Kansas Race Recap

The Key Moment – Ryan Newman cleared the lap cars on the final restart and built up just enough of a lead while Bill Elliott battled with the 01 car that he was able to hang on and win.

In a Nutshell- Another #$@)$(@ fuel mileage race. This is getting ridiculous.


Dramatic Moment – The first twenty laps of the race were actually quite entertaining with some of the sports biggest stars swapping the lead frequently.

Waiting to see if Elliott Sadler and Kurt Busch were going to get out of their cars all right.

The final five laps while Bill Elliott reeled in Ryan Newman were nail-biters.


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

How can Ryan Newman go that far that fast on a tank of gas?

Think Bill Elliott was a little annoyed after the race? Whatever.

Did they ever figure out who actually finished second in the Busch race? Is it time for a modification to the “no racing back to yellow rule” for the last lap of an event? (Which would almost have to include a green-white-checkered finish rule.)

What was with the right front tires failing all weekend? Did someone ask Tony Stewart to analyze the problem?

Wow, when was the last time you saw Bill Elliott and Rusty Wallace battling for the lead? Nineteen Eighty something?

Was the Lucky Dog cartoon graphic sent to the pound after the Busch race?

Why did the 97 team leave Kurt Busch out there in a car with a significant oil leak in the interior? They had to know eventually it would ignite. You figure they could have at least thrown breadcrumbs on him if they wanted to deep fry Kurt?

Isn’t it ironic that Jeff Gordon insinuated the 12 team and Ryan Newman must be cheating this weekend. It wasn’t that long ago another young driver was winning bunches of races and others were accusing him of cheating. That driver was, of course, Jeff Gordon. Cue up the Eagles, “New Kid in Town.”

How are they going to have an afternoon race (Busch series) and evening race (Winston Cup) at Charlotte on the same day? Why isn’t the Busch series running Friday night? (I smell NBC’s intervention here.)

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

For the second straight weekend Matt Kenseth’s Teflon coating revealed a chink. Kenseth wrecked his car during first practice and the backup car was so slow he needed a provisional to make the race for a second week in a row. Early in the race Kenseth wrecked trying to avoid the spinning car of Michael Waltrip. It wasn’t a good weekend for points leaders at Kansas. Brian Vicker, who came to Kansas leading the Busch series points also wrecked out early during Saturday’s race.

Elliott Sadler gets the “Day of Thunder” award for enduring hard crashes in the last two races.

Jeff Green and Petty Engineering had a long overdue good run going when a right front tire failed and Green beat the front fender off the car trying to get onto pit road.

Jason Lefler and the Net Zero team had a rare good run going when a miscalculation in the pits allowed the car to run out of gas on the track and cost Lefler three laps.

Michael Waltrip hit the wall in both the Busch and Winston Cup races, but outdid himself running into the fence twice in the Cup race. The wreck in the Busch race was a heartbreaker as Waltrip’s car was clearly the class of the field and there were just four laps left to run.

Sterling Marlin had a decent run going but his team ran him out of gas in the final handful of laps. Was his pit crew too busy staring at the Coors Light Twins to calculate fuel mileage correctly?

Dale Jarrett had a solid run go up in smoke with three laps left to run.

Johnny Benson had his best run in a long while going but got hit by the 8 car under caution and then wrecked hard bringing out the events final caution.


The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Rusty Wallace pitted for the first time just as his front tire was about to fall apart.

Jimmie Johnson’s weekend started out well with a pole winning run but he wrecked that car Saturday and had to start at the rear of the field. Johnson looked horrid for the first segment of the race. He went a lap down but benefited from the new rule giving the first driver a lap back and actually led the race for awhile. Johnson wound up seventh.

Greg Biffle just barely avoided the spinning car of Michael Waltrip after the 15’s second trip into the wall.

Jeff Gordon and Jamie McMurray hit hard enough in the final three laps by all rights they both should have wrecked, but both drivers held on for top 10 finishes. McMurray was almost black-flagged by NASCAR officials who thought it was oil smoke rather than a tire rubbing.


Worth Noting

The top 10 finishers piloted five Dodges, four Chevys and a single Ford. (Ricky Rudd who finished tenth.) The best finishing Pontiac was Jason Lefler in 30th.

The top finishing rookie was once again Jamie McMurray who finished eighth.

Ryan Newman leads all drivers with thirteen top 5 finishes in the thirty points races run to date this season. Jeff Gordon is now tied for second in that statistic with Dale Earnhardt Jr. at eleven.

Matt Kenseth still has the most top 10 finishes this year with 22. Ryan Newman is a distant second in that regard with 18.

Ryan Newman now has nine wins in just 74 Winston Cup starts. (All of those wins since his teammate Rusty Wallace last won an event.) He’s finished eleventh or better in twelve of the last thirteen races and has won six of those races.

Jeff Gordon finished fifth for the third straight weekend. While he missed out on the three-peat Gordon has three top 5 finishes in the first three races at Kansas. Ryan Newman also has three straight top 5s at this track and actually has a better finishing average at the track than Gordon’s. Tony Stewart and Rusty Wallace are the only other drivers with three top 10 finishes in the three Kansas Cup races.

Rusty Wallace scored his fifth straight top 10 finish.

Michael Waltrip has finished outside the top 25 in six of the last seven races. His sole finish in the top 25 in that stretch was his win last week at Talladega. Go figure.

Kurt Busch has just one top 10 finish in the six races since he won Bristol.

Tony Stewart now has three straight top 5 finishes. Kevin Harvick has three straight top 10 finishes.

Jamie McMurray has top 10 finishes in five of the last seven races.

Bobby Hamilton Jr. finished fourteenth in his first Cup start with the Marines team. (Hamilton drove in Cup prior to Sunday filling in for an injured Joe Nemechek.)

It’s now been eight races since Mark Martin scored a top 10 finish.

What’s the Points?

Matt Kenseth’s difficult weekend leaves him with a 259 point margin ahead of Kevin Harvick. Kenseth still only needs to finish 8th or better to win the title even if Harvick wins the six remaining races and leads the most laps in each of them.

Inside the top 10 race winner Ryan Newman and Jimmie Johnson swapped fourth and fifth spots with Newman obviously having the advantage. Tony Stewart wrested eighth spot from Kurt Busch who flames out to ninth.

Michael Waltrip is now 79 points out of the top 10.

Bill Elliott advanced two spots to thirteenth in the standings. He has the same amount of points as Rusty Wallace but Elliott gets the nod because he has more top 5 finishes than Wallace.

This week’s big points gainer was Jeremy Mayfield who leapfrogged four spots to twentieth in the standings. In addition to Elliott, Ward Burton also moved up two spots to nineteenth.

Headed in the wrong direction are Sterling Marlin and Elliott Sadler who each fell three spots to 21st and 23rd respectively. Jeff Burton lost two spots and is now fifteenth in the standings.

Seven drivers in the top 10 in standings, including the points leader, have won only one race this year. That’s rather bizarre. Ricky Craven and Joe Nemechek also have one race win apiece and they are 24th and 25th in the standings. Bill Elliott in thirteenth is the highest ranked driver who has not won a race this year. If there was an additional 25 point bonus for winning a race Ryan Newman would now be eleven points ahead of Matt Kenseth according to Matt Math which is a little shaky.

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 this one a 4. It was by far the most entertaining race held at Kansas though Elliott dominated for long stretches and Newman won on fuel mileage again.

Next Up – The porch light is on as the Winston Cup regulars come home to Charlotte for a night race next Saturday.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2003

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