Atlanta Race Recap

The Key Moment- Earnhardt remained on the track longer than most of the other cars in the top 10 before making his final stop, but he managed to rally back to the lead with fifteen laps left in the race to grab the win.


In a Nutshell – The first third of the race was atrocious, but it got a lot more interesting after halfway. Still the race fell short of Atlanta’s standards.

Dramatic Moment – The spine-tingling excitement around the 100 lap mark waiting to see whether a driver would throw debris on the track to bring out a caution or whether NASCAR officials would just throw a debris caution for no reason.

Earnhardt and Stewart’s little bumping match could have sent one or both of them sideways and wiped out a lot of the lead lap cars.

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

Was that first caution for debris on the track or despair in FOX’s corporate suite? (Conspiracy theorists have already labeled the first two cautions of the race “The Dale Jr. about to go a lap down caution” and the “Matt Kenseth gets his lap back caution.”)

Why would NASCAR tell the 50 team they can’t run the Redneckjunk.com decals on their car with sponsorship so hard to find right now? It appears NASCAR is determined to get rednecks and Jesus out of the sport while inviting boner pills and casinos in.

So maybe there is something to this rumor of Jay’s about the new noses on the Evernham Dodges, huh?

If the new tires and aero rules package isn’t going to make the races better on boring tracks and is going to make the racing less exciting on the good tracks, how is this progress?

If the SAFER barriers at Darlington intrude 26 inches into the racing groove, why didn’t they move the walls back 26 inches before they installed them?

Doesn’t it figure FOX was in a commercial break when the key pass for the lead and the race win took place?

Is it fair to dock a team points when that team’s driver utters a profanity on TV or the radio? If a crew chief or team member curses and it reaches the airwaves will that team’s driver lose points?

Think Jeff Hammond took a swing at someone for dousing him in Victory Circle after the race coverage ended?

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Tony Stewart dominated the early part of the race, but he damaged his left front fender in a bumping incident with Earnhardt and the car never seemed as strong afterwards.

Jamie McMurray ran in the top 10 for most of the race, but blew an engine on lap 246.

Casey Mears also had a top 10 run going and actually led a bunch of laps until he lost an engine late in the race.

Rusty Wallace was having a decent run when he broke a transmission.

Andy Hillenberg had his car crawl to a stop on the parade lap. Did they only put a bucks worth of gas in it to save money?

Elliott Sadler, who was third in the points after Las Vegas, and Kevin Harvick who was sixth after last week’s race, never got up to speed and their 29th and 32nd place finishes cost them big time in the points standings.


The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Dale Earnhardt Jr. survived a bump and run incident with Tony Stewart and went on to win. He also survived a close call with Ryan Newman.

Kasey Kahne had to make a second pit stop under caution when his team left some lug nuts loose and brushed the wall several times but he rallied back to third.

Matt Kenseth spun out entering pit road under green, was penalized a lap and fell back to 22nd. He rallied back to get on the lead lap, then had to survive another close call when Brendan Gaughan bounced off the wall into the side of the 17 car. Despite it all he finished sixth.

In an un-sponsored car Dave Blaney acquitted himself quite nicely finishing eleventh and on the lead lap.

While the Ganassi boys are going to be burning the midnight oil late every night this week, the body guys in the fab shops of all the teams may get a night off with no cars receiving heavy body damage during the race.


Worth Noting

The top 5 consisted of three Dodges and two Chevys. The top ten finishers drove four Chevys, three Dodges and three Fords.

For a third consecutive week Kasey Kahne was the best finishing rookie, coming home third this week. The next best finish by a rookie was Brian Vickers in 21st.

Kenseth is the only driver with top 10 finishes in all four points races run this season. Stewart, Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Jeff Gordon all have three top 10 finishes this year.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kasey Kahne both have three top 5 finishes in those four races, while Kenseth has two. (Both wins.) Jeff Gordon hasn’t had a top 5 finish this season.

With four races run this season, Earnhardt Jr. and Kenseth have both won two.

Jeremy Mayfield scored his first top 5 and top 10 finish of the 2004 season. Ryan Newman scored his first top 5.

Greg Biffle scored his first top 10 finish since Dover last fall.

Michael Waltrip is still looking for his first top 20 finish of the season.

The F-Troop field –fillers claimed the 38th to 43rd place finishing positions. Who would have guessed?

What’s the Points?

Matt Kenseth maintains the points lead (He’s now led after 36 straight points races) 82 points ahead of new second place points man Tony Stewart Dale Earnhardt Jr. rebounds four spots to third in the standings. Kasey Kahne also advances four spots and is now fourth despite his struggles at Daytona. Jeff Gordon drops a spot to round out the top 5.

Jimmie Johnson leapt ahead ten spots and is now in the top 10 in points, currently showing ninth. Jeremy Mayfield also entered the top 10 this week, moving ahead seven spots to seventh. Bobby Labonte advanced one spot from eleventh to tenth.

Casey Mears blown engine caused him to tumble out of the top 10, falling back nine positions to nineteenth. Mears’ Ganassi teammate Jamie McMurray also lost and engine and fell from ninth to sixteenth. Kevin Harvick had a terrible run and fell six positions back to twelfth.

Rusty Wallace lost the most positions Sunday falling ten spots to 22nd.

Ryan Newman is now just two points outside the top 10 in eleventh having advanced eleven spots this week.

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 three cans of lukewarm generic stuff. The first half of the race was atrocious, but the racing did improve there at the end.

Next Up – Darlington and Bristol. Is this a great time to be a fan or what?

Related Topics:

NASCAR Sprint Cup, 2004

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