Las Vegas Recap

The Key Moment - Kevin Harvick, Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson all beat Matt Kenseth, who had been dominant most of the day, off pit road after the final pit stop. But Kenseth was not to be denied and he drove back to the lead on lap 230.

In a Nutshell – Kenseth was in a class by himself for most of mainly tepid race.

Dramatic Moment- Dramatic moments were sadly lacking on Sunday. I guess if I had to pick one it would be Kasey Kahne’s late race charge back to second but most fans were probably snoozing on their couches by then.

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

So I guess this new aero/tire package that was going to make for more side by side racing didn’t work, huh?

Think maybe Kenseth is out to prove something after all that criticism last year he didn’t deserve to be champion with just one race win? Sunday’s dominating victory is about as close as you’ll ever get to normally staid Kenseth “rednecking up” on you and hollering, “Hey, ya’ll watch this.”

What in blazes was wrong with the 8 car all day? It looked like those guys showed up with a knife at a gunfight.

After the officiating during the Busch race on Saturday is it time to start drug testing NASCAR officials?

Where the heck did this Kasey Kahne kid come from?

Is it time to for NASCAR to sit Johnny Sauter out for a race weekend?

47% of the fans who voted in that poll think Las Vegas deserves a second race date? What channel were they watching?

Robert Goulet is still alive? Who knew?

If NASCAR has such a tough anti-dope stance, how come those two dopes are still in the Hollywood Hotel?

What’s going to happen at Scott Wimmer’s DWI hearing this week? Will NASCAR suspend him?

The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune

Kevin Harvick ran out of fuel while running second with three laps to go. To add insult to injury he also was penalized on the subsequent stop for too many men over the wall. He fell back to 21st in the final rundown.

Kyle Busch’s Cup debut didn’t go too well. He hit the wall twice in the first eight laps and retired.

Greg Biffle failed to qualify for last year’s Cup race at Vegas. This year he qualified, but blew an engine early and finished 40th . And the strange part is in five combined starts in the Busch and trucks series, Biffle has never finished outside the top 10 at Vegas.

Jimmie Johnson damaged the nose of his car in the pits after entering pit lane as the leader. He fought his way back into the top 10 but a late gamble for two tires on the final pit stop cost Johnson big time and he backslid to sixteenth.

Jeff Gordon had one of the worst weekends of his Cup career. He hit the wall in qualifying Friday and blew an engine in Saturday practice which meant he had to start shotgun on the field Sunday. For most of the race he was running like a one legged man on an icy slope, yet somehow Gordon managed to rally back to the top 10. But the car faded again late and Gordon fell back to fifteenth.

Michael Waltrip got spun into the wall and finished outside the top 30 for the third time in three races this season. If he doesn’t get things turned around soon Waltrip is going to miss the “Brilliant” Chase for the Championship.

Scott Wimmer was fourth in the points entering Las Vegas but blew an engine early in the event.

Jeff Green and Kevin Lepage had decent runs spoiled late in the event. Green hit the wall while running fourteenth and LePage lost an engine while running thirteenth.

The Fans- The ride from the track back to the Strip lasted longer than Britney Spears’ marriage for a lot of fans.

The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune

Jack Roush now has five Cup wins as a car owner at Vegas in addition to three Busch victories and a truck series win at LMVS.

Jamie McMurray bounced off the wall early in the race and knocked out his front alignment, but rallied back to a fourth place finish.

In the middle portions of the race Kahne lost the handle on his race car and dropped through the field. After some late race adjustments he was able to rally back to second.

Dale Jarrett entered the dreaded Satuer Triangle and emerged with his car intact, if only barely.

Worth Noting

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

Matt Kenseth is the only driver with three top 10s in the first three races of the 2004 Cup season. Five drivers are tied with two top 5 finishes in those first three races; Kenseth, Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kasey Kahne and Jamie McMurray.

Kasey Kahne was the top finishing rookie in second. The next best finishing rookie was Brendan Gaughan way back in 22nd.

Matt Kenseth and Kasey Kahne finished 1-2 for the second week in a row. Kahne also finished second in Saturday’s Busch race. It was the first time in his career Kenseth won consecutive Cup races. His best previous pair of consecutive races were first at Texas and second the next week at Martinsville in 2002.

There have been six caution periods in the last three Cup races run at LVMS.

Mark Martin scored his first top 5 finish since Pocono last June.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered his worst finish since Dover last September.

Kyle Petty had his best finish since Talladega in the spring of 2003.

Casey Mears had his first career top 10 Cup finish coming home seventh.

Jamie McMurray scored back to back top 5 finishes in Cup races for the first time since Bristol/Darlington last fall.

Derrike Cope wins the F-Troop award with a 33rd place finish.

Edwin Murrow Awards for TV Excellence

Leave it to Jeannie Zelasko to ask Robby Gordon, driver of the Cingular Wireless Chevy, if he calls his friends on a Nextel phone. Leave it to Gordon to respond Cingular has better service than Nextel. It’s hard to guess which company was more peeved by the interview.

Has Darrell Waltrip had a facelift, Botox shots or something to remove the lines from his forehead? Probably not. If he had DW would doubtless find a way to make a few bucks schilling the procedures during race broadcasts.

The Star Spangled Banner as a show tune? Who knew? Now if they’d just been able to add dancing fountains and a few scantily clad showgirls we’d really have had something. Something even more insulting to this country.

What’s the Points?

Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s two week stay atop the points ended in dramatic fashion with Earnhardt falling back to seventh in the standings. Kenseth returns to the top of the heap where he spent all but four weeks last year.

Tony Stewart, Elliott Sadler, Jeff Gordon and Kurt Busch round out the top 5. Harvick slid back three positions in the points to sixth.

It’s early in the season and the points positions are volatile but Sunday’s big advancer was Kasey Kahne who vaulted thirteen positions forward to eighth place. Other notables heading forward include Jeff Burton (up eleven spots to thirtieth) Mark Martin (up eight spots to twentieth) and Bobby Labonte (up six spots to eleventh).

Sunday’s big losers in the points were Scott Wimmer (down twelve spots to sixteenth) Greg Biffle (down thirteen spots to 27th) and Ryan Newman (down nine spots to 21st.)

Of the drivers who have competed in all three races, Michael Waltrip is in the worst points position, currently ranked 38th.

At 32 Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart are the oldest two drivers in the top 10 in Cup points.

Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) Give it one and half Oreos. You don’t expect much out of the cookie cutters.

Next Up – It’s off to Atlanta, the fastest track on the circuit, and one of the few that hasn’t announced plans to install the SAFER barriers.

Related Topics:

Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2004

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