NASCAR Race Weekend Central

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2009 Samsung 500 at Texas

Who… gets my shoutout of the race?

I never thought it would be this good, this fast. But Tony Stewart has made the turnaround at Stewart-Haas Racing so fast it makes your head spin. While Ryan Newman needs a little more help to get up to speed, Stewart has shown his true mettle as a racer and just how good he really is in taking a backmarker team all the way to the front. Stewart finished fourth at Texas, but he showed he could make his cars run at the front and moved up to fifth in points. He’s looking more like a championship contender every week so far.

What… was the best race of the weekend?

It certainly wasn’t at Texas, and it wasn’t one that many people even saw. It was the Bad Boy Mowers Super Truck division race at Hickory Motor Speedway on Saturday night, which featured a green-white-checkered run to the finish and a last-lap run so close that the top-two finishers were reversed twice before the track photographer’s photo showed that the winner was Mark Johnson by a hairbreadth over Trevor Hignutt. I was sitting right at the start-finish line and I had to wait for the photo. It was that close. Some of the best racing out there is right at home. Check out your local short track if you haven’t. The names might not be so famous, but the racing will never disappoint!

Where… did the polesitter wind up?

An unexpected polesitter, David Reutimann finished a solid 11th. Reutimann is also 11th in driver points after Texas, and his Michael Waltrip Racing-owned team seems to be poised to run for top finishes on a more consistent basis. What a difference a year makes…

When… will I be loved?

While I suspect that Kyle Busch hums this one a lot, he surely isn’t feeing much love after he made an overaggressive move trying to get a lap back, and slid up into Dale Earnhardt Jr. Junior recovered from that, but never contended for a top finish after. Busch had his own issues, including a tire which he cut down on his own getting into John Andretti and a pit-road penalty.

Why… do there need to be two races at Texas?

Well, besides the out-of-court settlement that saved NASCAR a messy anti-trust trial. The racing at Texas is inconsistently decent, but the cars often get strung out-not a product of the CoT alone, because they did in the old cars, too. Vegas deserves the second race more, although Texas might have the sport’s best promoter in Eddie Gossage now that Marcus Smith is running the show at Charlotte. NASCAR needs to weed out a few races at 1.5-mile racetracks that all race basically the same and replace them on the schedule with unique tracks that produce better racing.

How… come Richard Petty Motorsports is planning to race an IndyCar?

And for that matter, why are they putting Andretti in it? Both are head-scratchers, because, well, first off, shouldn’t the newly merged team be concentrating on the NASCAR efforts that are their bread and butter but have produced little in the way of race results, with only Kasey Kahne having a top-10 points run and no race wins to speak of? And why on Earth would they put Andretti in the car when they have AJ Allmendinger? Even with an expanded schedule, Allmendinger is doubtful for the entire Cup season. Why not put him in the Indy 500?

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