Matts Richmond Recap
September 8, 2002 | 12:00 A.M. EST
The Key Moment- Rusty Wallace seemed to have a car that could catch Matt Kenseth once the 2 got clear of traffic, but no sooner did the two get some open race track than Rusty blew a tire and was forced to the pits.
In a Nutshell- An exciting race, but one that would have been better if the sealer had worn away enough to bring the second groove totally in. Just how thick did they lay on that slop?
Dramatic Moment- Points leader Sterling Marlin was eliminated in a lap nine crash.
Some of those restarts with cars on the tail end of the lead lap ahead of cars on old tires ahead of the fastest cars on the track got pretty intense.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Can Kenseth still close the gap and be a points contender?
What was going on with those right front tires Saturday night?
Is starting or restarting races on oil slick tracks NASCAR’s newest idea to bump up the TV ratings?
You would have though Tony Stewart could have shoved that car in gear, wouldn’t you?
This Winston Cup championship thing pays a lot of money doesn’t it? Doesn’t anyone want to win it? It seems not sometimes.
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune – We have a multitude tonight.
Rusty Wallace was running second and looking to break his 51 race losing streak when he had a tire go down with 11 laps to go.
Tony Stewart almost certainly had a top five finish sealed up when he had drivetrain problems.
Mike Wallace had a top 5 finish in hand when he ran out of gas.
Points leader Sterling Marlin was involved in a lap nine crash on an oil slick track. And unfortunately for car owner Chip Ganasssi the car Sterling crashed into was Jimmy Spencer, Chip’s other car.
Jeff Gordon was in position to capitalize on Marlin’s misfortune and perhaps take the points lead when he lost a timing belt. Fiber? Call me old fashioned but I run metal timing chains and I’ve never broken one. Fiber is for breakfast not engines. Talk about a rough weekend. Jeff fell out of the golf cart during a race on Friday, wrecked his primary car in practice, ticked off Bugs Bunny and lost a timing belt on Saturday.
Michael Waltrip was leading the race when he got together with the 19 car and hit the wall hard.
Johnny Benson became Robby Gordon’s latest victim.
Kevin Harvick had a good run going before running out of gas in the waning laps.
Dale Jarrett appeared to have a decent car but contact with Mark Martin put the 88 into the wall and DJ ended up 31st.
Judging by the enthusiasm and energy of our men and women in uniform watching the race from Afghanistan Osama Bin Laden is in some real trouble if he brings his cowardly skinny butt back into Afghanistan while the US military is on the watch. 9-11. Never forget.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
It’s not often you’ll get two flat tires in one race, particularly on a short track, and go a lap down and still go on to win the race, but that’s exactly what Matt Kenseth did. Rusty Wallace had two flats as well and finished 15th.
Dale Earnhardt sneaked through a pair of wrecks and was warned by NASCAR he was going to be penalized if he didn’t calm down, and lost a lap, but recovered well enough to finish fourth.
Jeff Gordon’s DNF was his first since Darlington last Spring 56 races ago, a modern era record. His fortieth place finish was his worst of the 2002 season.
Rusty Wallace’s victory drought is now 52 races long. Jeff Burton’s is 30 races, one fewer than Jeff Gordon’s drought lasted prior to Bristol.
Todd Bodine scored his first top 5 of his abbreviated season, obviously his best finish of the 2002 campaign.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. now has top 10 finishes in three of the last four races. Not a bad weekend when combined with the Busch win Friday.
Sterling Marlin is still leading the points despite two 43rd place finishes this season.
Ricky Rudd scored his first top 10 in four races.
Jeff Green’s third place finish was his second best of the season, and was his fourth top 10 of 2002.
Dave Blaney’s 7th place finish was the best of his 2002 campaign and his second top 10.
Brett Bodine’s 20th place finish was his best non-plate track finish of 2002.
What’s the Points? –
Sterling Marlin still maintains his points lead but it’s down to a mere nine points over new second place points man Mark Martin, the only driver in the top 5 in points after Darlington to score a top 10 finish at Richmond.
Today’s big losers inside the top ten in points were Jeff Gordon (down two spots to fourth) and Dale Jarrett who fell out of the top 10 two spots to 11th. Tony Stewart and Ricky Rudd each lost one spot to fifth and ninth respectively.
Tonight’s big winner in the top ten in points were race winner Matt Kenseth who moved up two spots to eighth and Jimmie Johnson who also advanced two spots to third. Mark Martin moved back up one spot to second in the points and Ryan Newman reentered the top 10 in tenth place up one spot from eleventh last week.
Anyone of six driver, Sterling Marlin, Mark Martin, Jimmie Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart or Rusty Wallace could leave New Hampshire next Sunday with the points lead.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) We’ll give it four ice cold cans and a Gentleman Jack’s chaser. Kenseth dominated late but there was action all over the track and some unexpected developments there at the end.
Next Up- OK the Bristol/Darlington/Richmond party is over. It’s off to New Hampshire where teams are advised to bring All Terrain tires for their cars.