Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Sprint Cup 2011: Race 7 -- Big Time Texas!!!

Matt Kenseth got to fire off the guns Saturday night winning the Samsung Mobile 500 at the Texas Motor Speedway. It was a great night for Kenseth. It was a fabulous night for his team with all his teammates winning in the top 7. Carl Edwards finished 3rd with teammate Greg Biffle looking to build some momentum for his season, in 4th, but perhaps the most reassuring finish of all for Roush-Fenway is David Ragan’s 7th place finish. After a promising 2009 season, the #6 ride has struggled opening up many questions about the UPS Ford’s future. As the story of the 2011 starts to clarify, it looks like Jack Roush and his fleet of Fords will be in the future.

Top 15 Results:
1- Matt Kenseth, #17, Ford
2- Clint Bowyer, #33, Chevrolet
3- Carl Edwards, #99, Ford
4- Greg Biffle, #16, Ford
5- Paul Menard, #27, Chevrolet
6- Marcos Ambrose, #9, Ford
7- David Ragan, #6, Ford
8- Jimmie Johnson, #48, Chevrolet
9- Dale Earnhardt Jr., #88, Chevrolet
10- Kurt Busch, #22, Dodge
11- Jeff Burton, #31, Chevrolet
12- Tony Stewart, #14, Chevrolet
13- Juan Montoya, #42, Chevrolet
14- Ryan Newman, #39, Chevrolet
15- Denny Hamlin, #11, Chevrolet

Look at the results, besides the Roush romp, things look might good for three Childress drivers, but where’s the fellow who won the last two races, Kevin Harvick? Harvick finished in 20th spot. Some drivers really needed a strong finish to help overcome a slow start so Greg Biffle, David Ragan, and Jeff Burton must be pleased. Tony Stewart fell off for getting busted for speeding on pit-road. Now NASCAR shares the data as proof – a nice touch for the telecast. Also of note, Toyotas were shut out of the top 10 with Denny Hamlin, who has attempted to get into the chase picture only making it to 15 while Kyle Busch finished 16th, Joey Logano, the 3rd Gibbs entry only managed 24th. Trevor Bayne had his best finish since winning the Daytona 500 with a 17th finish. Jeff Gordon appears to be treading water after breaking his winless streak in 23rd.

Texas was catastrophic for Martin Truex, #56, Mark Martin, #6, and Regan Smith, #78 who tangled up in a messy wreck on lap 213. Martin’s car was shredded hitting one of the few spots with no SAFER barrier.

We’ll address the freeloading scum that quit the race in another posting. Joe Nemechek, Michael McDowell, J.J. Yeley, and Mike Skinner are an embarrassment to their sport.

Championship Points Standings (1-15)
1- Carl Edwards, 256 pts., leader
2- Kyle Busch, 247 pts. (-9)
3- Matt Kenseth, 243 pts. (-13)
4- Jimmie Johnson, 243 pts. (-13)
5- Kurt Busch, 240 pts. (-15)
6- Dale Earnhardt Jr., 235 pts. (-21)
7- Ryan Newman, 233 pts. (-23)
8- Juan Pablo Montoya, 232 pts. (-24)
9- Kevin Harvick, 228 pts. (=28)
10- Tony Stewart, 213 pts. (-43)
11- Paul Menard, 209 pts. (-47)
12- Clint Bowyer, 201 pts. (-55)
13- A.J. Allmendinger, 193 pts. (-63)
14- Jeff Gordon, 192 pts. (-64)
15- Mark Martin, 189 pts. (-67)

Biggest Advances in standings:
Matt Kenseth +6
Clint Bowyer +4
Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Paul Menard +2

Despite his disappointing finish, Tony Stewart still gained one position.

Mark Martin -5
Kevin Harvick -4
Martin Truex Jr. -4 (drops to 21st)

For Owners’ standings, Bob Germain, owner of the #13 car moved into the red hot 35th spot guaranteeing a start next week while Brad Jenkins’ Front Row Racing’s car, driver Tony Raines, #37 dropped from 35th to 37th

The biggest story carrying from Texas to Talladega must be the success of the Roush team but that Richard Petty’s Fords and the “legendary” Wood Brothers saw their best finish since race #1. Despite Ford’s surge, only two contenders, though, are in the top 10.

Joe Gibbs Racing had a rough day but this weekend for the first time this season did not blow a single engine before or during the race. Only Kyle Busch is in the top ten while Denny Hamlin slipped one place back to 20th. Joey Logano slips another position to 28th.

Toyota in general is having a tough season, second to Kyle Busch is Kasey Kahne, his one year temporary gig with Red Bull, in 16th. Martin Truex Jr. worsened Toyota’s picture dropping to 21st after his crash while Bobby Labonte dropped two positions to 23rd. David Reutimann has been seldom seen in 27th.

For those questioning the Rick Hendrick teams’ success, remember it’s only April, but Jeff Gordon appears snake bitten brightened by a win and another top five but looking pretty un-champion like in other contests. Mark Martin only has two top tens, no top fives.

Whatever pictures seemed to be forming or if there have been any trends so far in 2011, that all goes by the wayside next week at Talladega. It will be interesting to see how a smaller diameter restrictor plate with the new aerodynamic package including the new more seamless splitter will affect competition. Will the newly paved Daytona race track help preview the 2.66 mile high banked race. We’ll see.


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