The Frontstretch: Frontstretch Breakdown: New England 200 by Toni Montgomery -- Tuesday July 19, 2005

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Frontstretch Breakdown: New England 200

Toni Montgomery · Tuesday July 19, 2005

 

In A Nutshell: Martin Truex Jr. uses a series of late cautions to his advantage, picks his way through traffic on the notoriously difficult to pass on New Hampshire International Speedway, and takes the lead from Denny Hamlin with 13 laps remaining to win over Carl Edwards, Hamlin, Elliott Sadler, and Jamie McMurray.

Who Should Have Won: Kevin Harvick. Harvick was the class of the field in the early going, leading twice for 90 laps in the first half of the race. The frequent cautions that would be the story of the second half of the race shuffled pit strategies, putting Harvick back in the pack after his final stop around lap 120 when other teams elected to stay out, make a fuel mileage run, and stretch it to the end without stopping again. While the often seen yellow flag benefited Truex, who also stopped but had a car that was fantastic on restarts, Harvick never recovered and ended up eighth.

Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend:

1) Can anything derail the Truex Express, or will he successfully defend his 2004 title and once again be Busch Series Champion? After a disastrous start in 2005, Truex has stormed to the front of the points standings and chalked up his fifth win of the season in New Hampshire.

2) Will Kenny Wallace and ppc Racing be able to find the sponsorship they need to remain competitive? Stacker 2 was forced to leave the team midseason, leaving Wallace without corporate funding in the middle of a points battle that finds him fifth behind four Nextel Cup-affiliated teams.

3) What on Earth got into Tim Fedewa? Fedewa brought home a nice 13th place finish, but ran over no less than three other cars to do it. Is this the frustration of a Busch regular who is tired of getting knocked aside by Cup and/or Cup team development drivers every week?

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle:

Paul Menard’s 7th place result is his fifth straight top ten finish.

Stanton Barrett’s 10th place finish is his best since finishing 12th at Phoenix in April and his first top ten since June of 2003.

Tim Fedewa’s season high 13th place finish is his best since finishing 15th at Las Vegas in March.

Martin Truex Jr. extended his lead to 142 points over second place Clint Bowyer. The top five of Truex, Bowyer, Reed Sorenson, Carl Edwards, and Kenny Wallace remained unchanged.

The only move in the top ten for the Busch Series points standings was made by Jason Keller, who passed part-time competitor Greg Biffle to move up to ninth and put Biffle back to tenth. Biffle will not be competing in the next Busch Series race.

Quotable:

“If the end of the race wouldn’t have had so many cautions, almost all the guys in front of us would have had to pit for fuel. We probably should have just taken fuel on the final pit stop, but I can sit here and second guess myself all day and it won’t help anything. The right and the left side tires just didn’t match up, and Kevin got really tight at the end of the race.” - Rick Viers, crew chief for Kevin Harvick and the No. 21 Reese’s Chevrolet.

"You know, I just really hate it for these guys. We really had a great car today. After the tire pressures came up we would have been flying, we just never got the chance to put that many laps on them.”  - Justin Labonte, after being spun out on lap 3 and then getting into another car on lap 11 to end his day very early.

“I got into the back of the 44 car. But everything’s good. We’re alright.” - Tim Fedewa to his crew chief, clearing up what caused Justin Labonte’s first spin on lap 3.

“The 32 rear-ended us in the middle of the turn, and by the time Jeff was able to get a handle on it and collect himself, he got hit in the rear again. It looked like the 32 was about to get picked off and just wasn’t patient enough to let us get out of the corner and then go around us. Instead, we got hit. It’s a shame. We had a good car, and now we’ve got a bunch of sheet metal.”  - Greg Guarry, crew chief for Jeff Fuller and the No. 7 GIC Motorsports team after Fuller was eliminated in a lap 11 accident. Justin Labonte was also a casualty, and was done for the day in what was actually his 2nd wreck of the race.

Next Up: The Busch Series heads for the mountains and the thin air of Fountain, Colorado for the ITT Industries/Systems Div. & Goulds Pumps Salute to the Troops 250 at the one-mile Pikes Peak International Speedway next Saturday.

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Recent articles from Toni Montgomery:

IndyCar Race Recap: MAVTV 500
Five Hundred Miles For All The Marbles
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IF you want to know more about Toni Montgomery or to see all of her Frontstretch articles, check out her archive and bio page.