NASCAR: Camping World 301 Rewind

jutter@charlotteobserver.comJuly 13, 2014 

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    Crown Royal 400

    Where: Indianapolis (Ind.) Motor Speedway

    When: 1 p.m. July 27

    TV: ESPN

    Radio: IMS Radio Network

    Last year’s winner: Ryan Newman

Observations

• There will be many who point to Morgan Shepherd’s age (72) as a reason why he should not have been allowed to race on Sunday and be in position to wreck the second-place car of Joey Logano. It really doesn’t have anything to do with his age in this instance. Shepherd was having a very difficult time with the handling of his car and was already 14 laps down when he had his incident with Logano. No driver – young or old – should be attempting to race with the leaders in such a situation, especially when he was running far off the pace of the race. That doesn’t really run afoul of a rule as much as it runs afoul of common sense. Shepherd should know better.

•  Sunday’s race marked the end of Turner Sports’ 32-year run broadcasting NASCAR. Next season, NBC and Fox will split the Sprint Cup and Nationwide series schedules. Like the network’s broadcast team or not, Turner has played an important role in bringing NASCAR to its fans across the country.

“You gave us the ability to see things that we didn’t think we’d see back in the 80’s or didn’t have an opportunity to see,” said NASCAR President Mike Helton. “In today’s world, with the technology and everything that you brought to us, the personality and character, today’s our day to say thank you.”

•  Sunday’s race may also have marked the last race in Jeff Burton’s Cup career. He isn’t certain he’ll be running any more races this season with Michael Waltrip Racing. If he doesn’t, he still enjoyed a very successful career as a driver and I expect he’ll do as well or better as an analyst with NBC Sports next season.

Notebook

Gordon took a chance: Jeff Gordon was all over the map – from a lap down to the race leader. So, he had no problem taking a chance on fuel to try to secure a second Cup victory this season.

Just before the final restart with two overtime laps remaining, Gordon was forced to pit road as he ran out of gas. He finished 26th.

“It was the best effort and chance we had at winning the race,” he said. “That’s what it’s all about for us. Leading (the points) and where we’ve been, it’s all about wins right now.

“We’ve got to go for it, so I thought it was a great call.”

Larson has a strong weekend: Cup rookie Kyle Larson had a strong weekend at New Hampshire, earning a third-place finish in Sunday’s race to go along with his fourth-place effort in Saturday’s Nationwide race.

Larson led twice in the Cup race for 14 laps, and has earned six consecutive top-10 finishes in Nationwide.

“It’s been a rough three weeks (on the Cup side) leading up to now,” he said. “We were really good and then we had two DNFs and then a bad race at Sonoma. Glad to have a really good day.”

Johnson, Goodyear disagree: After two flat tires in 13 laps early in the race and a wreck that ended his race, Jimmie Johnson was adamant that low tire pressures did not play a role.

Goodyear’s Greg Stucker disagreed.

“The tires failed in a manner consistent with low inflation pressure,” he said. Goodyear issues recommended minimum tire pressures for each race.

Johnson, who finished 42nd, said he expected finger-pointing. “We will try to dig in and learn more, but I can promise you one thing – it wasn’t low tire pressure,” he said.

Kyle Busch doubles up: Kyle Busch finished his New Hampshire weekend with runner-up finishes in both the Nationwide and Cup races.

Busch led the first 62 laps of the Cup race and got back into contention for the win at the end.

“We had a late caution there that we probably should have pitted, but we had a win, so you’ll do stupid things with that opportunity when it presents itself, and we stayed out,” Busch said. “We ended up coming home second, running out right at the start‑finish. Perfect time.”

Five key moments

1. Jimmie Johnson lost a lap when he had to pit under green for a flat tire, then he wrecked on Lap 14 shortly after returning to the race.

2. While running in second on Lap 212, Joey Logano was wrecked by Morgan Shepherd, who was 14 laps down. Logano was done for the day.

3. After a caution for debris, Keselowski restarted ninth on Lap 254 and needed just 16 laps to return to the lead.

4. A wreck involving Justin Allgaier with two laps remaining of the 301 scheduled sent the race into a two-lap overtime with Keselowski in the lead.

5. Right before the restart, Jeff Gordon, then second, ran out of fuel, as didKevin Harvick shortly after the restart. Keselowski had little problem holding off Kyle Busch for the win.

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