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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Busch Series Breakdown: 2007 Stater Bros. 300 at Fontana

In A Nutshell: When it comes to the Busch Series, California Speedway could just as well be known as the House of Roush. Matt Kenseth gave Roush his sixth victory in the last seven Busch Series races at California when he drove off to a five-length win over Casey Mears in the Stater Bros. 300. It was also Kenseth’s fourth Busch Series win at California, the first three coming while Kenseth was driving for Robbie Reiser. Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle rounded out the top five in what turned out to be a very good night for the newly christened Roush Fenway Racing, which captured three of the top five spots.

Who Should Have Won: Kenseth. Mears made a good charge but burned off his tires by the time he got to second. Jeff Burton looked strong all day but he faded in the late going. What it boils down to is that Kenseth had the strongest car when it counted and who can argue with that?

Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend

1) What does the top five say about the balance of power in the Busch Series?

Roush Fenway Racing took three of the top-five spots, while Hendrick Motorsports locked down the other two with Mears and Busch.

2) Did Jason Leffler watch the replay of his accident before he commented?

Leffler was three-wide, with Kenny Wallace in the middle and Juan Pablo Montoya on the high side, when he appeared to move up the track and right across the front of Wallace’s car. He simply wasn’t clear to make the move, but appeared to blame Wallace for hitting him in the right rear. The contact sent Leffler hard into the outside wall, collecting Montoya along the way.

3) What could have happened without the safety measures that have been implemented in NASCAR over the last six years?

Leffler got turned directly into the outside wall at full speed at an angle that looked horrifyingly reminiscent of crashes that claimed the lives of drivers such as Dale Earnhardt and Tony Roper among others in the past, yet he walked away without any injuries. I shudder to think what the outcome might have been without the safety advances we’ve seen in the sport. Having Montoya play the role of shock absorber probably didn’t hurt any either.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Busch Series competitors have an occasion once again to breathe a collective sigh of relief that Kevin Harvick is not running full-time. Harvick flashed some of the brilliance that carried him to a championship last year when he blew a tire early, lost a lap, and made it up to finish sixth. How does he continue to do that over and over?

Hard to find those Busch regulars in this final rundown. Regan Smith in ninth is the highest finisher not running a full-time Cup schedule, however, he is still a Busch part-timer from Cup, where he is splitting the No. 01 Army Chevrolet with Mark Martin. Raybestos Rookie of the Race Timothy Peters in 17th is next in line but is also on a part-time Busch schedule. Technically, Stephen Leicht in 20th is the highest-finishing driver running a full-time Busch schedule who is not running full time in Cup also.

Harvick continues to lead the Busch Series championship race by 15 points over second-place Edwards. Kenseth, Dave Blaney and Biffle round out the top five. Denny Hamlin, Tony Stewart, Kyle Busch, Smith and Marcos Ambrose, one of this season’s Raybestos Rookie of the Year contenders, complete the top 10.

Buschwhacker Watch:
Buschwhackers in this race: 23
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 47 of 84
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10: Nine
Buschwhackers finishing in Top 10 YTD: 19 of 20
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 2 of 2
Buschwhackers ranked in Top 10 in Busch Series points standings: Eight

Quotable

“I don’t know what happened in qualifying there. I think I had the record for the slowest NASCAR crash on a 2-mile speedway. I hadn’t even gotten to the end of third gear and I had spun it out. I think it was just the way on the new tires or something. If I could have buried myself in a hole I would have done it. I would have been like a wombat: I would have gone in head-first and not come out for three hours. It’s big-time racing and you just have to take those licks and try and stay confident. I was shell-shocked there in the race early on, just trying to recompose myself.” – Marcos Ambrose

“I think Jason [Leffler] got spun and I don’t know by who. I was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.” – Juan Pablo Montoya

“It’s Bristol [March] but I’m going to every race, even when I’m not running, just to listen to Harvick, Burton and Bowyer. I want to get one-up on this deal.” – Timothy Peters on when he will get his next chance in the No. 21 RCR Chevrolet he is sharing this season.

“I was just trying to work our way back through the field, trying to get around a lapped car and thought I had a little bit more room than I did and maybe drove it in there a little bit too deep but I had a lot of fun out there tonight. The car handled good and felt a lot more comfortable than I did at Miami, Phoenix or even Daytona. I feel like we’re headed in the right direction. We just need to quit bending sheet metal.” – Sam Hornish Jr.

Next Up: Viva Mexico! The Busch Series headlines the weekend when they head south of the border to Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez in Mexico City for the Telcel-Motorola 200. With the Cup Series off for the week, this is a Sunday show with coverage starting at 2:00 p.m. ET on ESPN2.

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