By admin | June 30, 2013
By Richard Allen
The Quaker State 400 at the Kentucky Speedway was rain delayed from Saturday night until Sunday afternoon. But the track and the fans weren’t the only ones who suffered as a result. Perhaps it was the switch from a night race to a day race that changed the mentality of the drivers or the handling characteristics of the cars. Whatever the reason, early troubles struck several drivers who were thought to be contenders for good finishes.
Some of those caught up in the early troubles did go on to achieve good results, but some did not.
On lap 38, Denny Hamlin’s car veered way up the track in turn three with a flat right front tire. As his car limped back to the pit area on an access road, the damaged tire came apart and rolled back onto the racing surface. Leader Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and 2nd running Jimmie Johnson came along in the wrong place at the wrong time and hit the offending carcass. Both of the Hendrick Motorsports cars, suffered front end damage.
Junior’s team fought to overcome the damage to the pole sitter’s car for most of the day. Finally, the #88 wound up with a 12th place finish.
Oddly, the dent left in the right front fender of Johnson’s machine almost appeared to help the car. After hitting the tire carcass, the #48 went on to dominate the race by leading 182 laps. However, it proved to be a scenario that was too good to be true as Johnson spun on a late race restart but managed to fight back for a 9th place finish.
Hamlin would later be involved in another incident caused by a flat tire. The driver who has already been sidelined for a back injury had to seek treatment in the infield care center after his car hit the wall. He would finish 35th on the day.
Kyle Busch was also among the favorites to have issues. On lap 44, his car turned sideways at the exit of turn two in front of the pack. Miraculously, he was not hit by any other cars. ”The car has been really tight in the center on restarts and moves up the track,” he told his crew after the spin. “When another car gets outside of me, it just sucks the car around.”
Busch recovered to finish 5th.
But perhaps the biggest moment of the race’s early stages came on lap 49 when Kurt Busch drove onto the track’s apron in an attempt to pass other cars. When his Chevrolet ran over a bump near the start/finish line, it shot up the track and tagged the car of Brad Keselowski. That set off a chain reaction that ultimately claimed the cars of Greg Biffle and Paul Menard among others.
Keselowski was clearly not happy with the elder Busch brother’s lack of patience. “It is a wreck,” the 2012 Sprint Cup champion said. ”Wrecks happen. It takes a chain of events to get there. We had the bottom lane on two or three restarts in a row and got shuffled back a little bit. We were trying to get patient because it looked like we will get the whole race in before rain and there is no reason to drive like an animal. Apparently I am the only one that got that memo. It is one of those deals.”
After being told Busch apologized for the incident, Keselowski added, “I know he didn’t intentionally wreck me but it is just one of those things. A chain of events with the way the cars drive and the track has that really bad bump down there and we all know it. There is no reason to go down there but he still did.”
Busch went on to finish 6th while Keselowski ended up in 33rd, Biffle in 34th and Menard in 30th.
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