Monday, March 10, 2008

Peach State Snoozer

Kyle Busch’s trip to victory lane in a Camry surely will stir more than a few NASCAR purists who have ripped the foreign automaker for daring to run in Spring Cup. Those people soon may have more to worry about since Gibb’s Toyotas have been stout in the first four races this year. Several more wins and a championship aren’t out of the question.

Besides Toyota’s breakthrough victory, though, the racing at Atlanta was a snooze. The most excitement came when Busch nearly slammed his car into the front stretch wall during the burnout. There weren’t many chances for the leaders to bunch up and race because of just a few debris cautions and routine Elliot Sadler spinouts. Drivers blamed the poor racing on Goodyear’s decision to use a harder tire. The cars fish-tailed coming out of Turn 4 on a lap-by-lap basis.

The second-place finisher, Tony Stewart, ripped the tires and Goodyear. He suggested the tire maker get out of the sport and welcomed a change to Firestone and Hoosier. That might not be the brightest of ideas, Tony. I find it hard to believe Smoke would take his car on the track with the same rubber that apparently caused two fatal crashes at Daytona in 1994. Neil Bonnett and Rodney Orr died in single-car crashes during practice when each blew a tire. Both cars were running Hoosier tires in its doomed return to NASCAR.

Carl Edwards proved a missing oil lid and crew chief won’t slow him down this year. The only thing that stopped him from three-peating was a broken transmission with 50 laps to go. It certainly seemed bizarre to see the fastest car on the track leaving a plume of smoke behind it.

One driver that appears to be struggling is Jimmie Johnson. True, it’s early in the season, but neither he nor teammate Jeff Gordon has much to show for the season besides a couple of poles. When was the last time Hendrick Motorsports started the year 0-for-4?

The series heads to Bristol this weekend and the story surely will be Dale Jarrett. It is expected to be his final start in the Cup series before he moves permanently into the broadcast booth. DJ had a fabulous career and it will be disappointing to see him leave. But he should be a great addition to ESPN.

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