Smoke Celebrates in the Rain

Tony Stewart leading the pack during Red Flag at Fontana
Photo – Chris Graythen/Getty Images

Tony Stewart wins the first rain-shortened race at Auto Club Speedway. 


The race had its one and only caution come out on lap 123 for the rain that slowly moved in and ended racing for the day. 


The only real racing we saw featuring a real battle was when the halfway point of the race – lap 100 – was upcoming and the looming rain that everyone was murmuring about was advancing in the distance. No race fan wants to see a rain-shortened race because it takes an exciting finish out of picture.  


With only five races this season, two already have involved rain. The Daytona 500 was postponed until Monday Night which was the other rainy race of the season. In 2011 the first race that involved rain wasn’t until Watkins Glen in August.  


The three green flag pit stops that occurred during the duration of the rain shortened event saw several mistakes – at least four pit road speeding penalties – and not too much advancement in position. 


Kyle Busch led most of the first 75 laps then eventually passed by Tony Stewart. 


Around lap 100, when teams realized the race was going past halfway, the real racing began. All drivers were aware of the rain that was coming. Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon tried to play the rain game but they eventually had to pit and ended up with disappointing finishes of what could have been with Johnson finishing tenth and Gordon in 26th. 


The last two pit stops of the day hurt Jeff Gordon and his No.24 team, when they incurred two penalties which stripped them of a decent finish. 


On lap 123 when the final caution came out, drivers were offered a chance to pit and Tony Stewart faked the field out when he looked as though he was going to pit – that was obviously a questionable move if he had actually pitted. But at the last second, Stewart made a hard right to re-join the field. The second place driver at the time was Denny Hamlin who followed Stewart toward pit road, effectively taking his second place finish from him. It appeared Hamlin made no attempt to stay out once Stewart swerved back out on the track. Hamlin continued with his pit stop and ended up finishing 11th.  


Less than 30 minutes after the cars were brought down pit road, NASCAR officially called the race and Tony Stewart ended up winning his second race of the season. In 2011 Stewart’s first victory would not occur until Chicagoland in September. Smoke who is usually cool in the beginning of the season has had a hot start in 2012. The defending champion is putting up a fight to defend his crown and a rainy day in Fontana left smoke celebrating in rain. 

Results via Nascar .com

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STATUS
1
9
14
Chevrolet
Office Depot / Mobil 1
47/1
129
In Pit
2
2
18
Toyota
Interstate Batteries
44/2
129
In Pit
3
14
88
Chevrolet
Diet Mountain Dew / National Guard
41/0
129
In Pit
4
7
29
Chevrolet
Jimmy John’s Gourmet Sandwiches
40/0
129
In Pit
5
12
99
Ford
Subway
39/0
129
In Pit
6
4
16
Ford
3M
38/0
129
In Pit
7
6
39
Chevrolet
U.S. Army
37/0
129
In Pit
8
13
56
Toyota
NAPA Auto Parts
36/0
129
In Pit
9
23
51
Chevrolet
Phoenix Construction Services
35/0
129
In Pit
10
10
48
Chevrolet
Lowe’s / Jimmie Johnson Foundation
35/1
129
In Pit
11
1
11
Toyota
FedEx Express
34/1
129
In Pit
12
3
55
Toyota
Aaron’s Dream Machine
32/0
129
In Pit
13
15
17
Ford
Ford EcoBoost
31/0
129
Running
14
11
15
Toyota
5-hour Energy
30/0
129
In Pit
15
5
5
Chevrolet
Quaker State
29/0
129
In Pit
16
25
22
Dodge
Southern California AAA
28/0
129
In Pit
17
24
42
Chevrolet
Target
27/0
129
In Pit
18
17
2
Dodge
Miller Lite
26/0
129
In Pit
19
27
27
Chevrolet
CertainTeed / Menards
25/0
129
In Pit
20
22
78
Chevrolet
Furniture Row / Farm American
24/0
129
In Pit
21
29
9
Ford
Dewalt
23/0
129
In Pit
22
19
31
Chevrolet
Caterpillar
22/0
129
In Pit
23
33
13
Ford
GEICO
21/0
129
In Pit
24
8
20
Toyota
Dollar General
20/0
129
In Pit
25
28
43
Ford
Medallion Financial
19/0
129
In Pit
26
21
24
Chevrolet
Drive to End Hunger
19/1
129
In Pit
27
18
10
Chevrolet
Accell Construction
17/0
127
In Pit
28
26
47
Toyota
Charter
16/0
127
In Pit
29
40
93
Toyota
Burger King / Dr Pepper
15/0
127
In Pit
30
41
38
Ford
1-800LoanMart
14/0
127
In Pit
31
38
34
Ford
Front Row Motorsports
13/0
127
In Pit
32
16
1
Chevrolet
Bass Pro Shops / Allstate
12/0
126
In Pit
33
34
36
Chevrolet
Tommy Baldwin Racing
11/0
126
In Pit
34
42
32
Ford
U.S. Chrome / 1 Less Than 2 Ltd.
10/0
125
In Pit
35
36
249
Toyota
America Israel Racing
9/0
125
In Pit
36
31
83
Toyota
Burger King / Dr Pepper
8/0
124
In Pit
37
30
26
Ford
Morristown Driver’s Service
7/0
52
In Pit
38
32
98
Ford
Curb Records
6/0
41
In Pit
39
20
30
Toyota
@TheNASCARFans
5/0
37
In Pit
40
39
119
Toyota
Humphrey Smith Racing
0
19
In Pit
41
35
23
Chevrolet
North Texas Pipe
3/0
18
In Pit
42
43
74
Chevrolet
Turn One Racing
0
7
In Pit
43
37
33
Chevrolet
South Point Hotel & Casino
1/0
2
Out of Race

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2 thoughts on “Smoke Celebrates in the Rain

  1. Nice Job Jason! You're right that it's not as much fun watching seeing a partial, rain-shorten race. But that said, it's also understandable why NASCAR, drivers and teams would prefer to race today vs. delaying into Monday.

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