The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Breakdown: Sharpie Mini 300 by Toni Montgomery -- Sunday March 26, 2006

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Frontstretch Breakdown: Sharpie Mini 300

Toni Montgomery · Sunday March 26, 2006

 

In A Nutshell: Bizarre would be the best word here. Kyle Busch was the man at the front at the end of a day that will probably be best remembered for snow and snowmen. Just 32 laps in, the race was red flagged for a snowstorm that dropped an inch of snow on Bristol and found drivers, teams, and fans throwing snowballs at each other to pass the time. The Chip Ganassi Racing team of Reed Sorenson even had an extra man over the wall, but NASCAR let it pass since he was made of snow. Amazingly, the snow stopped, the sun made an appearance, and NASCAR got the track dried and the action back underway. After dominant driver Kevin Harvick was forced to the pits with a tire issue, the lead passed to Denny Hamlin briefly before Greg Biffle took over. Biffle looked like he had everything under control, until a loose wheel cost him the lead with 12 laps remaining. Kyle Busch, who had spent the day working his way into position, took the lead and held off a charging Kevin Harvick for the win. Matt Kenseth, Denny Hamlin, and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Kevin Harvick clearly had the best car on the track. Harvick led the early going, but was forced to pit out of sequence with a tire vibration on lap 146. The vibration turned out to be nothing more than a windshield tear-off that was stuck to the tire, but the stop dropped Harvick all the way to 32nd. Harvick did a fantastic job moving back through the field to get back into contention, but his effort to run down leader Kyle Busch in the closing laps came up just short.

Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend:
1) Is the “Bristol Stomp” the answer to the Buschwhacker problem?
Sure, whackers still took the top six spots, but the final rundown shows the Busch regulars did a solid job, including several of the rookies who posted good results.

2) Is it already too late for a Busch regular to have championship hopes?

Johnny Sauter, the highest ranked Busch regular in points, trails leader Kevin Harvick by 241 in the standings, meaning Harvick could miss a race and still remain ahead of Sauter.

3) Is it really smart to throw a snowball at a grandstand full of fans who have ammunition of their own ready to throw back?

Kyle Busch showed he had a great arm when he fired a shot into the stands, only he didn’t realize there were more of them than there were of him. He found himself under a barrage of return fire from the fans as a result.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
It’s a long way to the back, as Greg Biffle found out. Biffle lost the lead with 12 laps remaining when he pitted to fix a loose wheel. The wheel problem dropped him from 1st to 28th at the finish, two laps off the pace.

The top six spots went to Buschwhackers who are full-time Cup competitors, but seventh place was a Buschwhacker of a different sort, as Craftsman Truck Series regular Ron Hornaday took the spot driving for his usual boss, Kevin Harvick.

Bristol usually eats up rookies and spits them out, but while a few had a rough weekend, others did surprisingly well. John Andretti, Danny O’Quinn, and Tracy Hines all finished in the top 13. Super rookie Burney Lamar got a little more beat up, but still managed to come home 20th.

As far as points are concerned, Kevin Harvick expands his lead in the Busch Series standings and now holds a margin of 121 points over second place J.J. Yeley. Denny Hamlin moves back up to third on the strength of a Top 5 finish in Bristol, and trails Harvick by 138 markers. Clint Bowyer still holds down fourth in points, while Carl Edwards gains two spots to round out the Top 5.

Johnny Sauter used his Top 10 result at Bristol to move up five places to sixth, with Burney Lamar in seventh and Jon Wood in eighth each picking up one spot. Jason Leffler had a tough go of things in Bristol, getting involved in several incidents and coming home 32nd to drop three spots in points to ninth. Jamie McMurray was the big loser in points, falling seven spots to tenth because he did not participate in the Sharpie Mini 300.

Buschwhacker Watch:
Buschwhackers in this Race: 12
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 89 of 258
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10: 6
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10 YTD: 44 of 60
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 6 of 6
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 of Busch Series Points Standings: 6

Quotable:
“I love this place, so to finally get a win here is an amazing feeling. Between the snowball fights and the hard racing, I’ve had a lot of fun out here. This is one of those days I’m going to remember for a long time.” Kyle Busch

“I had to work on my snowball-packing technique. I’m from Vegas, and we don’t get many chances to make snowballs. My first try didn’t make it to the stands, but I picked up some tips from some of the other crew guys, and my second shot made it up there. The only problem is, the fans outnumber you 100 to one, so every snowball you throw means you get a bunch coming right back at you. It was great, though. I’ve never seen anything like it at a race.” Kyle Busch

“This was the oddest day I’ve ever seen in my life. I don’t think I’ve ever been to a racetrack where it snowed, and they dried it up and it snowed again. And not a light snow, like a blizzard… and it did it twice. I’m just glad we’re getting out of here and not having to run on Monday.” John Andretti

“That was a brand new car that we raced last week in Atlanta, and it was our backup here. I’m sure it was going to be our Texas primary. We really dug ourselves a hole in car count. We’ll go home and piece together something to go to Texas with, maybe borrow a teammate’s car or something like that.” Todd Kluever

“I think I missed all the wrecks, but we haven’t figured out this tire. Some guys have it figured out, but it looks like it’s pretty much Nextel Cup.” David Green

“We needed that finish today. Good times there. Right there at the end, it wasn’t like we just pitted out of sequence. We raced our way up to 11th, and we had a really awesome car.” Danny O’Quinn

Next Up: The Busch Series takes a rest next week and enjoys their first off-weekend of the season. They will return to action on Saturday, April 8th, for the O’Reilly 300 at Texas Motor Speedway. Coverage is scheduled to begin at 3:00 PM ET on Fox.

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