In A Nutshell: Tony Stewart’s Kevin Harvick Incorporated team spent the day thrashing on their ill-handling racecar, but they got it right and got Stewart to the front by the end of the day in the Hershey’s 300 at Daytona. Stewart, for his part, avoided trouble and prevailed in a wreck-filled Busch Series opener. Raybestos Rookie contender Burney Lamar gave Stewart the push he needed to seal the victory, and then followed his teammate home for second. Clint Bowyer, Jon Wood, and Kevin Harvick round out the top five. This is one of those occasions where NASCAR officials had to earn their keep trying to sort out the order of finish, as cars were crashing and sliding across the finish line all the way across the infield grass and on to pit road.
Who Should Have Won: Just about any Cup regular. Not that it would be my first choice, but the Buschwhackers had a lock on the lead throughout the race and basically swapped it around amongst themselves. Dale Earnhardt Jr. spent the most time at the front, but couldn’t hold off Stewart who got the handle right and had fresher tires at the end.
Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend:
1) Why would anyone worry about the Busch Series rookies and their driving ability?
The rookies stayed calm and stayed out of trouble for the most part. Two of them, in fact, came home in the Top 10. Meanwhile, Cup experienced drivers that should know better had no trouble managing to wreck.
2) Buschwhackers dominated the day. Can a Busch regular beat these guys, or are we doomed to seeing Buschwhackers in Victory Lane every week?
3) Seven drivers are running both Cup and Busch full-time, racing for a Busch championship. Does that make these guys legitimate Busch regulars, or are they still Buschwhackers?
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
Raybestos Rookie contenders Burney Lamar and Todd Kluever posted some nice Top 10 results. Lamar came home second, while Kluever finished seventh.
2003 Champ Car champion Paul Tracy made his stock car debut. Tracy did a nice job, and was just about to crack the Top 10 when a spin dropped him out of contention. He continued after repairs and posted a 24th place result.
It’s too early in the season to get much out of the points standings, as they mirror the finish of the race. Tony Stewart is your current leader, but that will change since Stewart is not among the drivers running a full Busch Series schedule this year.
Buschwhacker Watch: This is a new section for 2006. We’ll keep track of a few statistics and readers can decide for themselves what effect Buschwhackers may or may not be having on the Busch Series. For our purposes, we will consider any full time Cup competitor a Buschwhacker, regardless of whether a driver has also committed to a full time Busch schedule.
Buschwhackers in this race: 18
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 18 of 43
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10: 5
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 1 of 1
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 of Busch Series points standings: 5
"It was pretty crazy, but man, it was fun. It didn’t get crazy for me. It was just a blast, and I’m happy to be here. Tony Stewart and Kevin Harvick, my boss, and Clint Bowyer gave me a push. That was a lot of fun and I’m just happy to be in Daytona. This is cool." Burney Lamar
"I just saw a car get turned into the wall, and I ducked low to try to get out of it. I still don’t know where we finished. If they take out all the cars that wrecked like they should, it will probably be seventh or eighth. I’ve never finished a race here, so it’s a good start to the season." Todd Kluever
“Obviously, it didn’t work last night in the truck race, but we decided that when we came down here for SpeedWeeks that for both the truck race and the Busch race that we would be patient and ride around in the back and miss all the wrecks. There were a lot of very inexperienced drivers in both races – and I even consider myself inexperienced – but I just wanted to miss all of the wrecks and try to be there at the end." Jon Wood
"We had such a good race car that we could go high or low, and we went to the bottom and I knew it was three-wide the whole time and I couldn’t tell. It looked like somebody got into Burney, and Burney got turned sideways and came back across the nose of my car and then it all broke loose. I’m not sure what happened, and I need to look at the video. I’m pretty disappointed; we had a great race car.” Stacy Compton
“That was wild. I think the 77 got bumped a little bit. I don’t know if he got messed up with the 33 or not, but something happened and he had to check up a little bit in front of Stacy and I, and we just all piled up from there." Elliott Sadler
Next Up: It’s off on a cross-country haul as the Busch Series heads to Fontana, CA and California Speedway for the Stater Bros. 300. Television coverage is scheduled to start at 6:00 PM ET on FX.
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