The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Breakdown: Nicorette 300 by Toni Montgomery -- Sunday March 19, 2006

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Frontstretch Breakdown: Nicorette 300

Toni Montgomery · Sunday March 19, 2006

 

In A Nutshell: Jeff Burton was the Buschwhacker of the Week this time around at Atlanta. For awhile, it looked like it might be a good battle between Burton and Matt Kenseth, but just when Kasey Kahne attempted to throw his hat in the ring, it became apparent that this one was all Burton. Jeff passed Matt Kenseth for good with 20 laps remaining and drove off to an easy victory in the Nicorette 300. Kahne came home second, followed by Greg Biffle and Matt Kenseth, who faded in the late going. J.J. Yeley came home fifth in spite of bouncing his ride off the wall twice, producing an all-Buschwhacker Top 5.

Who Should Have Won: Jeff Burton. Burton looked like he might have some worthy competition in Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne, but drove off easily from both drivers. Apparently, Burton was just running in cruise mode until he saw the need to kick it into high gear and put the race away with 20 laps remaining. Polesitter Kyle Busch might have had a car capable of winning, but his hopes went out the window when his right rear tire gave up and took half of the car along with it.

Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend
1) Two drivers experienced catastrophic right rear tire failures, but Kyle Busch has since attributed it mostly to low air pressures in his case. So is it the teams or Goodyear’s tires that are the cause of the failures?
2) Where did Burney Lamar come from?
I expect Jason Leffler or Paul Menard to be able to hang with the Buschwhackers, but rookie driver Lamar has been a pleasant surprise. Kevin Harvick obviously has an eye for talent.
3) Can a Busch regular possibly hope to beat these Cup drivers, and who will be the one to get it done if they can?

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:

  • Polesitter Kyle Busch and Top 5 runner Ryan Newman were knocked out of contention in almost identical incidents. Both drivers had explosive failures in their right rear tires while running at high speed. Flapping tire debris tore off most of the right side sheet metal on both car, and there was some collateral damage as Newman’s debris also took Denny Hamlin out of contention. Flying shrapnel from Newman’s car went straight through Hamlin’s radiator.

  • Carl Edwards didn’t have quite such a spectacular failure, but he also had a tire go down and had to pit under green. Edwards lost a lap, and was not able to get it back, finishing 24th.
  • With Kevin Harvick finishing 11th, J.J. Yeley is now the only driver to finish in the Top 10 in all five races so far this season.

Kevin Harvick maintains his lead in Busch Series points. Harvick holds the top spot by 17 points over new second place driver J.J. Yeley. Jamie McMurray moves up to third, 74 points behind Harvick, but will relinquish that spot next week because he is not planning to run at Bristol. Clint Bowyer moves up one place to fourth, as Denny Hamlin slides from second to fifth after a 38th place result in Atlanta.

Jason Leffler is the highest of the Busch regulars as he moves up to sixth, while Carl Edwards drops one spot to seventh. Rookie sensation Burney Lamar recovered from last week’s slide to move back up two spots to eighth. Jon Wood drops back to ninth, while Greg Biffle reenters the Top 10 in the tenth place.

Buschwhacker Watch:
Buschwhackers in this race: 18
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers Year-To-Date: 77 of 215
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10: 7
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10 YTD: 38 of 50
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 5 of 5
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 of Busch Series points standings: 7

Quotable:
“I had one (tire) come apart and had to pit. It’s so frustrating, but it’s better to be sitting here with a straight race car than a flat one and a hurt neck.” Carl Edwards
“As competitive as this deal is now, I was telling the guys, you drive your heart out and you’re 17th. It just goes to show how competitive this series is right now.” Ashton Lewis, Jr.
“It’s the story of my life lately. The Ameriquest Fusion was pretty good. These races start so late and it got so dark at the end of the day, and we just didn’t make enough adjustments on the last stop and we were too tight.” Matt Kenseth
“We’ve really embarrassed ourselves at the start of the year and we still have so much work to do. The guy that won today, I know what he had. But, we got in trouble the first two races because we couldn’t figure it out and we ran so poor. Today we went back conventional, but we’re still a long ways off. At least we didn’t make fools out of ourselves today.” Kenny Wallace

Next Up: It’s Bristol, baby! The Busch Series heads to the first beating and banging short track of the season for the Sharpie Mini 300. Coverage starts at 3:00 PM ET on Fox.

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Colin Baird
03/20/2006 07:07 AM
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The Nicorette 300 was another big disappointment. I love watching Busch Series races, but this year it has turned into the Nextel Lite Series. If I wanted to watch the “Cash Cows”, I’d watch the Nextel Cup races to begin with. Thank God, there is still the ARCA Series, where I can still enjoy legitimate racing. NASCAR has gone to Hell in a handbasket.

Nikki
03/20/2006 02:28 PM
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The bad thing about ARCA is there is usually only a handful of cars/drivers that can contend for the win…the same guys seem to always be up front.

 

Contact Toni Montgomery

Recent articles from Toni Montgomery:

IndyCar Race Recap: MAVTV 500
Five Hundred Miles For All The Marbles
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IF you want to know more about Toni Montgomery or to see all of her Frontstretch articles, check out her archive and bio page.