The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Breakdown : New England 200 by Toni Montgomery -- Sunday July 16, 2006

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Frontstretch Breakdown : New England 200

Toni Montgomery · Sunday July 16, 2006

 

In A Nutshell: Carl Edwards found himself sitting in the right place at the right time Saturday at New Hampshire. Edwards looked like he'd have to be content with having the second best car when he inherited the lead after dominant Clint Bowyer had to pit under the green flag. Then, Edwards got lucky when a caution on lap 146 shortly after Bowyer's stop trapped the 2 car at the back of the pack and gave Edwards the cushion he needed to race off to win number three in the Busch Series this season. Kevin Harvick, Denny Hamlin, Paul Menard, and Clint Bowyer rounded out the Top 5.

Who Should Have Won: Clint Bowyer. Bowyer had the best car, by far, all day long. It was purely bad racing luck that the caution flew for an Aaron Fike spin just after Bowyer made his final pit stop under green. Just how dominant was Bowyer? Even after being caught at the back of the lead lap cars nine seconds behind the leader, Bowyer sliced and diced his way from 16th all the way to fifth at the finish, at a track known for being notoriously tough to pass on. Without that caution, there was probably no catching Bowyer on this day.

Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend:

1) How did Aaron Fike not know he needed to bring along an extra glove?

The last time a glove ended up on the racetrack, NASCAR checked every driver and found that they were all wearing two gloves after the race. It's pretty obvious how that can be. I'm guessing all drivers understand the concept of bringing a spare just in case they need one “replaced.” So how come Fike got caught barehanded on Saturday? Unlike last time, the TV cameras were on the case and busted Fike when a glove he threw to cause a debris caution could clearly be seen flying out of his window. It happened just when he was the last car on the lead lap, and the leader was catching him, too. Of all times for his glove to jump out the window! Yeah, I didn't buy his story any more than NASCAR did.

2) Should NASCAR have allowed Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick to continue having and all-day on-track feud?

It all started when Hamlin felt Harvick cut him off while battling for second place. Hamlin expressed his displeasure by shoving Harvick down the backstretch, and it was on from there. The anger the two had between each other caused some wild three abreast racing into turn one shortly therafter where both drivers failed to give, causing a wreck that ended the competitive days of Reed Sorenson, Jamie McMurray, and Stephen Leicht. Even after that, the two drivers continued to beat and bang the rest of the day in the Top 5 as they raced for position. Carl Edwards won't complain. While they were busy tangling with each other, he drove off to the win virtually unopposed. Paul Menard settled in behind and waited for his opportunity to pass them both while they tried to settle their differences. They held it together enough to deny him that chance, but still, you could almost see him contemplating the possibilities.

3) Why does the Lucky Dog have to go to the back of the longest line?

I understand this driver is getting a gift in a sense, but had he gotten his lap back the old fashioned way and raced the leader to the caution, he'd get to come around and line up with the other lead lap cars. The Lucky Dog exists because it's no longer possible to race back under the current rules. If it is just a replacement for something that can no longer be done, why does it carry that little extra penalty? A great example of how this can hurt a driver occurred on Saturday; when the caution caught Clint Bowyer after his pit stop, he was given the Lucky Dog, but had to line up at the very back of the pack instead of 16th in line. It was bad enough that he had to restart as the last car on the lead lap, but by going to the back of the longest line he had to pass every car out there, and that was simply too much for him to come back to get the win.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:

It wasn't too bad of a day for the Busch regulars. Paul Menard was the highest finishing Busch only driver with a fourth place result, and Johnny Sauter also posted a nice run in sixth. The Raybestos Rookie of the Race was Mark McFarland, returning from two weeks on the sidelines with a shoulder injury to come home in 11th place.

In the point standings, Kevin Harvick is still the points leader, although Carl Edwards shaved 15 points off his lead and now trails by 308 points. Clint Bowyer remains in third, 387 off the lead. There were no changes at all to the Top 10 order from last week, so it was a quiet week in the race for the championship. Denny Hamlin, J.J. Yeley, Greg Biffle, Paul Menard, Kyle Busch, Johnny Sauter, and Kenny Wallace complete that unchanged portion of the Top 10.

Buschwhacker Watch:
Buschwhackers in this race: 14
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 291 of 858
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10: 8
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10 YTD: 147 of 200
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 18 of 20
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 of Busch Series points standings: 7

Quotable:

“My shoulder is fine. There's no soreness whatsoever. The heat was terrible though. The blower in the car wasn't working, so it made it a long day.” Mark McFarland

“The 31 got loose there in front of me and was spinning. I think the 0 just ran over the left side of my car. I don't know if he couldn't get slowed down in time or what. I know he wouldn't do it on purpose.” Tracy Hines

“We got hit from behind, I'm not quite sure what he was thinking there.” Regan Smith, who was spun out by John Andretti, ending his day early

“The thing that set us back was the deal when I was on the outside of the 35 car and he just kept coming up and coming up. I don't know if his spotter was telling him that he was clear or what but he wasn't…I try to give a guy room if he's on the outside of me, even if the outside is the (line) where you want to be. The way I saw it, my fender was up by his rear tire…that (wreck) really messed us up. It really messed him up, too.” John Andretti

Next Up: Long time, no see! The Busch Series returns to Martinsville Speedway after an 11 year absence for the Goody's 250 on Saturday afternoon. Coverage is scheduled to start at 2:30 PM ET live on NBC.

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