Rockingham Recap

The Key Moment – Coming off turn four on the final lap Matt Kenseth was able to avoid spinning his tires and he beat rookie Kasey Kahne to the finish by one one hundredths of a second.

In a Nutshell – WOW!

Dramatic Moment

Those final five laps were about as tense as any in recent memory since Darlington last year.

Waiting to see if Carl Long was going to get out of his car all right.

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

Could someone at NASCAR really be insane enough to take this race date away from Rockingham after Sunday’s thrilling race? If they were paying attention maybe they’ll give Rockingham back a second race next year.

Who is this Kahne kid and where did he come from?

Was Mark Martin actually blocking for his teammate on the final restart?

Think Roger Penske should donate a used Cup car to Carl Long?

What was that awful audio feedback (Squeal) every time a drop down bar came off the top of the screen on FOX?

Is yellow tape on the rear bumper enough to warn other drivers that Johnny Sauter is running in close proximity to them? Maybe a pair of blinking orange emergency beacons on the roof of the 30 car would prevent some wrecks. Satuer’s reign of terror includes both Cup and Busch races run to date this year.

Why didn’t Michael Waltrip have to serve a penalty for leaving the pits with a wedge wrench in the car? (Here’s the official explanation. Waltrip pitted under green. The caution flew while he was in his pit box but since his stall was past the start finish line, he remained on the lead lap. He left the pits with the wrench in the car, so his penalty would have been a stop and go penalty. In NASCAR, a driver’s crew can work on the car during a penalty stop of this sort. Thus Waltrip pitted with the leaders, had the wrench removed and left side tires installed, then left the pits on the lead lap in 8th position.)

Should NASCAR put drivers who are in the pits when a caution flag flies to the end of the longest line on the subsequent re-start?

What the heck was wrong with Tony Stewart Sunday?

I guess that’s the difference between Daytona and Rockingham. President Busch started the 500 and Jared the Subway sandwich commercial guy started the race at the Rock.

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Carl Long could have parked his car early and settled for 41st place money. Instead he remained on the track, got in a wreck not of his own making, took a wild tumble and wiped out his only Cup car.

Jimmie Johnson’s streak of eight straight top 10 finishes and seven straight top 5s came to a dramatic end when he wrecked out of the race early. Johnson drops out of the top 10 in Cup points for the first time in 70 races.

Last year’s Rockingham spring race winner, Dale Jarrett, nuked an engine while running in fourth place Sunday.

Jeff Burton’s season is off to a miserable start with a DNF 42nd place result at Daytona and a hole in the radiator at Rockingham left his 37th, and 42nd in the standings.

Kenny Schrader got caught up in someone else’s wreck for the second straight week.


The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Kasey Kahne overcame a penalty for leaving the pits with his wedge wrench still in the car to battle back for a dramatic second place finish.

Jeff Gordon just barely got by when Robby Gordon lost control and was bouncing back across the track. Gordon went on to finish tenth, albeit two laps off the pace.

Mark Martin ran in the top 10 for much of the race, and survived heavy contact with the 18 car during the Carl Long wreck to finish twelfth.


Worth Noting

Matt Kenseth won his first race since Las Vegas almost a year ago and the eighth of his Cup career. Two of those wins occurred at Rockingham. That ties him with Kurt Busch and Kyle Petty as far as career wins.

Rusty Wallace’s winless streak is now 100 races.

The top 10 finishers drove five Dodges, three Chevys, and two Fords.

Dale Earnhardt’s fifth place finish was easily his best ever Cup result at the Rock. His previous best was 13th.

Obviously Kasey Kahne was the top finishing rookie. Johnny “Lethal Weapon” Sauter was next best of the first year gang finishing fourteenth. But rookie Scott Wimmer has to get some props for currently being fourth in the standings.

The top finisher from F-Troop (the Field Fillers) was Andy Hillenberg in 34th.

Rusty Wallace scored his first top 10 finish since Kansas last fall.

Sterling Marlin scored his first top 5 finish since the 2001 Southern 500.

Kenseth is the only driver to score a top 10 finish in the last three Rockingham races.

What’s the Points?

Dale Earnhardt Jr. maintains his hold at the top of the standings (the first time in his career he’s led in the points) for a second straight week. But Rockingham winner Matt Kenseth is just seven points back. Last year, Kenseth took the points lead after the fourth race of the season and never looked back.

Only eight points separate third place Kevin Harvick from fourth place Scott Wimmer and fifth place Jeff Gordon. Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, Elliott Sadler, Ward Burton and Joe Nemechek round out the top 10 in that order with Nemechek 99 points behind Junior.

All drivers back to 25th place Jimmie Johnson could mathematically leave Vegas with the points lead.

It’s early in the season so the points are very volatile, but today’s big gainer was Jamie McMurray (Up 25 places to eleventh) and the big loser was Jimmie Johnson. (Down twenty positions to 25th.)

In addition to Johnson, other notable drivers who’ve dug themselves into a points hole early in the season include Jeff Burton (42nd) Michael Waltrip (39th and well out of the “Brilliant” Top 10 shootout) Robby Gordon (37th) Mark Martin (28th) and Dale Jarrett (26th.)

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) Forget the six packs. This race was an icy cold 30 pack served in a cooler carried to your front door by the two finalists in a Heather Locklear Look-a-like contest in a shiny new Mustang Cobra convertible you’ve been given for judging the contest.

Next Up – An off weekend already? Yep. Racing resumes at Las Vegas in two weeks. Just not good racing.

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2004

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