Who would’ve thought that racing at Texas would be boring, especially under the (newly-replaced) lights? Nobody; after an off-week in the Sprint Cup Series, fans were geared up for some rough racing on the one-and-a-half mile track. With 24-degree banking and an asphalt surface, Saturday night had the potential to be an exciting battle. Unfortunately, all the thrilling racing happened Friday, and we got windy conditions and two cautions instead. Here’s a review of the Samsung Mobile 500:
The race wasn’t what we expected, but the winner, Greg Biffle, was no shock; he’s been leading the points for five races now, consistency his best friend. When he qualified third, picking him to do well was a safe bet. Roush-Fenway’s stats there helped his case, too; RFR claims the most wins, most top fives and tens, most laps led, and best average finish. The Biff hung in the top ten all night, Matt Puccia calling for tiny adjustments to fit the changing weather and track. After reeling in Jimmie Johnson again, Greg secured the lead and captured the checkered flag. It was his first win since Kansas in 2010, and it was also Puccia’s first win as a Sprint Cup crew chief. Although the strong finishes are making him the center of much Chase buzz already, we’re only seven races in. We can’t assume anything, and last year’s championship battle is the reason why. All I can say about The Biff is congrats, and keep the fire going, sir.
Michael Waltrip Racing has been tough as of late, aside from Clint Bowyer’s Martinsville Mishap. One of the more determined driver in the MWR camp has been Martin Truex Jr., who ended 2011 on a high note with strong finishes. So, he sat on the pole for this race, and there was an air of confidence from him and his team. He gained points by leading and running competitively, yet he fell off during a long green flag segment. When the final set of pit stops came around, however, his team got him out high enough in the running order; Truex made up spots and brought the car home sixth. In his post-race interview, however, the driver sounded not that enthused about his run. I can understand why; his ride was up and down on handling throughout the race. I wouldn’t worry about Martin, though. This makes for four consecutive top tens for the driver, and this hot streak will lead him to victory lane soon enough.
The anticipation is building for Hendrick Motorsports, who is still chasing that 200th Sprint Cup Series win. It almost happened Saturday, when it seemed that Jimmie Johnson had beaten the whole field when The Biff came up and took the lead from him. Despite this, the Hendrick cars were all in the top ten, a relief for Kasey Kahne, who has experienced bad luck since Daytona. That doesn’t seem bad, right? Not necessarily; HMS isn’t a team to go winless early in the season, especially after a heartbreaking run at Martinsville. They’ve been in the spotlight for many reasons, from Jimmie and Chad’s appeals to Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s success to bad luck for Jeff Gordon and Kahne, yet that light hasn’t pointed into Victory Lane yet. Don’t get me wrong, they will definitely win and get the 200th. The question that now arises is which driver will get that monumental win for Mr. H.
Now we go to Kansas, another one-and-a-half mile, D-shaped track with 15 degree banking in the turns, 10.5 on the frontstretch, and 5 on the back side. The NASCAR Camping World Trucks Series races on Saturday, the returning race winner Clint Bowyer, and I am choosing Ty Dillon or Parker Kligerman to take the checkered. On the Sprint Cup side on Sunday, Brad Keselowski won last year on fuel mileage, but he will be tough after a disappointing finish at Texas. For the win, it will either be Greg Biffle or Kasey Kahne, since both have gained confidence this past weekend.