The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Breakdown: O'Reilly 300 by Toni Montgomery -- Sunday April 9, 2006

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Frontstretch Breakdown: O'Reilly 300

Toni Montgomery · Sunday April 9, 2006

 

In A Nutshell: A rookie took it all in Texas, but it’s not your typical “rookie,” as Nextel Cup veteran Kurt Busch won in his first Busch Series start. Teammate Ryan Newman is always stout in that #39 Penske Dodge and Kurt Busch was able to pick up without missing a beat, dominating the second half of the race and holding off Greg Biffle on yet another green/white/checker dash to the finish. Casey Mears came home third, followed by Kyle Busch and Matt Kenseth to round out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Kurt Busch was near the front all day, and once he finally got the lead on lap 137, he clearly dominated and never gave up the top spot. You have to admit, it looked odd seeing a former Nextel Cup Series champion with yellow stripes on his bumper, but Busch certainly didn’t perform like a rookie on the race track. I’m also not sure what was going on with Kurt’s victory celebration in the frontstretch grass…I think maybe he forgot to bring his slip ‘n’ slide.

Anyways, Denny Hamlin, Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, and Jeff Burton also took turns leading, but only Kenseth held on to the Top 5 at the end. Since Busch ran among the frontrunners throughout the race and got stronger as other drivers faded away, I see no reason why anyone else should have won this race. As much as I hate to hand it to a Buschwhacker, Kurt Busch deserved this win.

Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend:
1) Were there Busch regulars in this race?

Of course there were…but you’d never know it from the FOX TV coverage.

2) On the other hand, did you notice the change in attitude toward Buschwhackers from the booth?

The first few races, it seemed the FOX announcers kept trying to minimize the Buschwhacker situation, calling the double dippers “Busch regulars.” They must have realized we weren’t buying it, because now the booth boys are pointing out that the Buschwhackers are dominating both the weekly wins and the points standings. NASCAR doesn’t see it as a problem, which is why I assume the FOX guys went along, but I wonder how pleased NASCAR is now that they are highlighting the downside of the situation.

3) What WAS the deal with Kurt Busch’s victory slide in the grass?

The snow angels are kind of cool, but I don’t know about the slide for home. Busch said his helmet got stuck in the ground, so I don’t think that came off quite the way he planned it. Not only that, but what if he got hurt? Can you just imagine trying to explain to the boss that you dislocated your spine sliding through the grass to celebrate your win without your car?

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:

Paul Menard was the best of the Busch regulars and the only one to score a Top 10 with a 7th place result.

Texas was not kind to the rookies. The highest finishing Raybestos Rookie of the Year contender was John Andretti in 19th. I guess if they are making Kurt Busch wear rookie stripes, it makes sense that former Nextel Cup driver Andretti does, too.

As far as the points championship, Kevin Harvick is still your point leader by 146 markers over Denny Hamlin, who moved up one spot to second. Clint Bowyer also moved up by one to take over third, and trails the leader by 199 points. J. J. Yeley slid back two places to fourth, thanks to a crash late in the race that left him with a 42nd place result. Greg Biffle jumped up six spots to fifth, which is even more impressive considering Biffle is not running full-time and has competed in only six of the seven races so far this season.

However, Kyle Busch made an even bigger move than Biffle, gaining an impressive 14 spots to move from 20th to sixth in the points. Johnny Sauter falls one spot to seventh, while Paul Menard enters the Top 10 in eighth. Jason Leffler and Jamie McMurray hold on to ninth and tenth in Busch points, respectively.

Buschwhacker Watch:
Buschwhackers in this race: 17
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 106 of 301
Buschwhackers finishing in the Top 10: 9
Buschwhackers finishing in the Top 10 YTD: 53 of 70
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 7 of 7
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 of Busch Series Point Standings: 7

Quotable:
"We’re inching up on it. We’ve never kind of got ourselves in this big of a hole, but we’re all a good team and we’re going to climb out of it." David Green

“It seems like every time I run against that Penske 39 car, I get beat." Greg Biffle

"We were three-wide and there was too much metal and not enough racetrack it seemed like. Three-wide banging off each other. and then you start spinning. I can’t really blame it on anybody. Put yourself in those positions out there, and then you kind of almost expect something like that to happen, so maybe I should not have put myself in that position. I was on the bottom and when that 9 car gets outside the 01, I was trying to stay off him and came down and we were just banging off each other. I may have moved up a little bit, but going that fast you’re not stuck like glue out there so stuff like that is going to happen." A.J. Foyt IV

"We started going forward, and somebody almost lost it…everyone checked up, and we had nowhere to go and it started getting the hospital-hops and went into the fence. It was sort of a bad day for us. I’m not used to crashing. They’re telling me to drive it and I was driving it, but they didn’t realize how bad it was. We’ll be back next week." Burney Lamar

Next Up: Next week it’s a trip to the superspeedway in Nashville for a chance at the famous Gibson guitar, one of the most coveted trophies in racing. The Pepsi 300 can be seen on FX beginning at 3:30 PM ET on Saturday, April 15th.

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