Matts Michigan Recap

The Key Moment – The red flag bought out for Elliott Sadler’s single car wreck bunched up the field for a final three lap shootout.

In a Nutshell- Not the most exciting race but there was no faulting the ending.

Dramatic Moment – When that green flag dropped to restart the race with three laps to go it looked like a high horsepower version of the Great Oklahoma Land Rush.

Four drivers in fast cars were caught at the tail end of the lead lap when a caution flew during a sequence of green flag stops. They had to fight valiantly not to go a lap down.

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

Is NASCAR ever going to standardize things by adopting a green/white/checkered finish rule similar to what the truck series uses, or are they going to keep making it up as they go?

Who threw that soda bottle out onto the back-straight? It couldn’t have been a fan there’s no grandstands in the area. It was a Pepsi bottle, which seems to point at one particular driver, but of course if someone wanted to avoid detection and deflect blame they could have chosen that brand on purpose.

The finish of the Busch race. (For those lucky enough to have seen it.)

How much worse can John Andretti’s luck get? Why was he held in the pits?

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune –

Jimmie Johnson looked to have a solid top 5 finish in the bag but he fell to 14th in those final few laps.

Ward Burton suffered yet another mechanical DNF.

The new Pontiac aero rules didn’t seem to help the Joe Gibbs cars any, at least this week.

What a day for Bill Elliott. He ran out of gas, had to drive his heart out to stay on the lead lap, restarted the race in fifth but fell back to 11th in the final shootout.

Casey Atwood wrecked his primary car in qualifying and the backup car was hopeless. I mean when Derrike Cope beats you, you know you’re having a bad day.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Jeff Gordon’s decision to pit for four tires after the red flag seemed suicidal but it allowed him to charge his way back up to 5th.

Similarly, Dale Jarrett’s decision to gamble on pitting after the red flag period allowed him to move to within one position of a win. He now has three straight top 5 finishes, the longest streak of his season and three of his four total 2002 Top 5s.

It’s the Pits –

Matt Kenseth’s crew was once again brilliant on pit road. That allowed their driver to restart the race at the head of the pack, a decided advantage.

Kyle Petty had a great run go bad when he got trapped in the pits by the 25 car which was three laps down at the time.

Jimmie Johnson didn’t do himself any favors with a slow entrance into the pits under green and a longer pit stop than was necessary to take on fuel.

Worth Noting –

21st today was the worst finish of Sterling Marlin’s 2002 campaign.

Jeff Green continues to be the points leader among the three RCR teammates. He sits 23rd in the standings, Robby Gordon is 27th and Kevin Harvick is 34th. None of the RCR cars finished on the lead lap.

Ward Burton has finished outside the top 30 in the last five Cup races. Anymore questions why he hasn’t signed the contract he’s been offered yet. Burton’s last top 10 was at the fourth race of the season.

Kurt Busch’s 10th place finish snapped a mini-slump he’d fallen into. Over the last four races Busch averaged a 27th place finish.

Michael Waltrip has now finished inside the top 10 in five of the last seven Winston Cup races. His fourth place finish was his best on a non-restrictor plate track this season.

Johnny Benson scored his best finish of the season coming home 6th.

What’s the Points? –

The top four remain in the same positions they held prior to the race. Sterling Marlin’s lead over second place Jimmie Johnson drops to 110 markers. Jeff Gordon and Johnson are tied numerically in the points, with Johnson officially credited with second because of his two wins, the first tie breaker.

Winner Matt Kenseth moved up two positions to 5th in the standings. Kurt Busch and Bill Elliott each moved up one position to 9th and 10th respectively.

Rusty Wallace and Tony Stewart each dropped a position in the standings to 6th and 7th respectively.

Jeff Burton fell out of the top 10 dropping two positions to 11th.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – I’ll give it three cans of Strohs. I was getting drowsy in the middle of the race but I was on my feet for the end of it.

Next Up – The Winston Cup boys head out to Sonoma for the annual Jeff Gordon Benefit race.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2002

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