Fuel & Tires: Cup heads to Talladega; Kvapil gets new sponsor; local action


David Tulis

If you're ready for some Sprint Cup action this weekend, you're in luck as the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway. Otherwise, Formula One returns to Sochi for the Russian Grand Prix and we're almost into the magical month of May, which will bring us the 100th running of the Indianapolis 500.

Let's get to it.


Carl Edwards bumped his Joe Gibbs Racing teammate Kyle Busch out of the way on the last turn of the last lap Sunday at Richmond International Raceway to take his second win in two weeks. All four Gibbs drivers finished in the top seven, including Matt Kenseth who tied his season-best finish of seventh.

Edwards is now on top of the point standings, 13 markers ahead of Kevin Harvick and 21 clear of Jimmie Johnson. As a matter of fact, the top five in points are separated by only 32 points with Kyle Busch and Joey Logano not too far behind Johnson. Logano is the only driver in the top five who has yet to win a race this season.

Perhaps Logano can duplicate his last visit to Talladega when he won there last fall. Of course, he'll have to contend with three-time and defending race winner Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt has a total of six wins at the track, the most of any active driver and one less than his dad, the all-time record holder.

Other multiple Talladega winners in Sunday's field include Johnson, Jamie McMurray, Clint Bowyer and Logano's teammate Brad Keselowski. Regardless of who wins Sunday, you're guaranteed to see a lot of side-by-side action, probably a huge wreck (though there wasn't one at the similar Daytona International Speedway earlier this season) and a wild finish.

Coverage of Sunday's GEICO 500 starts at noon on Fox.


In other NASCAR news, Tony Stewart returned to the driver's seat after missing the first eight races of the season due to a back injury. Stewart finished 19th after suffering a tire blowout halfway through the race.

Prior to his return to racing, Stewart railed against NASCAR for no longer penalizing teams for not tightening all five lug nuts on the wheels. Stewart said the non-enforcement could cause major safety issues that shouldn't be ignored. NASCAR responded by fining Stewart $35,000 for his comments, then changed the rule effective at Talladega.

The series will now penalize teams who do not have all five lug nuts on the wheels before, during or after the race. Makes sense to fine a driver for speaking out against such a safety concern, and then change the rule. Just another day in NASCAR's world.

Stewart is due to start Sunday's race at Talladega, but will then turn over driving duties to Ty Dillon during the first caution. Because of the increased risk of being involved in a crash in the race, Stewart is playing is safe so as to not reinjure his back.


Janesville native Travis Kvapil has a new sponsor on his No. 50 Chevy Silverado in the Camping World Truck Series. Gas Buddy, a gas price mobile app, has partnered with Kvapil's MAKE Motorsports team as the primary sponsor for multiple races this season, beginning at Kansas Speedway on Friday, May 6.

It looks to already be a great move as Gas Buddy is holding a contest on Twitter to win VIP passes and hang out with Kvapil at the Kansas race. Go to twitter.com/gasbuddy for more information.

Kvapil is also scheduled to run the Xfinity race at Talladega on Saturday in the No. 15 Ford for Rick Ware Racing. Kvapil ran last Saturday's race for the team at Richmond and finished 25th.


Simon Pagenaud took his second win in a row in the Verizon IndyCar Series at Barber Motorsports Park on Sunday. Pagenaud had a close battle with Graham Rahal over the last ten laps or so as Rahal passed Pagenaud for the lead only to be tripped up by lapped traffic. Pagenaud took the lead back from Rahal with five laps to go and won by nearly 14 seconds.

Rahal had to settle for a second place finish in the Honda Grand Prix of Alabama for the second year in a row while last year's winner, Josef Newgarden, finished third.

The drive of the day had to be Pagenaud's teammate Juan Pablo Montoya, who started last in the 21-car field after issues during qualifying. Montoya charged through the field and finished fifth, which just goes to show you how good Montoya is, even if he is driving for Team Penske.

The series now heads back to its home base of Indianapolis for the Angie's List Grand Prix of Indianapolis. The race will take place on the road course at Indianapolis Motor Speedway on Saturday, May 14 with qualifying for the Indianapolis 500 held the following weekend.

In the meantime, we will post highlights and photos from the Associated Press of every race since 1980 leading up to the 100th running of the Indy 500 will be Sunday, May 29.


Formula One returns to action this weekend with the Russian Grand Prix on Sunday. It is the third year in a row that the series returns to Sochi, site of the 2014 Winter Olympics, to compete on the Sochi Autodrom street circuit.

Defending series champion Lewis Hamilton has won both races held in Sochi and is looking to stop his Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg from winning his fourth race of the season. Rosberg is the only driver to visit victory lane this season and has a 36-point lead over Hamilton in the driver's championship.

Coverage of the Russian Grand Prix starts at 7 a.m. Sunday on NBC Sports Network.


— Madison International Speedway's Joe Shear Classic preseason race is at 2 p.m. Sunday. In addition to the 100-lap feature for the ARCA Midwest Tour, the Mid-American Stock Cars and Midwest Truck Series will also be on track. Tickets are $20 adults, $18 seniors and students ages 12-17 and $10 kids ages 6-12. Tickets are available at shorttracks.us/tickets.

—The season opens at Jefferson Speedway on Saturday with racing in the Sportsman, International, Hobby Stock, Road Warrior and Bandit divisions as well as a 50-lap Late Model feature. Gates open at 2 p.m. with racing at 7 p.m. Tickets are $12 adults, $8 seniors and students ages 12-15 and $4 kids ages 8-11.

—Catch the Late Models, Sportsman, Road Runners and Bandits on track starting at 7 p.m. Saturday at Rockford Speedway. Tickets are available at rockfordspeedway.com.

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