In A Nutshell: Matt Kenseth may not have won the Nextel Cup series title… but he finished off his Busch Series season with a bang. Kenseth led Carl Edwards to the checkered flag under caution at Homestead to win his second straight race in the series to close out the season. Paul Menard, Denny Hamlin and JJ Yeley rounded out the top five.
Who Should Have Won: Kenseth. The No. 17 crew had pit-road troubles late in the race that dropped them back to fourth with just over 30 laps remaining; but Kenseth, who had the dominant car all evening, quickly drove back to the front, finally making his comeback complete by passing teammate Edwards with just 10 laps remaining. Kenseth ended up leading 91 of the race’s 200 circuits.
Question You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend
1. After his comments last weekend, has Juan Pablo Montoya been put in his place?
For anyone that hasn’t been paying attention, Montoya had nothing nice to say about racing in the back of the Busch Series pack last weekend. Montoya said, “It’s tough passing these guys… they seem like they don’t see you, they just sort of play dumb. When you run up front, the guy up front runs a lot cleaner, a lot smarter. The guys in the back are just too dumb. I’m trying to keep the car in one piece and it’s very hard, because, yes, I am a rookie, but no, I am not a rookie. I have probably more experience in this grade, I’ve driven more things than anybody here. I am being smart, I am trying not to cause any wrecks or anything, but it’s got to stop.”
Montoya followed that diatribe up by struggling to simply finish 14th Saturday evening; after that, he probably thought a little bit differently after the bad publicity he received most of the week. It seems the Colombian simply has some adjusting to do as he makes his move from Formula 1 over to NASCAR.
Worth Noting/Points Shuffle
The highest finishing Busch regular this week was Todd Kluever, who finished the race in ninth place.
Kevin Harvick, crowned the Busch Series champion several weeks ago, finished the season an all-time record 824 points ahead of Edwards. Clint Bowyer, Hamlin and Yeley rounded out the top five in the final points standings; those five drivers all competed in the full Busch and Cup Series schedules, a grand total of 71 races on the year.
In the second half of the top 10, Menard and Kyle Busch remained in sixth and seventh place, while Johnny Sauter moved up to eighth, knocking Greg Biffle back to ninth. Reed Sorenson rounded out the top 10.
After a close season-long race with John Andretti, Danny O’Quinn finished a disappointing 35th on Saturday night, but still received the Raybestos Rookie of the Year award by the voters this weekend. Sadly, O’Quinn is currently without a Busch Series ride for 2007 despite the honor.
Buschwhackers in this race: 17
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 496 of 1,513
Buschwhackers finishing in top 10: 8
Buschwhackers finishing in top 10 YTD: 259 of 350
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 33 of 35
Buschwhackers ranked in top 10 in Busch Series points standings: 8
“I saw the No. 11 and he was right on us… I knew it was time to drive it in there and hope Carl [Edwards] lifted. He gave me enough room to get up in front of him, and we were able to get away.” – race winner Matt Kenseth
“It’s been absolutely amazing to be a part of. Tonight we felt like we were off a little bit and ran sixth. To win nine races… I know we came up a little bit short of Sam Ard, and I know I’ll probably never be able to be a part of [this] again in the Busch Series.” – Kevin Harvick on his season
“He just had an unbelievable season. They just ran us in the ground. I was proud to stay within 1,000 points of him.” – Carl Edwards on Kevin Harvick’s season
“It’s been a fun year. We’ve had a lot of ups and downs. We picked up a lot the second half of the year. It was a rookie team, I was a rookie driver, we worked really hard.” – Rookie of the Year Danny O’Quinn
Next Up: The Busch Series season is over, with teams and drivers taking some hard-earned time off before beginning the 2007 season at Daytona on February 17th.