Lenox Industrial Tools 301: Winners and Losers

Patti RodischAnalyst IJune 28, 2009

LOUDON, NH - JUNE 28:  Joey Logano, driver of the #20 Home Depot Toyota, celebrates winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series LENOX Industrial Tools 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway on June 28, 2009 in Loudon, New Hampshire. Logano won the rain shortened race with 27 laps remaining.  (Photo by Drew Hallowell/Getty Images for NASCAR)

From the sunny skies of California to the cloudy, gloomy skies of New Hampshire, the drivers headed east to the miracle mile.

Check out the list of winners and losers.

 

Winners

Joey Logano

Well, it took only 16 races for Joey Logano to find victory circle.A great call and Mother Nature were both factors. 

With weather all around them, Logano stayed out as long as he could. When NASCAR called a caution, crew chief Greg Zipadelli told Logano to save fuel.

Logano had a tough day before the final call, having a cut tire forcing them to pit. In the end that cut tire might have been his best friend.

Logano will have many, many more wins in this series, and this is a major confidence boost for a team that is still learning, still gelling.

The call was gutsy, and that’s what it is going to take to win races in this series.

Congrats to Logano and his whole team on his first career Sprint Cup win.

Logano: 21st

 

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon was in the catbird seat, wishing that the rain would come and hoping Logano would run out of fuel.

The rain did come, but Logano earned the victory.

Gordon ran up front all day long, swapping the lead multiple times on restarts but always staying near or at the front.

A stellar pit stop under green earned them what turned out to be a second place finish.

It is runs like this that a team can build on.

This strong run could jump start the 24 crew, and that’s bad news for the rest of the field—all the tracks coming up are Gordon’s bread and butter.

Points: Second

 

Sam Hornish Jr.

You know, I thought earlier in the year when Sam Hornish Jr. had such great runs it would have been something to build on.

Instead, the team started sliding backwards and seemed to go back to their old ways.

On Sunday, Hornish ran well within the top 10 and was able to keep track position with strong pit stops. They were as high as fourth at one point. They had to settle for an eighth place finish.

A great run for a team that could use it.

We keep thinking that the light has turned on for this team, but they are about as up and down as a roller coaster.

This week they were up.

Points: 25th

 

Casey Mears

I said it a few weeks back.For Casey Mears, the crew chief switch has benefited him the most.

Mears played the rain all day long, but they didn’t need luck.They ran well all day long.

11th place is a strong finish.

This team had a good car in practice, and they were able to build on that throughout the race. Mears was involved in the big one and came back to rebound.A great sign for this team.

Mears seems to get so close to breaking through, let’s see if he can continue this next week at Daytona.

Points: 20th

 

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

With the field being set by points for Sunday’s race, it didn’t look good for this team. Dale Earnhardt Jr. and his team were not very good all weekend.

When the green flag waved, Earnhardt and his team went to work.

They adjusted the car, worked on it, and played track position.  They got as high as third at one point, but a poor restart forced them to lose positions and battle back from there.

A 13th place finish isn’t really representative of how well they actually ran.

Earnhardt is giving good feedback, and they are building off each finish both good and bad. This is something we have not seen very often with this team.

Earnhardt should be looking toward 2010.  The chase is out of reach, so it’s time to start logging notes for next year.

Points: 19th

 

Losers

Ryan Newman

Ryan Newman was just three laps short of pulling out a victory.

They tried to gamble and run as long as they could, but were forced to pit when Newman ran out of fuel.To make matters worse, they stalled on pit road. A 29th place finish is all they would be able to get.

Newman struggled all day long on the track. They never could get the handling right and were never a factor.

They received the lucky dog at one point and never could get the car to Newman’s liking.

While Newman's point position is somewhat safe, he was sixth coming in.

He has dropped two positions in two weeks. With the battle only tightening up in the weeks to come, they still need to be careful and can’t afford to have many finishes like this.

The rocket man is cooling off a bit from his climb in the standings.

Don’t expect this to last too long.

Points: Seventh

 

Tony Stewart

I don’t think I have put Tony Stewart on this list all year.

But, while their result of a fifth place finish is not bad, it’s the poor pit stop that put him there.

While it wasn’t his fault that the pit stop was slow, you win as a team and you lose as a team.

Stewart had a comfortable lead and should have come out of the pits with the lead. But instead, Gordon won that battle off of pit road, and Stewart had to battle his way back for the top five finish.

Now, he probably wouldn’t have won because Logano would have ended up staying out, and the rain came.

But, it’s mistakes like these that may make him not so lucky every time.

Points: First

 

Martin Truex Jr.              

Martin Truex Jr. had every right to be ticked off.

He had a fast car and was moving forward. On a restart where Earnhardt struggled and Truex tried to check up, Kyle Busch tagged him and sent Truex hard into the wall.

Truex was obviously upset and with good right.  He had what could have been a top five car end up in the garage, and he finished 37th.

This was the first time we have seen lead lap cars taken out like this with the restart. That being said, it doesn’t make Truex any happier.

Truex chase hopes all but ended today, and, with a major announcement coming about his future, Truex should be focusing on next year no matter what team he's with.

Points: 24th

 

Carl Edwards

Carl Edwards was probably glad to leave New Hampshire. He was running well within the top 10 early on, but on their first pit stop they struggled and were buried in traffic. 

After numerous cautions, this team was forced to pit under green because of what was believed to be a loose wheel.

The strategy didn’t work and actually hurt them as they waited to see if a caution would come out to force the leaders to pit, or if they would get bit by a loose wheel. 

For them, they weren’t able to finish better than 19th when it all played out.

I still think they have been good recently, but there is still something missing.

Points: Fifth 

 

Jimmie Johnson

It’s not very often I put Jimmie Johnson on this list.

He led a race high 92 laps, but, on one of the numerous restarts, Johnson and Kurt Busch got into it. Johnson fell back to seventh as Kurt was able to maintain position.

In the moment it looked like Busch was getting a little payback after they played nice with the media after a Sonoma incident last week.

Johnson was unable to recover and had to settle for a ninth place finish.

Johnson wasn’t completely happy with the car all day long, but he was able to drive it to the front.  The skirmish with Busch hurt them the most.

Johnson will of course rebound, but I would be a bit concerned that (unlike in the past) this team is struggling a bit on setups.

When they miss, they don’t seem to be able to rebound as well as in the past.

That being said, he is still the favorite.

Points: Third

 

Lucky Dog…

Brad Keselowski

While this time it was not a win and weather played a factor, this team did run fairly well.

They took advantage of the wave around and were able to make adjustments on the car and finish seventh.

Points: 40th

 

Juan Pablo Montoya

It wasn’t flashy, and, even though he had a great car, he never could get to the front. Montoya did exactly what he needed to maintain his position in the points.

Points: 12th

 

John Andretti

A surprising 16th place finish was a boost for this team. They used the double file restarts and pit strategy to gain positions. 

It was a great run for the team, and will be something they can use going into Daytona.

Points: 36th

 

Final lap…

This was the first real chance to see how double file restarts would work on a short track. For some guys it worked out well, for others not so much.

It was great to see guys battling for the lead, which is what the fans want.

With all the expectation on this kid, Logano has shown a lot of maturity and growth. It won’t always be pretty, but a win is a win.

Drivers in the chase and those looking in are going to use what they gained today for the start of the chase when they come back in September.

So, running well today was key for down the road.

The points race is tight throughout the standings.  With no driver pulling away from the field in terms of wins, this could be one of the best championship runs we have seen in a long time.

One down and nine to go until the points are set.On to Daytona where anything can happen.