Wrap: Light weekend, lucky Waltrip win
ESPN.com takes a look at what went down in the racing world this past weekend.
Biggest surprise: Clint Bowyer being in position to win in just his second Busch start. This is the first of several Bowyer mentions, so stay tuned.
Also, Blake Feese winning in just his second ARCA start. Nice to see Casey Atwood finishing second, also. (Atwood was just 20th in Saturday's Busch race).
Biggest non-surprise: A Pontiac winning a Rolex sports car race. Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli gave Pontiac its third win of the year.
Biggest disappointment: That so many series took the weekend off, leaving the Busch race in Nashville as the top draw. A couple of leagues could have benefited from being on track this past weekend. See below.
Also, Bowyer. He had the Pepsi 300 win wrapped up before Robby Gordon's blown tire caused a late caution and brought the field back together.
And Johnny Benson, Kyle Busch and Gordon, who were all in position to battle for the win at Nashville before spinning out.
Gutsy move: Steve Kinser passing Danny Lasoski on the last lap to win Saturday's "A" Feature at Eldora Speedway in Rossburg, Ohio.
Also, the Champ Car World Series. They claimed they'd have 18 cars at Long Beach, and with Derrick Walker's entry of Mario Haberfeld, indeed they will. Sure, this isn't exactly the star-studded lineup of yesteryear (see: Philippe, Gonzalez, Sperafico, etc.), but the likes of Tracy, Vasser, Junqueira and Carpentier are still there.
Meanwhile, it looks as though the Indy 500 will have a 33-car field. Not sure how much Bump Day drama there will be, but any at all would be an improvement from last year.
Boneheaded move: Bowyer. Kyle Busch passed him clean, so Bowyer bumped Busch to retake the lead. That's fine -- when racing for the win, you do what you must. But Busch again got by Bowyer with a clean pass, and again Bowyer got into Busch, this time turning him and causing the four-car imbroglio that allowed Michael Waltrip to pass for the lead just before the final caution was thrown. Still, it was an impressive performance overall by Bowyer.
And Martin Truex Jr. He won the pole at Nashville but had to switch to a backup car and move to the back of the field after wrecking in practice. He finished 23rd in the race.
Also, Johnny Sauter. "I think NASCAR is doing everything they can to keep me from winning races and accumulating points," said Sauter, who believed he should have been scored ahead of Waltrip when the final caution came, despite video replays showing NASCAR got the call right. Sauter really shouldn't be complaining -- he would have finished fifth or sixth had it not been for the four-car spinout. Take your runner-up and be happy.
Redemption: Waltrip. He's had no luck in the Cup series this year and wasn't thrilled with his Busch team's qualifying and practice performance heading into Saturday despite four top-10 finishes in the first six races. But Waltrip found some good luck for a change -- in the form of the top four cars taking each other out -- and drove to the lucky win.
Random stat: 8. The number of points separating new Busch points leader Waltrip from David Green, who entered the Nashville race on top of the standings but slipped after finishing 10th.
Random thought: With the big guns both domestically (Nextel Cup) and internationally (Formula One) taking the weekend off, it would have made a great deal of sense for the Champ Cars to kick off their '04 campaign in Long Beach this past weekend. Same goes for the IndyCar trip to Japan, though F1 is also off next weekend. We'll give the series the benefit of the doubt and acknowledge that there could have been scheduling issues, but running this past weekend rather than this upcoming weekend -- when Cup, Trucks and NHRA are all in action -- would have allowed more focus to be on the North American open wheel series. Of course, the Champ Cars can probably use the extra week to dot the i's and cross the t's.
General amazement: Why would NASCAR take a race away from Watkins Glen? The Glen denies it, NASCAR denies it, so hopefully the rumor doesn't become reality. Sure, the schedule can include 46 races at 1.5-milers, but when it comes to a couple of the most intriguing races of the year (the Glen and Sonoma), well, we can't have that.
Quote: "I wrecked it, plain and simple. It's just a shame. It was the dumbest thing I've ever done, I swear. I'm so mad at myself." -- Truex Jr. after wrecking his pole-winning car.
Photo: Check out the photo of the week. Now that's a pit stop.
Tell us what you think: Share your thoughts with us about the weekend's action.
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