Sunday, May 31, 2009

Sunday Superlatives - Dover Edition

The Autism Speaks 400 wasn't the most exciting race of the season, but it did have its moments. Below are the winners and losers of The Monster Mile.

The Two Things At Once Award: With another 2nd-place finish at Dover and a new first place spot in The Chase, Tony Stewart gets my vote as the guy who's most likely to make this driver/owner thing work. Not only are the teams of Stewart-Haas Racing competitive in their first year out, they're damned good. With rumors abounding that Smoke will add a third car to his stable in 2010, it looks like this is one driver who can own a team and still be a formidable on-track contender.

Smooth Move of the Race: For sheer racing gravitas, this award goes to David Reutimann. The pole sitter found himself in an uncomfortable position when David Stremme wrecked right in front of him. But with some quick-thinking smoothness, Reutimann spun his car around the careening Stremme to avoid one monster of a crash. "The Franchise's" move saved the day and helped give Michael Waltrip Racing a top 20 finish.

Weekend Game-Changer: Rick Hendrick made a tough call this week, replacing Tony Eury Jr. with Lance McGrew atop the #88 pit box. And, from the sound of the team's radio chatter and Dale Jr's 12th-place finish, it looks like the crew chief shake-up was a good thing. Not only did the switch appease Junior Nation, McGrew's calls seemed to satisfy his driver as well. Junior told the media after the race, "I was pretty pleased that we were making good gains on the car all race long."

Instant Karma's Gonna Get You Award: Kyle Busch made headlines this week taking yet another verbal jab at Dale Earnhardt Jr., his favorite punching bag. But in the end, Busch's punches came back to haunt him. Call it instant karma or poetic justice, but Busch lost Saturday's Nationwide race to Brad Keselowski (who just happpens to drive for the Dale Jr.-owned JR Motorsports). As if that wasn't enough, Busch finished Sunday's Cup race in 23rd spot, well behind Dale Jr's 12-place-finish. Of course, Busch will likely blame tire trouble and/or equipment failure for his lackluster performances. After all, it's never the driver's fault. Right, Kyle?

Killer Pit Crew Performance: Matt Kenseth's Killer Bees secured a leading spot for their driver in one heckuva pit stop. Too bad Kenseth's car didn't have the goods to contend for the win. But kudos to his crew for their fantastic performance.

Rebound of the Race: Greg Biffle went from one lap down to having a legitmate shot at the checkers. Taking just two tires on the last pit stop put the #16 Ford in position to win. But in the end, Johnson and Stewart proved too much for The Biff. Still, third place is nothing to sneer at--and it's Biffle's ninth top 10 finish at Dover.

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