Sunday, May 3, 2009

The Rematch That Wasn't

We all knew it would happen. On the one-year anniversary of the "spin heard 'round the world," Kyle Busch and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were asked to relive last year's Richmond finish live on NASCAR Raceday. Both were questioned separately about the 2008 on-track altercation and both, of course, had different ideas about who was at fault.

And if the chorus of boos and hisses that erupted around the Speed TV stage were any indication, fans still put the blame on Busch and were hankering for some good old-fashioned revenge.

But for all the pre-race hype, the Richmond Rematch failed to materialize. Earnhardt never contended for the win (the best he ran all night was eleventh). And unlike last spring, Busch had a much easier path to the checkers. Opening up a sizable lead during the last few laps, there were no Chevys in his way as he scored his first Richmond victory.

For the Junior faithful, Richmond was a big disappointment in more ways than one. Not only did the rematch at RIR never come close to happening, the #88 team couldn't even get their car in decent enough shape to hang with the leaders for long green-flag runs. Add some serious communication issues on pit road and Junior quickly became a lap-down non-issue.

So Junior left Richmond without vindication, while Busch fans gleefully racked up more bragging rights. Not only did their favorite driver win Richmond on his birthday, he's also now poised to contend for the 2009 Championship.

And for the disappointed Junior Nation, that just adds insult to injury.

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