Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR and all of 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 car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway.
The results certainly weren’t much to get excited about, but I said last week that given their experience levels, both Rookie of the Year candidates should only worry about finishing at Bristol. Looking at it from that perspective, Speed met his goal and Logano certainly would have if it weren’t for some nasty engine gremlins. However, with five races in the books, both drivers should look at their respective points position as wakeup calls for the remainder of the season. Given the fact that there is no testing this year, don’t expect the duo to light the series on fire. However, with Speed now outside of the Top 35 and Logano squarely on the bubble, they’re going to need to step it up to avoid putting themselves in jeopardy of missing races. One top-20 finish between the two certainly cannot be acceptable to their teams, crews and most importantly, the drivers themselves.
If you’re not a Busch, you haven’t been in a Sprint Cup victory lane in over a month. Kyle Busch made it three wins in a row for the Vegas brothers, leading 378 of 503 laps at Bristol this weekend en route to his second win of the season. The last three Sprint Cup races have been won by either Kyle Busch or his older brother Kurt Busch, whose win two weeks ago in Atlanta followed Kyle’s at Las Vegas. Lil’ Busch is having a similar season to that of his 2008 campaign, but it’s been Kurt Busch who’s been the surprise, finishing 11th this weekend despite starting 32nd and suffering an early run-in with Kevin Harvick.
Throughout Sunday’s telecast of the Kobalt Tools 500, we heard several times how the Atlanta Motor Speedway was racing just like its neighbor about 300 miles to the north, Darlington Raceway. The way the surface was eating through tires forced crews to bring their driver in for fresh rubber almost every chance they had. Well, it was no wonder why rookie Logano thought that this was the week to put the Darlington stripe on the right side of his Home Depot Camry. Whether it was by himself, or getting help – like from the No. 44 and No. 14 machines of AJ Allmendinger and Tony Stewart, respectively – “Logano is in the wall” was a common phrase called out by the FOX announcers all afternoon.
The last time I wrote in before the Daytona 500, I mentioned how I believed that I had meet my “wreck quota” after getting swept up in about three different accidents during Speedweeks. Well, so much for that theory. The season opener definitely did not go the way we had hoped, which was frustrating, but you have to stay focused. The good thing is that bad luck will eventually run out and things will start to go our way. I think it’s better to crash when you’re fast than to wreck and still be struggling.
After a re-energizing weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the Cup Series heads to its fastest track for a 500-miler, driving on asphalt that rivals even Darlington in terms of abrasiveness. Atlanta Motor Speedway is a unique intermediate circuit, one that is largely dependent on handling and a driver willing to move all over the racetrack. With differing characteristics than Las Vegas and Fontana, it’s a quad-oval quagmire that forces you to make some major changes to your 1.5-mile lineup. But players, don’t despair – Frontstretch’s Fantasy Insiders are going to give you the lowdown on who to choose and who to chastise, avoiding those pesky engine woes in the process to help you rim-ride to a fantasy W this weekend.
With three races in the books already in 2009, the battle for the Top 35 locked-in spots is heating up, as there are only two races remaining to secure one of those Top-35 guaranteed starting positions. And when you looked at the starting lineup for the Shelby 427 at Las Vegas Speedway, you saw the names Todd Bodine, Brad Keselowski and Max Papis as new names on the grid. This means several full-time teams didn’t make the field this past weekend, thus digging themselves a deep hole. To see which cars and drivers took a big hit in the standings this past weekend, read on in this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown…
Plenty of people were wondering when we would see this new, bright young star named Joey Logano live up to the hype. Well, we started to get a glimpse of his talent today – but it wasn’t because of where he finished but rather, how he got there that showed it. In an afternoon full of carnage and failing equipment, Logano displayed the poise and maturity of a 10-year veteran, avoiding problems and ensuring that he stuck around until the end.
The race featured 17 lead changes as each leader tried to outdo each other and lose this race. In the end, it was Greg Biffle who overcame running himself out of gas under green to hold off a hard-charging Carl Edwards to score his first Nationwide Series win since 2006, a stretch of 76 races. Biffle nearly lost the lead coming to the white flag as Edwards got a run under his Ford in turn 3, but Biffle pinned Edwards on the low side of the track and maintained his lead. Brian Vickers, Jason Leffler and Dale Earnhardt Jr. rounded out the top five in the finishing order.
The Auto Club 500 gave us a full 500 miles of racing, but it was a race that felt a whole lot longer. After a true marathon out west, here is how the rookie class of 2009 fared.