After Sunday’s race, many people were looking for rivalry or animosity between Denny Hamlin and Jimmie Johnson – but didn’t get any. Are people making something out of nothing, or should there have been more emotion out of the drivers?
What a race Sunday! The Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway gave fans the tight racing action they have been yearning for since before the season began. The close racing amongst competitors individually made the race well worth watching, as did the fact that some unexpected drivers had good runs on the tricky half-mile track. While several surprise drivers slid into the top 15 or 20, other expected contenders found themselves in holes early in the event, with little or no chance of digging out. Here are the HOT, WARM and COLD drivers this week, before the Cup Series breaks its short-track excursion and travels to Texas Motor Speedway this Sunday.
Kevin Harvick took the checkered flag under caution ahead of Ron Hornaday Jr. to win the Kroger 250 Monday afternoon at Martinsville Speedway. Harvick took the lead inside 10 laps to go and held on through a green-white-checkered finish to score his first Truck Series win outside of Phoenix International Raceway. Mike Skinner, Johnny Benson and Rick Crawford rounded out the top five.
Nobody can accuse Jimmie Johnson of being too boring or too perfect anymore. The man dubbed “Mr. Martinsville” by teammate Jeff Gordon drove deep into turn 1 with 16 laps to go and body-slammed Denny Hamlin for the lead and eventual win Sunday. The pass was not perfect, a little daring, and showed a side we haven’t seen much of from the three-time defending champion – hunger.
Former Motocross champion Ricky Carmichael originally planned to run just 14 races of the 25 scheduled in the Camping World Truck Series, but team co-owner Kevin Harvick announced the team is looking for sponsors for Carmichael to run the rest of the races this season.
He might be recognized by some fans as the actor who played Dale Earnhardt Jr. in the movie 3, but Chad McCumbee is a racer through and through. He currently sits in fifth place in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series driver standings, and his team is on a roll. He took some time out of his CWTS schedule to sit down with Frontstretch’s Amy Henderson to discuss everything from his start in racing to helping his team survive the economy.
Already, we’re seeing some trends develop only a month deep into the seemingly endless Tragical Mystery Tour that is this year’s Cup schedule. And the following information is offered due to one irrefutable fact – there was no Cup race last Sunday, and there’s damn little to write about right now as a deadline looms.
Turning a bad or mediocre racecar into a contending ride is a practice that Kyle Busch employs in the Truck Series, where he is a threat to win in nearly every race he enters in Billy Ballew Motorsports’ No. 51 Toyota Truck. Busch has elevated the competitiveness of BBM, an operation that he has talked on and off again about possibly owning, despite the team not having the same resources as others they compete against. Busch says that his experience helps to bridge that gap. “We don’t have a lot of research and development going on. Pretty much, what I have in my truck is what I know and what I have learned from the Nationwide cars and the old Cup cars. That’s where all our stuff has come from.”
Four races in, how would you grade the 2009 Cup season to date? And what, if anything, can be done to make things better?
I was pretty excited at the beginning of the week at Daytona. We started out pretty good in practice. We didn’t have a lot of speed on the speed chart, but the truck was handling really well. We figured if it would handle good on old tires, we’d be good for the race. We also figured when we got around the other trucks, we’d be a lot faster because of the draft. We mostly focused on getting the balance of the truck a lot better. I think we did that.