The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Breakdown: Pepsi 300 by Toni Montgomery -- Sunday April 16, 2006

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Frontstretch Breakdown: Pepsi 300

Toni Montgomery · Sunday April 16, 2006

 

In A Nutshell: Kevin Harvick took the lead with 52 laps remaining and held off a charge by Reed Sorenson in the closing laps for the win in Saturday’s Nashville Busch Series event. Harvick kept the Buschwhacker streak alive, becoming the eighth different Nextel Cup regular to win in eight Busch Series races run so far this year. Reed Sorenson, Harvick’s main challenger, put up a strong fight until scrubbing the wall with six laps remaining and falling out of contention. Harvick was followed across the line by teammate Clint Bowyer in second. Joe Gibbs Racing’s tandem of Denny Hamlin and J.J. Yeley took third and fourth, followed by Carl Edwards to round out the Top 5.

Who Should Have Won: Nobody. Sorenson was probably the only driver who looked like he had a car that could beat Harvick in the end, but he didn’t quite get there. Denny Hamlin was strong all day, too, but appeared to fade a bit in the closing laps. Give some credit to Clint Bowyer, who fell two laps off the pace on a slow green flag pit stop early in the going, but made up both laps to get back in contention for the win. Still, even he couldn’t catch a speedy Harvick when it came down to crunch time. This one probably went to the guy who drove the best race and had the best car in the end.

Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend:
1) Was this the best chance for a Busch regular to finally capture a win?

With only eight Cup regulars in the field, these were some of the best odds the Busch regulars have faced all year. Unfortunately, some of the best recent performances at this track have come from Nextel Cup regulars, and they added another solid performance to their list on Saturday.

2) Can the Busch regulars make up some ground in the points during the standalone portion of the season?

his could be a preview for what the Busch regulars will face when the standalone portion of the Busch season really kicks in. Still, these drivers have to contend with the seven Nextel Cup veterans running full time in both series. Those guys already have a lock on the top of the point standings, and five of the seven finished in the Top 5 at Nashville.

3) How do Cup owners judge upcoming young Busch Series talent if these drivers don’t have the opportunity to win races?

Drivers like Burney Lamar, Jon Wood, and Paul Menard might already have wins if it weren’t for the Buschwhackers. They’ve all been the top finishing Busch regular this year at least once. Denny Hamlin likely took this honor last year, but he didn’t score his first Busch Series victory until this season as a Cup regular.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
Jon Wood was the highest finishing Busch regular this week with a sixth place result. Raybestos Rookie of the Race Burney Lamar was right behind him in seventh. The lack of Buschwhackers made room for some Busch regulars near the front as Kenny Wallace and Paul Menard also scored Top 10 runs.

As for the championship standings, when the points leader wins the race, it makes him pretty hard to catch. Kevin Harvick sits atop the standings now by 156 markers over Denny Hamlin. Clint Bowyer and J.J. Yeley remain third and fourth, while Carl Edwards makes the biggest jump of the week to be the new fifth place man. Note that the order is different, but the names are the same as the Top 5 finishers in the race on Saturday.

Behind those drivers, Paul Menard continues his march to the front by moving up two spots to sixth, while Jon Wood turns his nice finish into a five place jump in points to seventh. Johnny Sauter and Kyle Busch hold eighth and ninth, while Burney Lamar is back in the Top 10 again in the tenth and final spot. Lamar continues to impress.

Buschwhacker Watch:
Buschwhackers in this Race: 8
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 114 of 344
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10: 6
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10 YTD: 59 of 80
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 8
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 of Busch Series points standings: 6

Quotable:
“Well, Johnny Sauter, he’s a driving machine and he showed it once again today. He not only took his brother out, but probably a couple of other good cars." David Green
“We didn’t have enough speed. The car handled good. It was as free as I could be, it was turning good, but there were about three or four cars that were better.” Kenny Wallace
"We just had a lot of problems in the pits today and got behind and it eventually let us get caught up in a wreck. It’s unfortunate. My guys have been working so hard to get caught up as far as getting cars built. I think we only have five cars, and two of them are smashed up." Todd Kluever
"It’s going to be a great day at KHI on Monday." Burney Lamar

Next Up: It’s off to Phoenix for a Friday night show this week. This weekend marks another companion event with the Cup Series, so expect a much heavier Buschwhacker presence. The Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 can be seen on FX starting at 8:30 PM ET on Friday, April 21st.

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Recent articles from Toni Montgomery:

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