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NASCAR Notebook for July 20th

by Dave Grayson
Monday, July 20, 2009

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Do not try to tell me that NASCAR had a so called "week off." Granted the Sprint Cup Series was idle last Sunday but that doesn't mean we didn't have some terrific racing last weekend. NASCAR's Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series burned some impressive rubber in St. Louis and Kentucky last Saturday and it was very entertaining. With that thought in mind let's start with:

THUMBS-UP to Kyle Busch for winning the Nationwide Series event last Saturday evening at the Gateway International Raceway. In addition to good driving and an extremely well prepared race car, there were two other factors that led to his sixth win of the season and 27th career win. First there was the matter of principal race rival Kevin Harvick running out of gas. Secondly, Busch's season rival and teammate Joey Logano wasn't in this race.

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WHATS-UP with Kevin Harvick's fuel mileage figures? Harvick, who excels on flat tracks like Gateway, led 106 laps in this race and appeared to be on his way to the checkers. But on lap 171 he slowly rolled down pit road out of gas. Then the car wouldn't restart and he lost three laps. It was later revealed that the fuel mileage figures were a little off and he stayed out on the track one lap too many.
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THUMBS-UP to drivers Brad Keselowski and Reed Sorenson for an unusual feat that is rarely seen. During Saturday afternoon's qualifying session Keselowski recorded a lap of 35.158 seconds, (135.714 MPH), in his JR Motorsports Chevrolet, and it appeared to be more than enough to win the pole position for the race. Later in the session Sorenson, driving his Braun Racing/Richard Petty Motorsports Toyota, came onto the track and turned in the exact same time. Again, that rarely happens. However NASCAR has a tie breaking system in place. Keselowski, based on his ranking in the series' owner's points, was awarded the pole.

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WHATS-UP with Rusty Wallace Inc's horrible luck during the Gateway race? The problems began on lap 85 when driver Scott Lagasse Jr's car got extremely loose and made contact with RWI driver Steve Wallace who took a race ending hit into the retaining wall. Then, 16 laps later, RWI driver Brendan Gaughan made contact with the Lagasse car and ended his night. NASCAR officials reviewed the incident and decided it was not an intentional act. But Gaughan's troubles were not over. On lap 121 he ended up behind the wall following on track contact from Ricky Stenhouse Jr.

Meanwhile team owner Rusty Wallace, who's also a member of the ESPN2 broadcast team, had to sit there and very calmly offer replay analysis on the wrecks that put both of his cars behind the wall. He might have been calm on the outside, but you can bet that on the inside he was mad as hell.

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THUMBS-UP to Ron Hornaday Jr for scoring his third consecutive win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series last Saturday at the Kentucky Speedway. Three consecutive wins in this series is extremely difficult to pull off and it's only happened just seven times since the series' inception back in 1995. Hornaday and Mike Skinner, who finished second in the Kentucky race, has hit the trifecta win list two time each.

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Having said that, WHATS-UP with the rear end housing on Hornaday's truck? The rear end housing was a little too large according to NASCAR technical inspectors who confiscated it. The part was transported to NASCAR's Research and Development Center for a more detailed inspection which will determine if the team will receive any form of penalty. Rick Ren, the team's crew chief, said the part was purchased in good faith from the manufacturer and was not a built to order custom part. Ren added if it's true that the housing is a fraction of an inch too large it's the fault of the manufacturer and not because the team was cheating.

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The final THUMBS-UP of the week goes to ageless wonder Hershel McGriff. After being retired from NASCAR racing for seven years, McGriff came back at age 81 to run the three road course events on the NASCAR Camping World West Series' schedule. Last Sunday, at the Portland-Oregon Raceway, he finished 13th, in a field of 26 cars, and officially became the oldest driver to ever run a NASCAR sanctioned race. His next appearance will be in August on a road course in Tooele, Utah.

McGriff is a true NASCAR pioneer who drove all the way across the country to participate in the first ever Southern 500 at Darlington Raceway in 1950 at the personal invitation of NASCAR founder Bill France Sr. Following his legendary career he was named as one of NASCAR's 50 greatest drivers and was also inducted into the International Motorsports Hall Of Fame.

The inspirational McGriff has never really retired. He gets up each and every weekday morning to go to work. He manages a copper mine near Tucson, Arizona.

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