Short track races usually don’t fall short in the entertainment category, and this Sunday’s race at Bristol didn’t disappoint. From snowmen in the infield, to Kurt Busch’s snow angel on the dry asphalt, to Jeff Gordon charging at Matt Kenseth in such a fury that he didn’t have time to take his helmet off, Bristol had it all. So who left the cozy confines of Bristol on a roll, and who’s feeling at home in the snow?
Read this week’s Starr Report to find out.
Kurt Busch: This may get as many boos as his win did on Sunday, but there is no denying Busch is making a big move in the right direction. The win at Bristol bumped him up to 16th in the points, a very nice progression from his 37th place ranking in the standings following Daytona.
Kyle Busch: Like his big brother, Shrub has made a big jump in the standings during the first five races of the season. After starting 26th coming out of Daytona, he’s up to 5th in the points following his third Top 10 finish in the past four races.
Mark Martin: Maybe Martin should have announced his retirement years ago. One year after his "farewell tour", he is quietly put himself fourth in the standings, and has a streak of four top 10 finishes heading into MARTINSville next week. More importantly, he left Bristol in one piece and with his first Top 10 finish there since 2000.
Jeff Gordon: No, I’m not referring to this “attack” on Matt Kenseth following Sunday’s race. He left Daytona 27th in the standings, and has motored his way up 20 places to 7th after last weekend despite Sunday’s bump and spin to 21st place. Don’t forget, Gordon ran in the Top 5 for most of the day before that spin; of course, that is pending any point penalties he may incur due to the aforementioned “attack” on Kenseth.
Petty Enterprises: A week after Kyle Petty’s Top 10 finish at Atlanta, Bobby Labonte followed it up with a fifth place run at Bristol. Labonte’s Top 5 is the first for the organization since John Andretti earned a Top 5 finish at Bristol in 2001. Two good finishes for the Petty cars doesn’t mean all their problems are solved…but it’s a good start.
Carl Edwards: Edwards fourth place finish helped recharge his climb up the standings. He started off the season as low as possible with a 43rd at Daytona, but with two top 5 finishes he’s now knocking on the door of the Top 20 in points.
Kevin Harvick: After a decent start to the season at Daytona, Harvick had been slipping in the standings in recent weeks. He hit a season low 23rd following the race at Atlanta, but his second place finish at Bristol pushed him back to 13th heading to another short track race this Sunday.
Jamie McMurray: McMurray got off to a rocky start at Roush this year with a 37th place finish at Daytona. With only one top 10 run this year and a 35th place finish at Bristol, he’s back down to 24th in the standings, the lowest position among the 5 Roush drivers in points.
Jeff Burton: A great qualifying effort at Daytona went south to a 31st place spot in the standings after Week One for Burton. He rebounded well the next two weeks, and cracked the Top 10 in points with solid finishes at California and Vegas. But two straight weeks of bad luck have cooled his progress and dropped him to 18th in the points.
Ryan Newman: As usual, Newman has qualified well in the first five races of the season, although he’s yet to win a Bud Pole award. He started off hot at Daytona with a Top 5 finish…but since then, has tailed off with the fortunes of the Intrepid. He does seem to be on a bit of an upswing after finishing 9th at Bristol, but currently 12th in points, Newman will have to find a way to string together some decent finishes closer to the front to keep the Top 10 in sight.
Brian Vickers: Still searching for his first career win, some believe Vickers maybe on the hot seat to produce with the powerhouse Hendrick team. If that’s the case, Vickers isn’t doing himself any favors so far this season. He was seventh at Daytona, but his results have dropped each week, down to a 39th place finish at Bristol that put him back to 19th in points.
Ken Schrader: Schrader started off hot at Daytona with a ninth place finish. Since that time, he has fallen steadily off the radar. He ran with the leaders at Bristol, but had an early tire problem, fell two laps down, and couldn’t catch a break and get back on the lead lap. Now 29th in the standings, just running well isn’t much of a consolation; Schrader needs to see better results in the finishing order.
Will Jeff Gordon take off his helmet if he goes after someone again at Martinsville? Can both Petty cars have a good finish in the same week? Is Chad Knaus a jinx for the 48 team? Will Kevin Harvick fire off some more jokes about Kurt Busch’s ear job? Can we finally make it through a race weekend with no weather issues? Only time will tell, and I can’t wait to find out the answers.
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