March 29th, 2015
Denny Hamlin started the weekend all fired up, guaranteeing a win. In the end he finished 19th, but somehow is still 12th in points despite missing last weekend’s race at Fontana. Guess you can’t win every race you guarantee, but always next weekend at Texas.
Side tangent on that, is there any track that has an identity crisis like Auto Club Speedway? I tried all last week to call it “Auto Club,” but that just sounds weird. Like I was rambling about a literal club for car enthusiasts. Instead I switched to what everyone else was saying, which is “Fontana.” That makes sense because that’s the location, but it’s not in the name of the track. Long story short, this is why companies shouldn’t sponsor tracks.
Parker Kligerman’s terrible rookie campaigned continued as on lap two he spun and messed up (technical term) the front end of his Swan Racing Toyota. Repairs were made and he finished the race, to avoid his third DNF, but I can’t imagine that 41st was what they had in mind for the day.
Kyle Larson was in the top-10 and inched close to the top-5, but in the end it was Austin Dillon who came away as the highest finishing rookie in 15th place.
With heavy hearts over the loss of Lynda Petty, the Richard Petty Motorsports duo of Aric Almirola and Marcos Ambrose had one of their finniest showings this season. Ambrose led 22 laps and finished fifth and Almirola, in one of the coolest retro paint schemes, finished in the eighth place.
He didn’t win, but Jimmie Johnson did move up on the all-time lap leader list at Martinsville. With 296 led on Sunday, he has 2,746 for his career. That puts him sixth as he got past Fred Lorenzen (2,731) and puts his sights on Richard Petty (2,964). Based on how he ran Sunday, Petty should be worried about getting passed in the fall.
Only two DNFs in the STP 500, Michael McDowell left with brake issues after 474 laps and Joe Nemechek crashed out on lap 310. Kudos to the lack of start and parks this season, I’m glad we might be getting past that stage in the Sprint Cup Series. About the site’s name of Start ‘N’ Park, that was picked as ironic and does not mean I’m in favor of the practice.
Who would have thought that through six races we’d have six different winners? When NASCAR said 16 drivers in the Chase field, many thought we wouldn’t have that awkward moment of 17 winners. Now it seems entirely possible at the rate we’re going.
About Kurt Busch, who won for the first time in 83 races, he showed some good moves out there and more importantly some poise. Contact on pit road between he and Brad Keselowski left the car as “junk” and Busch quipped that they were done. In the meantime Keselowski fumed in the garage area, got repairs, and then went out there to show Busch exactly what he thought about him. Busch kept his cool during the exchanges and was able to work during pit stops. The end results was a win and basically a “no comment” when being interviewed in victory lane on the incident.
Props to Keselowski who drove nearly two laps one handed to show Busch that he is number one in his book.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. retakes the lead in the driver standings by nine over Matt Kenseth. Carl Edwards dropped to third, while Hendrick Motorsports teammates Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson keep lurking in fourth and fifth place.