In A Nutshell: Talk about an up and down race in the world of the NASCAR Busch Series Championship. As the weekend began, Clint Bowyer had reason to feel optimism toward his effort to catch points leader Martin Truex Jr. for the title, posting the fastest laps in both practice sessions at Memphis Motorsports Park. It was clear Bowyer had a rocket ship…until a wrench went flying into the works when Bowyer spun and damaged the car in qualifying. With the race scheduled for later the same day, the crew had just a few hours to make repairs, but they got the job done. Bowyer would start shotgun on the field, but it didn’t matter because the car was as fast as it was before. He passed everyone in the field and drove straight to the front; once he got there, it was game over for everyone else. J. J. Yeley followed Bowyer home in second, followed by Martin Truex Jr., David Green, and Carl Edwards rounding out the top five.
Who Should Have Won: Clint Bowyer. No question about it, he had the fastest horse on Saturday. And I’m guessing after a performance like that, title rival Martin Truex Jr. is under no illusions about being able to coast to his second consecutive Busch championship. Don’t get out those engraving tools yet, because Bowyer plans to take this thing right to the end. Truex will have to earn this one.
Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend:
1) What was with all those cautions? Did the Busch boys mysteriously forget how to drive?
2) Johnny Sauter looked like a one-man wrecking crew at Memphis this weekend, causing several yellow flags. I’m guessing he didn’t make many friends in that race, yet he appeared to have avoided the wandering eyes of NASCAR officials. Meanwhile, Randy Lajoie was the one who incurred the wrath and the rough driving call of NASCAR after an on-track driving incident. How does that happen?
3) But then again, drivers seemed to be repaying the favor and moving Sauter out of their way at will in the late going, also without any action from NASCAR. After the big lecture warning drivers about rough driving and retaliation, how did all of this take place without anyone being penalized?
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
- Five drivers made their Busch Series debuts. Stephen Leicht, Steve Wallace, Bobby East, A.J. Foyt IV, and David O’Dell were the newcomers. Some of the cars they were in are usually occupied by Cup drivers, but I think we can all agree the fact that they all showed up to attempt a stand alone Busch race, free from the interference of Cup invaders, was not a coincidence. Leicht, driving the No. 90 Action Performance Ford of Robert Yates Racing, scored the best finish in 13th.
- Carl Edwards did not have a quiet day on his way to a fifth place finish. Edwards, who was in Martinsville for the Cup race, barely made it to Memphis in time to start the race, and then promptly spun out just after the start.
- It was another yellow kind of day, with a new record for cautions for the Busch Series at Memphis. The yellow flag flew 15 times for a total of 81 laps. As an example of how bad things got, one of the cautions flew for a 7-car wreck, easily the worst of the day…but not content with that amount of carnage, the Busch boys quickly tried to top it by having an 8-car pileup on the restart lap.
- Clint Bowyer did everything he could possibly do to maximize his attempts to catch points leader Martin Truex Jr., but the 8 team and Truex hung in there to finish third. As a result, Bowyer’s win didn’t have as big an impact as it could have, only shaving 20 precious points off of Truex’s lead. It’s now an even 100 points between first and second with three races left on the slate.
Carl Edwards and Reed Sorenson swap spots with Edwards moving up to third and Sorenson slipping back to fourth.
It’s musical chairs in the back of the top ten again as David Green moves up to eighth and Jason Keller slides back to ninth. Meanwhile, the Top 10 finally has the part-timers out of the mix. Because Greg Biffle stayed in Martinsville and did not run the Sam’s Town 250, he drops to 12th in the standings. Full-time Busch driver David Stremme moves up to take the last spot in the Top 10 in Biffle’s place.
- Normally, I do not venture outside the top ten when noting the points standings, but honorable mention this week goes to J.J. Yeley in 11th. It was noted earlier this season that the light switch seemed to suddenly click on for Paul Menard, who has been regularly posting Top 10 finishes and has moved all the way up to seventh (and gaining) in points. Yeley appears to have found the same switch, also starting to appear near the front on a fairly regular basis. This week his second place result gained him two spots in the standings, and if he continues his recent streak of success, he could sneak into that Top 10 before the end of the season.
"I didn’t realize how hard these guys race; it doesn’t matter whether they’re leading or 50 laps down, these guys race like it’s the last lap, every lap. When you get side-by-side like that on the restarts with the lapped cars, it gets crazy out there." Steve Wallace, son of Cup legend Rusty Wallace, making his Busch Series debut
"Johnny Sauter got into the rear of me on the last lap and ended our Top 10 run. We were racing hard on the last lap with the No. 1 car, and I hate it for the team that we couldn’t get a Top 10 finish. But that’s racing. I know tempers flared at the end of the race, and I don’t want that to take away from the effort my guys gave me this weekend. We made it through all of the wrecks, and came from 26th place up to eighth. We just ran out of luck on the last lap." Regan Smith, who was running eighth when he and Sauter made contact on the last lap…He finished 23rd
“We had a real shot at it today. Before the race, while I made an appearance in the FedEx hospitality tent, I promised them that I would go out and win it. I guess I came up just one spot short. But all in all, it was a great day for our FedEx Express team.” J.J. Yeley who scored a career best 2nd place result
"It’s too bad that we had that trouble on the last lap. Everyone runs a little bit hard on the final lap of the race, but I’m just glad that I was able to bring home another Top 10 for Yellow Transportation." Johnny Sauter
"Today didn’t go the way that we had hoped. I was just riding around learning everything that I could and trying to gain experience when I got loose and hit the wall. The guys did a great job of fixing the damage, but unfortunately we got caught up in that wreck and it took us out of the race. I feel like I learned a lot, and I’m looking forward to having a successful run for Great Clips at Texas." A.J. Foyt IV on his Busch Series debut
Next Up: After a never-ending summer stretch, the Busch Series has yet another off-weekend coming up. They return to action on Saturday, November 5th for the O’Reilly Challenge at Texas Motor Speedway. Television coverage begins on TNT at 2:00 PM ET.
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