Monday, April 12, 2010

AVONDALE AZ – It was set to be an exciting evening with the Subway Fresh Fit 600 getting underway under the afternoon sun of the Arizona desert. Sitting in my chair with a couple of brews, I sat down to watch 375 laps around the 1 mile oval at Phoenix International Raceway. Wait a minute! 1 mile track, 375 laps, what gives? Say what, kilometers you say! NASCAR, stock cars and kilometers, isn’t that an oxymoron? Do the boys down in Alabama know about this? Before you know it, they will be letting girls drive…

Now, if there was ever a race for Juan Pablo Montoya to win, it would have been this one. And, as a matter of fact, the former F1 champ made a great showing, leading 104 laps and finishing 5th. "We've run in the top five every week. We're there," Montoya said. "But we had blown tires last [race]. The week before something else happened; they wrecked in front of us... There is always something. Blown motors, everything that can go wrong has gone wrong so far." Maybe they need to put a McLaren sticker in the car.

It turned out to be a great night for Ryan Newman. Most of the evening was dominated by Jimmie Johnson and Kyle Busch. On a late caution, with Johnson in the lead, there was a decision to make, two tires, or four tires to complete the scheduled 2 laps of the race. Jeff Gordon, taking 2 tires exited the pits in the lead, but on the restart, spun his tires allowing Newman an opportunity. Newman, also taking two tires, drag raced around Gordon and finished 0.130 sec ahead of the 24-car. "I've got to throw Gibson under the bus -- he wanted to go four, and I said, 'Just give me two,' Newman said. “ I liked the track position. I'd rather block than have to boot. I was in a good position there, obviously. This was Newman’s first win in 77 races.

Jimmie Johnson, who chose to go with 4-tires, exited the pits in 8th place went 3-wide in turn 1 and made a fast run but was only able to place third. Podium yes, but not a win.
"I was excited to see the caution come out, because it was an opportunity to win," Johnson said. "I decided -- I made the call for four tires. It's the first time that I can remember in a long time that I actually said what I wanted for a pit stop, with the way Martinsville played out and Bristol and last night's [Nationwide] race [where four-tire calls proved successful]. I knew with the green-white-checkered there weren't a lot of laps, but I felt we might get a caution with everybody racing so hard. "So I made the call for four and made the most of it. We got from seventh to third and just did what we could. So, not a bad night at all. Excited to see us stretch out the points a little bit and get another top-five finish here."

Johnson is now 36 points ahead of Kenseth in the standings, with Greg Biffle in third. Well, time for another Heineken.

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