The Nationwide series rolls into Las Vegas for 300 miles of on the track action today. The series has featured winners in the first two races who are not competing for the points championship. The question of the day for this race is whether a Nationwide points contender can break through and bring home the checkered flag.
Two heavy hitters in the Nationwide and the Sprint Cup series, pole sitter Carl Edwards and second starting position Kyle Busch, bring the field to the green flag of the Sam’s Town 300. Kevin Harvick breaks away from everyone on lap one and leads the first lap.
Lap four and the first caution is displayed as Josh Wise brings it out. In an incredible piece of video, wise lost control of the car coming off of turn four and drove it at race speed into the grass on the front stretch. When the car hit the grass, in the best display of Dukes of Hazard style driving, the car compressed down and then launched into the air. All four of the tires on the car reached at least three or four feet off the ground. The car landed in the grass and Wise kept control and got back on track. The caution was displayed for dirt and grass having been brought on the track from Wise’s car.
Green flag is back and put hometown driver Kyle Busch in the lead. Harvick chose the top side of the track for the restart, but Rowdy showed Harvick the bottom was the place to be. Now that Harvick is not leading, he is dropping back in the field. The commentators indicated that Harvick went to Elliot Sadler’s setup for the race. Lap 15 and Harvick is now saying he might have a right rear flat tire. Harvick has stayed on the track and maintains sixth position.
Lap 18 and Herdanicaship (A.K.A. Danica Patrick) has moved into the 19th position after starting 22nd. Herdanicaship is off to a good start in the race by picking up positions.
Lap 32 and Brian Scott is in the pits with a scraped up right side of the car. Scott got his car too high in turn 2 and lost the car into the wall. Four tires and fuel and Scott brings his machine back to the track.
Lap 35 and Herdanicaship is up to 14th and has past the most cars for position in the race so far. What a difference a year makes in her performance in this series. So far she has shown this year she is a lot more comfortable in the Nationwide cars than she was last year.
Lap 47 and Herdanicaship is one a lap down in 14th position. Kyle Busch has picked up where he left off in Phoenix. Busch is picking it up and putting it down. Nearly 50 laps into the race and there are only 13 cars on the lead lap. Herdanicaship was not lapped because she is not running competitively; just again that Busch is so much better than everyone on the track right now.
Lap 49 and the leaders are in for green flag stops. Stops are for four tires and to refill the fuel tank. Green flag stops have cycled through with Micheal Annett and Brad Keselowski both being penalized for speeding on pit road. Harvick also had difficulty getting onto to pit road, but made it in on his first attempt. Busch is back to the point with a lead of over 10 seconds on second place running Denny Hamlin on lap 53.
Lap 65 and the field gets some relief from the beat down going on by the hands of Kyle Busch with a caution for fluid on the track. Leaders hit pit road for service. There were various different strategies on this stop with some cars taking fuel only, two tires, and four tires. Elliot Sadler gets the lucky dog to put a total of 10 cars on the lead lap. Wave around cars now put a total of 13 cars on the lead lap.
Green flag is back out and Busch and Hamlin are battling for the lead up front. Busch started on the top side with Denny down below. Hamlin is giving Busch everything he can handle. Hamlin now leads the race as he has jumped out in front of Busch. Hamlin also took two tires on the stop with Busch taking none.
Lap 82 on the backstretch you can put Edwards to the point. Edwards has been the fastest car on the track and has finally run Denny down. Edwards took four tires on the last stop.
Lap 97 and Herdanicaship is in the pits. This is close to a regular pit stop for Herdanicaship, but she indicated that he car had gotten real loose in a hurry.
Half way statistics:
Leaders: 4 for 6 lead changes
Cautions: 2 for 8 laps
Lead Lap Cars: 12
Average Speed: 144.122
Lap 100 and caution is out for trouble in turn two with a spin by Donnie Neuenberger. Leaders are into the pits for four tires and fuel. Busch wins the race off of pit road. It will be interesting to see if Busch takes the low side this time for the restart. He lost the lead to Hamlin on the last restart when Denny was on the low side.
Green flag is out with Busch starting on the low side next to Hamlin. Coming out of turn two Busch sets sail and is out in front. In just one lap Busch jumps out to a 10 car length lead.
Lap 124 and the caution is out for Neuenberger again. Spin looked exactly like the previous spin with the exception that it happened in the middle of turn three and four instead of turn two. Cars are on pit road for fuel and tires. Hamlin wins the race off of pit road. Most cars only took fuel and Rowdy goes back to ninth position by taking four tires.
Lap 130 and caution is out for Kyle Busch spinning on the front stretch and finally getting into the inside wall in turn one. Busch jumped to the inside of was then pushed down into the grass by Brad Keselowski. When Busch hit the grass he lost control of the car. After Busch lost control of his car. Jennifer Jo Cob and two other cars got involved in a wreck of their own. Cob’s car is done for the day. Busch has also taken his car to the garage.
Green flag is back out and Denny Hamlin is able to hold station and keeps Edwards behind him coming off of turn three.
Lap 138 and Steve Wallace is in trouble and the caution flies. Ryan Truex lost his car into the wall off of turn two, and Wallace ran into Truex’s car. Wallace then spun down the backstretch. Wallace will head to the pits to get front end damage fixed, as well as new tires. Some of the leaders are in for their final sets of tires and to have the fuel tank packed to get to the finish. Lucky dog for this caution is Herdanicaship. She becomes the 15th car on the lead lap.
The race restarts on lap 143 with four cars battling down the backstretch for the lead. Edwards gets into turn three first and takes the lead with Reed Sorenson running the second spot. Now put Ricky Stenhouse Jr. into second place behind Edwards. Kevin Harvick has now taken his car to the garage after running into the backend of another car going into turn one of the restart. The end is getting closer and the give and take is over, the race is on.
Twenty five laps to go and Edwards continues to lead the race. Fuel is going to be an issue for some of the leaders if the race goes green to the end. Herdanicaship is in the right spot to end up in the top 10 today. For three straight races you have to hand it to her, she has come a long way from last year. Watch out for Mark Martin over the last 25 laps as well. Martin is in fifth and could be in striking distance.
Last time a woman finished in the top 10 of a Nationwide race was Tina Gordon in April of 2003 at Talladega. Herdanicaship has moved into 10th and is running strong. Crew Chief says she has plenty of fuel to go to the end.
Some leaders are starting to make the dash to pit road for the splash of gas. Hamlin is in for two tires and fuel.
Fifteen laps to go and it is hard to say what is going to happen. Everyone seems to have a different strategy on how to get to the checkered flag in this one.
Twelve laps to go and the leader is in the pits. Edwards stops for fuel and two tires. Keselowski is now in the lead with Martin chasing him. Third place is now Justin Allgaier, and in fourth is Herdanicaship.
White flag is out with Keselowski leading. Keselowski loses a tire in the middle of turn one and two. Martin takes the lead and wins the race. Keselowski finishes the race in third, and Herdanicaship sets a new mark for the best finish ever by a female driver in the Nationwide series with a fourth place finish.
Final race statistics:
Leaders: 6 for 11 lead changes
Cautions: 6 for 27 laps
Lead Lap Cars: 10
Average Speed: 132.079
Good race today with a lot of different exciting moments. The driver with the most wins ever in the series gets another one with Mark Martin winning. In true Martin style, you hear nothing from him all day long until the time gets near for the checkered flag to fall.
Big boys are up tomorrow. Not sure who is going to write the recap for the race. I will be traveling for work tomorrow afternoon, but we will get something posted if you are looking for what happens at Las Vegas in the Sprint Cup Series.