Hot Laps

    You can't ask for better finishes than what we've seen in the last four NEXTEL Cup Series races.

    Jimmie Johnson edged Tony Stewart to win at Atlanta. Kyle Busch and Jeff Burton battled to the wire at Bristol. Then it was teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon beating on each other to the checkered flag at Martinsville.

    On Sunday, it was Burton slipping by Matt Kenseth on the final lap after a side-by-side battle for the top spot to win the Samsung 500 at Texas Motor Speedway.

    It's been a resfreshing change of pace after an early season stretch that saw snoozers at California and Las Vegas as follow-ups to the wild opening round at Daytona.

    And although Hendrick Motorsports has ben the dominant force in the first part of the season, the balance of competition isn't totally out of whack.

    The next string of races which will find the series shuffling between the "Car of Tomorrow," a restrictor plate race at Talladega and a couple more COTS races before returning to the current NEXTEL Cup ride at Charlotte should make things even more interesting.

    But so far, five of the first seven races of the Cup season have given us finishes about as good as it gets.

  • What an amazing turn of events in the final stages on Sunday that saw Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch go from contenders to also-rans in a blink of an eye. Guess that's why Texas had a streak of 12 different winners in a dozen races coming into the weekend.

  • How strange to have Junior driving Kyle Busch's car in the final laps of the race Sunday. Busch ran over Earnhardt, Jr. in the melee that ended both of their chances to win and apparently left the track in a huff. But when the No. 5 car was repaired, it was none other than Junior behind-the-wheel to finish things up in relief. Hmmmm, if the DEI talks stall, how about a Budweiser Chevrolet driven by Junior out of the Hendrick stable? Not the first time the red beer label has been with the team.

  • Roush Fenway Racing had another good day at Texas on Sunday with three drivers in the top ten. Jamie McMurray continues to impress, this time with a top five finish.

  • Also a tip of the hat to Ganassi Racing with Juan Pablo Montoya and David Stremme both in the top ten. Stremme may be the most surprising driver of the early season, at least in the team photo with McMurray.

  • Speaking of Montoya, the "rookie" is still getting moans from many drivers who don't trust racing with him, some calling him a "wild man" on the radio.

  • Almost forgot to mention Mark Martin, who didn't miss a beat after sitting out for three weeks. An amazing story to say the least.

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Monster Energy NASCAR Cup, 2007

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