Kanas Race Recap


The Key Moment – Jeff Gordon put enough distance on Ryan Newman on the final restart to bring home the win.


In a Nutshell – Kansas is still developing a second groove, and isn’t quite raceable yet.


Dramatic Moment – The final three lap shootout was a nailbiter. Actually on a track with somewhat less than two grooves any restart was dangerous.

As far as the points hunt, Marlin’s wreck and Martin’s engine failure may have major implications at the end of the year when they total things up.


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

Is Marlin now out of the points hunt? Is he going to need a doctor’s note to race at Talladega?

Should NASCAR have thrown that red flag? Have any of the red flags this season actually resulted in a different winner? (Other than the Daytona 500 and that was special circumstances.)

What were Mike Wallace and Kurt Busch thinking racing lead lap cars that hard? Think Marlin is going to want a word with Wallace tonight?

Doesn’t anyone want to win this dang championship?

Why don’t some of these new tracks buy one of those Texas Tire Monster Machines Eddie Gossage (GM at TMS) developed to work in a second groove on their racetracks?

Pretty obviously Mike Helton is very annoyed with Earnhardt Jr. right now. Think the 8 car is going to have some problems getting through pre and post race inspection next week?

Is it right to let part time racers in and send a full time guy like Brett Bodine home?

Ryan Newman might turn out to be a pretty good little driver if he can figure out this restart stuff, huh?

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Bobby Labonte wrecked a car in Happy Hour and wrecked another one seven laps into the event.

Ken Schrader got a piece of two wrecks. I don’t think Winston Cup cars are supposed to do wheelies.

Sterling Marlin’s crash was a perfect example of a man being thrown into the river who don’t need to be swimming. He’s still recovering from the Richmond wreck and that Sunday’s is going to leave some bruises.

Jack Roush’s engine shop saw three of their cars develop problems under the hood. Included in that mix was former points leader Mark Martin who looked to have a decent finish sewn up after a long afternoon with only sixteen laps to go. It wasn’t to be. Martin finished 25th.

Bill Elliott seemingly had the only car that could run with the 24 but lost a ton of track position having to pit and get the fender pulled off the tire.

Ricky Rudd and Jeremy Mayfield had nowhere to go when Benson and Spencer had their run in.

Michael Waltrip was unable to capitalize on a good starting spot after crashing on the 20th lap. It was the second race car Waltrip wiped out during the weekend as he backed one rear window deep into the wall during the Busch race. Waltrip owns his own Busch team. That gets expensive. Do the math.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Despite a flat tire that dropped him off the lead lap, Jimmie Johnson was able to finish tenth and take the points lead.

In a desperate attempt to get back into the points fight, the guys in Rick Hendrick’s engine shop turned up the wick. Not only did the more powerful engine propel Gordon to the win, none of the four cars experienced engine problems.

It’s the Pits

The level of irritation between Dale Jr. and his crew chief was obvious after a slow stop that sent Earnhardt to the rear of the field.

A lugnut left loose on a pit stop ruined Kevin Harvick’s strong run.

Bill Elliott and the 9 team’s somewhat strange decision to stop after the red flag period ended up yielding two spots.

Worth Noting

Brett Bodine has never failed to qualify for two consecutive races since he went full time in Cup until this weekend.

Rusty Wallace scored his first top 5 finish since Bristol. (His winless streak now stands at 55 events.) Bill Elliott scored his first top 5 since the Southern 500 Sunday.

Not only was his fourth place finish the best of Joe Nemechek’s 2002 season it was his first top five and first top 10.

Ward Burton finished 43rd for the third time this season. He’s also finished 42nd twice and 41st once. Hard to get happy about that.

Ryan Newman finished second for the fifth time this season and sixth time in his brief career.

Tony Stewart now has top 10 finishes in six of the last eight races. Jimmie Johnson has five top tens in the same stretch, as does Mark Martin. Jeff Gordon only has three top ten finishes in those eight races, but all of them were wins.

Sterling Marlin has missed the top 20 in the last four Cup races.

What’s the Points?

There wasn’t a lot of movement in the top 10 in points. Jimmie Johnson takes over the top spot and is now eleven points ahead of Mark Martin. Race winner Jeff Gordon advances a spot to fourth place in the standings.

Mark Martin and Sterling Marlin both lost a spot in the standings. They are now second and fifth respectively.

Just outside the top 10 there was some scrambling of the order, with Kurt Busch and Dale Jarrett swapping eleventh and twelfth spot and Dale Earnhardt Junior moving into 13th. Kevin Harvick moved up a spot into 21st, only spot outside the top 20.

Anyone of six drivers (Johnson, Martin, Stewart, Gordon, Marlin or R. Wallace) could leave Talladega next week with the points lead. If Johnson were to finish last and not lead a lap and Ryan Newman were to win the race and lead the most laps he’d be one point behind Jimmie.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) – Two and half cans of lukewarm beer. Supposedly there’s a good race track in Kansas in the future but the second groove never really opened up Sunday.

Next Up – Grab the Maalox and take the black suit to the cleaners just in case. We’re off to Talladega for yet another round of restrictor plate madness.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2002

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