A late race gamble paved the way to a Monster weekend for Ryan Newman. He was the unlikely driver celebrating in victory lane after the Camping World 500.
This week, the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup series made the short trek south from Las Vegas Motor Speedway to Phoenix International Raceway in Avondale, AZ.
The Valley of the Sun lived up to its name all weekend. Record temperatures were set on Sunday as the ambient temperature at the drop of the green flag hovered around 97 degrees. Throughout the race, there were reports of in-car temperatures reaching 143 degrees.
It was under those conditions that Newman and Richard Childress Racing ended their droughts of making it to victory lane at a NASCAR race. RCR hadn’t tasted victory since the 2013 fall race at this very track. For Newman, the drought dated back to the 2013 Brickyard 400.
“It was a long time coming,” said Newman as he reflected on his 18th career Cup win.
Kyle Busch was actually leading the race, and widening the gap on the field, when pole sitter Joey Logano blew a tire which caused a caution with 5 laps to go.
So one could only imagine was going through Ryan Newman’s head when he heard crew chief Luke Lambert’s plan. Lambert rolled the dice, and had him stay out instead of pitting. That allowed him to restart the race on the front row ahead of faster cars who decided to come to pit road for fresh tires. It would prove to be the move of the race since he was able hold his lead at the restart, and go on for the win.
“A heck of a gutsy call by Luke Lambert,” Newman said. “It’s his first win as a crew chief in the Cup Series. I think making a gutsy call like that makes it that much more special for him.”
In other news regarding Phoenix International Raceway, the 1 mile oval is in the beginning stages of a major redesign and renovation. The estimated $178 million dollar project is scheduled to be completed by the November 2018 fall race.
Weekend Gallery: All photos by Kevin C Cox/ Core360 Sports
Martin Truex Jr. took advantage of Brad Keselowski’s misfortune with only two laps remaining Sunday to win the NASCAR Cup Series Kobalt 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
2017 was promised to be the year of evolution and change for NASCAR.
For years, the series has kicked off its West Coast swing with the stop in Las Vegas. This year was no exception, but the event weekend showed all the signs of that evolution and change. Most notably, the Cup Series changed its title sponsor from Sprint, to Monster Energy.
As the sport of stock car racing continues to evolve, the series has also implemented a number of format changes to increase the level of competition throughout the race, as well as the overall fan experience.
New this year is the concept of stage racing.
Keselowski and Truex Jr battled all day, but it was the #78 Furniture Row Toyota driver who won both Stage 1 and 2, by leading on lap 80, and lap 160.
And while the new format is in its infancy, Truex Jr became the first driver to win both stages, and then go on to win the race.
On this day, the excitement continued after the race was over. Joe Gibbs Racing’s Kyle Busch, and Team Penski driver Joey Logano got into an altercation near the team’s pit boxes. The melee was obviously the result of some hard racing that led to hurt feelings. On the final lap of the race, the two made contact along backstretch, and heading to turns 3 and 4, Kyle Busch was eventually spun out. Logano went on to finish the race in 4th. Bush sat on pit road in his smoking car for a few moments before climbing out and heading directly towards Logano and his crew. Ironically, the 2 teams were pitted right next to each other. After a brief tussle, crew members and NASCAR officials stepped in separate them. Logano showed no signs of that action, but there was a noticeable cut and blood coming from Kyle Busch’s forehead.
Joey Logano also won the Xfinity race on Saturday.
All this has fans pumped up as the series heads to the Valley of the Sun, and PIR.
Weekend photo Gallery: all photos by Kevin C Cox/ Core360 Sports
KOBALT 400 TOP 5 FINISHERS
1) Martin Truex Jr
2) Kyle Larson
3) Chase Elliott
4) Joey Logano
5) Brad Keselowski