Another weekend in the Lone Star state has passed and we’ve yet to have a repeat winner at Texas Motor Speedway. Kasey Kahne once again proved that his team has the new Charger figured out with their second win of the season. But as we gear up for another off weekend, there were plenty of teams that left Texas searching for answers, and some that left wishing they could race again next weekend to keep up their momentum. So who’s hot and who’s not as week seven of the Nextel Cup season has come and gone? Read this week’s Starr Report to find out.
Kevin Harvick: After getting off to a mediocre start to the season, dropping as low as 23rd in the standings, Harvick has taken off in the last three weeks. He’s the only driver with three straight top 10 finishes in that span, and has worked his way up to a season high ninth in the rankings. His 5th place finish at Texas was his first Top 5 finish on a superspeedway since Las Vegas…last March!
Kasey Kahne: Other than a 35th place finish at Martinsville, Kahne hasn’t had much to complain about this season. With two wins, Kahne is making it hard for the other teams to plead their case to NASCAR about the “inept” Charger. Perhaps all the praise that was heaped upon Kasey as a rookie and discounted last year is deserving after all.
Tony Stewart: Stewart has only one win and two finishes of 20th or worse, but he’s been competitive in every race so far this year. He’s led at least one lap in each of the seven races this season, including a race high 99 in Texas after qualifying 40th. With his third place finish on Sunday, he’s up to fifth in the points, his highest mark this year.
Scott Riggs: Riggs couldn’t have gotten off to a worse start to the year when he missed the Daytona 500. He’s not as hot as teammate Kasey Kahne, but the team is moving in the right direction. Three top 11 finishes in the last four races, including a season best seventh at Texas, have moved Riggs up to 28th in the standings.
Mark Martin: Despite sliding down two positions to fourth in the standings after finishing 9th at Texas, Martin is still putting in strong consistent runs week after week. He has five top 10 finishes in seven races and his "poor" finishes are 12th and 13th. Martin’s method may not be flashy, but he’s definitely getting the job done, and should be there when it counts at the end of the year.
Matt Kenseth: While "officially" Stewart gained the most positions in Texas, Kenseth passed plenty of cars on the way to his second place finish on Sunday. After starting at the back because of an engine change, Kenseth motored through the field to his fourth top 5 of the year, and regained the second position in the rankings.
Elliott Sadler: After being one of the fastest cars in final practice, Sadler had high hopes of becoming the first repeat winner at Texas. But an engine failure and consequent 33rd place finish dropped him back to 12th in the standings. Elliott has two Top 10 runs this year, but his inconsistency is killing him and taking away any progress he makes when he does run well. If he keeps up this yo-yo of finishes, he might very well find himself on the outside looking in come Chase time.
J.J. Yeley: Yeley has flashes of brilliance, but then unfortunately for him, something usually goes wrong. Texas was a case in point, where he qualified in second place and ran in the Top 10 most of the day before spinning out on his own on lap 190, hitting the wall, and finishing 35th. With only one Top 10 finish, which came in the second race of the year, he needs to work on ending the day on a high note. Three straight finishes of 20th or worse have him 24th in the points and fourth in the Rookie of the Year battle.
Scott Wimmer: Sadly, not many people expected much of out Wimmer this season, and he is living up to their expectations. His best finish of the year came in Bristol, where he finished 19th, and he’s failed to gain any momentum and improve. With a 38th place ranking in the standings, Wimmer needs to step things up, or he may be in jeopardy of sitting out another race or two, just like he did back at the Daytona 500.
Brian Vickers: With the rest of his teammates solidly in the Top 10 in points, Vickers is struggling remain in the Top 20. He got off to a hot start in Daytona by posting a seventh place finish, but it’s been all downhill from there, minus one other Top 10 last week at Martinsville. His engine troubles in Texas made him the first car beating the traffic on the way out of the gate, and dropped him five places in the standings.
Greg Biffle: Simply put, Biffle just can’t catch a break. He’s had competitive cars, which he showed at Texas by opening up a seven second lead at one point before he had a run in with Kurt Busch on lap 83. He started the year with finishes of 31st and 42nd, which is identical to his finishes in the last two races. Now 23rd in points, Biffle has a long road ahead of him to get back into the Chase picture.
Brent Sherman: It’s depressing to say your best finish of the year came in the first race of the season, when you finished in 21st place. But that’s exactly the predicament Sherman finds himself in. After a tough go of it at Bristol, the team opted to put Jimmy Spencer in the car for Martinsville. But even Mr. Excitement couldn’t put a spark in the team, and the 49 car missed the race. Sherman came back at Texas, but it made no difference…once again the team was headed home early. It’s hard to blame the driver totally for this one, but there need to be some big changes at BAM to help this young rookie survive the season.
Will the off week for Easter help or harm the teams as they enjoy their second break of the year? Can drivers like Stremme, Newman, and Vickers get a present from the Easter Bunny in the form of good luck? Will Ryan Newman put a snugger fitting hairpiece in Sterling Marlin’s Easter basket this year? Was Greg Biffle’s girlfriend Nicole complimenting Kurt Busch’s fiancÃ© Eva on her new shoes when she went over and yelled at her? Will Kasey Kahne’s team share the wealth with Jeremy Mayfield, and will his team be able to do anything with the information shared when they get it? Only time will tell, race fans, and it’s going to be a long week waiting to find out the answers.
©2000 - 2008 Cami Starr and Frontstetch.com. Thanks for visiting the Frontstretch!