Wrap: Dude, what a weekend

Updated: April 5, 2004, 10:22 PM ET
ESPN.com

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

Bahrain Grand Prix
Bahrain successfully protected its massive investment this weekend.

Biggest surprise: Danny "The Dude" Lasoski winning Friday's IROC race. Sure, Lasoski can drive -- but winning wire-to-wire in a stock car? That's quite a feat, especially considering NASCAR drivers had won the last six IROC races. (Of course, we'd still love to see Paul Tracy in IROC, but that's a different story.)

And Phil Burkart scoring the Funny Car win at Vegas. OK, Burkart is now with a major team, so it's not a huge surprise. But he has knocked off John Force in head-to-head matchups twice this season, including in the semis at The Strip in Vegas.

While we're on the NHRA, Larry Dixon did make it to the Top Fuel final, losing to Tony Schumacher. Schumacher leads the points, but two-time defending champ Dixon is sixth in points after four events.

Biggest non-surprise: Michael Schumacher winning from the pole in Bahrain. Maybe just more fodder for Ferrari haters, but Schumacher is awesome.

Also, Chad Reed (ninth 250cc win) and James Stewart (sixth 125cc win) scoring SX wins at the Silverdome this weekend.

And Kevin Lepage being fired by Morgan-McClure. Not that Lepage deserved it, but that team seems to have a history of blaming mediocre performances on its drivers.

Biggest disappointment: Jeff Gordon, whose battery problems might have cost him a win. Of course, he was only leading the race due to a stroke of luck.

Also, Juan Pablo Montoya. He appeared to be en route to the podium in Bahrain before losing gears late in the race and finishing 13th. (Montoya likely is also keeping an eye on the McLaren team he'll join next year and the myriad of problems David Coulthard and Kimi Raikkonen are encountering.)

And Sterling Marlin and Derrike Cope, who were each having strong runs before various pit, mechanical and/or concrete wall problems cost them shots at a good finish.

Finally, Bobby Hamilton Jr. He was passed fair and square by Matt Kenseth before a late caution in Saturday's Busch race, but an engine glitch on the restart cost him any chance at battling Kenseth for the win.

Gutsy move: A terrific battle between race-winner Elliott Sadler -- who could use more days like Sunday to keep his career moving in the right direction -- and Kasey Kahne at Texas.

The finish wasn't so terrific for Bobby Labonte, however. Labonte, who got scorched by some impressive part-time driver named Bill Elliott when the green flag dropped, took the race lead with a gas-and-go pit stop (OK, so we're partial to gas-and-gos). Of course, Labonte's battery problem eliminated any hopes of a win from the pole.

Also, the inaugural Bahrain Grand Prix. Despite security concerns and questions as to whether the new circuit would even be ready, the race -- which featured a solid amount of good action -- went off smoothly.

And BAR. Jenson Button scores another podium and Takuma Sato overcomes all sorts of adversity to come home fifth.

Boneheaded move: Just an honest mistake, but Jimmie Johnson's pit crew losing track of a tire, leading NASCAR to penalize the No. 48 team. Johnson would rebound to finish ninth, but a top-five likely would have been in the cards.

Also, a near-boneheaded move for Johnny Sauter. He did make an effort to get out of the way when Sadler and Kahne battled for the win, but he could have pulled completely out of the way on a couple of different occasions. Sauter and/or his spotter are lucky Sadler came away with the win.

And what was Ralf Schumacher thinking when he cut off Sato? Ralf was reprimanded after the race, in which he still managed to score points by finishing seventh.

Redemption: Rusty Wallace had a couple of bad finishes -- 35th at Atlanta, 29th at Darlington -- which dropped him to 23rd in Cup points. But after finishing second at Bristol and fifth at Texas, Wallace has jumped up to 11th in the standings.

Random stat: 15, 11, 11. Those are Dave Blaney's finishes in the three Cup races this season that Bill Davis Racing has been able to start his No. 23 car. Imagine if they had major sponsorship.

Random thought: Will any Cup team run a car without a switch and backup battery from here on out?

Random thought II: How irritating are those mid-pit cycle cautions?!

General amazement: Another runner-up for Kahne. And how about Kyle Busch winning a Busch pole and finishing second at Texas?

Also, Mat Mladin becoming the all-time winningest Superbike rider.

Quote: "Usually we smell a bit strange but with this drink we all seem to smell very nice" -- Michael Schumacher on the nonalcoholic fruit juice used in place of champagne on the Bahrain GP podium.

Photo: Check out the photo of the week. Worth another look.

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

 
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