Wrap: Busch league

Updated: March 29, 2004, 10:40 AM ET
ESPN.com

ESPN.com takes a look at what went down in the racing world this past weekend.

Kurt Busch
Busch has got no worries at Bristol.

Biggest surprise: A couple of long green flag runs -- and the general lack of carnage during Sunday's Food City 500 at Bristol. Sure, there were some wrecks, but none of the spectacular variety. And compared to the Bristol night race last August (20 cautions), Sunday's 11-caution show was a cakewalk.

Biggest non-surprise: Kurt Busch winning at Bristol -- and Rusty Wallace being in contention.

Also, Matt Kenseth downplaying his run-in with Jamie McMurray. He got spun heading to the pits after the race but barely batted an eyelash.

And Scott Dixon turning solid times during his test with Williams in France last week. Dixon might be the champion of the all-oval IRL, but he's got plenty of road racing experience -- including a tenure in CART -- from which to draw. Dixon-Coulthard at Williams in '05? Who knows ...

Biggest disappointment: Wallace. So close ...

Also, Kasey Kahne, who was sent into the wall by McMurray during Sunday's race. Kahne blamed McMurray, saying, "We'll get him back sometime soon." But the wreck was closer to being "one of them racing deals" than it was a clear error or overaggressive move on McMurray's part.

And Dale Jarrett. He spent much of the day climbing toward the front after starting back in 30th before getting loose and hitting the wall. DJ managed to keep his car on the track, but only to finish a disappointing 21st.

Gutsy move: Martin Truex Jr. and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Truex scored his first Busch win driving for Earnhardt Jr. and Teresa Earnhardt's Chance 2 team. Truex, who is now third in Busch points, had some success prior to this year but was mostly an unproven commodity when he was picked to drive the Chance 2 car. He has made the Earnhardts look good early on, notching three top-four finishes in the last four races.

Also, Tony Stewart, down a lap, getting out of the way of the leaders on a late restart. That was the right move.

Sterling Marlin's solid Sunday showing also deserves mention, as does Ken Schrader's performance (see below).

Boneheaded move: McMurray and Stewart. Each were involved in back-and-forths with another driver -- and each went too far. For McMurray, it was Kenseth. They bumped and banged and Kenseth might have been to blame for the on-track run-ins (though that is debatable), but McMurray childishly over-reacted by spinning Kenseth after the race ... after he had already bumped the 17 car moments before.

In Stewart's case, he and Scott Wimmer exchanged unpleasantries and traded paint. Under a caution, Wimmer hit Stewart -- which was out of line -- and Stewart responded. That's fine, but then Stewart hit Wimmer again. Chill out (the same advice goes out to numerous participants in Saturday's Busch series race).

Stewart asserted that fans enjoy drivers who show emotions rather than just thanking their team and saying they'll be back next week. We wholeheartedly agree. There is a difference, however, between speaking your mind and running people over. Overaggressiveness on Stewart's part seems particularly unnecessary considering he's clearly one of the best -- if not the best -- driver in Nextel Cup. Seeing a second-rate driver bang his way through the field is one thing, but Stewart simply shouldn't need to -- especially with the alarming frequency that he seems to put his No. 20 car into somebody else's bumper.

Also, Mike Bliss, who gave up a top-three finish in Saturday's Busch race when he came into the pits under caution before crossing the finish line. Bliss, who finished 17th, said a track official waved at him, making Bliss think that the race was over.

Speaking of problems with the pits, Jeff Gordon spent a little too much time on the pit access road, knocking himself off the lead lap. Gordon did recover to finish ninth.

Redemption: Michael Waltrip was very nearly taken out again. This time, he managed to save his car after being nudged loose. Waltrip drove to a 10th-place finish, easily his best of the season. A great effort for the No. 15 team after his atrocious luck to start the season.

Random stat: 6 in 5. Ken Schrader's sixth-place finish was his best in a Cup points race since he scored a couple of sixth-place finishes back in 1999 -- five years ago. Schrader also jumped six spots to 27th in Cup points on Sunday.

Random thought: It's Bristol -- where the heck is Jimmy Spencer?

General amazement: Ryan Newman (another pole) and Kurt Busch (another Bristol win). What's even more amazing is that Busch survived what he admitted was the wrong decision to not pit during a caution on lap 382.

Quote: "Is Jeanne Zelasko going to pop out of that thing?" -- Chris Myers, on the giant birthday cake presented to him on-air.

Photo: Check out the photo of the week. Attention Bahrain: F1 is coming! And, um, so is an airplane.

Tell us what you think: Share your thoughts with us about the weekend's action.

 
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