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Monday, November 14, 2011

A very good day for Stewart-Haas Racing

CHICAGO, IL - SEPTEMBER 15: Tony Stewart talks...Image by Getty Images via @daylifeSunday’s race at Phoenix did not disappoint. The race for the 2011 Sprint Cup Championship remains unchanged—tight--with just three points separating Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart; Kasey Kahne celebrates an end to his long winless streak in Victory Lane; Ryan Newman made nice with Lady Luck, as she allowed him to turn a dismal 30th place start into a top-5 finish.

I cannot think of a better result from the unknown that was the newly-configured PIR (Phoenix International Raceway). It was certainly a good day for Stewart-Haas Racing. The only negative was when Brian Vickers apparently intentionally wrecked pole sitter Matt Kenseth. Vickers has been nothing but a hazard during this Chase for the Championship. Kenseth deserved better.

Chase needs tweaking

Stewart and Edwards ran a good race, finishing as they started, three points apart. Stewart remains three points behind Edwards, despite his running a better race, leading the most laps. In truth, Stewart should be in the lead, sporting four wins in the 8-race Chase for the Championship. Edwards’ has not won a race during the Chase. His only saving grace was a win during the regular season, which caused him to start ahead of Stewart. Edwards was more consistent, since Stewart had a couple of bad finishes that hurt him. But, with two instances of back-to-back wins in the final eight, Stewart should be far ahead. Perhaps more points should be awarded for winning a title race.

Newman and pit road

Newman had no glitches on pit road to contend with at Phoenix. That made all the difference. Even with the handling of his race car being a tad inconsistent, Newman did a great job passing cars and wracking up points. It is just too bad that cannot be said for previous Chase races. Pit road blunders really cost Newman. I’m certain that will be a big topic for post-season. There has to be improvement before the 2012 season begins.

Speaking of pit road, what’s with Brad Keselowski?

After last week’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, Brad Keselowski complained that Ryan Newman intentionally blocked him in his pit stall. Scene Daily reported the story http://fb.me/KHNfRL7x. Keselowski had to back up to get back onto the track. In doing so, he ran into Denny Hamlin’s car.

Keselowski blamed Newman because he, Keselowski ran into Hamlin while backing out of his pit stall. Huh? Basically Keselowski blamed Newman for intentionally blocking him because Newman’s teammate/owner Tony Stewart is running is in the hunt for the championship. Newman admitted blocking Keselowski, but said he had to pull in at the angle he did to keep from hitting Keselowski’s jack man. Keselowski also intimated that Newman deliberately picked the #2 pit stall in front of his, to hamper his chance at the championship. Keselowski was angry that “the #39 (Newman) played the team orders card in the Chase.”

Newman’s Crew Chief Tony Gibson explained that they were surprised that pit stall was available. They qualified 24th and pickings were slim.

Keselowski’s charge was ridiculous and insulting.

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