As Jeff Burton pulled into victory lane on Sunday, winless monkey off his back and championship trophy suddenly within reach, it was hard to ignore the irony surrounding the end of his 175-race winless streak.
Three Chase contenders finished 30th or worse in the Dover 400, but buried beneath that hoopla was that the remainder of the tail-end finishers, with the exclusion of Tony Stewart, were teams battling for the Top 35 in owner points.
For the first time since November 2001, Jeff Burton took the checkered flag in a Nextel Cup race, scoring the win in Sunday’s Dover 400 to put RCR on top for the third straight week. Winning for the first time in his last 175 tries at the Cup level, Burton’s quest for the checkered flag wasn’t easy.
The Dover 400 is the 28th race on the 36-race NASCAR Nextel Cup Series schedule and the second in the Chase for the Nextel Cup. The Cup Series visits the 1-mile Dover International Speedway twice in 2006, having also run here in June.
So, as the grand poombah of NASCAR, what would I do? First and foremost, I would “tweak” the Chase… tweak it to the point that it no longer exists. When the new format was first announced, I held off on my judgment until the end of that year.
This Week’s Question: Can the first race in the NASCAR Chase for the Championship seal a team’s fate for the next nine races?
The first week of the Chase has passed, and there were some clear cut winners and losers. On the winning side was Kevin Harvick, scoring his second straight victory in Nextel Cup, along with fellow Chasers Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin… and Mike. Landing on the other side were Jimmie Johnson, Kyle Busch… and Cami, who all suffered setbacks. Up next is Dover’s Monster Mile… who will slay the beast, and who will be beaten? Let’s find out.
Q: Looks like Kevin Harvick is on his way to a championship, and I couldn’t be happier about that. It’s sad that most of Dale Earnhardt’s fans became Dale Earnhardt Jr. fans instead of Harvick fans because they went with the name and missed the real driver. I’m happy for Richard Childress… but I’m even happier for Harvick and for Dale’s legacy with that team.
10. We are hearing that Mark Martin’s pending 2007 NASCAR Truck Series contract with Roush Racing prohibits him from winning EVERY race. He must “throw” one once in a while and place second.
Who was hurt more on Sunday – Kyle Busch or Jimmie Johnson? In particular, what has happened to the No. 48 team since August, and can it be fixed?