Guest Author - De Powell
His sophomore slump is over! After an incredible rookie season in 2004, we all thought that Kahne was going to be a shining star in 2005, but instead he didn’t seem to have the same spark. Thankfully his third season so far is more reminiscent of his rookie year, and it is great to see that he’s back. He led 85 laps of the rain delayed Golden Corral 500 from Atlanta on Monday, and now sits second in the standings behind Jimmie Johnson. The last time that this race was won from the pole, Kahne wasn’t even born.
Since there are very few gaps in the racing schedule, races just can’t be rescheduled to another weekend. NASCAR prefers to have the race on the same day if at all possible to minimize the financial loss to the track and the vendors, but sometimes Mother Nature doesn’t cooperate. Therefore, NASCAR sets the race to be the next day if possible.
Kahne wasn’t the only impressive one out there on the track. It was great seeing those we aren’t used to seeing out in front. Bobby Labonte zipped up to the lead by lap 2 and for awhile it looked like the old Bobby that loves Atlanta. Unfortunately, his engine didn’t agree, and he was behind the wall on lap 57. But, by being as strong as he was even for that short while, it was like a shot of adrenaline to the Petty race team. And what’s this? Kyle Petty finished in the top ten! Way to go Kyle! I am so glad to see the Petty cars being competitive, and I think we’ll continue seeing them at the front more often as the year goes on.
Jeff Burton made another impressive run, and was very competitive until the last 10 laps when he got a vibration that sent him to the garage. His team is obviously on the right track though as Burton won the Busch race, and reignited his fire to win again at the Cup level.
Although not the strongest finish, Robby Gordon did finish the race and was strong all day. Actually, he had run near the front for most of the race, and it was due to a late pit problem that caused him to not finish closer to the front. Gordon, owner of the #7 Chevy needs to be in the top 35 following this week’s race so that he doesn’t have to worry about qualifying for each race. He’s doing good so far as he is sitting in 19th. Barring a horrible finish in Bristol, this should be one worry off his back. An event that occurred in Gordon’s pit created some anxiety. His catch can man, John Slusher was hit in the pits by Reed Sorenson, but is doing fine now. Pit road is a dangerous place, thankfully this time the damage was minimal.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is looking more and more like his old self. There finally seems to be the teamwork that is necessary for a successful team, and it’s good to see them finally coming together. Some of the tracks that he has done well at in the past are coming up soon, perhaps we’ll see him in Victory Lane soon.
Tony Stewart was looking more relaxed and it showed on the track. His top 5 finish moved him up 7 places in the standings, the biggest move of the week. The next few weeks are some of his best tracks, so I fully expect to see him continue on his upward climb.
This week, we are heading to Bristol. This is by far the favorite track of many fans. Not so for all of the drivers. This banked bowl-like short track seems to spark short tempers. It is a notorious place for getting caught up in someone else’s mess. It is probably the most likely track to see uncharacteristic behavior from the drivers, as they get so frustrated. Qualifying was cancelled due to rain, so they’ll line up per NASCAR rules by owner points from last year. This puts Stewart on the pole. Hopefully, the weather will be more cooperative on Sunday. Short track favorites are Stewart, Jeff Gordon and Labonte. No matter who ends up in Victory Lane, one sure thing at Bristol is there will be no lack of excitement.
Congratulations to Brent Sherman and his wife who were blessed with a baby boy Tuesday. Mommy and baby Brent Cooper Sherman are doing well.
Til next week.....