The Frontstretch: Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud : Dover Edition by Matt McLaughlin -- Monday June 4, 2007

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Matt McLaughlin's Thinkin' Out Loud : Dover Edition

Matt McLaughlin · Monday June 4, 2007

 

2007 Dover “1” Race Recap

The Key Moment: Martin Truex, Jr. was able to get around Ryan Newman shortly after a late restart and drove off into the sunset while Newman and Jimmie Johnson battled for second.

In a Nutshell: The Monday Matinee turned out to be a rather sedate show.

Dramatic Moment: Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch had yet another dustup, one that ended with Stewart's car in the garage for major repairs and Busch parked by NASCAR for the rest of the afternoon.

What They'll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week

Bill France died today at the age of 74. On behalf of all us at Frontstretch and the entire Frontstretch community, our deepest sympathies, all our thoughts and prayers are with France's family, friends and everyone at NASCAR. Bill was a fine CEO and will be missed very much by the entire NASCAR community. But we got through the death of Fireball Roberts, Dale Earnhardt, and Tim Richmond and we'll get through this.

When are these drivers going to get it through their thick skulls you can't use a car as a weapon against crew members on pit road just because your angry with another driver? NASCAR needs to draw a line in the sand and sit Kurt Busch down a few weeks to make the message heard. Meanwhile, Tony Stewart might need some anger management refresher courses. Bet he blames the incident on having a cold this time, too. The only good thing about a Kurt Busch/Tony Stewart feud is it couldn't happen to two nicer people.

Three rain delays in four weeks? Good grief. The forecast for Mount Pocono next Sunday? Rain.

So when the Car of Tomorrow race gets pushed off until, well um, tomorrow, does that make it the Car of Tuesday? I'm whistling "Tuesday's Gone" right now.

Did anyone check the gas in the 55 car after qualifying?

Fans get to vote on the ticket design for next year's Daytona 500? How about they get to vote on the price of those tickets as well? (I must admit I was impressed with Mike Joy's design. He's got my vote.)

What's more dangerous than a drunken toddler with an automatic weapon? The denizens of the Hollywood Hotel with an hour and a half to fill during a rain delay. So let me get this straight: Dale Earnhardt Jr. will be driving a Visa sponsored Camry for Joe Gibbs Racing next year? Yeah, that'll happen. Fair is fair… My sources tell me Darrell Waltrip is preparing to leave the FOX broadcast team to run for Governor of Tennessee under the "Boogity, boogity, boogity, let's lower taxes boys" platform. I wish.

Is anyone else really hoping Joe Gibbs isn't seriously considering overtures to switch all three of his teams to Toyota? As a ploy to gain more money from Chevy that's all well and good but I really don't want to see Stewart and Hamlin in Camrys next year.

This is 2007, right? So why does Dover still have only 42 pit stalls and no lights? I love the track but it's time to update the joint.

Yet another driver, Truck Series driver Tyler Walker in this case, has found himself banned for suspected substance abuse. After Mike Skinner's boneheaded move that triggered a field decimating wreck on the first lap of the truck race, did NASCAR make him pee in a Cup?

So Dupont re-upped with Jeff Gordon and the 24 team. Anyone surprised?

Given a vote, I am decidedly against SPEED TV's decision to show Friday's truck race on a tape-delayed basis. Despite intending to stay off the net to keep the element of surprise I accidentally stumbled across the results of the race. Like many folks I know I just can't generate a lot of interest in watching a race if I already know who won. Yes, 5 PM on a Friday is an awkward time slot but this is an age when the DVR allows many fans to watch a race when it fits their schedule.

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Rain is a pain in the neck for everyone in the sport, yer humble scribe included, but my real sympathy lies with fans with expensive tickets for the race that won't be able to attend a rain-delayed event.

Jimmie Johnson survived a pit road collision that dropped him to the rear of the field and rallied back as high as second. But he could not overcome a deflated right rear tire late in the event that dropped him back to fifteenth.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. ran well early but his chances were doomed by a pair of cut down right rear tires. To cap off his day, his engine began tearing itself apart with ten laps to go.

Kevin Harvick's team was never able to properly diagnose an ailing powerplant and he struggled out there for much of the event.

It couldn't have been much fun for Robert Yates to watch his younger driver wipe out his elder driver in a wreck that ended both of their days.

Dale Jarrett lost an engine for a third consecutive week in a points race. Maybe Michael was assembling those engines on his weekends off?

Kyle Busch had shock issues, was penalized for running over his air hose on pit road, lost a few laps, got pissed off and tagged the wall. Again.

The "Seven Come Fore Eleven" Award For Fine Fortune

Michael Waltrip finally qualified for a race after missing the last eleven races. How long a time is that? Well I'm about midway between Dover and Pocono as a badly confused and lost crow flies. The last time Waltrip raced in the Cup series, there was snow on the front lawn and tempers dipped into the 20s. On Friday, when Waltrip qualified the temperatures here were flirting with the 90s and window rattling thunderstorms assaulted the area Friday night.

Denny Hamlin barely avoided a pair of wrecks to post a strong fourth place finish.

Greg Biffle just barely avoided the Stewart/Busch wreck en route to a sixth place finish.

Had three of his cars finish inside the top 10 for the first time since Texas this spring.

Fans who were able to find accommodations to stay over for Monday must have been delighted to learn Delaware has finally joined the 21st century and allows beer sales on Sunday.

It wasn't a bad weekend for Carl Edwards, who won Saturday's Busch race and finished third on Monday.

Worth Noting

  • It was not only Martin Truex's first win, but his first Top 5 finish of 2007. His win was the twelfth by a Chevy pilot in this year's thirteen races… but the first for D.E.I. since Dale Earnhardt, Jr. won Richmond last spring. It was also the first win for the DEI 1 team since Rockingham in 2001, a week after the team's founder's death.
  • His second place finish was Ryan Newman's best since he also finished second at Sonoma last year. In all of 2006, Newman had two top 5 finishes. He's now equaled that total in the last three races.
  • Carl Edwards had his best finish of 2007 and his best finish since Dover last fall.
  • Denny Hamlin now has four straight Top 10 finishes and Top 10s in seven of the last eight races.
  • Matt Kenseth had his best finish since Phoenix and his ninth top 10 of the season.
  • Greg Biffle scored his third top 10 of the season.
  • Clint Bowyer has top 10 finishes in three of the last four races.
  • While never a contender for the win, Jeff Gordon did manage his eleventh Top 10 finish of the this thirteen race old season.
  • Robby Gordon scored his first Top 10 of 2007 and his best finish since Atlanta last fall.
  • Kasey Kahne's eleventh place finish was his best since Daytona.
  • After a hot start to 2007, Jeff Burton has missed the Top 10 in six of the last seven races.
  • David Ragan had the second best finish of his career.
  • The Top 10 finishers drove five Cheys, four Fords and a lone Dodge. The best finishing Toyota pilot was Brian Vickers in nineteenth.
  • David Ragan in fourteenth was the top finishing rookie.

What's the Points?

The Top 5 in the points hold serve yet again. (Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton) Gordon now leads Johnson by 152 points and Kenseth by 190. As such, Gordon will still lead the points after Pocono as long as he races there.

There was a big shakeup in the bottom half of the Top 10. Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer each advanced two spots to sixth and eighth, respectively, while Kyle Busch moved up a spot to tenth.

Kevin Harvick dropped another two spots to ninth while the other half of the Busch Brothers Wallbanging Tag Team, Kurt, fell two spots to eleventh off the front bumper of Tony Stewart. Tony Stewart fell a spot to seventh.

Mark Martin moved up two spots to a Chase-qualifying twelfth place finish despite taking three races off this season. His win advanced Martin Truex up three spots to thirteenth, just eight points of potential Chase contention. Ryan Newman moved up another three spots to sixteenth.

In the meantime, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. fell two spots to fifteenth while Jamie McMurray also fell two spots to fourteenth.

Michael Waltrip rocketed up two spots to 55th in the standings and now has 52 points. He's now averaging four points a race in 2007. You get more points than that for leading a lap.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic): We can only give this one three cans of generic stuff, lightly chilled. A first time winner earns an extra can, somebody else other than Hendrick winning a CoT race gets it an additional half a can, and the end of the FOX season gets it a half can. But a rain delay to Monday costs it a can.

Next Up: The Northern Tour continues with a trip to the Pennsylvania Triangle in the Poconos. To the great relief of fans at home, the FOX crew with our friends Darrell Waltrip and Jeff Hammond won't be making the trip. Their wave of aural terrorism and ego inflation is over for 2007. Oh, and along the way a bunch of the drivers will make a detour to Eldora to participate in Tony Stewart's charity race Wednesday. That ought to be fun.

Editor’s Note : For all the latest news and information concerning the death of Bill France, Jr. click here for all that Frontstretch has to offer on this tragic loss.

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