5 Questions After ... Shelby American

NASCAR is heading back east for a while, as their annual trek across the west coast has finally come to an end (though it only lasted a couple weeks). NASCAR won’t be racing anywhere outside the east coast until the series heads to Phoenix in April. We might want to keep an eye on Jimmie Johnson when we head out there, because he has yet to lose a race out west this season. It has basically every fan, but Jimmie’s, fuming. Heck, they may even start cheering for Kyle Busch just to find someone who could beat him! But that would never happen right?

Anyways, here are a few questions I have in mind after the Shelby American!

The Shelby American what exactly? … What kind of sick, twisted person decided to call it the Shelby American without an actual number? I know technically it’s the Shelby American presented by GT 350 (or something along those lines), and I’ve even heard people refer to it as the “Shelby American 400.” Anything but just “Shelby American.” Throughout the weekend, you heard people saying “Welcome back to the Shelby American”, “qualifying has begun for the Shelby American”, “the caution lights are broken in the Shelby American.” Las Vegas Motor Speedway isn’t the only racetrack with a sense of humor either. Bristol Motor Speedway’s fall race will be referred to as the “Irwin Tools Night Race.” That flows a little bit easier than “Shelby American” though, doesn’t it?

What happened to the caution lights? … At one point in the race, the caution lights never shut off so they heard to put out the yellow to fix them. At a completely different time, the caution lights turned on for no reason at all. So let’s see… we’ve had potholes, rain, and now caution lights. Why is it that the most talked about topic coming out of each weekend is about cautions? It’s not about wrecks, either. It’s not even about debris! Cautions are coming out for the most random and unexpected circumstances. One can only imagine what will happen next!

When will the No. 48 team stop being so … um … good? … It’s gotten to the point where Jimmie could be running 26th, 2 laps down, with 20 laps to go and I’d still consider him a threat to win. Just to put last week’s race into perspective, Jeff Gordon had the best average running position, best driver rating, was the fastest early and late in a run, ran more fastest laps than any other driver, was fastest on restarts, had the highest green flag speed, spent more time in the top 15 than any other driver, and led the most laps. In other words, Gordon was FAST! Yet, he STILL got beat by teammate Johnson. While some of that might be attributed to the two tires Gordon was running on, as opposed to Johnson’s four, it’s looking like the No. 48 team is coming out stronger than they have in the past. Then again, could this be our best shot? After all, Johnson and company don’t normally start putting solid results on the board until around the summertime. Oh, sure, they hang around the top 5 in points for a while, and pick up a win here and there, but otherwise remain relatively quiet until the Chase rolls around. That’s definitely not how they’re doing things this season. Might it be time for King Jimmie to finally end his reign?

Anyone surprised at some of the names in the top 12? … Of the drivers who were in the top 12 at this point in the season last year, five of them went on to make the Chase. Thought that’s not even 50%, it’s still enough of the Chase to say that it’s kind of important to get your season off to a strong start. Granted, it’s a lot easier for things to go wrong and to plummet in the standings than it is to turn a new leaf and rocket to the top. Still, only two of the drivers that were in the top 12 at this point last year finished worse than 16th in the final points standings. Michael Waltrip and Bobby Labonte were the two drivers. Waltrip hasn’t finished in the top 12 in points since 1995, and Labonte since 2004. You decide.

Anyone notice the driver in 8th place? … It’s not so much that Joey Logano is doing so well that has me surprised. Honestly, I expected Logano to have somewhat of a break-out year. No, not many people expected him to start out this strong, but I can’t say I’m really surprised either. What has me a bit shocked is that he’s the one leading the Joe Gibbs Racing stable so far this season. In 2 of the 3 races run this season, Logano has finished higher than either of his JGR teammates: Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch. Remember, these two drivers had a combined eight wins last season and both finished in the top 15 in points. So, why would a driver who finished 20th in points last season, has only one win, and is in only his second year in the Cup Series be in the top 10 in points when the other two aren’t? (Busch is 12th, Hamlin is 26th). I don’t know. There could be many reasons. But keep an eye on that No. 20 car and see how long this lasts. It might surprise you.

Bonus questions: Is Jeff Gordon kicking himself after recommending Jimmie Johnson to Rick Hendrick? … When will the wings finally come off? … Are the NASCAR folks having withdrawals from In ‘n’ Out yet?

Photo courtesty of NASCARMedia. The opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
5 Questions After ... Shelby American 5 Questions After ... Shelby American Reviewed by Summer Dreyer on Tuesday, March 02, 2010 Rating: 5