Monday, February 28, 2011

Sprint Cup 2011: Race 2 - He's Back!!!!

WINNER: Jeff Gordon,#24, Chevrolet, Hendrick Motor Sports

Jeff Gordon won today’s Subway Fresh Fit 500. It seems so hard to comprehend that it’s been sixty six races, the balance of almost two seasons, since the familiar #24 car took the checkered flag. His last victory was in Texas, April 2009, an accomplishment ending a 47 race slump. Has it been so long since Jeff Gordon was reeling in the wins appearing almost unstoppable?

His victory is significant for his place in NASCAR history. The victory moves Gordon to tied with Cale Yarborough with 83 wins. His next win will tie him with Darrell Waltrip (84) and the one after that, Bobby Allison (85). With three more wins, 3rd place will belong solely to Jeff Gordon. The next threshold would be to exceed David Pearson’s mark of 105 wins. He’d need 22 wins to equal Pearson. It was not that long ago when that feat seemed almost inevitable, but if Gordon were to race for five more years, he’d need to about 4 ½ races a year. Jeff Gordon’s stature in the sport certainly has been overshadowed by his teammate, Jimmie Johnson’s dominance.

Last week’s Cinderella story saw the carriage turn into a pumpkin as Trevor Bayne blew a tire and wrecked early finishing in 40th position, the lowest position of drivers actually competing in the race. Three shameful quitters with no intention to finish the race, McDowell, Blaney, and Nemechek turned in their disgraceful parade laps and called it quits.

Here’s a quick look at the top finishers:

1- Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet
2- Kyle Busch, Toyota
3- Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet
4- Kevin Harvick, Chevrolet
5- Ryan Newman, Chevrolet
6- Kasey Kahne, Toyota
7- Tony Stewart, Chevrolet
8- Kurt Busch, Dodge
9- A.J. Allmendinger, Ford
10- Dal Earnhardt Jr., Chevrolet
11- Denny Hamlin, Toyota
13- Matt Kenseth, Ford
14- Mark Martin, Chevrolet
15- Martin Truex Jr., Toyota
16- Brad Keselowski, Dodge

The points:

1- Kyle Busch, Toyota (+6)
2- Kurt Busch, Dodge (+2)
3- Tony Stewart, Chevrolet (+9)
4- A.J. Allmendinger, Ford (+6)
5- Jeff Gordon, Chevrolet (+21)
6- Mark Martin, Chevrolet (+3)
7- Bobby Labonte, Ford (-4)
8- Ryan Newman, Chevrolet (+12)
9- Juan Pablo Montoya, Chevrolet (-4)
10- David Gilliland, Ford (-8)
11- Paul Menard, Chevrolet (-3)
12- Carl Edwards, Ford (-11)
13- Jimmie Johnson, Chevrolet (+12)
14- Denny Hamlin, Toyota (+5)
15- Kasey Kahne, Toyota (+8)

How quickly fortunes change. Ford was sitting pretty after capturing the top 3 spots of the Daytona 500. At Phoenix, their top three cars finished 9th, 12th, and 16th. All four Hendrick drivers finished in the top 15 at Phoenix. Only Mark Martin finished in the top 15 at Daytona. Only the Busch brothers, Kurt and Kyle finished in the top 10 in both races, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin, and A.J. Allmendinger made the top 15. That both races had big wrecks (the proverbial big one) early in the race, many of the top competitors have at least one bad start at the beginning of the new season.

Demolition began immediately after the race to renovate and repave the Phoenix race track which has not been resurfaced for 20 years. Despite being bumpy with numerous cracks filled in, many drivers are happy with the track left alone, but it was certainly clear to TV viewers the road was rough.

The Sprint Cup tour continues its western swing next week at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

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