Wilson’s NASCAR Notes – Top Stories from Bristol Weekend
Miss anything that happened in NASCAR over the weekend? You don’t need to waste time scouring the ‘net and reading pages and pages worth of information: here are the biggest stories in NASCAR from the weekend of racing at Bristol Motor Speedway, and I won’t just tell you what happened – I’ll tell you what I think, too!
Kyle Sweeps Bristol…Again
The Story: Another weekend at Bristol, and another dominant performance by Kyle Busch. The Shrub continued his incredible display of racing prowess at the Bullring, winning both the Nationwide and Sprint Cup races Saturday and Sunday – his fourth and fifth-straight victories at the Tennessee short-track, respectively. The Nationwide win was the dominant performance, with Busch leading 268 of 300 laps, while Kyle had to rely on some help from his team in the Cup event; an incredibly fast final pit stop got the No.18 car out in front of Carl Edwards and leader Jimmie Johnson, then Kyle did the rest – holding off the No.99 for his second checkered flag of the weekend.
Wilson’s Take: I’m going to leave the whole ‘Cup drivers in Nationwide’ issue out of this and just address Kyle’s overall performance, which was nothing short of amazing. He obviously has this place figured out, and it will be very interesting to see if he can keep his string of wins going when all three NASCAR series return here in August.
Bristol Winners and Losers
The Story: Obviously Kyle Busch was the story of the day at Bristol, but there were many more kudos to be handed out at the Bullring. Jimmie Johnson proved that Hendrick Motorsports – and specifically the No.48 team – still has something left in the tank, turning in a dominating performance, and Carl Edwards continued his hot run to start 2011 with a strong second-place showing. Probably the biggest surprise, though, was the effort turned in by Paul Menard; while RCR teammates Kevin Harvick, Jeff Burton and Clint Bowyer all had problems, Menard produced another solid result – finishing fifth – and moves up to fifth in the points.
Wilson’s Take: Seriously, who would have thought Menard would be performing this well?? It is not a fluke, either – the No.27 team has been genuinely solid this season. That said, the performance of the day still goes to Edwards; if it weren’t for his bizarre run-in with Kyle Busch at Phoenix, there is no question the No.99 team would be leading the standings right now, and his second-place effort at Bristol just reinforces he is the best driver in the sport. The biggest loser Sunday? Juan Montoya – JPM drove his way from 36th all the way into the top-10, then his team let him down by not bolting a wheel on correctly. As a result, he had to settle for a 24th place finish. Without the mistake, JPM probably leaves Bristol third in points – instead, he is eighth.
Edwards Contract Talk
The Story: In a break from their normally mundane and thoroughly non-engaging coverage, FOX actually tried to be remotely interesting Sunday by having the usually confused-sounding D.W. quiz Carl Edwards on his contract status for next season. Carl did his best to avoid the issue, saying that he just wants a chance to win races and championships, and was non-committal on what he may do in 2012.
Wilson’s Take: I’ll tell you right now where Edwards is going next year – absolutely nowhere. Seriously, where else would he go? The stable at Hendrick Motorsports is full, and the only other real option is RCR…and it is arguable that they could offer Carl anything better than Roush has (I’d say they can’t…not at this point), and they would have to get rid of Jeff Burton to make it happen, which I don’t see. Edwards (admirably) represents himself in contract negotiations, and I don’t see any reason he and Jack Roush won’t come up with an agreeable long-term contract. There is absolutely, 100% no way Carl won’t be with the No.99 team next year. Book it.
Jennifer Jo Cobb Wants to Race
The Story: In one of the most bizarre disagreements between a driver an a team owner in recent NASCAR history, Jennifer Jo Cobb squared off with Second-Chance Motorsports owner Rick Russell this weekend. After Cobb wrecked the No.79 car in the Nationwide race at Vegas two weeks ago, Russell said that he intended on doing a start-and-park this weekend at Bristol to try to make enough money to run at California. Russell even showed up to Bristol without a pit crew. This didn’t sit well with Cobb and her sponsors, who have been renting the No.79 car this season – so they hired a pit crew, bought a bunch of tires and said they were intending on running the entire race. Craziness then ensued – Russell threatened to have the No.79 car black-flagged if they tried to run competitively, at which point Cobb pulled herself, her team and her tires about five minutes before the green flag flew Saturday. Second Chance put Chris Lawson (??) behind the wheel, who came out mid-race to run four laps and park the car. Cobb and crew chief Steve Kuykendall both announced that they will not be back with the team.
Wilson’s Take: Good for them. Listen, I know – Cobb isn’t that good, and there was little chance she would do anything significant at a place as tough as Bristol. But seriously, I am tired of these start-and-park teams – if you want to go racing, go frickin’ racing, don’t just run five laps and call it a day. Cobb and Kuykendall were justified in wanting to actually run the race – that is what the fans pay to see, it is what Cobb was paying to do, and it is supposedly what Kuykendall was paid to do. Put up, or shut up, I say – NASCAR needs to make rules to eliminate these start-and-park cars. It cheapens the sport not to do so.
Next Week: The Sprint Cup and Nationwide Series both head to sunny SoCal to race at Auto Club Speedway in Fontana, while the Camping World Truck Series sits one more week before reappearing at Martinsville.