The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Breakdown: CARQUEST Auto Parts 300 by Toni Montgomery -- Monday May 29, 2006

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Frontstretch Breakdown: CARQUEST Auto Parts 300

Toni Montgomery · Monday May 29, 2006

 

In A Nutshell: One heartbreaking burp for Casey Mears turned into a flipping good time for Carl Edwards. Mears had things well in hand out front and just had to wait and see if his fuel mileage gamble would pay off. Meanwhile, Edwards was slicing and dicing his way toward the front. When caution bunched up the field and put Edwards right on Mears’ bumper, the race was on. Mears looked like he would be up to the challenge as he pulled away but another caution and another restart proved too much for his gas-starved car. When the green flag flew for the final time, Mears’ engine stuttered just long enough to allow Edwards to fly by. Although Mears got the power back, it was too late. Edwards went on to win, followed by Kurt Busch and J.J. Yeley. Mears ended up fourth, with Martin Truex, Jr. rounding out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Casey Mears. What would be more appropriate than a Mears in Victory Lane on Memorial Day weekend? Seriously, Mears has lost races in just about every way possible. This time he had a fast car, tires that held up, and track position. He was pulling away from Carl Edwards, his main competition. Who knows if that final caution helped or hurt? The gauges first fluttered with 15 laps to go, meaning it’s possible Mears would have run out of fuel before the finish running all of the final laps at speed. The caution may have been just what he needed to stretch the last little bit of distance out of it. On the other hand, slowing down to run under caution with low fuel is what caused the pickup problems that bogged the car down just long enough on the restart to cost him the trophy. Without the caution, if Mears makes the distance, Edwards doesn’t catch him.

Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend

1) What happened to the good racing at Lowe’s?

New surface, hard tires, some combination of both but whatever the answer, this show was a snoozer for much of the night.

2) How did Regan Smith go from spinning through the grass to finishing in the top ten in such elite company?

Impressive, that’s all I’m going to say.

3) What does Casey Mears have to do to win a race?

It’s heartbreaking. It really is.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:

This weeks Busch regular winner and Raybestos Rookie of the Race are the same driver, Todd Kluever, who finished ninth. Nice run for the freshman. Regan Smith also logged a top ten, finishing right behind Kluever.

Kevin Harvick is still the points leader and expanded his margin but a whole one point this week. Carl Edwards’ win moved him up two spots to second in points, trailing Harvick by 348 markers. Clint Bowyer falls to third, 439 points behind the leader. Denny Hamlin slides back one to fourth while J.J. Yeley picked up three spots to take over fifth.

Greg Biffle slides up one to sixth while Kyle Busch and Paul Menard each dropped two spots to seventh and eighth. Jason Leffler and Johnny Sauter held fast to ninth and tenth. It’s been said before, but it bears repeating that Greg Biffle has two fewer starts than anyone else in the top ten and yet he continues to move up the rankings. Wonder where he’d be if he’d run all the races?

Buschwhacker Watch:
Buschwhackers in this race: 23
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 202 of 559
Buschwhackers finishing in top ten: 8
Buschwhackers finishing in top ten YTD: 101 of 130
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 13 of 13
Buschwhackers ranked in top ten of Busch Series points standings: 7

Quotable:

"That was really good for us. This was really a strong field and it’s hometown for everybody"¦I’ve been telling everybody when we get some new cars and we get the same stuff that our teammates have had we’re going to be just fine. People give up on you really quick in this sport, especially when you’re in a Busch car against 25 NEXTEL Cup guys"¦We’ve really struggled with some cars that were kind of hand-me-down stuff that weren’t as good as what some of my teammates had and I finally got what I need to be competitive and I think it showed tonight." Todd Kluever

"It would have been good but I didn’t get going on the restarts for whatever reason. "I’d get mowed over. I could go through 1 and 2 and then get mowed over. We never got the lucky dog. I ran up and behind Matt and when I did that David Green got around me and that was probably my last good chance because then Harvick came back up there and he had a much faster car." John Andretti

"Terrible. We couldn’t miss anything. It started of real tight and once we got it freed up enough where it would turn then it was way too loose. We just beat all around the perfect deal tonight. We just couldn’t get it right and then I spun out and backed it in the fence and that didn’t help either. It was just a tough night here." Mark McFarland

"I feel really bad for Regan Smith. I jacked him all up on that one wreck. I just couldn’t get slowed down in time. I know he needed a good run about as bad as we did and that’s the last thing that I wanted to do. He and I get along pretty well. I felt really bad about that but it was a good day for our 3M car." Todd Kluever

Next Up: The Busch Series heads off for a date with Miles the Monster and Dover International Speedway. This will be the last companion event with the Nextel Cup Series for the Busch Series before they depart for a stand-alone tour for the next three weeks. Coverage of the StonebridgeRacing.com 200 starts at 3:00 PM ET on FX.

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