IT’S ALL ABOUT THE TECHNOLOGY

Formula E Race Director Car

In a month, in Hawthorne CA, Elon Musk, President of Tesla – maker of electric cars and batteries, will make an announcement regarding a new product which won’t be a car. Most pundits say that Tesla, making the announcement from its Hawthorne Design Studio near Long Beach, will introduce a home battery. But, some insiders are predicting that Musk is more than interested in joining the Formula E series.

The current Formula E battery has 28KW/energy, producing up to 270bhp in qualifying trim and 200bhp in race trim. This lithium battery has the same power as 10,000 AA disposable batteries, and can be fully charged in fifty minutes.

Tesla already makes 60 kw lithium car battery which goes 265 miles, more than any other electric car. It can be charged from any ordinary household outlet, taking up to 72 minutes for a full charge. It’s thought that Musk’s goal is to further FIA’s idea of sustainability by producing a battery which will run the length of a Formula E race, allowing the series to cut costs by having only one car per driver. FIA’s stated goal is to push the boundaries of the latest technology. Musk’s plan would eliminate the need for compromise between performance and cost effectiveness.

Musk and his Tesla are already noted for its cutting-edge technology. The Tesla S scored five out of five stars by the National Highway Safety Administration, the highest-ever rating in the history of the automobile. It even broke the machine that was intended to crush it during a roll-over test.

Musk will be the guest of FIA Saturday at the Long Beach Formula E race. He will take a VIP lap after morning practice, and will be one of the VIP Grid Guests during the Opening Ceremonies.

APRIL FOOL!

THE SOUNDS OF SILENCE

Formula E

This weekend ten teams – twenty international drivers, including one American – will take to the streets of Long Beach for the 2015 Long Beach Formula E Race, the sixth of ten international FIA Formula E races and the second of two in the United States. This unique series, conceived by FIA President, Jean Todt, features purpose built single seater open wheel cars. The difference with this series is that the cars are fully electric. Basically, the only sound is that of the tires and transmission.

Among other differences of this new FIA series: all the circuits are street courses; the race meetings are one-day events with three morning practice sessions, four rounds of afternoon qualifying, and a fifty-minute race at 4pm, televised live in the United States on Fox Sports One. The F1-style Point system is used, with 25 points for first, down to one point for tenth. Additionally, three points are given for pole position, and two bonus points for fastest race lap.

And … the races are free.

The spec series cars, built by Spark Racing Technologies and integrated by Renault, have Dallara chassis, batteries built by Williams Advanced Engineering, McLaren motors, and Michelin treaded tires.

The race at Long Beach will run thirty-nine laps, with a mid-way pit stop of a determined minimum length for the drivers to change cars.

The 2.131 km/1.324 mile Formula E circuit is part of the 1.968 mile IndyCar circuit used by the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach, this year in its 41st year.

The Long Beach round of the Formula E series is unique in another way – it’s the first race to have the same driver line-up as the previous round. And there have been five different winners in five races. Twenty-nine drivers have participated, with ten teams.

Leading the Driver’s Standings is Nicolas Prost of France with 67 points earned over all five races. American Scott Speed, driving for Andretti Formula E, is eleventh with 18 points with one race, earned in Round Five at Miami. The only other American driver, Marco Andretti, ran one race with no earned points. The e-dams-Renault Team leads the Team Standings with 110 points over the five rounds.

Saturday’s schedule starts at 8:15am PDT with the first 25-minute practice. The day ends after the 5pm Podium ceremony.

ADVANCE AUSTRALIA FAIR

Rolex AGP Sign

The weather has been mostly beautiful for the 20th running of the Albert Park in Melbourne for the Rolex Australian Grand Prix. This is the thirty-first year run for the Australians, with the first eleven races being held in Adelaide.

The sun has mostly shone with temperatures ranging from mild to flat-out hot. The breezes sometimes gusted but usually were a pleasant respite from the sun. The only rain has been negligible and fallen off-hours.

There are 20 cars entered, with eighteen qualifying. But the numbers fell to fifteen by the start of the race, the smallest-ever grid for an AGP. Valteri Bottas/Williams Martini Racing hurt his back during Satuday afternoon qualifying and didn’t participate in any Sunday activities. He was third in the first practice.

Kevin Magnussen’s McLaren Honda blew up on the formation lap, Daniel Kvyat’s Infinity Red Bull slowed and stopped on that same lap and was towed in, and the ill-fated Manor Marussia team never turned a wheel. It showed up with a token crew and will be around for the race, and then be shipped to Malaysia for the next race.

Lewis Hamilton/Mercedes AMG Petronas had the pole, with teammate Nico Rosberg second, followed by Felipe Massa/Williams Martini Racing.

The Mercedes drivers dominated the weekend. Rosberg and Hamilton were fastest in the first and second practice sessions, in that order.

Aussie crowd favorite, Daniel Ricciardo/Infiniti Red Bull Racing qualified seventh, better than he did in the three practice session. With mechanical woes plaguing Red Bull, ran tenth, seventeenth and fifteenth in the practice sessions.

There was more drama off-track, with the question of who would be driving with the Sauber team – Marcus Ericsson or Giedo van der Garade, with Felipe Nasr in the other seat. Van der Garde’s lawsuit to regain his contracted seat and the team’s appeals went through various Australian courts for several days, before being withdrawn “for the good of F1.” It’s not over, but both parties are saying they will work it out. Stay tuned.

The race is shown on NBC Sports Network in the middle of the night in the United States, and 4pm Melbourne time – a year earlier than last. The race’s contract has been renewed through 2020, and will also be the first race of the season during those years and will not be a night race.

Harking back to shipping, Bill Gibson, of Gibson Freight, said this year a record six 747 airplanes flew thirty-five 40 foot containers. As the next race is two weeks out, the pack-up and flying out will spread out four days, until Thursday. In years past, the next race was a week out and everything was gone by Monday morning – which Gibson prefers.

Daniel Ricciardo filming GP TV crew

Daniel Ricciardo filming GPTV

Daniel Ricciardo**

Carlos Sainz Jr

Jenson Button

Valteri Bottas

Sebastian Vettel

Nico Rosberg

Lewis Hamilton

Valteri Bottas

Nico Hulkenberg

Kimi Raikkonen

Kevin Magnussen

Max Verstappen

Sergio Perez

Roberto Merhi

David Coulthard

Damon Hill

Koala Treed close

Opening Ceremonies Flag Bearers

F18

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Photos courtesy of Michael Shaw

Posted in F1

RED RACE RECAP

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Photo courtesy of GM News Photos

Kevin Harvick No.4 Budweiser Chevrolet dominated Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series 27th Annual Quicken Loans Race for Heroes, leading 264 of the 312 laps. This was his sixth victory at Phoenix International Raceway, and 27th Cup win in 501 starts. Harvick’s Margin of Victory over runner-up, Jeff Gordon No.24 Axalta Chevrolet, was 1.636 seconds.

Third through fifth were Matt Kenseth No.20 Dollar General Toyota; Brad Keselowski No.2 Miller Lite Ford; and pole sitter Denny Hamlin No.11 FedEx Ground Toyota – who fought back hard after a long early pit stop for flat tires and body damage.

Sixth through tenth were Joey Logano No.22 Shell Pennzoil Ford; Kurt Busch No.41 Haas Automation Chevrolet; Dale Earnhardt Jr No.88 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet; Greg Biffle No.16 Sherwin Williams Ford, who gained the most positions coming from twenty-sixth to finish ninth; and Aussie Marcos Ambrose No.9 Stanley Ford, who is running his next to last Cup race before returning to his homeland to rejoin the V8 Supercars.

The only Chase contender not to finish in the top ten was Ryan Newman No.31 CAT Mining Chevrolet. His last lap move into eleventh position garnered him a Chase slot for next weekend’s shootout. Newman bumped Rookie Kyle Larson No.42 Target Chevrolet to gain the position and the valued point.

Larson ran as high as second at one point, before finishing thirteenth – the top Rookie.

The race was notable for more than Harvick’s victory. A three-minute Red Flag was displayed, to clean up debris after three cars came together – two who retired – Clint Bowyer No.15 5-Hour Energy Toyota and Rookie Cole Whit No.26 16T fuelxx/TapoutMuscle Recovery Toyota; and Kyle Busch No.18 Benfield Pet Hospital Toyota, who continued but finished four laps down.

Five of the record-high 12 cautions were for debris, not including the Red Flag. A total of 58 laps were run under the Yellow Flag.

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick

Harvick took the lead for the first time on Lap 44. Before that pole sitter Hamlin led for 24 laps, followed by Logano for seven, David Ragan No.34 Taco Bell Ford for two laps during pit stops and Logano again for eight laps. Harvick led three times. Earnhardt led four laps and Rookie Michael Annett No.7 Accell Construction Chevrolet led a lap during pit stops. Annett finished twenty-sixth after starting thirtieth.

The four drivers remaining in The Chase are: Hamlin-4112 points and one win; Logano-4111 points and five wins; Newman with 4103 points and no wins; and Harvick with 4102 points and four wins. Newman has a one in four chances to become the first Champion with no victories.

Despite several accidents, no drivers were injured – just their pride and their cars.

Kenseth turned the race’s fastest race lap.

Twenty-five drivers finished on the lead lap, and thirty-eight drivers finished the race in some form or another.

All cars cleared Tech, and the two cars sent to the NASCAR R&D Center in North Carolina belonged to Harvick and Gordon.

One indication of the importance of Social Media, and of those who pay attention: NASCAR’s Brett Jewkes tweeted post-race that “Social media volume up exactly 100 percent for today’s race over last year. Does not include post-race.”

The Chase will crown a victor next Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

HARVICK SMOKES IT

Kevin Harvick Painting

Red was the color of the day at Phoenix International Raceway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500. Red is the car color of the top two race finishers – Harvick record-high PIR race winner Kevin Harvick No.4 Budweiser Chevrolet – his sixth PIR Cup victory and second this year; and the color of the flag displayed for debris cleanup after the crash of Clint Bower No.15 5-Hour Energy Toyota, Kyle Busch No.18 Banfield Pet Hospital and Cole Whitt No.26 16T fuelxx/Tapout Muscle Recovery Toyota.

PIR has been described as Harvick’s ‘Personal Playground.’ This victory marked the sixth time motorsports artist, Bill Patterson, has painted Harvick’s car in Gatorade Victory Lane. Harvick’s first win in 2006 was the first time PIR had Patterson do the iconic paintings, which are hung at PIR offices.

Bill Patterson Painting in Progress

Bill Patterson Painting in Progress

Bill Patterson Painting Completed

After winning, Harvick did a championship-caliber burnout, nearly eclipsing his red Chevrolet. And he had reason to celebrate. Harvick’s victory kept him in the Chase, barely, with 4102 points, and last of the top four to make The Chase. For Homestead, he and the other three contenders will reset their points at 5000.

Harvick said “Wow. I guess that is what it feels like to hit a walk off in extra innings here. This thing both races here has just been bad to the bone. This place has just been phenomenal for me personally and for this team this year. To do that in front of all your almost hometown fans and all these people who have been rooting for me since the mid-90’s is pretty unbelievable. This win has to stack up there in the top five for sure. Mostly for the fact that our backs were against the wall and there was really only one way in and that was to win the race.”

Ryan Newman No.31 CAT Mining Chevrolet edged up on the last lap to make The Chase with his eleventh place finish, which gave him 4103 points.

Denny Hamlin No.11 FedEx Ground Toyota leads The Chase with 4112 points, followed by Joey Logano No.22 Shell Pennzoil Ford at 4111.

Those not making The Chase: Jeff Gordon No.24 Axalta Chevrolet, who finished second with 4102 points; Matt Kenseth No.20 Dollar General Toyota, finishing third with 4100 points; Brad Keselowski No.2 Miller Lite Ford in fourth place/4095 points; and Carl Edwards No.99 Fastenal Ford, finishing fifteenth/4088 points.

The last Chase Race is Sunday 16 November 2014 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.

Victory Celebration

PRE-RACE FUN IN THE SUN

Rattlesnake Hill

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Pre-Race Activities

Pre-Race activities are always colorful at a NASCAR Sprint Cup race and Sunday at Phoenix International Raceway was no different. It was sensory overload with all the colors, sounds (F-16’s from Luke’s Air Force Base, fireworks, air gun, etc,) motion, and activities. Up on Rattlesnake Hill, the folks have a grande view of the entire scene, with all the comforts of home that can be trekked up the rocky hillside.

Five of the eight Chase drivers start 1-5: Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Kevin Harvick, Joey Logano and Matt Kenseth. Jeff Gordon starts seventh, Carl Edwards at thirteenth, and Ryan Newman in twentieth place. Four will move onto the final round next week at Homestead.

All drivers will start in their qualifying position – no cars to the rear this weekend.

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Pre-Race Activities

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To my untrained and mostly deaf ears during Driver Intros, it seemed that Dale Earnhardt Jr received the loudest acclaim, although Jeff Gordon and Danica Patrick also were well-received. To no one’s surprise Brad Keselowski received the loudest negative reaction, although Kyle Busch ran a close second. The fans do love to hate their drivers.

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Kyle Busch & Kevin Harvick

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PENULTIMATE PHOENIX

Chase Decals

Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 at Phoenix International Raceway will be the second-to-last in the Race for the Chase. Sundays race of 312 laps/miles will drop another four drivers from the Chase, leaving just four Cup drivers going for the Championship at Homestead next weekend. Involved drivers have decals over their driver doors indicating victories and in some case, status.

Johnson's Chase Decals

Harvick's Chase Decals

Earnhardt's Chase Decals

The drivers at battle Sunday are, in points order: Joey Logano No.22 Shell Pennzoil Ford; Sunday’s pole sitter, Denny Hamlin No.11 FedEx Ground Toyota; Ryan Newman No.31 CAT Mining Chevrolet; Jeff Gordon No.24 Axalta Chevrolet; Matt Kenseth No.20 Dollar General Toyota; Carl Edwards No.99 Fastenal Ford; Brad Keselowski No.2 Miller Lite Ford; and Kevin Harvick No.4 Budweiser Chevrolet.

Meanwhile, out in the Cup Garage, activity has increased ten fold. Engines are running at top decibel, fans are thronging everywhere in their own chase for autographs, photos, selfies and the like. Pit Tours are being led. Various members of the military and first responders are guests of the track, sponsors or teams as a Thank you. Tuesday is the American’s Veteran’s Day and in England/Canada, Sunday is Remembrance Day.

More than a few teams have Military and First Responders graphics on their race cars.

Support Military Ribbon

McMurray's Fallen Fire Fighters

AJ Allmendinger's Car

Speaking of graphics on cars, the Carlos Cardoso above the passenger door of Jamie McMurray’s No.1 Liftmaster Chevrolet is honoring the retirement of the CEO of associate sponsor, Kennametal. And on the rear bumper of AJ Allmendinger’s No.47 GLAD Trash Bags Chevrolet is another retirement honorific.

Ken Clapp Chairman of the Board for The West Coast Stock Car Hall of Fame announced the Class of 2015 at a special Press Conference at PIR.

In alpha order, they are:

Jerry Baxter, Crew Chief now for Kyle Busch Motorsports. He got his starts in Southern California building and overseeing race car construction, buying Baldwin Engineering. He directed Michael David’s winning K&N Pro Series West championship and then moved to North Carolina to work on Cup teams.

Ken Clapp

Ken Clapp

John Cardinale, the late Vice President of Communications, at what is now known as Sonoma Raceway. During his 20-year track tenure he was an active BOD member of the WCSCHOF, and “made more friends among the automotive media in California than virtually anyone else in the business.” He died way too young from stomach cancer.

Jason Leffler of Long Beach CA had a very successful midget car career, winning three consecutive USAC Championships 1997-1999. He was also successful in USAC Midgets, Silver Crown before moving to NASCAR three top tier series.He returned to open wheel racing and sprint cars, and was killed in a racing crash last year at Bridgeport Speedway.

Warren Razore of Seattle was a successful businessman who became a K&N Pro Series West stock car team owner with victorious drivers such as Roy Smith and Derrike Cope. He died young from complications of Hodgkin’s Disease.

Doug Richert

Doug Richert

Doug Richart has been involved in stock cars since his teens, becoming the youngest championship wining crew chief in Sprint Cup racing when he ran Dale Earnhardt’s first championship in 1980. Since then he has been crew chief for a variety of owners and teams, including Ron Hornaday’s 1996 title in the NASCAR Truck Series. In 509 career Cup starts spanning 25 years, he was chief for 13 victories, 67top fives, 119 top tens and five poles.

Jim Williams used his successful beef supply company to sponsor cars owned by Roger Penske, and for Al Unser’s fourth Indy 500 win. He also was a major force behind the creation of Irwindale Speedway and the NASCAR Toyota All-Star Showdown.

Dr. Paul Kozak

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IMG_4260Among those seen in the Cup Garage Sunday morning, showing around other doctors, was PIR track doctor, Dr. Paul Kozak of the Mayo Clinic. Nice to see that he’s not busy in the Medical Center.

And now, for two more photos from Saturday’s NASCAR Nationwide Series DAV 200 Race.

PIR NNS Winner, Joey Logano

PIR NNS Winner, Joey Logano

2014 NNS Champion, Chase Elliott

2014 NNS Champion, Chase Elliott

MORNING COMES EARLY AT PIR

Cup Garage Sunrise

By the time the sun is rising over Phoenix International Raceway, the NASCAR Sprint Cup garage is bustling. All the teams are following their choreographed moves for pre-race set-up. The Goodyear Guys have already stacked the team tires for pickup, and there’s a certain symmetry in seeing the setup before it’s systematically disassembled by 43 tire carriers.

The crews are moving quickly, moving gear to Pit Lane for the race, fine tuning the cars, and generally perpetual motion.

Goodyear Tire Setup

Crews bustling

Tire Carriers parade

In the Pit Lane, eager passengers are lined up for their VIP rides at speed around the four-turn one-mile oval track.

The Trylon still shows the results from Saturday afternoon’s Nationwide race, won by Brad Keselowski, who made an amazing pass on leader Kyle Bush to take the lead in sight of the checkered flag and win. Busch had led most of the race and probably wasn’t too happy, but none of the victory or disappointment was seen on TV. The world belonged to young Chase Elliott, and TV focused on him. who runs his father’s famous No.9 on his NAPA Chevrolet. Elliott finished fifth and won the NNS Championship, one race before the end of the season. The 18-year old son of Awesome Bill from Dawsonville is the youngest-ever winner of a top tier NASCAR championship. He just graduated from high school in May. Proud owners, Dale Earnhardt Junior, Rick Hendrick, and Kelly Earnhardt Miller, have already determined Elliot will run the NNS again next season, before moving up to Cup.

Far across from the Cup Garage are hundreds of RV’s – a city so large it now has not one, but two Safeway Supermarkets in its midst to serve the crowd.

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Trylon

RV City

Outside the track, law enforcement is slow to do its pre-race setup. Rows and rows of cones and traffic signs are still on multiple flat bed trucks, queued up for distribution. This slows down incoming traffic a bit as some of the grandstand sold-out crowd and hearty souls headed for Rattlesnake Hill have already shown up.

HAPPY HARVICK!

Kevin Harvick

Kevin Harvick

Happy Harvick! Kevin Harvick ran 2-1 Saturday at Phoenix International Raceway for the last two practice sessions ahead of Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 Race. Harvick put his No.4 Budweiser Chevrolet atop the charts in Saturday morning’s second practice and second to Jamie McMurray No.1 Liftmaster Chevrolet in ‘Happy Hour’ practice.

Harvick's Chevrolet

Harvick’s Chevrolet

Harvick has the most Cup wins at PIR – five, including the Spring race this year. The Bakersfield native ran his first PIR race in February 2001.

McMurray led the most ‘Happy Hour’ laps, cruising around in first place at 137.106 mph/26.257seconds, 0.008 seconds ahead of Harvick. Third through fifth were Matt Kenseth No.20 Dollar General Toyota, Joey Logano No.22 Shell Pennzoil Toyota, and Dale Earnhardt Jr No.88 Kelley Blue Book Chevrolet.

Jamie McMurray's Car

Jamie McMurray’s Car

McMurray has an interesting livery on his car this weekend. On the hood are the names of the nineteen fallen firemen – the Granite Mountain Hotshots, who lost their lives last year fighting a devastating fire in Flagstaff Arizona. On the passenger side is the name of the president of one of McMurray’s key sponsors, Kennametal. Carlos Cardoso is a self-proclaimed car nut.

In morning practice, Brad Keselowski No.2 Miller Lite Ford was runnerup, only 0.003 seconds behind Harvick. Third through fifth were Kurt Busch No.41 Haas Automation Chevrolet – apparently not letting his domestic situation overshadow his driving focus; Earnhardt Jr, and Tony Stewart No.14 Mobil 1/Bass Pro Shops Chevrolet.

Dale Earnhardt's car

Dale Earnhardt’s car

Kyle Larson's Car

Kyle Larson’s Car

Pole sitter Denny Hamlin No.11 FedEx Ground Toyota tied for the most ‘Happy Hour’ laps – 50. Hamlin was tenth fastest. The other two busy ‘Happy Hour’ drivers were Rookie Kyle Larson No.42 Target Chevrolet in P13 and Brian Vickers No.55 Aaron’s Dream Machine Toyota in P18.

To paraphrase a saying – The Couple that Stay Together Play Together. And so it is for Sprint Cup’s only female driver and her young boyfriend. Both race – Danica Patrick in No.10 Go Daddy Chevrolet driving for Stewart-Haas Racing; and Ricky Stenhouse Jr driving No.17 Cargill/Fry’s Ford with Roush-Fenway Racing.

The couple is parked together in the garage, and they went out for Happy Hour in tandem.

Danica Patrick & Ricky Stenhour Jr's cars

HAMLIN POLES IT

Denny Hamlin & daughter Taylor, and Kevin Harvick

Denny Hamlin No.11 FedEx Ground Toyota has the pole for Sunday’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 race at Phoenix International Raceway. His Coors Light Pole Qualifying lap was 142.113 mph/35.332 seconds. It is his third pole this season, and 20th pole in 325 starts, tying Neil Bonnett and Benny Parsons for thirty-fifth on the all-time series pole list.

Second was Brad Keselowski No.2 Miller Lite Ford, only 0.006 seconds/0.034 mph behind. They were the only two drivers going more than 142 mph.

Third through fifth were Kevin Harvick No.4 Budweiser Chevrolet; Joey Logano No.22 Shell Pennzoil Toyota, who led much of Round One; and Matt Kenseth No.20 Dollar General Toyota.

Sixth through twelfth were: Jeff Gordon No.24 Axtalta Chevrolet; Rookie Kyle Larson No.41 Target Chevrolet; Brian Vickers No.55 Aaron’s Dream Machine; Kurt Busch No.41 Haas Automation Chevrolet; Paul Menard No.27 Richmond/Menards Chevrolet and Casey Mears No.13 GEICO Chevrolet.

Qualifying was run in two Rounds. The first round was for all 44 drivers, with the Second Round being for the top twelve qualifiers.

The official Grid will be released Sunday morning.

The slowest driver overall was Mike Wallace No.66 Toyota; but he will race, as Clay Rogers No.75 DNQ despite Rogers running faster than three other drivers.

In Round Two, Kenseth, Keselowski and Harvick all had a turn, albeit briefly, at being the fastest after Long-Lasting Logano led for much of the session.

Logano led qualifying nearly the entire first round, with a speed of 142.141 mph/25.327 seconds. He broke the track qualifying record, eclipsing the record of 139.384 mph set in February by Keselowski.

Second through fifth in Round One were Hamlin, Keselowski, Larson and Harvick.

Sixth through twelfth in Round One were Gordon; Vickers; Kyle Busch No.18 Banfield Pet Hospital Toyota; Kenseth; Kurt Busch; Menard; and Mears.

Six of the Round One are still in The Chase – Logano, Hamlin, Keselowski, Harvick, Gordon, and Kenseth.

After all was said and done, there was a power failure on Pit Lane and in the Media Center. The Power of the Press Prevailed, but the start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race was delayed.