The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Breakdown: Circuit City 250 by Toni Montgomery -- Sunday May 7, 2006

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Frontstretch Breakdown: Circuit City 250

Toni Montgomery · Sunday May 7, 2006


In A Nutshell: There was rain, then there was a race, then there was rain, then there were a few caution laps, then there was more rain, and then, finally, there was a race. It took awhile to get the Circuit City 250 up and running as NASCAR battled with the weather, but if you stuck around for the finish it was well worth it. Richard Childress Racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Jeff Burton waged a furious battle over the last ten laps. Harvick had the track position but Burton had the faster car. In the end, track position prevailed as Harvick held off his teammate and took his third Busch Series victory of the season. Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle, and Ryan Newman rounded out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: I’d like to say it would be early dominator Jason Leffler, but this time he took himself out of the running with an ill-advised three wide move. I’d like to say Paul Menard who tried a long run strategy, but I question that move because while his car was stout in the early part of the run, he faded along with his tires. Jeff Burton probably had the only car on the track better than Harvick’s, but just when he got his Holiday Inn express to the front of the field, a pit road penalty for a runaway tire sent him to the back. He drove through the field, but Harvick had the track position he desperately needed and was not willing to give it up.

Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend

1) Is it all of the Buschwhackers shutting the regulars out of the championship, or is it just one guy shutting everyone out of it?

Kevin Harvick has a huge lead and the first Busch regular is Paul Menard in fifth, 440 points off the lead. Sounds bad for the Busch regulars, but consider that only 127 points separate second through fifth and also the fact that Menard has been moving up every week and is now only 22 points behind fourth place Denny Hamlin. If you look at it that way, it’s more a case of Harvick pounding all of them. The remaining Buschwhackers are not at all out of reach of at least Menard.

2) Are the Busch regulars trying too hard?

All I’m going to say is three wide at Richmond has never worked and Jason Leffler should have known better.

3) Can rookies truly learn in this series?

Eleven races into the season and some of them are already gone. Some of them have had some good runs, but for the most part, they look like they’re struggling or, even worse, getting beat up on an almost weekly basis. But the real debate is if they are truly learning anything or just having their confidence bashed.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
The move of the race definitely was made by Ryan Newman. Newman was racing with Mark McFarland when Jason Leffler motored up on the inside and made it three wide with Newman in the middle. It didn’t take Newman long to size up the situation and he made a veteran call and put on the brakes, dropping behind his two competitors just as Leffler got loose and slid up the track into McFarland. Newman never missed a beat and calmly drove by the crashing cars of his two competitors. He got a fifth place result for his troubles.

Paul Menard gets the honors for highest Busch regular finisher in eighth place. John Andretti came home 19th in spite of an early race spin to capture top rookie honors.

Kevin Harvick lost 25 points after a penalty for coming in too low in post-race inspection last week at Talladega but it doesn’t make a big difference because he fattened his total right back up by winning in Richmond. Harvick now holds a margin of 313 over second place Clint Bowyer. Carl Edwards trails Harvick by 382 points in third. Denny Hamlin holds on to fourth while Paul Menard moves up another spot to break into the top five this week.

Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle each advance one spot to sixth and seventh while J.J. Yeley suffered a rough weekend in Richmond and slipped three positions to eighth. Johnny Sauter and Jon Wood swap spots with Sauter moving up one to ninth and Wood slipping to tenth.

Buschwhacker Watch:
Buschwhackers in this race: 15
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 161 of 473
Buschwhackers finishing in top ten: 9
Buschwhackers finishing in top ten YTD: 84 of 110
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 11 of 11
Buschwhackers ranked in top ten of Busch Series points standings: 7

“I thought I had a really good car. The CAPG crew gave me something I could qualify solidly in the race and I felt like things were looking pretty good after we stayed out for track position during that (Lap 76-80) yellow. But then I was getting really loose and ultimately got into it a little bit with another car and got stuck in the high groove. I hit the wall enough to have to come into the pits under green, and that was pretty much it for the night. It’s definitely frustrating because we all work so hard week in and week out. One of these days we’ll get a really good finish and hopefully that will open the floodgates to several in a row.” Aaron Fike

Next Up: It’s a Friday night showdown with the Lady in Black as the Busch Series heads to Darlington for the Diamond Hill Plywood 200. Same time, same channel next week as television coverage starts at 7:30 PM ET on FX.

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Championship Caliber? What Does That Even Mean?
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