Without further ado… here’s our latest Power Rankings following Fontana.
I’m not certain how Kurt Busch has gotten such a bad rep. I’ve been trying to come up with reasons beyond the Jimmy Spencer feud that made the man so unpopular, and other than the pit road incident in Dover last year, which was a justifiable reason to upset people, I can’t think of anything. Even if Kurt was in the wrong in the Spencer incident(s), it’s not like Spencer was a respected icon known for being a great ambassador for the sport. Spencer was good enough as a driver to become a TV commentator on Speed. The King he wasn’t.
Did You Notice? That on the final lap of the Daytona 500, you had both Kyle and Kurt Busch giving up on their own chance to win the Great American Race, instead choosing to stay in line behind their teammates while attempting to push them to the win. That selfless act was followed by an emotional, humble Kurt Busch in Victory Circle, where he celebrated with winner Ryan Newman while bursting with gratitude for the opportunities he’s gotten over at Penske Racing.
So, without further ado… here’s our latest Power Rankings following Daytona.
As their ads from the 1960s stated, “Put a Dodge in Your Garage.” While the field fanned out on the backstretch on the “money” lap, Ryan Newman, with a big push from teammate Kurt Busch, streaked by on the outside of Stewart, who was being pushed by teammate Kyle Busch, to take the lead. The whole scene looked perfectly orchestrated, and almost anti-climactic as the two Chargers surged to the front of the pack and ran unencumbered to the finish line. It didn’t end there. Looking back through the top 11 spots, seven of them were “Pentastar” powered machines. The brand that was the preverbal boat anchor last season suddenly thrust itself back atop the points standings with their first Daytona 500 win since Ward Burton accomplished the feat back in 2002.
As the closing laps of the Daytona 500 came winding down, it was two drivers who hadn’t necessarily been contenders for the majority of the race who teamed up for a 1-2 finish. The Penske cars of Kurt Busch and Ryan Newman are obviously two of the hottest cars coming out of Daytona, but who else is satisfied with their performance in the Great American Race? Who is already behind the eight-ball after just one race? Come in and find out in this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup.
Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway.
1. Well, Isn’t That Just Super? – The Daytona 500 is often referred to as NASCAR’s equivalent of the NFL’s Super Bowl. Well, the Patriots – Giants game, held two weeks ago, was an exciting and well-played contest in its own right; and, with a Cinderella finish to boot. I just thought it was appropriate to mention here, because while I like the New York Giants, Ryan Newman and the Penske Dodges were just as big of an underdog, overcoming the odds for a surprise victory in Sprint Cup. It’s clear that in terms of entertainment value, both the NFL and NASCAR appear to have delivered in the past month or so.
The Key Moment: Reed Sorenson teamed up with Dale Earnhardt Jr. on the final restart and the duo drove away from the field. Truthfully, as strong at the No. 88 car looked, Earnhardt probably didn’t need help.
Somewhere in the hurricane of publicity surrounding Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s move to Rick Hendrick’s organization over the offseason, some comments made by Brian France about the upcoming year were lost. In one of those comments, France stated that perhaps the sanctioning body had been a bit too hasty in handing out penalties for less than stellar conduct and comments made by drivers in the heat of passion. As a result, fans were raging that the drivers had become bland cartoons, not real personalities. The rivalries of the past had been eliminated by NASCAR’s school-marmish discipline… so France stated that NASCAR was going to lighten up a bit and let the boys be boys.