The Frontstretch: Ten Points to Ponder: Auto Club 500 Edition by Mike Lovecchio -- Monday February 23, 2009

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Ten Points to Ponder: Auto Club 500 Edition

Mike Lovecchio · Monday February 23, 2009


Kenseth Proves Daytona Wasn’t Luck

Several fans had a bitter taste in their mouth about the ending of the Daytona 500 last week — and rightfully so. When you have a driver who hasn’t won a race in over a year and he suddenly wins the sport’s most prestigious race after taking the lead one lap before it rains, fans have a right to hesitate when giving credit to the winner. But what most people don’t realize is that Kenseth put himself in position for that Daytona victory whether it rained or not; and this week, he proved the win was no fluke. The Wisconsin native is the first driver to win the first two races of the season since Jeff Gordon over ten years ago; and don’t look now, but Kenseth has two wins and averaged a 9th place finish in nine races at Las Vegas, as well.

Junior Struggling

This is not how the No. 88 team hoped to start 2009. After the controversial accident with Brian Vickers and 27th place finish in the Daytona 500, Earnhardt struggled off the trailer in California and succumbed to engine failure just as the team seemed to be heading towards the front, finishing 39th. There was talk of Junior feeling the pressure to succeed following Daytona; and last night, he had the look of a broken driver.

With that being said, it’s still WAY too early in the season to count Earnhardt out, and Junior Nation needs to realize that the No. 88 team is still strong. His confidence may be rattled, but you’ve got to think there will still be some good runs ahead.

Different Year, Same Story for Lil’ Busch

Lil’ Busch seems to be picking up right where he left off last season when it comes to success across the sport’s three national series. After two second place runs in the Truck and Nationwide races last week at Daytona, he answered back with two wins and a third this week at California. Expect much of the same throughout the rest of the season, as Busch’s Truck and Nationwide equipment is far superior to the rest of the competition. His No. 18 Sprint Cup car ain’t too shabby, either, with Busch recovering nicely from his Daytona crash and subsequent 41st place finish.

Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle offer their congratulations to race winner Matt Kenseth Sunday evening in California — but it wasn’t the visit to Victory Lane that either driver had on their mind less than an hour before.

Roush Speedway

The cat in the hat seems to have this whole Spring race at Auto Club Speedway figured out, as Matt Kenseth’s second consecutive victory of the season was Jack Roush’s fifth consecutive win at the 2-mile oval. All five Roush Fenway cars spent considerable time in the top 10, and Greg Biffle had perhaps the best car on the track before running over his air hose on a late-race pit stop.


I understand the importance of trying to get kids interested in NASCAR; but if I have to see that animated gopher one more time, I’m going to have to “Wack-A-Mo.” Seriously, the Gopher Cam is cool, but do we really need to hear DW, Larry Mac, and Mike Joy and plug Digger during each segment? Do the millions of ADULT fans want to hear about a cartoon character every five minutes? And I thought “Boogity, boogity, boogity” was annoying…

Notes To Ponder:

Surprise Through 2 Races = Waltrip: Anybody else notice Michael Waltrip sits 7th in points?

Rookies Struggle Again: The year’s supposedly stout rookie class hasn’t quite performed as well as expected yet. Joey Logano’s 26th place finish was the best for a freshman driver this season, and both he and Scott Speed’s Sprint Cup teams sit outside the top 35 in owner points.

Atta Boy for Morgan Shepherd: One of the most impressive runs this weekend was Shepherd’s surprising 19th place finish in Saturday’s Nationwide Series event with an unsponsored car.

Scary Crash for McDowell: Taking the Michael Waltrip career path, Michael McDowell is making a name for himself with scary crashes. His most recent one resulted in a scary fire in the Nationwide Series event, negating a top 5 qualifying run and solid race performance from the JTG Racing driver.

From Bikes to Cars: Ricky Carmichael seems to be adjusting to NASCAR quicker than expected, finishing 8th in just his second Truck Series start.

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Today on the Frontstretch:
Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
Mirror Driving: Winning Vs. Points, Needing a Boost, and The Lady’s Last Dance?
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02/23/2009 09:05 AM

Boogity, boogity, boogity is not only annoying but, according to DW himself in an article he did two weeks ago if the fans voted it down, then he would do away with it. Well the last time I checked his on line poll (January 30, 2009 at 8:03AM) there were 29,672 votes cast and 60% were for doing away with it. Oddly enough, you can still find the article on his website….but the results were never posted. I even sent him an email asking him why he lied to his “fans” again – no response of course. Well that’s typical DW, say one thing and then do something else. Anyone else think he should give it up? You know the more I think about it, that Waltrip clan is an odd bunch….. things appear out of nowhere and disappear into nothing. Can you say rocket fuel and overturned SUVs in the middle of the night……?

02/23/2009 12:03 PM

All the waltrips should be banned for ever attending a nascrap race!!

02/23/2009 01:40 PM

I’m with Johnboy60. I would be a pleasure to never hear of a Waltrip again in my lifetime. I wouldn’t mind if the Wallaces joined them.

02/23/2009 03:21 PM

cannot stand dw or jimmy s. both talk out of both sides of their mouth. knock a driver, down on one show and eat him up on another …. get rid of both of them!!!!!

02/23/2009 04:26 PM

So how are they going to tweak the top 35 rule if Junior continues to have problems and is outside the top 35 after 5 races and in danger of not making a race?

02/23/2009 05:31 PM

I wish someone would run over the stupid Gopher, it’s much worse than even DW
Even Jr admits he doesn’t preform to the level of his popularity
Hendrick sure screwed the pooch when they traded Kyle for Jr.
But I guess they sell more t-shirts this way

02/23/2009 07:26 PM

seems ,sorta strange, that the 24 and 48 are on one side of the shops and the88 and 5 are on the other side and both ,the 88 and 5 had engine problems !!!!!you really think ,they all share information? NOT!!!!!

02/23/2009 08:16 PM

With the advent of this idiotic gopher, nas$car has hit a new low. I know it’s a fox creation, but nas$car deserves the (dis)credit for this piece of crap. I agree with LenY. Will nas$car adjust the top 35 rule if Junior is on the outside looking in? Oh, did anybody notice the loads of empty seats at these events? I heard the attendence was 70,000 or more. You could have fooled me. From the couch it looked no more than half full. Now, they wouldn’t pad their numbers, would they? Naaaa!! Wake up, nas$car. I never dreamed it could get any worse then it got last year. I was actually cautionly optimistic that things would start changing for the better. NOT!!!!I’m from California and I would gladly push the button to blow up that sad excuse for a race track in Fontana. I’m out.

02/23/2009 10:51 PM

With the attendence on saturday so low I wonder if those shows are even profitable for the race track, Sure they probbaly make money on Sunday, but Saturday has got to be major hit to the bottom line

Kevin in SoCal
02/23/2009 11:06 PM

midasmicah are you still referring to Sunday? If you only saw the stands half-full you really need your eyes checked. Or are you so blinded by rage?
The only places with empty seats were in the corners. I could easily tell there were more people in the stands this Feb than last Feb.
Now if you’re talking about Saturday, yeah that wasnt even close to halfway full.

02/24/2009 11:51 AM

I hope FOX network do away that “digger” or “gopher”, whatever, it annoys me terribly, I am here to watch the race, not the cartoon or some foggy camera shots.

Please get rid of it. NO MORE GOPHER!!!

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