Congratulations to Tony Stewart on his 46th NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Victory and 2nd of the season! The tally is now at 7 victories in the last 15 races for the man they call “Smoke.” Click on through for more from this weekend…
The Race: It has been since Loudon in 2009 since we had a rain shortened (not delayed) NASCAR Sprint Cup Event. This event was one long green flag run before the rain started coming down. There were quite a few mistakes on pit road that caused some trouble for many teams like Jeff Gordon’s gas man getting dragged by the car after the can became stuck. Kyle Busch led the most laps but brushed the wall which gave him just enough damage to slow him down a bit. I’m sure he is very happy with a second place finish given the circumstances. Some thought the race would get back underway after the rain and they chose to pit. Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin were running in the top 5 and both pitted as the first caution came out for rain. They ended up losing on the gamble as the race was called and finished 10th and 11th, respectively. Benefitting from the move were Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Kevin Harvick who moved into the top 5. Also noteworthy, Kurt Busch and Phoenix Racing snagged their first top 10 finish of the season yesterday.
Jimmie Johnson: I think someone found their horseshoe. Jimmie had a noticeable oil line problem under caution and it is doubtful that if they had been able to get it fixed under caution that they would have had a better finish than 10th. They were saved by the red flag yesterday. This comes of course after the points and suspension penalty reversals via the NASCAR appeal process earlier this week. Safe to say Jimmie and Co. are feeling very lucky after the week they had. They are now up to 9th in the points standings and the pressure is much lower than it was just last week.
Smoke: I know it was a rain shortened event so there is no guarantee that Smoke was going to win this thing if it had gone the full distance. However, you can’t deny that he was impressive today. Kyle Busch jumped out to an early dominating run and it looked as if he would finally be avoiding some bad luck for the first time this year. Then all of the sudden, it’s like Tony flipped a switch and decided it was time to go. If you watched the race, you know exactly what I’m talking about. He snagged the lead without the aid of a caution flag and never looked back. His team looked great today and it’s safe to say that, at least right now, they look like they are going to be just fine without Darian Grubb on the pit box. Let’s give some real credit to Steve Addington for a minute, who had the misfortune of working with the tempermental Kurt Busch in recent seasons, for maintaining the #14 team’s hot streak. What also needs to be pointed out is how he is getting hot at the start of the year instead of in the summer or fall seasons. This is a rarity for Tony Stewart.
Consistency: How about the top 3 guys this season? Points Leader Greg Biffle has finished no worse than 13th with 4 top 6 finishes. 2nd place in the standings has Kevin Harvick sitting with his worst finish of 11th (twice) and two top 5’s. Dale Jr. is having a great start as well with 3 top 10’s and a worst finish of 15th. Interesting that none of the 3 have won yet this season. Tony is lurking in 4th place with 2 wins already.
Danica Patrick: No she didn’t race Sunday, but David Reutimann did accomplish something important for Danica and the Stewart-Haas team. Reutimann finished 27th which moved the #10 team up to 34th in the owners points. If you don’t know why that is important, NASCAR automatically holds spots starting next week for the top 35 teams in owners points. All other teams must qualify on speed. This will be significant if the #10 can stay in the top 35 so that both Reutimann and Patrick can stay locked into the field.
Martinsville is this week! Another great race for a new fan of NASCAR to watch. Lots of bumping and banging. Also a great race for drivers to lose their tempers a little bit and put on a show much like Bristol. I’ll be back on Friday with a preview.