A “Cheers & Jeers” In Auto Racing For Over 11-years
If your a Kyle Busch fan, you’re definitely going to be throwing out the green flag on his pole position, but will want to throw out a black flag to the engine department on having to change engines, forcing Kyle to have to start the Shelby 427 from the rear of the field. But then, maybe Kyle needs to change engines every week,as starting from the rear didn’t stop him from taking his #18 M&M’s JGR Toyota to the front, and keeping it there when it mattered the most.
“The M&M’s guys worked so hard on Friday to change the engine,” Busch said. “It put us in a hole, but we came back and won the pole and worked on the car because we knew Sunday was the day that counted the most.”
Kyle throws a green flag to Steve Addington, the crew chief for the #18 team; as well as the rest of the crew, for their work on getting the engine changed, and the car setup for Kyle.
“This team does a phenomenal job for me – they’re so great, added the hometown hero. “They believe in me, they believe in Steve Addington (crew chief) and that’s the mixture that we need. We’re able to win races. We didn’t have the best car today, but I feel like I drove a smart race anyway and did what we needed to do. We worked on it all day and kept making it better.
Roush Fenway Racing has a couple black flags flying, as Matt Kenseth and teammates David Ragan (finished 42nd) and Carl Edwards (unlike with Kenseth and Ragan’s early engine failures, Edwards’ woes came on the last lap, and finished 17th), all suffered engine failure during the Shelby 427.
Matt Kenseth, who won the first two races of the season and finished 43rd Sunday, throws a black flag, as the engine failure kept him from trying to win three-in-a-row, and it all happened on the first lap of the race. This could have been an historical event, as no one has ever won the first three races of the season.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever dropped out on lap one before. It’s never really easy. We didn’t even really get to race today and we qualified bad, so it was a pretty long weekend for nothing. It’s disappointing no matter what. I’m glad we did great the last two weeks, but, really, you take it one week at a time and shift your focus to that race each and every week, so it’s always disappointing when something like that happens.”
Engine woes weren’t limited to Toyota or Ford, but Chevrolet had them as well, as for the second week in a row, Mark Martin, driver of the #5 Hendrick Motorsports car, suffered engine failure and finished 40th. Martin was running 4th at the time when something let go in his engine, but unlike last week where the failure was easily explainable, this week’s failure left them scratching their heads.
“I know we probably knocked our bearings out. We broke a rod. They’ll figure it out. They’re already all over it. Last week was pretty explainable. It was a different batch of valve springs. I’ve seen that movie before in my career. I know how that works. So, this one is a little bit more puzzling. The oil pump belt is still on it. I can’t understand what happened. This stuff is usually bulletproof. But I feel bad for Alan and the whole race team. They’re getting it done. They’re doing a great job. We’re getting better. We were better today. I think we were making progress also throughout the race. And we’ll get better. But it’s a pretty devastating result for us today.”
A green flag goes out to Jamie McMurray, driver of the #26 Roush Fenway Racing Ford Fusion, for his control of an out of control race car while fighting the flu, and finishing 9th despite of all that.
“Someone got into my left rear and it just got me loose. I didn’t hold it wide open the whole time, but I just modulated the gas pedal and the steering wheel,” stated McMurray on his car getting sideways for most of the turn. “I was really worried because I was a little groggy from having a cold and I didn’t feel like I was as alert as what I needed to be and when that was over I thought, ‘Pretty alert.’ …It took me three or four laps to get gathered up. When everyone passed me then I was just kind of like, ‘I need to get going here.
Last but not least, several green flags go out to Clint Bowyer, Jeff Burton, David Reutimann and Bobby Labonte, for their solid runs and finishing second, third, fourth and fifth respectfully.
Due to Matt Kenseth’s misfortune in Sunday’s Shelby 427, Jeff Gordon took over the top spot in the point standings, with Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, Greg Biffle and David Reutimann rounding out the top-5.
Next up on the Sprint Cup agenda is Atlanta Motor Speedway on March 8th, another fast track where the teams will have to keep an eye on rpm and tires. (Note: There will be an off-weekend the following weekend after Atlanta).