Matts Recap Martinsville

The Key Moment – Dale Jarrett passed Matt Kenseth while racing to the 13th caution flag. Kenseth wasn’t happy about it and the two of them got to battling on the restart leaving Bobby Labonte to drive off unmolested for the win.

In a Nutshell – Just a good old fashioned typical short track race we’ll be talking about for some time to come.

Dramatic Moment – During that final restart there was some question if Bobby Labonte might be the only car to finish the race, because there was trouble brewing in gallons behind him.

What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week

Was NASCAR’s decision to park Harvick for this race correct?

Should Dale Jarrett have been allowed to break the gentleman’s agreement about racing back to the caution flag? Do you think Tony Stewart regrets allowing him back on the lead lap now? Is that gentleman’s agreement now a thing of the past?

Why aren’t there more short track races on the schedule?

Should NASCAR have thrown the red flag after the Buckshot-Benson incident to allow for more green flag racing at the end and a more thorough track clean up?

Is Lady Luck’s first name Brooke because she sure seems to have left Jeff Gordon?

What the heck was the deal with that beach ball?

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune –

Jeff Gordon clearly had a car good enough to win, but he got caught up in a wreck not of his own making, blew a power steering hose, lost a lap for having too many men go over the wall on pit lane and was never a factor again.

Bobby Hamilton had a fine run most of the day only to wreck while heading towards the white flag.

Ken Schrader’s luck this year has ranged from bad to miserable. It’s bad enough cutting down a tire but having it set your car ablaze just adds insult to injury.

Both this year’s stunning rookies, Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson, suffered mechanical problems in today’s race. For Newman it was his second engine failure in less than a week.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune –

A bad pit stop had Dale Jarrett a lap down at one point, but he got his lap back and charged on to a fourth place finish.

Tony Stewart just barely avoided the spun cars of Frank Kimmel and Robby Gordon.

Matt Kenseth had to take to the grass to miss the Spencer-Craven Round 2 wreck. Dale Jarrett also squirmed his way through the melee.

It’s the Pits –

Rusty Wallace was the primary victim of Martinsville’s tight pit lane. He and Mike Skinner collided ruining both cars.

An unusual number of cars got trapped a lap down in the pits during cautions including early contenders Jimmy Spencer and Bill Elliott. Was the pace car maintaining the proper speed?

It was a fascinating final segment of the race with Bobby Labonte who took two tires, Dale Earnhardt Junior who took four tires and Tony Stewart who was one of the few cars to stop during the 11th caution period with the four freshest tires all in contention.

Tony Stewart’s stalling on pit road may have ended his chances at a win today.

Worth Noting –

Today’s race win was Bobby Labonte’s first Cup victory on a short track.

Terry Labonte led a lap in today’s race for the first time since the fall Talladega event of 2000.

Labonte is the 10th different driver in a row to win at Martinsville.

Matt Kenseth now has five straight top 10 finishes.

Two Pontiacs, two Fords and a Chevy finished in the top 5 today. Jeremy Mayfield in 11th was the best finishing Dodge, followed by points leader Sterling Marlin in another Dodge in 12th.

A Dodge driver now leads the points followed by three Ford drivers and a Pontiac pilot. Jimmie Johnson in 7th is the highest ranked Chevy driver.

6th place was Terry Labonte’s best finish this season.

Dale Earnhardt Junior has top 5 finishes in three of the last four races.

Kevin Harvick is the first Winston Cup driver to be suspended since DK Ulrich got caught with Nitrous Oxide at the 1978 Southern 500.

What’s the Points? – Sterling Marlin continues to lead the points but is now only 27 markers ahead of Matt Kenseth.

Today’s big climbers in the top ten in points were Tony Stewart who advanced three positions to fifth, Mark Martin who advanced two positions to third, and Dale Earnhardt Junior who reenters the top 10 by advancing two positions to 9th. Outside the top 10 the Labonte brothers both advanced their positions, Bobby five positions to 12th and Terry four positions to 15th.

Today’s big losers in the top ten in points were Jimmie Johnson who slid four positions to 7th, and Jeff Gordon who fell two positions to 8th.

Kevin Harvick’s penalty dropped him seven positions to 29th, two positions ahead of Robby Gordon his teammate, but behind Jeff Green the other RCR driver.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – Five extra cold cans. Not one for the ages, but certainly one for this millennium.

Next Up – Break out the antacids. Another restrictor plate freak show will risk life and limb next Sunday at Talladega.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2002

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