turning point

NASCAR America: Turning Point in Chase Elliott’s Talladega win

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Chase Elliott delivered big Sunday at Talladega Superspeedway for Hendrick Motorsports and Chevrolet by earning each its first Cup win of the year.

How that win came about is the subject of this week’s “Turning Point” segment on NASCAR America.

Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and Dale Jarrett analyzed the moment that resulted in Elliott’s first superspeedway win.

That moment began on the final restart with four laps to go as Joey Logano led the field down the backstretch.

An aggressive move by Kurt Busch moved Ricky Stenhouse Jr. into the middle lane and allowed him, Elliott and Alex Bowman to advance on Logano.

It was one Ford against a wave of Chevrolets.

It came to a head in Turns 3 and 4 when Busch moved up the track and Logano blocked, opening the door for Elliott to be pushed ahead of Logano by Bowman.

“Logano made an extremely aggressive block,” Burton said. “All you heard before the race was those kind of blocks would get you wrecked. … Really, I don’t think he had a choice. He had to block somebody and he had to make choice. He may have chosen the wrong line, but that was a difficult decision.”

Watch the full segment in the above video.

NASCAR America: Turning Point in Kyle Busch’s Auto Club win

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Twice this year Kyle Busch has been denied a chance at victory thanks to a pit road penalty (speeding in the Cup race at Las Vegas, tire violation in the Xfinity race at Auto Club Speedway)

But a speeding penalty in Sunday’s Cup race at Auto Club Speedway wasn’t enough to keep Busch from Victory Lane and 200 national NASCAR series wins.

The speeding penalty on Lap 123 and how Busch and his team responded to it is this week’s “Turning Point” on NASCAR America.

Steve Letarte, Jeff Burton and Dale Jarrett discussed how Busch navigated the rest of the race after restarting 18th.

Letarte said the tone for the final stretch of the race was set by crew chief Adam Stevens’ counseling of Busch before the green flag and throughout the rest of the race.

Stevens told Busch, “We’ll get back up here in the top 10 in a handful of laps, get a couple of cautions and get right back in it.”

Said Jarrett: “(Stevens) knew how much he beat himself up after Las Vegas for the mistake he made there. But look at the moves (Busch) made here (on the restart). This doesn’t look like to me a driver who listened to any of that.”

As the final stage played out, Busch went from 10th to fifth in 23 laps, while the gap between him and race leader Brad Keselowski grew.

“Now he has a choice,” Letarte said. “You can try to short pit Brad Keselowski, I feel that would be futile. Brad knows who he’s racing, he’d short pit on top of you. Instead he runs long and he lets Brad come to pit road first.”

But Stevens was right. A caution would wave on Lap 165 for debris during the green flag stops and while Busch was leading.

After he pit under caution, Busch restarted second with 30 laps to and took the lead five laps later.

Watch the above video for the full segment.

NASCAR America: Turning Point in Phoenix Cup race

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On Monday’s NASCAR America, analysts Jeff Burton, Steve Letarte and Kyle Petty discussed what was the turning point in Sunday’s TicketGuardian 500 at ISM Raceway.

To all three, restarts – particularly two of the last three – were the turning point that allowed Kyle Busch to win and Ryan Blaney to still finish third despite running low on both fuel and tire tread in the closing laps.

This is it, the third to last restart,” Burton said, looking at the video. “Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch line up and in front of them is Kevin Harvick, on two tires. On this restart, Kevin Harvick gets put in the middle and now he’s in no-man’s land and is just going backwards.”

Letarte, meanwhile, pointed to the second-to-last restart following a single-car incident where Ryan Preece hit the wall, where Harvick fell back even further. On the surface, it was just two spots, but in reality, it likely cost Harvick any remaining chance to win.

“It’s just two spots, how bad can two spots be?” Letarte asked. “They come out on the backstretch, an accident comes out with Preece, the caution comes out and that’s an entire row. (Losing) two spots on a restart makes a huge difference because that sets them up for the next restart and now he’s (Harvick) behind Ryan Blaney and Kyle Busch.”

Added Kyle Petty, “Yes, (Harvick is) behind them, and on that restart, watch where that row goes, watch where Blaney and where Kyle Busch goes, and then watch the 4 car of Kevin Harvick. He’s not so much in no-man’s land, they just split him on both sides, which just totally takes him out.”

Burton chimed back in, adding:

(Harvick) said his car just didn’t go on two tires,” Burton said. “Blaney on the outside makes the move, then Harvick on the bottom gets into (Jimmie) Johnson and that slows his momentum. Then watch both sides of him, inside and outside, they split him and now his momentum is dead and you’re now in the middle driving into Turn 3 at Phoenix and that’s trouble. In those two restarts … Kevin Harvick, because of his two tires, his car not driving well, didn’t like the way it drove, got put in a bad spot. Boom, right there, his chance to win the race is gone.”

Letarte wrapped up the analysis by putting everything in perspective and why Harvick fell short and finished ninth: “Every driver said track position (was key during the race). Two restarts, eight positions (lost), game over. You’re not going to make that back.”

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NASCAR America: Turning Point in Las Vegas Cup race

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For the third week to start the season, NASCAR America’s “Turning Point” examined what happened on pit road.

This time it involved Kyle Busch.

The moment came on Lap 129 when Busch pit from the lead. In the process he locked up his brakes and was caught speeding.

Busch returned to the track a lap down in 24th.

While Busch quickly returned to the lead lap and eventually the top 10, he managed to only finish third as Joey Logano beat Brad Keselowski for the win.

The Joe Gibbs Racing driver attributed part his issue to a new brake package.

“These teams they’re so smart,” Dale Jarrett said. “Whether it was Daytona in trying to use the smaller brake package and things like that, I’m sure that’s something they were looking at, just trying to make every effort that they can to make these cars faster. It’s something as a driver that he hadn’t really had that situation before and tried to get a little bit too much in that situation.”

Busch’s miscue opened the door for Logano’s win.

Watch the above video more, including a discussion on Logano’s battles with Kevin Harvick and Keselowski.

 

NASCAR America: Turning Point in Atlanta Cup race

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The final restart of Sunday’s Cup race at Atlanta was a little jumbled, but it adhered to NASCAR’s rule book, despite a sequence of green-flag pit stops that were interrupted by a caution with 51 laps to go.

It was that pit sequence that NASCAR America’s analysts identified as the turning point in Sunday’s race and led to Brad Keselowski‘s win.

According to the NASCAR rule book, this is how a restart order should go:

  1. Lead lap cars
  2. Cars one or more laps down.
  3. Free pass position (lucky dog)
  4. Wave around cars.
  5. Cars with penalties.

The only cars on the lead lap when the caution came out were Joey Logano and Kurt Busch, who restarted on the front row.

Immediately behind them were the lapped cars of Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Jimmie Johnson and then Bubba Wallace and Ty Dillon.

Keselowski was the beneficiary of the free pass as he was the first car a lap down when the caution came out. He restarted in third place but was in the fourth row on the inside.

On the ensuing restart, Keselowski was able to clear the four lapped cars, putting himself behind Busch and Logano. While Keselowski cleared the lapped cars, Martin Truex Jr. had trouble getting around Stenhouse. Truex said that kept him from winning the race.

“Ten seconds either way he would not have gotten the free pass,” NASCAR on NBC analyst Steve Letarte said. “Because of that free pass, he pits (again), he takes tires, he lines up … in front of the wave around cars. That puts him into position.”

Letarte continued: “I want to call it a good strategy, I want to call it a little bit lucky, it was a little bit of both.”

Watch the above video for more.