With an exciting race unfolding at the Auto Club 400 in Fontana, California, Kyle Busch stole the race as Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano continued their feud from the previous week on the racetrack during the last 15 laps of the race. However, as a result of the battle, Denny Hamlin is sidelined for the STP Booster 500 at Martinsville Speedway next week at least.
Here’s the 10 things that spun Philly Fantasy Sports’ wheels in this race:
The last 15 laps of this race was great. The aggression in the NASCAR races have returned to form on and off the track.
Denny Hamlin got sidelined for the next race at Martinsville Speedway.
Kurt Busch still protects his brother, Kyle Busch, during the race. He blocked Denny Hamlin momentarily after a couple of laps into a restart.
Don’t ever underestimate KyleBusch in any race. He’s an aggressive driver.
Chrevolets and Fords again top the leaderboards with the exception of Kyle Busch’s and Matt Kenseth’s Toyotas. The Toyotas are making progress.
With Matt Kenseth’s win on his birthday at the 2013 Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, it was a cat-and-mouse game between Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne during the last few laps.
Wheel Issues for Gen-6 Cars. Two-wheel pit stops have become the preferred tire change in the pits.
Engine Issues for Gen-6 Cars. These cars aren’t meant to pushed for long races like even the previous model, the Car of Tomorrow (CoT) or Gen-5 car.
Speed. These cars are meant for speed. These cars handle straightaways like a dream but don’t handle corners too well.
Top Line. The top line favors these Gen-6 cars a LOT.
Danica Patrick & Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. TMZ Update. They are average NASCAR drivers at best. Their rookie status means little. Some have it. Some don’t. They don’t. Just ask Juan Pablo Montoya. He’s flattened out at around 15th to 20th by the end of recent seasons.
Brad Keselowski. He’s running well these past few races with him getting pole position on this track. On this track, he placed third, and he’s second in the overall standings to date. Impressive so far.
Jimmie Johnson. Jimmie Johnson has returned to form this Sprint Cup season. He’s number 1 on the leaderboard.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Junior is third on the Sprint Cup leaderboard so far, but it’s only the beginning of the 2013 season. Karma might catch up to him again like in previous seasons.
Chrevolet SS Gen-6 Cars. They top the results leaderboard again.
Toyota Camry Gen-6 Cars. These cars have not yet proven themselves on the tracks just yet. But Matt Kenseth’s Toyota proved these cars can win — and win honestly.
This race is the appetizer before the Great American Race, the Daytona 500, next Sunday. This also gives the Sprint Cup drivers and teams to adjust to the newly paved Daytona International Speedway from engines, drafting partners and fuel changes. Lastly, it gives NASCAR fans a relatively brief race to watch although it will progress late through the night.
This race still doesn’t compare to the festivities and the drama surrounding the Daytona 500 next week. Now to the post-race analysis:
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. had the pole in the beginning but dropped again to 3rd. It’s not as bad as some of actual Sprint Cup races where he fell into the middle of the pack and could not recover beyond 15th or so.
Pairings of cars helps picks up speed, particularly against an aggressive pack of drivers behind you.
Jeff Burton got 1st place and Matt Kenseth got 4th on the first 25 laps of this race. Both are X-factors when the season officially begins next week.
On lap 29 of the Shootout, Regan Smith initially collided with Carl Edwards. Edwards then clipped Dale Earnhardt Jr. rear bumper and started a whole spillover including Juan Pablo Montoya, Joey Logano and others. I think this looks like the forecast for the Dayton 500.
Two-car drafting works most of the time, but when it doesn’t work, it causes severe wrecks.
Jeff Gordon stuck around 5th or so in the early part of the second segment. It appeared he was biding his time for his final move in the last few laps of the Shootout, but it didn’t come to fruition.
Kurt Busch won the Budweiser Shootout, partially from Denny Hamlin‘s drive through the boundary line for the lead. The dual car tandems were the theme of this race, and the average speed of this race seemed to swing from 195 mph to 205 mph.
The Great American Race is on next Sunday, and it will be interesting to see how the adjustments made this week will affect the Daytona 500.
This is my list of top 10 NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers to watch in 2011, given their current trends over the past three to five seasons. This is not based on any current adjustments to their respective teams, engines, cars or other factors currently internally or externally, such as the new points systems.
Now to my top 10 list of NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers, in no particular order:
Jimmie Johnson (48) of the Chad Knaus/Hendrick Motorsports Team. He’s won five straight Sprint Cup championships and going for a sixth.
Tony Stewart (14) of the Darian Grubb/Stewart-Haas Racing Team. He’s been mostly consistent remaining in 7th through the 9th in standings the past three years. He should do more of the same this season.
Clint Bowyer (33) of the Shane Wilson/Richard Childress Racing Team. His team has not been consistent, but he’s always found ways to remain in the Chase. However, he has remained in the top 10 three out of five recent seasons.
Jeff Gordon (24) of the Steve Letarte/Hendrick Motorsports Team. He’s been minimally the top 10 the past five years, if not in the top 5. He should do the same this season, as his team has always demonstrated success.
Carl Edwards (99) of the Bob Osborne/Roush Fenway Racing Team. His team has either been in the top 3 or in the top 10 the past years, but he has demonstrated inconsistency. If football or hockey are indication the changing nature of sports, his team might have a chance for a real push this season.
Denny Hamlin (11) of the Mike Ford/Joe Gibbs Racing Team. Since 2007, his team has been making real strides to becoming 2nd in the standings in 2010 again — like he was in 2006. Whereas some of these teams have been simply inconsistent, this team has been consistently getting better.
Kyle Busch (18) of the Dave Rogers/Joe Gibbs Racing Team. He has always remained in the bottom rungs of the top 10 standings, but he has remained in the Chase for the past five years. He could be another one to watch out for this upcoming season.
For the last three of my top 10, these drivers are always within reach of the top 10 over the past years, and this year, they may be troublesome to rest the field for their shadows always hanging within reach to make a serious mark upon the Sprint Cup Chase.
Jeff Burton (31) of the Todd Berrier/Richard Childress Racing Team.
Matt Kenseth (17) of the Jimmy Fennig/Roush Fenway Racing Team.
Kurt Busch (22) of the Steve Addington/Penske Racing Team. Although not quite as successful as his brother Kyle, he does stay within reach of the Chase.