in Phoenix and washed all the rubber off the track. NASCAR has decided there will be a competition caution at lap 40 to check tire wear.

The green flag is out and Sprint Cup drivers haul the mail into turn one. Lap one is in the books and Kurt Busch leads it with Rowdy just behind him and charging. It takes until lap five for Kyle Busch to jump into the lead. Now the question has to be will anyone be able to stay with Kyle. You have to ask that since he has dominated everything this weekend.

Lead change on lap 16, Carl Edwards takes the lead. There have been three different leaders in the first 20 laps.

Lap 20 and the caution is flying for debris on the track. Like yesterday, will it be a phantom debris caution where we are not shown the debris, or will we see it? Most cars come into pit road, but some leaders stay out. Reports are that Jeff Gordon’s scoring transponder is not working and must be fixed on the pit stop. Gordon made two pit stops during this cycle. The first stop was for the regular tire and adjustments. The second stop was to change the transponder. After the second stop, Gordon was given his position back since it was a change for only the scoring transponder. Yes, it was a phantom caution.

Green flag is back out with Kurt Busch leading the race. Denny Hamlin is putting pressure on Kurt and could be leading soon. Denny Hamlin runs his car past Kurt to take the lead on lap 32.

Caution is out on lap 34 for a spin by Robby Gordon off of turn 2. Marcose Ambrose got into the back of Robby and sent him for a ride. No contact with anything. This caution will also be the competition caution since it is close to lap 40. Almost the entire field came into pit road during this caution. Keep in mind on the previous caution that fuel could not be put into the car because a competition caution had been scheduled.

Now back to green with Kurt Busch in the lead. Kyle Busch is in trouble and has hit the wall. Busch has slid back to 24th position. He should be able to continue on, but will need adjustments after hitting the wall.

Lap 45 and Baby Joey Logano has developed engine trouble. Looks like a cylinder has been lost in the car, and Joey will be left to log laps until the engine lets go.

Lap 51 and Trevor Bayne’s day is done. Caution is out as the rear end of Bayne’s car is destroyed. This wreck may have not been Bayne’s fault. On the radio Bayne asked his spotter why he had cleared him of Travis Kvapil’s car. No response from the spotter except for we got hooked in the back end. Martin Truex Jr. wins the race off of pit road. Stops were four tires and fuel.

Caution is out again on lap 60 for a wreck with multiple drivers involved. Carl Edwards is going behind the wall. Jeff Gordon is involved, Kevin Harvick spun as well. The entire wreck all started when Kyle Busch forced Carl Edwards into the grass. This one seemed to be on Kyle Busch for aggressive driving. I think the problem is that Busch has been out front so much, he is not sure how his car is going to respond in traffic.

Green flag comes out and we are back in Daytona with a BIG WRECK coming off of turn 2. Brian Vickers got bumped at the front of the field and spun in front of basically everybody. Notables involved included Jamie McMurray, Travis Kvapil, David Reutimann, David Regan, Robby Gordon, Casey Mears, Jeff Burton, Clint Bowyer, Bobby Labonte, and a couple of others. The wreck originates from a bump by Matt Kenseth on Vickers. Vickers started to spin towards the bottom of the track and then snapped back around into the oncoming traffic. Red flag is out for clean up. The wreck occurred on lap 67. A total of 13 cars were involved in the commotion.

With Bayne out of the race now, I have switched back to the regular Fox broadcast of the race. None of the others drivers featured this week on Hot Pass excite me about listening to them.

Green flag comes back out on lap 73 with Denny Hamlin leading the charge. Jeff Gordon did not pit during the caution period and got up to fourth when the other drivers pitted. Gordon is now up to third and the car looks decent even though it had tapped the wall in the Edwards incident. Hopefully things will calm down now and some laps will get logged.

Jeff Gordon’s car must be fine because he now takes the lead of lap 78. Gordon shot past leader Ryan Newman like he was standing still. Now on lap 82 and Gordon is the fastest car on the track and has opened over a one second lead.

Jeff Gordon slows down like a parachute is thrown out form his car and Newman goes back to the point. Now Tony Stewart takes the lead. A lot of lead changes at the front of the pack, which is a good thing. Gordon slowed down and lost the lead because of debris on the grill of the car. Overheating and handling issues developed for Gordon from the debris.

Lap 113, Marcose Ambrose has moved up to 10th place after starting in the 29th position. Nice run so far for Ambrose.

Cars involved in the big wreck have started to return to the track. Look for a debris caution in the next 20 laps when they start dropping pieces on the track.

Lap 124, Jeff Gordon is back in the lead.

Well, it was not pieces coming off the car causing a debris caution, but David Regan hammers the wall. Caution is out for the sixth time today, and all the cars will be on pit road for service. Tony Stewart beats Jeff Gordon out of the pits by about three inches at the line.

Green flag is back out and Tony Stewart is leading with Jeff Gordon right on his back bumper.

Lap 141 and Jeff Gordon goes back to the lead.

We have reached the half way point of the race (lap 156), here are the halfway stats:

Average Speed: 94.355 MPH

Cautions: 6 for 32 laps

Leaders: 9 for 18 lead changes

Cars on Lead Lap: 21

Lap 171 and the race has calmed down with a green flag look now. Jeff Gordon continues to hold a slight advantage over Tony Stewart, but Stewart has cut into the lead. First mention for the Evil Empire (A.K.A Jimmie Johnson) has moved into third place and is slowly catching the leaders. Shaping up to be a good second half of the race.

Back from commercial on the broadcast and Tony Stewart has moved back into first with the Evil Empire now in second. Put Gordon back into third place now.

Lap 184 and Tony Stewart is making his green flag stop. Four tires and fuel for Stewart, and this starts the cycle for everyone to come down pit road. Evil Empire jumps to the lead now. Lap 190 and the Evil Empire and Gordon are in. The cycle of green flag stops is almost complete. Evil Empire wins the green flag round of stops and is leading. The Evil Empire is now the driver who has led the most laps in Sprint Cup races at PIR by passing the previous lap leader Rusty Wallace.

Lap 205 and Jeff Gordon is back in the lead.

Caution seven is out on the racetrack on lap 217. Remember a while back that Baby Joey had an engine issue, the issue is bigger and that particular engine will not run again. Cars are on pit road for their next to last stop. Jeff Gordon leads them off of pit road, but second off pit road is Kyle Busch. The Evil Empire has problems on his stop with a lug nut problem on the right front. The Evil Empire goes from second place to ninth after the pit stop.

Green flag flies and Jeff Gordon leads the parade again with Kyle Busch putting pressure on Gordon’s bumper.

Lap 241 and Dale Earnhardt Jr. has a vibration that brings him down pit road. Junior was having a good run, and is now off the lead lap. Junior is in his window to go all the way from here.

Around lap 263 Mark Martin gets into Paul Menard and makes a beautiful save on the car. How Mark did not wreck the car is amazing.

Lap 271 and Jeff Gordon has clinched the bonus for leading the most laps in the race.

Lap 282 and Kyle Busch brings his car down pit road. He pitted early because he did not want to pass Edwards on the track. This brings other cars to pit road including the leader Jeff Gordon.

Lap 286 and the caution comes out for Andy Lally getting into the wall. Most cars have already pitted and the leaders who stopped early are still on the lead lap.

It has taken all day, but Kyle Busch is back leading the race. There are 22 laps to go.

Ten laps to go and Rowdy Busch continues to lead the race. Jeff Gordon is right on his back bumper. It is going to be a great race to the finish.

Eight laps to go and Jeff Gordon is in the lead.

Five to go and Gordon has a one second lead.

White flag is given to Jeff Gordon. Busch is trailing by a second.

After a 66 race draught dating back to April of 2009 at Texas Motor Speedway, Jeff Gordon has won the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at Phoenix International Raceway. Jeff’s win is his 83rd Sprint Cup win and moves him into a tie for fifth with Cale Yarborough for the most wins in the series. Another quick statistic, Gordon had finished in the 2nd position 8 times during his winless streak.

Final race statistics:

Average Speed: 102.506 MPH

Cautions: 8 for 43 laps

Leaders: 12 for 29 lead changes

Cars on Lead Lap: 14

A good race today that featured a little bit of everything for everyone who was watching. There were a lot of cautions at the beginning of the race, and a fast second half of the race. Now that this race has ended, it is kind of sad that Phoenix is going to tear up the pavement and put in progressive banking. Over the weekend we saw new track records in qualifying in all three series that ran. The Cup race also had a record 29 lead changes during the race. We can only hope they do not screw up a good track on the circuit that races like a short track.

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