Becca's Big Six : Atlanta Edition · Becca Gladden · Sunday March 18, 2007
Each week, Frontstretch Senior Staff Writer Becca Gladden looks at the weekend's Nextel Cup race from a reporter's point of view, covering the Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How of the race, the drivers, the TV coverage, even the commercials. Check back every Monday for Becca's fun and thought-provoking commentary.
Who â€¦ gets my shout-out of the race?
A great job this week by Clint Bowyer and the No. 07 team for a strong sixth place showing. Bowyer is 9th in points with two Top 10 finishes and so far has shown no signs of the dreaded sophomore slump.
What â€¦ should Jimmie Johnson’s nickname be?
In a postrace interview, Jimmie Johnson revealed that he has never had a nickname in the past, nor does he have one to this day. Race fans, this is unacceptable. I would like to hear your suggestions for a nickname for Jimmie Johnson — but keep it clean, please!
Where â€¦ is Kasey Kahne in the standings?
It’s hard to believe, but last year’s winningest driver (6 victories) is currently outside the Top 35 in points. Kahne started off the season on a positive note with a seventh-place showing in the Daytona 500, but things have gone steadily downhill since then. He’s now 36th in the standings with finishes of 38th, 35th and 39th in his last three races. Fontana and Vegas were DNF’s for the No. 9 team, and today he finished 19 laps down after getting innocently caught up in a wreck – which seems to be his luck of late. Kasey desperately needs a good finish at Bristol to make it back into the Top 35 in owner points, ensuring his qualifying status for Texas and the rest of the season.
When â€¦ has Juan Pablo Montoya had a better Cup finish?
Never! JPM had a great run at Atlanta, finishing fifth in just his fourth Cup start. That makes his worst finish this year so far a 26th at Fontana, and his average finish is a reasonable 18th. For all the talk about how hard it is to make the transition from open wheel to stock car, Montoya is making it look pretty easy – a testament to his skill as a driver and to the great job crew chief Donnie Wingo is doing with his charge. Montoya wasn’t satisfied with today’s run, however, indicating that he wanted at least a top-three.
Why â€¦ do drivers and fans love the racing at Atlanta?
If nothing else, Atlanta is known for great finishes, and though today’s wasn’t one of the best, there was still enough side-by-side racing to keep everyone entertained. It was also nice to watch a race where distractions like restrictor plates, track resurfacing and weird tire compounds weren’t the major focus. Still, just two drivers, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart, dominated the day, leading almost 80% of the laps.
How â€¦ different will this year’s Bristol race be?
We’ll know in a week, but keep in mind that this year’s Bristol race marks the debut of the long-awaited Car of Tomorrow. While some teams sound quite confident with their COT preparations, other sound practically petrified. Like it or not, the future of NASCAR is here.
Once again, NASCAR is under a cloud of controversy due to a late race debris caution that has fans irate. With 16 laps to go, they threw what Speed TV’s Dave Despain calls the “phantom” debris caution – debris that TV viewers and even some drivers never see. Rusty Wallace claims that these debris cautions are always legitimate, though he didn’t think so when he was a driver. If so, there is no reason why TV cameras don’t show viewers the debris once it is picked up by the track crew. It would certainly be in NASCAR’s best interest to silence the growing outcry about late race yellows which have a dramatic effect on the outcome of the race – like today, when winner Jimmie Johnson would have probably run out of gas one lap before the checkers if the caution had not come out.
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