Danica's N'wide debut ends in wreck, Jr goes upside down and Tony takes the Checkers
Carl Edwards' wife, Kate, is due on Wednesday, and Carl is "on call" to head home and Mike Wallace practiced his Cup car, just in case. Speaking of Mike Wallce, he was in the Nationwide race for the fist time ever with his daughter Chrissy. Add to that Kenny Wallace, and Rusty's son Stephen, and there were an unprecedented four Wallaces in the race.
After the rain storms of Friday, the starting lineup for the race was set by a variety of factors, including past year performances, Owners and Drivers standings and Pat Championships. Although the weather was chilly, the sun was shining and the race got underway right on time. Danica started in 15th position, while Chrissy Wallace started way in the back, in 35th. Chrissy wasn't on the track for long before the 98 of Paul Menard got into her and sent her violently into the wall. Her car was completely destroyed, front and back and a very upset Chrissy wasn't afraid to say exactly what happened.
The race settled in, as Super Speedway races tend to do, with only a few minor one car accidents, until the lap car of Josh Wyse was clipped by Colin Braun. Danica was unfortunately caught up in that wreck. With nowhere to go, and no vision except for smoke, her car suffered race ending damage. Her biggest disappointment was that she lost out on 40 odd extra laps of experience. Ten cars in total were taken out in the wreck.
The restart got underway with 42 laps to go and Kyle Busch jumped out to the lead. His lead only lasted a couple of laps before soon-to-be daddy, Carl Edwards took over. The top five was all Cup drivers, with Carl, Kyle, Dale Jr, Kevin, tony and Joey Logano all taking turns battling for the lead. It was on lap 38, however, that the roar from the crowd signaled the most popular lead change, with Dale Jr raking over tope spot. Car parts started flying off the damaged cars, however, and the fifth caution flew with 36 to go.
It was evident that the racing was getting more and more intense as the laps wound down and an attempted move to the outside lane by Carl Edwards touched Brad Keselowski's back bumper. Keselowski in turn got into his former boss's bumper and Dale Earnhardt Jr went for the kind of ride Carl and Ryan had experienced last year, bringing out the red flag. The scariest part was when Dale Jr got back onto his wheels and his car appeared to be headed backwards into the infield wall. Somehow, he seemed to still be aware of his surroundings and appeared to be braking. He climbed from the car in one piece, once again a testament to the work NASCAR has done to keep the drivers safe.
Brendan Gaughan, Kyle Busch, Joe Nemechek, Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski were all involved, suffering damage of some sort.
Once the red flag was withdrawn, a few laps of yellow ensued before the green flew with 26 laps to go. Stephen Wallace had the lead for a few short minutes before Tony Stewart blew past him almost like he was standing still. Another quick caution came out and Kyle Busch was able to get back on the lead lap, although his car didn't much resemble the car he had started with.
The green flew again with 20 to go, and Tony again led the rest of the field to the start. He had Justin Allgaier right on his tail with Kasey Kahne, Brian Vickers, Joey Logano and Kevin Harvick settling in again to ride out the final laps. Kyle Busch showed he wasn't done, and muscled his way back up into the 12th position.
The race headed into the final ten laps with Tony still in front and Justin Allgaier still tucked right behind him. With ten to go, Biffle was given the black flag for a water leak, and the intensity on the track geared up on more level. Tony continued to lead, but all of the drivers behind him envisioned themselves as winners and no one wanted to work together to try to get past Tony. Instaed, the were running two and three wide, beating and banging on each other. And through it all, Tony continued to pull them all around the track.
Into the last five laps Tony was showing no signs of giving up the lead, and behind him still, no one wanted to work together to go past. Kevin Harvidk kept trying to make a move, but couldn't get anyone to come with him, until three to go when Carl Edwards pulled out and joined up with Kevin. As Kevin pulled out to make his move, Paul Manard pulled out in front of Harvick and just about caused a wreck. As they came to the white flag, the two and three wide racing seemed to have worked to the disadvantage of those following Tony.
Kyle Busch's crumpled car gave up some pieces on the last lap and when he checked up just a touch, Keselowski got into the back of him, and the two of them spun.
In the end, although Kevin and Carl managed to get by Allgaier, they had nothing for Tony, and he took the checkers for Kevin Harvick Inc. He gave all the credit to the team for providing him with great equipment, but in truth, Tony only proved, once again, what a talented driver he really is.
EDIT: Just found the video of Earnhardt's crash, so YOU be the judge, did Brad cause it? Or was it all Carl?