Speedway Cup Season 11
Races Nine through Twelve
Week 9: April 10th, California Race Results
Without hesitation, the Speedway Cup Series Season 11 chase commences at California. The front two rows are maintained by Craig Lee's Dodge on the pole, then a Honda, Chevrolet and Toyota. This would be the first time since week 1 that four different manufacturers occupy the first four qualifying spots. Tim McDonnell's Honda flew by Craig on the bottom lane of turn 1 on the 8th lap, beginning the first of 23 lead changes. By lap 30, it became a six-car breakaway between Championship contenders Craig, Tim, Ken Pettit, & Tony Pizzaro... with Scott Jackson and Cristian Torres tagging along. Dave Miller started from the pits and remained in the rear of the field all night until he was forced to park on lap 67. A set of mid-race green flag pitstops caused Craig and Cristian to lose the draft, narrowing the race to a four-way battle. Tim and Scott took 2 tires on the final pit stop, while Ken and Tony took 4. the R2W teammates were able to run the leaders down as Ken Pettit crossed the finish line in clutch-style for his first victory of the season. Ken minimizes the gap to only 3 points behind leader Tim McDonnell, with Tony Pizzaro 2 points behind and Craig Lee only 6. Dave Miller starts the chase off with a meager 10th place DNF.
Week 10: April 17th, Michigan Race Results
Week 10 at Michigan would begin with Ryan Heuser grabbing QSM's second straight pole. Scott Jackson, Tim McDonnell and Craig Lee led most of the race early on, but eventually points-racing came into play. Ryan Heuser took the lead after the first pit stop on lap 19 and stayed in the top 4 for from lap 28 to lap 70. An impressive feat despite racing in a 10-car pack for most of the race. Points leader Tim McDonnell and Scott Jackson would tangle on the frontstretch midway through, but both cars remained unscathed. From this point on, Tim, Tony Pizzaro, Ken Pettit and Craig Lee would race exceptionally hard with each other, keeping Ryan 'Rocketman' Heuser in front. As Tim and Tony raced for championship points, Ryan was going to get the most help from the two drivers behind them. On the final lap Tony looked to the outside, giving Tim the inside lane behind Ryan heading into turn 3. Ryan would win his first race of the season, with Tim narrowly beating out Tony and broadening his points lead to 3.
Week 11: April 24th, Lowe's Night Race Results
Quicksilver Motorsports would grab their third straight pole starting the evening at Lowe's Night. Ever since Ryan Heuser started racing late into the regular season, the QSM boys have set fire to the starting grid. Ryan's positive energy still hasn't been a hindrence to points leaders Tim McDonell and Tony Pizzaro, who start 6th and 3rd respectively. After leading the initial laps, Craig would give he lead up to Tony and Tim who fly by on the outside lane to no surprise. Just when things seemed to be getting comfortable, Tim and Craig touched coming into turn 1 and both nearly spun out, each losing the draft. Tim's loose Honda bottomed out the next lap, spinning into the infield pavement without bringing out a caution. It eventualy became a five-car breakaway between Tony, Ken Pettit and Scott Jackson. All three would lap Tim after his destroyed tires failed him early on. After green flag pit stops were finished, Tony and Ken broke away from Scott giving more draft help to Craig, Ryan and John Battista attempting to run them down. Tim's cautiousness through the corners would put him a second lap down, practically handing the points lead to Tony after a dismal performance at one of his most hated race tracks. His heartbreaking night would lead to zero laps led and an eventual 8th place finish. He would bottom-out again with 35 laps to go, bringing the 5 remaining lead lap cars to an intense 32-lap shootout. Ryan would go 3-wide between Tony and Tim, handing him the lead for 2 laps before Tony took back over. Ryan Heuser was the man to beat with less than 2-to-go and a full load of grille-tape, but a 3 wide accident coming out of turn 2 took his chances away. Scott Jackson dove underneath Tony coming into turn 4 on the final lap, but Tony pinched him enough to grab the momentum off turn 4 and win his 4th race of the season. Coming to the final race at Talladega, Tony has a points lead of 6 over Tim McDonnell, 10 over Ken Pettit, and 11 over Craig Lee.
Week 12: May 1st, Talladega Race Results
Before points come into play for the series finale, lets talk about some drivers who have came close but failed to win this season. The biggest surprise is Season 10 Champion Scott Jackson, who achieved second-pace finishes at Daytona, Michigan Banked, Zen Joltis 2012 and Lowe's Night. His last victory came at Indianapolis on January 9th. Jimmie Stevens is here to make a final attempt for victory as well. He and Scott Jackson have both failed to make the chase the season after winning their triumphant championships. A win tonight would certainly heal the wounds that this season has penetrated for them. Ben Geer has had a dismal season after winning the 6th man award for season 10. His best finish in seven races so far is 5th at Zen Joltis 2012, his favorite race track. He loves Talladega too, so this may be the time to get some momentm going before the new season. Only four drivers are still concerned about points for the current season: Tony Pizzaro, Tim McDonnell, Ken Pettit and Craig Lee. Tim needs to finish at least 5 spots ahead of Tony since Tony has the tiebreaker with his four victories. Ken and Craig need to prey that they crash as they are double-digits behind. Ryan Heuser gives QSM their fourth straight pole with Tim and Tony qualifying 2nd and 7th. The initial 17-lap run before the first caution was dominated by Craig Lee and Tim McDonnell, leading 15 of them. Tony Long crosses Craig Lee's nose and heads towards the backstretch infield. Glenn Kaufmann has nowhere to go and slams into the right side of Tony's Chevrolet, sending Glenn flipping multiple times against the turn 3 wall. On lap 28 Tim and Craig touch on the backstretch, sending Tim flying with his rear end in the air, softly landing right-side up. This was a close call for the points contender, but luckily for him Tony Pizzaro is nowhere to be found up front. Tim would get back to the lead with 40 to go, but Tony followed his tracks. He would go from 6th to first from the backstretch to turn 4, leading his first lap of the night before it was time to worry. As green flag pit stops commenced with 18 to go, 7 drivers remained in the lead pack. Tony and Tim were two of them, making it necessary for Tim to win and Tony to finish 7th. Craig Lee added on his total of 36 laps led until 3 laps o go, where Tony and Tim flew past him to grab the first and second positions for the final time this season. Tim on the high line, Tony on the low, each being pushed by a QSM driver. Coming through the tri-oval on the final lap, Tony and Tim touch, giving Ryan a classic opportunity for victory. Tony would beat Ryan to the line by 0.002 seconds, adding to another classic Talladega finish and giving Tony Pizzaro his second Speedway Cup Championship! Congratulations to Tim McDonnell for being the only driver to earn double-digit top-5's this season. Also, Congratulations to Ken Pettit for finishing on the lead lap in every race. What a season!
Here are the Final Points Standings after twelve Season 11 events:
Tony Pizzaro - 5177
Tim McDonnell - 5168
Craig Lee - 5165
Ken Pettit - 5163
Dave Miller - 5069