Wrap: Repeat if desired


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

Biggest surprise: Valentino Rossi missing the podium in Spain. Sure, the MotoGP champ has a new ride, but after scoring the surprise season-opening win in South Africa in his first race with Yamaha -- not to mention winning the pole in Spain with a record-breaking lap -- Rossi finishing worse than third for the first time since 2002 was a bit unexpected.

Also, Larry Dixon's continued struggles. The two-time defending Top Fuel champ suffered a first-round loss to Doug Herbert at the O'Reilly Thunder Valley Nationals on Monday. Twelve-time Funny Car champ John Force, however, finally scored his first event win of the season.

Biggest non-surprise: Jeff Gordon winning at Fontana. There are several drivers in the Cup ranks capable of running off bunches of wins, but perhaps none more so than Gordon. Really, he might have been a pothole away from three in a row.

(In case you are wondering, Gordon has two career Cup wins at Richmond, the next stop on the Cup tour. His Sunday triumph was his third at California Speedway.)

And Greg Anderson and Tony Schumacher winning at Bristol. Anderson -- who beat teammate Jason Line in the final for the second consecutive event -- is already running away in Pro Stock, while Schumacher put a little more distance between himself and Brandon Bernstein in Top Fuel.

Also, rumors of Jacques Villeneuve's return to F1. Had BAR struggled out of the gate this year, it's more likely Villeneuve could sit back and enjoy his indefinite sabbatical. But with Jenson Button's meteoric start, Villeneuve's blood must be boiling.

Finally, Team Penske cars leading testing at Indy last week. Wonder if Gil de Ferran will be jealous calling the race from the booth.

Oh, and Tony Stewart, of course. More on that later.

Biggest disappointment: Maybe drivers should stash an extra can of fuel in their cars. Bobby Labonte managed to coast to a top-five, but Jeremy Mayfield, Kasey Kahne and Joe Nemechek all lost out on top-10 finishes (not that Jimmie Johnson particularly minded) after running out of gas. It was a particularly tough break for Nemechek, who qualified second (hey, there, Front Row Joe) and was on his way to his best result since finishing sixth at Daytona.

And Greg Biffle. After playing the fuel game to win Saturday's Busch race, Biffle found himself out front on Sunday at Fontana. But a bad restart (while running second) and transmission problems relegated him to a 33rd-place finish.

Also, Rusty Wallace being taken out when Kurt Busch lost control. And Jeff Green's No. 43 quitting after qualifying third and running well throughout the race. Plus, Michael Waltrip's No. 15 suffering some debris damage and essentially ending Waltrip's hopes of a decent finish. That crazy Waltrip bad luck hadn't reared its head for a few weeks. Sorry, Mikey, it's back. No free pizza this week.

Gutsy move: Sete Gibernau continuing to prove his wet weather supremacy, winning in the rain in Spain.

And Biffle overcoming engine, oil pressure and personal cooling system problems to win on Saturday. Of course, Biffle had some luck, too, when many of the leaders had to pit late to refuel, with some of them having trouble restarting their cars.

"That explains it," Biffle said. "I didn't know how I got so far ahead of those guys."

Also, Jason Leffler winning the pole at Fontana, his first Busch pole since 2000. But Leffler finished just 34th.

Boneheaded move: Once again, Tony Stewart's on-track feistiness angering his fellow drivers. Stewart's No. 20 got up close and personal with Rusty Wallace, Gordon, Wallace again and Ricky Rudd on Sunday. Stewart's sloppy driving is really becoming quite bizarre, though Stewart voiced his own displeasure with Wallace's on-track tactics.

Stewart also had an apology relayed to Gordon's team for banging against Gordon's No. 24, but the hits just kept on coming after that.

Redemption: Chad Reed almost blew his own SX title hopes with a penalty for using illegal fuel a couple of weeks back, but Reed was still able to wrap up his first 250cc Supercross title at Vegas. Sure, injury kept Ricky Carmichael out of the field this season, but someone had to step up -- and Reed did, though Kevin Windham put up a good fight.

Also, Force's first win of the year.

Random stat: 17, 13, 6. Rookie Brendan Gaughan's finishes in his last three races. Each represented a then season (and career) best finish. Gaughan has moved up six spots to 22nd in points in that three-race span.

Random thought: TV viewers were told that the stars were lining up at Fontana to watch Sunday's race. Included on the short list? Herbie Hancock. Not exactly an A-list celeb, but who could forget the utterly cool and somewhat creepy video "Rockit" -- a song/video which brought Hancock a Grammy and a handful of MTV awards, not to mention being named the 10th greatest video ever by VH1 in 2001. Take that, Rhea Perlman!

General amazement: Another pole for Kahne. Think Ryan Newman-esque dominance might be in his near future?

Quote: "I'd like to take that finger and jam it right up his rear end." -- Rusty Wallace on Tony Stewart flipping him the bird.

Photo: Check out the photo of the week. Happy team.

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

Your full name:
Your e-mail address:
City and state/province:

Your comment: