Saturday nights preliminary action kicked off the evening with a big bang. In the early laps of the Sprint Showdown a caution flew to end any chances that Landon Cassill and Derrike Cope would have of advancing into the main event. Cassill’s Chevrolet had tire issues and threw his machine into the outside line collecting Cope. Cassill’s car took a hard hit to the driver’s door area, but due to great safety strides, both drivers walked away unscathed.
[media-credit name=”Brad Keppel” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]Two Ford drivers that have never been in an All-Star event, David Ragan and Paul Menard lead the pack at the mid-point of the All-Star Showdown. And while some teams decided to pit and service the cars, a few notable drivers stayed out, including race leaders Ragan and Menard as well as the hometown kid Dale Earnhardt Jr.
On the start of the second segment, Brad Keselowski made it three wide on the front stretch jumping to the inside of Ragan to steal the front position.
The second caution flew for the No. 30 car of David Stremme after hitting the wall in turn 1. Stremme was running in the 17th position at the time of his incident. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was among the drivers taking the time to pit under this caution.
The second restart in the final showdown segment saw Joey Lagano push his way through the middle, when the frontrunners dud bit get on the gas fast enough. The field behind the leaders stacked up. Brian Vickers in the silver Red Bull machine became the lone victim of the back up as he spun out in traffic. Because caution laps do not count in this segment, the restart order was reverted to the previous lap.
Green flags laps concluded the second segment as David Ragan brought Brad Keselowski to the checkered flag, both drivers advanced into the main event. This is the third appearance for Keselowski.
“Everything is a lot easier if you’ve got a fast race car, so I just tried not to make any mistakes those last few runs,” said Ragan. “It’ll give us some extra confidence to be out here in this All-Star Race.” Not only did Ragan score his first non-points win, but with the win he will make his first appearance in the All-Star event.
Brad Keselowski transferred the second Penske machine into the main race. “Our goal was to transfer,” Keselowski said, “But we wanted to win the Showdown too. We just need a little more speed and we can win these things.”
And while Dale Earnhardt Jr. didn’t take the Sprint Fan Vote for granted, he was given the final transfer spot. The fan favorite of many, Earnhardt solely believes there was no guarantee. “My fans worked really hard. They deserve all the credit, they do the work, “ Earnhardt added.
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series returns to the famed Charlotte Motor Speedway for the prestigious 600 mile Memorial Day Weekend Event. The winner of the Sprint All-Star has won the longest Sprint Cup race on the schedule seven times. The most recent driver to accomplish this feat was Kurt Busch in 2010. The other men who have swept the May events at CMS include the late Dale Earnhardt Sr., the late Davey Allison, veteran driver Darrell Waltrip, five-time champion Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon and Kasey Kahne.
The NASCAR Nationwide Series is live from Iowa Speedway on Sunday May 22. Two historic moments to note include the first time that three women will compete in a Nationwide race. Sisters Angela and Amber Cope will join Jennifer Jo Cobb in the record books. The second big event at Iowa is the celebration of Kenny Wallace’s 500th career start. Wallace will start the race in the 14th starting position. The field was set on Owner points after rain washed out qualifying.