Friday, February 26, 2010

Winners and Losers: Can Jimmie Johnson win back-to-back?

The NASCAR Sprint Cup series heads to the desert this week but last week the teams hit Auto Club Speedway for the first intermediate track race of the season. Sunday’s race at ACS was a good measuring stick of just who was ready to challenge Hendrick Motorsports and Jimmie Johnson.


Winners


Jimmie Johnson

You can call him lucky, but do recognize he is also just that good. Jimmie Johnson does not need luck to win a race but on Sunday he got exactly that. Johnson was pitting as the caution came out, he beat leader, Jeff Burton off of pit road and when the leaders came to pit Johnson was able to stay out and inherit the lead.

Johnson held off a hard charging Kevin Harvick hit the wall Johnson was able to pull away with the lead.

Expect his luck to continue this weekend at Las Vegas Motor Speedway. Johnson has three wins, three top fives and four top 10 finishes. Johnson also has a series best drivers rating of 113.6 with an average finish of 11th.

Points: 12th


Kevin Harvick

After the year Richard Childress Racing had in 2009, their hot start to the season has turned more than just a few heads. For Kevin Harvick he has came out of the off season on fire. At ACS Harvick quietly ran in the top 10 for most of the day.

After multiple cautions Harvick found himself running leader Johnson down in the closing laps of the race. The only thing that cost him the win was when he smacked the wall with only a handful of laps left. That slowed his momentum and he was unable to catch Johnson and finished second.

RCR has never won at LVMS but that could change Sunday. With two top fives and three top 10s, Harvick recent resurgence should continue this weekend

Points: First


Losers


Jeff Gordon

It has not been the start to the season that Jeff Gordon expected. Suffering spark plug issues throughout the second half of the race, Gordon and his team settled for a 20th place finish.

The finish does not tell the whole story for Gordon on Sunday he had a fast car and was able to work his way into the top 10. He led some laps but struggled on the restarts and lost multiple spots.

LVMS has been an interesting track for Gordon, he suffered his hardest hit in his career at the track in 2008. He also has won at LVMS, five top fives and six top 10 finishes. The team is off to a slow start but I think a solid finish here on Sunday could get this season back on track.

Points: 22nd


Jamie McMurray

What a two weeks it has been for Jamie McMurray. After winning the Daytona 500, McMurray has been on a whirlwind media event and he laid down the fastest lap in qualifying for Sunday’s event at ACS.

As the green flag waved McMurray began struggling with the handling of the car. They dropped back to mid pack which is where they ran for most of the day. A poor handling race car cost them a better finish, he finished 17th.

At LVMS in his last five starts he has one top five and three top 10 finishes. His average finish is 16.9. The question for McMurray is can he rebound and continue his early season magic?

Points: Fourth


Final Lap…

On Sunday there were a lot of comers and goers. We saw teams struggle with engine problem and axle wear. That being said it is still early in the season and the real picture will not be known till after Bristol in March.

My dark horse picks for Sunday are Kyle Busch. Now to say Busch is a dark horse is kind of hard to believe. He has one win, three top fives and four top 10 finishes. I expect to see Busch up front early and often on Sunday.

My other dark horse is Joey Logano. No more a rookie Logano is showing that on the track with strong performance week after week going back into 2009. Logano has only run one race in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series with an average finish of 13th.

Check out the Shelby American Sunday on FOX at 3 pm est.

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