In A Nutshell: When tires started floating through the garage area at Pocono, Kevin Harvick and company decided they'd leave a little earlier for Martinsville. That way, the points leader could qualify his own car and benefit from starting further up than the drivers nearest to him in points, who would miss qualifying and have to start in the back of the field. Track position can be everything at Martinsville, and that call paid off. Harvick started sixth and stayed near the front and out of trouble all day to score his fourth Busch Series victory of the season. Teammate Clint Bowyer spent the closing laps trying to figure out how to get around his teammate without rooting him out of the way, but never managed to get it done and settled for second. Denny Hamlin, Reed Sorenson, and Johnny Sauter rounded out the Top 5. With a record 19 cautions on the day, there was certainly plenty of trouble to be found for those who were not out front all day like Harvick.
Who Should Have Won: Harvick. The driver of the 21 car wasted no time getting to the top spot, and clearly had the best car all day. Teammate Clint Bowyer, the polesitter and early leader, looked like he might be able to mount a challenge, but with strict orders from the boss not to wreck Harvick for the win, Bowyer's options were severely limited. Besides, boss or no boss, Bowyer had to ride back to Pocono with Harvick. Had he moved him aside, there's a good chance he'd have been walking back.
Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend
1) Did the Busch Series forget how to drive?
I want to reemphasize that we saw a new record of 19 cautions. That's 19 cautions for 87 laps in a 250 lap race. At one point late in the race, the longest green flag run had been only 18 laps. Now, I know the Busch Series has been away from Martinsville since 1994, so many of the drivers in the race had never been there before, but still…these are supposed to be elite professionals hereâ€¦
2) Did we see a case of team orders in this race?
It is not unusual for an owner to caution his drivers not to wreck each other. But is that all that happened here? It was reported that Richard Childress called his teams and warned Clint Bowyer not to move Kevin Harvick out of the way. Was he just telling him not to wreck Harvick, or was he really telling Bowyer to let his points leading teammate have the win?
3) Will we see "Just One More Another for My Brother" or was this really it?
Was this really just one more final appearance for Darrell Waltrip? I wouldn't hold my breath. It's been the last appearance for Darrell on this racetrack the last two or three times he's raced; this time around, Waltrip fared OK, finishing on the lead lap in 28th.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
Give Ol' DW a hand for holding his own. Although he finished 28th, Jaws was running as high as 17th before a late race spin sent him to the back of the pack. I have to say, though, this whole Aaron's Dream Machine campaign reminds me of the Trix ads. You know, when they'd never let the bunny have the Trix, but finally they held a vote for the public and the bunny won so they let him drive the car, er, I mean, eat a bowl of Trix. Silly rabbit, racing's for kidsâ€¦
Johnny Sauter was the highest finisher among the Busch regulars with a fifth place result. John Andretti came home seventh to lock up the Raybestos Rookie of the Race award.
Meanwhile, Kevin Harvick's lead in the championship standings just continues to grow. He now holds a margin of 348 points over second place Carl Edwards, while Clint Bowyer remains third, 402 points off the lead. Things seem to have stabilized among the Top 10, as there were no changes for the second week in a row. Denny Hamlin, J.J. Yeley, Greg Biffle, Paul Menard, Kyle Busch, Johnny Sauter, and Kenny Wallace remain fourth through tenth.
Buschwhackers in this race: 8
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 299 of 911
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10: 6
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10 YTD: 153 of 210
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 19 of 21
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 of Busch Series points standings: 7
“We got hit from behind. It was just short track racing. We were struggling a little with the setup. I had to check up, and the 47 had nowhere to go.” David Gilliland on his accident with Jon Wood
“Getting here in time for qualifying was real important. If we don't make it here to qualify, I don't think we win this race. That's what I think won the race for us.” Kevin Harvick
Next Up: While everyone else in NASCAR takes a weekend off, the Busch Series pushes on to St. Louis for the Gateway 250, a Saturday night show at Gateway International Raceway. Television coverage starts at 8:00 PM ET on TNT on Saturday, July 29th.
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