The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Breakdown: Bashas' Supermarkets 200 by Toni Montgomery -- Sunday April 23, 2006

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Frontstretch Breakdown: Bashas' Supermarkets 200

Toni Montgomery · Sunday April 23, 2006

 

In A Nutshell: Kevin Harvick became the first repeat winner in the Busch Series this season, going back-to-back and taking the Bashas’ Supermarkets 200 in Phoenix. Just like last week in Nashville, Harvick stayed near the front all day, and thanks to the work of his team, he had the best car and track position when it counted. Reed Sorenson looked like he might challenge for the win, but just couldn’t get there and settled for second. Carl Edwards, Kurt Busch, and Mark Martin round out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Jason Leffler. Leffler simply dominated the race…until he surrendered the top spot in the pits on lap 124, falling from first to fourth. After that…maybe it just wasn’t the same car in traffic, or maybe his team didn’t keep up with the changes, or maybe some of the Cup guys just blocked a bit too much, but Leffler just couldn’t get back to the lead. Then, just to make sure a Busch regular wouldn’t win, Clint Bowyer ran Leffler over in the closing laps, turning what seemed to be a victory at one point into a 22nd place finish.

Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend:
1) What’s the best way to try to insure an all-Cup Top 10?

Why, wreck the Busch drivers running near the front in the closing laps, of course! It all started when Clint Bowyer gave Jason Leffler the “bump” with 9 laps to go. In the stackup as everyone slowed, Kurt Busch spun Paul Menard, the other Busch regular in the Top 10. I will give Busch a pass on it only because it did appear to be the “accordion effect,” but in any case, runs of two Busch drivers were ruined late in the going. At least David Green snuck into the Top 10 to uphold the honor of the Busch regulars.

2) Can anyone catch Kevin Harvick in the championship race?

After the win on Sunday, Harvick now leads by a margin of 289 points. Even if he didn’t start the next two races, second place point man Clint Bowyer would have to average an seventh place finish to pass him for the lead.

3) Has NASCAR actually indicated that they do understand the Buschwhacker problem?

Clint Bowyer drew a penalty for rough driving, making him the second Buschwhacker to receive such punishment. Michael Waltrip also drew a penalty for spinning out Anthony Foyt IV earlier this season. Maybe this is an indication that NASCAR will only tolerate the Buschwhackers to a certain point, with running roughshod over Busch regulars crossing their line.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
David Green was best of the Busch boys this week with a ninth place result. He was the only Busch regular in the Top 10. Danny O’Quinn, Jr. was the top finishing freshman, coming home 14th.

Kevin Harvick is still the points leader by 289 points over Clint Bowyer, with Denny Hamlin slipping to third. J.J. Yeley and Carl Edwards maintained their positions in fourth and fifth, rexpectively.

Paul Menard and Jon Wood are still sixth and seventh in points, while former eighth place man Johnny Sauter tumbled right out of the Top 10 to 13th after an accident left him with a 36th place result. In his place, Kyle Busch and Burney Lamar each moved up one spot to eighth and ninthm with Greg Biffle snatching the final place in the Top 10 despite only starting 7 of 9 events.

Buschwhacker Watch:
Buschwhackers in this race: 17
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 131 of 387
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10: 9
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10 YTD: 68 of 90
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 9
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 of Busch Series points standings: 7

Quotable:
"I just got a little bit of a poor restart on the last restart and couldn’t do anything with Reed or Kevin. It was kind of an acceptable day to us, not exactly what we wanted, but it’s decent for the points, and we’ll go on and try to win tomorrow." Carl Edwards

"This is the first time we practiced in the day and raced at night. I went out in qualifying and just felt like I messed up. I was hoping that was the case, anyway, and obviously it proved to be. As soon as the race started we started picking our way up through there." Danny O’Quinn, Jr.

"We were a lap car. We have been terrible all weekend. We were just trying to survive and get home. We were a lap down and I was just trying to stay out of the way and the 20 car [Denny Hamlin] just came up and dumped us. It’s really unfortunate. I wasn’t trying to get in anybody’s way and that’s what happens." Todd Kluever

Next Up: The Busch Series turns to something completely different: a Saturday afternoon of restrictor plate racing on the high banks of Talladega. The Aaron’s 312 can be seen on Fox starting at 3:00 PM ET.

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