The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Breakdown: United Way 300 by Toni Montgomery -- Monday October 10, 2005

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Frontstretch Breakdown: United Way 300

Toni Montgomery · Monday October 10, 2005

 

In A Nutshell: The finish was definitely worth the price of admission, as Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle waged a fierce side-by-side battle on the last lap. Kahne came out in front by about the nose of his racecar at the finish line to score the win. Biffle had to settle for second, and was followed to the line by Johnny Sauter, Kevin Harvick, and Jon Wood.

Who Should Have Won: You’d have to say Greg Biffle, because he was the dominant car all day, but Kahne and crew chief Trip Bruce deserve the win for the combination of Bruce’s strategy and Kahne’s determination. Biffle chose to pit for fresh tires when the caution came out with 15 laps to go, while Kahne was one of several cars who stayed on track to gain position. Biffle made quick work of the other cars that stayed out, and had just gotten to leader Kahne’s bumper when another caution fell, setting up a three lap dash to the finish. Biffle had the fresher rubber, but Kahne got a good jump on the restart, holding the top spot uncontested for one lap before Biffle got beside him. Biffle actually had the lead at the white flag, but Kahne refused to give up, staying next to Biffle and pinching him just enough in the turns to get him a little loose. Kahne’s strategy worked, and he was able to pull just inches in front of Biffle as they passed under the checkered flag.

Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend
1) Kansas Speedway has been labeled a cookie-cutter track, with a reputation for not producing exciting racing; but after seeing a finish like we did this week, is it time to shed that reputation?

2) Five of the Top 10 finishers were Busch Series regulars, with the highest two, Johnny Sauter and Jon Wood, driving for independent Busch teams and scoring Top 5s in a race that featured 13 Cup regulars. Is this a sign that the Busch teams are catching up to the Buschwhackers?

3) Do fresh tires really mean that much? Sure, Biffle passed the other cars on old tires easily, but it didn’t bother Kahne who was able to hold him off. If Kahne could hold off Biffle on old tires, doesn’t it stand to reason that Biffle, who had the fastest car all day, could have held off anyone else who tried to pass him if he’d stayed out? Biffle was leading when he pitted with 15 to go, and would likely have had the cushion of other cars staying out to gain position, just as Kahne did.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
Jon Wood had an all-around good weekend. He started from the outside front row and held on for a Top 5 finish at the end of the day.

Points leader Martin Truex Jr. managed to avoid disaster this week. Barely. Things got a bit dicey for Truex when his team called him to the pits under caution, only to get a very lonely feeling when no one else came with him. Truex was forced to restart in 18th, and with laps running low he faced a tough road to get back into the Top 10. He got lucky when another caution came out, and this time the leaders did pit. So did Truex, but his team pulled off an extremely quick stop to make up for the miscall on the last caution, and got him back to the Top 10. He finished the day in ninth. Not a great finish by Truex’s standards, but sufficient to gain back some lost ground in the points after rival Clint Bowyer suffered his own bad luck.

Bowyer also pitted, but reported a loose wheel shortly after going back to green, and tried to make his way to pit road. He missed the entrance, but that would actually turn out to be the thing that saved his day. Several other cars got tangled up while trying to go around him as he ran slowly on the inside and the ensuing accident brought out a caution that allowed Bowyer to get to pit road and fix the problem without losing a lap. He did, however, lose positions and came home 16th. Bowyer now trails Truex by 49 points.

Other changes in the points Top 10 included David Green moving up one spot, from ninth to eighth. Meanwhile, more bad luck for David Stremme in the form of an accident in the early laps of the race dropped him out of the Top 10, to 11th. Entering the Top 10 in ninth place is part-time competitor Greg Biffle. That’s right, folks, we have a part-timer in the top ten.

Quotable:
"If you expect me to say I’m not excited about a chance to run with names like Jeff Burton or Greg Biffle, you’re going to be waiting a long time. It makes things tougher, but it’s supposed to be tough. If you want to be a great surgeon, you go to Harvard or something, not Dave’s Medical School & Grill. You want to learn from the best. Same thing for a race car driver; actually, for any type of sports. You only get better if you play against people who are better than you."
T.J. Bell, on racing against the Buschwhackers

"The most important thing today is that John Paul, my father-in-law, is doing better. If he wasn’t, I would have stayed in North Carolina."
Kevin Harvick, who would have turned the Reese’s Chevrolet over to teammate Jeff Burton if family needs necessitated his staying in North Carolina

"The last couple of laps Kasey did what he had to do. He tried to protect the bottom, and my car wasn’t that good up top. I should have looked in the mirror and saw if I had some room behind me. I should have tried the top. I probably could have beat him up top pretty easy I guess. My mistake, though. I should have done that, but I knew I could move him off the bottom and get a run on him and that’s what I did, and then he drove it in the corner right on my right-rear quarter panel and sucked me sideways, which that’s pretty brave to do that because usually you wreck two people when you do that. But he knew I had a good car so he did what he had to do there"
Greg Biffle, on his last lap battle with race winner Kasey Kahne

Next Up: The Busch Series heads to Lowe’s Motor Speedway for a Friday night under the lights. The Dollar General 300 airs at 8:00 PM ET this Friday on TNT.

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