A Busch 2-step to Texas for NASCAR

Mar 31, 2009 5:02 PM
Finish Line by Micah Roberts |

Put on the cowboy hat, boots and wranglers. Let’s get ready to Texas two-step.

Time to drink some Lone-Star beer, put in a Skoal and rodeo on the asphalt of Texas Motor Speedway for this Sunday’s NASCAR Cup race in Fort Worth. This will be the seventh race of the season thus far, and so far, it’s been rather quiet.

We have Jeff Gordon leading the way in the standings by finishing in the Top 6 just about every week, but he has yet to win a race since 2007. Clint Bowyer has played the same game, just to a lesser degree and is in second.

Matt Kenseth started the season with a bang by winning two in a row, but he and his entire Roush-Fenway teammates have taken a giant step backwards. The greatest newsworthy event, or at least anything that provided some sort of drama, has been Kyle Busch’s verbal jabs at Dale Earnhardt Jr’s lack of success on the track vs. his sales in the merchandise trailers.

This week, we may be able to add some more BBQ spice into the mix at Texas with a few rivalries ready to explode on the track. Of course, it all begins with Kyle and to some extent his brother, Kurt, will be in the mix as well.

The two Busch brothers should be considered the favorites this week because of each of their performances on two separate tracks, Las Vegas and Atlanta. Texas is the sister track of both those facilities run on already this season and is very similar as far as distance and banking. Kyle won in Las Vegas and Kurt won in Atlanta – both in dominating fashion.

Last season Carl Edwards was latest of several over the years to dominate on these types of tracks. He won at Las Vegas and used all his successful notes to win back to back in Atlanta and Texas. If someone is on a roll on a specific type track, it usually is a good bet that the success continues to the next.

Now the Dixie Chicks may disagree, but Kyle is likely to be the most hated Busch in Texas on Sunday. He’s playing the villain role quite nice and won’t have many supporters. He does, however, have some stats going his way that also apply to Kurt.

Kyle has all the stats and numbers to support he’ll do well at Texas based on the last season and this year. He was third and sixth at Texas last year, which also included a win in Atlanta. Kurt’s road is a little more bumpy, but progressively better leading to now.

Penske Racing had its new Dodge engine ready to go last season right about when the Chase started. Since Kurt wasn’t in the Chase, they felt comfortable to Dyno-test it in race conditions while sacrificing possible positions in the points. There was immediate success with a third in Charlotte and a sixth in Atlanta. A blown engine finished them in Texas.

That foresight and sacrifice helped them this year because NASCAR mandated no preseason testing which would have set Penske back tremendously had they not started last season. This year at Las Vegas, they blew a cylinder, but still finished a respectable 23. Then everything paid off the following week with a powerful performance in Atlanta.

This week, the Blue Deuce should be dialed in and ready for Texas. Don’t expect the 25-1 odds that Kurt paid off at some Las Vegas books. Even in the area of 12-1 should be considered good value based on where this team is at right now.

Some other stories that could evolve this week and create excitement involve Busch and Junior. Someday, Junior is going to catch up to Kyle and punt him.

Juan Pablo Montoya and Jamie McMurray have some tension, or at least McMurray does. That’s a powder keg waiting to blow. The latest is Denny Hamlin feeling a little uneasy about Jimmie Johnson’s clean bump-pass at Martinsville last week for the win.

It’s hard to hold a grudge against the three-time points champ, who is a total gentleman on the track. Johnson deserves a little more respect, but again, I wouldn’t oppose seeing more clashes in this era of "vanilla" NASCAR with all the threats of fines and suspensions.

If looking for contenders to take down the Busch brothers, consider the top performers from Las Vegas and Atlanta. Clint Bowyer, Brian Vickers, and Gordon all had Top 5 finishes in both races. Texas remains one of only two tracks on the circuit that Gordon has never won in 16 starts.

Because Gordon is the current points leader and runs so well, a good price over 8-1 is going to be tough to obtain. Vickers presents a nice possibility with possible long shot prices. The 1.5-mile high-banked tracks is where the Vickers team has performed their best since the team started.

Bowyer is coming close each week, but hasn’t had quite enough. He will be in the 15-1 range. Let’s do the Texas two-step with a 1-2 Busch Brothers finish and some ZZ Top blasting Viva Las Vegas in the background.

Drag Racing in Vegas

As always on the first weekend in Las Vegas, NHRA Drag Racing roars through town in the first of its two annual visits.

It still remains by far the best entertainment value in both motor sports and Las Vegas because of how close you get to the action.

Spectators can hang out in any driver’s pits, talk to any one of the drivers, and get all the free autographs that’s needed with all the complimentary 8 x 10’s provided.

There isn’t anything in sports or entertainment that comes close to being so fan-friendly. If you’ve never been at an NHRA event, grabs the kids, wife or friends and go.

Copyright 2009 GamingToday
TOP 5 at Texas Speedway
1
#2
Kurt Busch
12-1
2
#18
Kyle Busch
5-1
3
#48
Jimmie Johnson
6-1
4
#99
Carl Edwards
10-1
5
#83
Brian Vickers
25-1