Q: Matt, do you think it would have been a better career move for David Gilliland to have signed with RCR for a full-time Busch ride the year after he won his first Busch race at Kentucky in June of 2006 instead of signing with Yates Racing for a Cup ride? I guess that is assuming the RCR full-time Busch ride wasn’t just a rumor.
Did You Notice? What keeps Kevin Harvick from being labeled a serious championship contender? It’s his lifetime performance on 1.5-mile ovals. Those tracks used to be easy pickins’ for Harvick – his first two Cup victories came at Atlanta and Chicagoland in 2001 – but over the last few seasons, his fortitude has faded at facilities which make up four of the 10 tracks in the Chase (and if you count the 2-miler at Fontana, it’s actually five). Not only has Harvick not won at any of these facilities since July of 2002 at Chicagoland, his team has struggled to remain even competitive on these tracks, period.
Hello, race fans. Texas provided us with long green-flag runs on both Saturday and Sunday’s races. Usually, this means that the field gets extensively stretched out, and Texas was no exception to the norm. So, how did this weekend’s television coverage add up? Let’s take a look.
How fitting is it that Jeff Gordon’s 47-race winless streak comes to an end at a track where he’s been winless for his entire career? Gordon was strong for much of the race, but it was a combination of a good pit stop by the No. 24 bunch and yet another poor stop by the No. 99 team that led to the coveted clean air needed for Gordon to pull away for the victory. The win may have been a long time coming, but it certainly wasn’t a surprise with the way the No. 24 team has been running this season.
On paper, this one wasn’t even close. And for over 250 miles on Saturday, it wasn’t. In the end, though, Kyle Busch led 178 of the 200 laps run to score his third win of the 2009 season. But he came very close to losing it. Brad Keselowski, who started 42nd in a backup car after a qualifying wreck, sliced and diced through the field and with less than 20 laps to go was running down Busch’s No. 18. Once the caution flag flew on lap 189, the stage was set for Rowdy to be toppled. Turns out the drama was all for naught, though. Keselowski spun his tires on the final restart, allowing Busch to pull away from the field. The only driver who got close to Busch on the final run was Tony Stewart, who had an extra set of tires saved and moved from seventh to second in the final seven laps with fresh rubber.
This weekend’s upcoming race at Texas Motor Speedway will mark the fifth event of the season for the Nationwide Series and the final race before reverting to the 2009 owner points standings to determine who is locked into the field each weekend. Looking at the current standings, there are a number of teams that are all but locks to be in the Top-30 cutoff after Saturday’s 300-miler. Roush Fenway Racing’s No. 16 team, Joe Gibbs Racing’s No. 18, NEMCO Motorsports’ No. 87 and Braun Racing’s No. 10 are all operations that will likely breath a sigh of relief when they go to qualify at Nashville two weeks from now… because they won’t have to.
During a garage walkthrough on Friday, the newest edition to Jimmie Johnson’s No. 48 cloak of secrecy? It was a dark-blue drape placed over his stall inside the garage area, meaning no one walking by could see what they were doing to set up the car. In the team’s defense, the forecast called for rain to hit later on that afternoon. But at the time I did my little garage walk – 11:00 a.m. – all other cars were in plain view on a cloudy but otherwise precipitation-free day. This latest incident adds to a reputation for this team being a little overprotective about their equipment.
While some drivers look at the Nationwide Series as a fun diversion from, or a stepping stone to the Cup Series, Jason Keller has made his racing home in the series since 1991, where he has more starts than any other driver (461). Keller sat down with Frontstretch’s Amy Henderson last week to talk about his new team, his short-lived stint as a forklift operator, and yes, even those double-dippers from the Cup Series.
Here’s what I want to make sure everybody knows. I’m a racecar driver. All of this started with the weekends at the racetrack. I have 100 people come up and tell me how good I did, but there were always that one or two people who asked me if I was still racing. I said to myself, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’ It bothered me a little bit. I tried hard not to let things bother me that are negative. I work really hard at staying positive, although I will admit it’s a lot of work.
It’s clear that 18 months after repaving, this isn’t the same old Bristol. That’s led to some mixed reviews from fans – but is the new Bristol a classic or a total flop?