Rosberg, Montoya and Edwards Victorious on Racing’s Christmas

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Whether it was strategy gone wrong, strategy played to perfection or flat out wheeling the car from near last place to a victory, this past Sunday had almost everything a racing fan could dream of for the best day of the year, with Nico Rosberg winning the Monaco Grand Prix in the morning, Juan Pablo Montoya winning the Indianapolis 500 in the afternoon and Carl Edwards winning the Coca-Cola 600 at night.

In Monaco, defending champion and polesitter, Lewis Hamilton, led all 64 laps until Max Verstappen’s Torro Rosso went into the safety barriers after contact with Felipe Massa.  This brought out a safety car (equivalent to a caution) and Hamilton’s 20-second lead was nullified.  His Mercedes team believed they could bring him to pit road to put on new super soft tires (most grip) and allow him to exit before his teammate, Rosberg, passed him.  But that was not the case, as Rosberg and Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel, both passed Hamilton’s car as he came off pit road.

Rosberg claimed the victory, his third straight in the Monaco Grand Prix, with Hamilton finishing third, unable to express his disappointment.  If you didn’t get that, basically, his own team screwed him over and gave the win to his teammate.

“Lewis did a great job and deserved to win.  I’m very well aware of that.  I feel for him because it’s such a horrible way to lose.  But on the other side a win is a win.  Luck is such a big factor in sport.”  Hamilton was upset, but positive after the podium finish, saying “We win and lose as a team.  We’ll move on from this,” Rosberg said.

A crazy ending to a good race.

Then came the Indianapolis 500.  The race was full of action and violent crashes as usual, but the eventual race winner, Montoya didn’t have an easy road to victory circle.  He fell as far back as 30th place (out of 33 cars) after a problem on pit road, but worked his way back to the front for the remaining 125 laps and eventually passed defending series champion and teammate Will Power (yes, that’s a real name) with three laps remaining on the outside heading into turn one. Montoya never looked back, claiming his second career win in the race (2000).

“There are 100 ways to lose this race and only one way to win it and we found out how to win it on Sunday,” said JPM, who collected a whopping $2.4 million for winning the race.  “I do consider this to be a complete team effort,” he added after he drank the celebratory milk in victory lane.
Charlie Kimball finished third in the race for his best career Indy 500 finish as well.

I think I speak for a lot of people when I say that when Montoya was in NASCAR, running 20th every week and not looking good, I didn’t think that he’d be back in victory lane at the Indianapolis 500.  But nonetheless, here I am talking about it.

After a couple of hours, the racing world’s focus turned to Charlotte Motor Speedway and the Coca-Cola 600.  600 miles is a LOOOONG time.  But in the end, the race came down to fuel mileage.  I’ll give you a hint at the winner: BACKFLIPS!

That’s right, Carl Edwards grabbed the checkered flag and did his celebratory backflip/ran into the grandstands to celebrate with fans after he got his first win of the season with his new No. 19 team for Joe Gibbs Racing.  A normal fuel run at CMS is about 54 laps, but Edwards milked his tank and got 62 laps on his last load of fuel and was able to make it to the finish, thanks to another gutsy, but great call, by his crew chief Darian Grubb.

Martin Truex Jr., Denny Hamlin (who felt sick toward the end of the race and later attributed it to dehydration and his busy weekend filled with physical activity) and Kurt Busch led almost the whole race, until the final round (for most) of green flag pit stops came around on lap 337.  Edwards, Greg Biffle, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Matt Kenseth were the four drivers who stretched their fuel mileage.

Truex Jr., Ryan Newman, Brad Keselowski, Denny Hamlin, Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch rounded out the top ten.

“It’s so cool to get this win — we’ve had such bad luck,” said a jubilant Edwards in victory lane after the win, the 24th of his career..  “And we were the slowest of the [JGR cars] tonight, but we had Darian Grubb on the box.  He made the right call, he put us in a position to win, and it worked.  This is truly a gift.  I took advantage of it to win, and we’ll get better.”

As for some other notable finishes, Kyle Busch came home 11th in his first points race back from injury, Kasey Kahne (12th), Joey Logano (13th), Paul Menard (14th) and Jeff Gordon (15th) all ran inside the top ten for most of the evening.

Jimmie Johnson came home 40th after spinning twice (couldn’t save it the second time), Ryan Blaney 42nd after blowing an engine while running well, Kyle Larson 25th and Danica Patrick 22nd.

Also, Landon Cassill completed his challenge, which was to run all 600 miles and then run (on foot) another fourteen to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.  He is a tri-athlete, so he was “training”.  Regardless, that man has guts and must’ve been pretty tired after.

Next week, the NASCAR Sprint Cup, Xfinity and Camping World Truck Series travel to Dover, Delaware to try to tame the Monster Mile.  Jimmie Johnson is seeking to become the fifth driver in NASCAR history with 10 wins at a single track.  Will he do it?