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Thursday, March 4, 2010

My NASCAR is Stuck on Repeat

 So, a quick recap of last week's race(s) at Vegas...everyone did almost exactly the same as they did at California the week before...
  • Danica crashed in the Nationwide race on Saturday and finished in the mid-30s.
  • Jimmie Johnson made a late move to take the lead and win the Sprint Cup Race on Sunday.
  • Kevin Harvick ran strong but finished second to Jimmie Johnson.
  • Juan Pablo looks strong, but bad luck ends his day early (engine at CA, wreck at NV).
  • Joey Logano with another solid finish looks well groomed to Chase in just his 2nd full season.
The big difference was that Jeff Gordon dominated most of the race...something that hasn't happened in a while for the Rainbow Warrior.

Look for a whole lot of the same action again this week as racing finally returns to its home stomping grounds in the Southeast at Atlanta Motor Speedway. The shape and banking of the track make it very similar -if not a little faster- than Las Vegas.

All these repeat performances have Richard Childress Racing all over the top of the standings with Kevin Harvick in 1st, Clint Bowyer in 2nd, and Jeff Burton in 7th. Jack Roush's Fords have been pretty consistent as well with Matt Kenseth 4th, Greg Biffle 6th, and Carl Edwards 10th. Lastly, Jimmie Johnson's consecutive wins have climbed him 30 spots to 5th after his rough start at Daytona. Meanwhile teammate Mark Martin has converted from the bipolar 2009 season (5 wins, 4 DNFs) to a model of consistency so far in 2010 (finished 12th, 4th, 4th) and he sits 3rd overall.

So after the smoke clears and another 500 miles are run, expect to see more of the same this week. I will of course still watch because the Sprint Cup takes its first weekend off after this. But things will be much more entertaining when NASCAR returns in 2 weeks to Bristol, TN. Saturday night short-track racing in Tennessee might not reach the same speeds we'll see in Atlanta (110 mph vs. 200+), but there will be more fenders bumping, more tempers flaring, more cautions waiving, and more drama building...this I promise you.

Week 4 Power Rankings [Sprint Cup Standing]:
1. Jimmie Johnson [5] - Let's keep this short and sweet. Unless this team hits a run of bad luck, he will be here all season.
2. Kevin Harvick [1] - Led laps in all 3 races, and was racing for the win at the end of each. He's showing why he's the leader of RCR with an average finish in the Top 5.
3. Mark Martin [3] - This kind of consistency in last year's Chase, and he could have thwarted Jimmie Johnson's record 4th consecutive title.
4. Tony Stewart [11] - Perhaps a bit overhyped to start the year. Everyone knows that "Smoke" gets real hot when the weather does too. Even if he slips a few more spots before May/June, watch for a big comeback in the Summer.
5. Clint Bowyer [2] - One of NASCAR's new "good-old-boys". Bowyer races clean and his team is fast. If he had a little more killer instinct, he might be a legitimate title contender.
6. Matt Kenseth [4] - Okay, so I move Kenseth from not on my board to 6th. It's still early, I'm allowed. More importantly, can Kenseth stay here? He started great last year and faded to miss the Chase.
7. Greg Biffle [6] - Biffle hasn't started races very well this year, but he's finished all 3 in the Top 10. Atlanta should keep him in check one more week.
8. Joey Logano [8] - This kid is growing up fast. He lucked into a win in 2009, but don't be surprised if he does it the right way in 2010...and soon!
9. Scott Speed [16] - Like Logano, he's in just his 2nd full season in Sprint Cup. He's led laps in the first 3 races. His finishes aren't quite up to par yet, but leading in every race is probably the shock of the season thus far.
10. Juan Pablo Montoya [27] - Bad luck has put a strong racer in this position. The only reason he's in this spot and not Kyle Busch is because Busch is holding 12th spot without making any noise...pick a fight already! Otherwise, Montoya stays one more week.
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