In A Nutshell: The Busch Series sorely needed some controversy to spice things up, and they got it in Michigan. Some fans love it and some hate it, but either way, the bump and run always gets a reaction; in this case, it was boos for usual fan favorite Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Earnhardt was running third behind leader Carl Edwards and Robby Gordon when a late caution for Todd Kluever’s broken transmission lined them up for a green/white/checker finish. On the restart, Gordon dropped down low to make a run at Edwards coming out of turn two, while Earnhardt moved up on the high side and got a run of his own. When Edwards got loose exiting the turn, Earnhardt wasn't about to lift and lose his momentum, and with Gordon on the low side, there was only one place to go. Unfortunately, that one place was right through Edwards, who lost control and spun to the inside wall. Edwards lodged a protest concerning the incident with NASCAR, but after a short review, they declared Earnhardt the winner, to the displeasure of much of the crowd. Casey Mears snuck by Gordon for second before the yellow came out, forcing Gordon to settle for third after slowing down when the No. 60 Ford of Edwards spun across his front bumper. Matt Kenseth and Mark Martin steered clear of the melee, rounding out the Top 5 finishers.
Who Should Have Won: Carl Edwards. To be honest, I can see this from both sides. Edwards did have one of the stronger cars all day, but he appeared to be just a little vulnerable on restarts. From Edwards' side, the gentlemanly thing for Junior to do would have been to back off and let him gather it up off of turn two instead of wrecking him. From Earnhardt's point of view, it was the end of the race, and whatever decision he makes was probably for the win. If Junior backs off, he surely has to settle for second or worse; all bets are off in that case. This probably sounds trite, but what do you think Jr.'s daddy would have done in this situation? As far as that goes, if the roles had been reversed, what do you really think Carl would have done? I'd vote for the same thing Earnhardt did.
Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend
1) What did Robby Gordon do wrong?
It was announced after the race that Edwards, Earnhardt, and Gordon were all summoned to the NASCAR hauler for a conference. I can understand the need to sit down with Edwards and Earnhardt, but unless I missed something, I don't see where Robby Gordon did anything wrong. It's not often that Gordon is innocent, but it looked to me like he was running a clean race and was merely a bystander. Of course, he is guilty of being Robby Gordon, so maybe that was enough to get the attention of NASCAR.
2) Should NASCAR have penalized Earnhardt?
The names may be changed, but this is the second week in a row I’ve ended up asking this question about a Busch race. Only this time, it bears even more significance because the wronged driver, Carl Edwards, actually asked NASCAR to black flag Earnhardt for rough driving. And, unlike last week with Kurt Busch and Robby Gordon, this time someone actually did get wrecked.
3) Is Tony Stewart actually right about Carl Edwards?
Yes, Edwards had every right to be angry. I'd think anyone that just got wrecked out of a win would be. What I wonder about is the little rampage he apparently went on after that. He was shown several minutes later speeding off of pit road to hit Earnhardt out on the track after the race had ended in an effort to express his displeasure, nearly taking out Earnhardt’s hand, which was waving out the driver’s side window. In the time between the accident and that move, he also made a stop in Earnhardt's pit stall, and found time to make a complaint to NASCAR. Then, to top it all off, Edwards showed up in Victory Lane to “discuss” the situation, at one point grabbing Earnhardt's driver suit. This is not the first time Edwards has used his car to express his opinion of another driver…but what REALLY gets me is five minutes later, when he was interviewed on the TV broadcast, we saw smiling, happy, “Aw, shucks” Edwards trying to explain away his earlier behavior and make us think he's all over it now. Eddie Haskell, indeed. And if that's the case, this guy needs to go to Hollywood, because he just might get himself an Oscar with performances like that.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:
The Busch regulars got shut out of the Top 10 this week, with Jason Leffler's 13th place result representing their best effort. Danny O'Quinn scored Rookie of the Race honors with 20th place.
Stay tuned this week for the announcement of penalties resulting from the aforementioned Carl Edwards rampage.
As if Kevin Harvick really needed to pad that point lead any further, he now holds a margin of 484 points over second place Denny Hamlin after cruising to 8th at Michigan. Carl Edwards' 23rd place result after his run-in with Junior cost him a spot in the championship standings as he drops to third, 486 markers behind the leader. Clint Bowyer and J.J. Yeley still hold down fourth and fifth, while Paul Menard and Greg Biffle once again trade spots, as Menard moves up one to sixth and Biffle drops to seventh. Kyle Busch, Johnny Sauter, and Kenny Wallace remain eighth through tenth.
Buschwhackers in this race: 21
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 351 of 1083
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10: 10
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10 YTD: 183 of 250
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 23 of 25
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 in Busch Series points standings: 7
“The tranny broke again. Obviously, I'm doing something wrong. I don't know how I've went as far as I have in my racing career the way I’ve (treated) the transmissions the last couple of weeks.” Todd Kluever
“Some days are just like this. It's easier to have a bad day than a good day in this series, or any series.” John Andretti
“We ran with Bobby Labonte and Scott Riggs, and it just shows how just how tough the Busch Series is now. When you're racing for 18th and you're racing guys like Labonte and Riggs and Cup teams. This is the new era, this is how it is.” Kenny Wallace
“I just wanted to see what he had to say. He knew I was upset. It's just about sickening to have someone wreck you and then [he] gets to win the race. I probably shouldn't have done that, and I'm sure I'll be penalized.” Carl Edwards
Next Up: If you thought things got wild this week, just wait until Friday night! It's time to do the Bristol Stomp as the Busch Series heads for Thunder Valley. The Food City 250 will air on TNT on Friday night beginning at 7:30 PM ET.
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