Degree V12 300: Winners and Losers

Patti RodischAnalyst ISeptember 6, 2009

After an exciting race in Montreal the Nationwide series headed to the hot, slick track in Atlanta as the drivers in the standings are fighting for every point and every finish in the final stretch of the season.

Check out this week’s winners and losers in Atlanta.

Winners

Kevin Harvick

Let’s face it Kevin Harvick had the best car out there on Saturday night. Driving his own car on Harvick started on the outside pole and was up front from the drop of the green flag.

Harvick nearly lapped the field, after a long green flag run there was six cars on the lead lap and a caution came out for debris really sparing the field from Harvick lapping everyone.

Harvick's pit crew had issues on pit road where they lost him about five seconds the whole night and the lead on multiple stops. Even so Harvick had a dominating car and was able to pull away away as the runs went on.

Harvick had to make a pit stop with less than 20 to go and with other cars staying out and pushing the fuel mileage he not only lost the lead he had limited laps to make up ground.

Harvick passed Earnhardt with three to go, and easily won the race.

Harvick was definitely happy when he pulled into victory lane a track where he won his first career cup race back in 2001.

Harvick was so fast you freak!

Points: 15th

Kyle Busch

Second to Harvick, Kyle Busch was the second best car on the track. Busch had a strong car in practice and in qualifying and needed to have a good run this week as he has been losing points in recent weeks in the standings.

Busch qualified eighth but quickly moved forward, he had a great car on restarts and early in the run. But after the tires begun to wear and the speeds dropped off, Harvick would be able to pass him.

Even so Busch gave good information to his crew and they were able to adjust the car and make it better as the night wore on.

Busch knew the only way to win this race would to have been a late caution. Busch's crew was hands down the fastest crew on pit road. With no caution Busch ran out of laps. Busch finished second for the ninth time this year.

He makes the news for what he says or does wrong, thought would be nice to point out Busch showed that he is not the always the sore loser everyone thinks he can be.

In a classy move, Busch congratulated Harvick and his team in victory lane for their dominating win.

Points: First

Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Let’s be honest tonight’s race was a exhibition for the Cup drivers pulling double duty this weekend. Dale Earnhardt Jr. was no exception. He had a strong start to the race snagging the pole for the Saturday night race.

Earnhardt also drove his own equipment and was able to run well within the top 10 all day long. He battled the same handling conditions that everyone else had a loose race car.

The team though was able to work on the car and at least stay in contention.

He knew he was not in the same league as Busch and Harvick but with only six cars on the lead lap the gamble to stay out and stretch the fuel was worth it.

While he lost the lead he finished a strong third.

Earnhardt seems to have found some confidence again in both series. Could his strong finish on Saturday night be a good sign for him in the Cup race on Sunday?

For the first time in long time Earnhardt looked comfortable both behind the wheel and with the media.

Points: 44th

Losers

 

Brendan Gaughan

Gaughan has been in a slump for a while now after a strong start to the season. Gaughan has watched the momentum and points he has gained slip after recent struggles.

Atlanta was no different.

Gaughan was struggling with a loose race car from the start, and he hit the wall early on and  the team decided to keep him on the track and continue on.

But the damage was worse than the team thought and finally a cut tire and he hit the wall hard and brought out a early caution.

They went straight for the garage and got to work to repair the damage.They got back on track but well off the pace.

Gaughan did not need the type of race he ran on Saturday. With recent struggles he has slipped in the points and could have used a good finish to bounce back. Gaughan finished 31st.

You know it’s bad when your boss is calling you out on national TV.

Points: Eighth

Justin Allgaier

If Gaughan was having a bad night, Justin Allgaier wasn't having any better of a night. Allgaier tried to be positive about his car before qualifying, but he didn’t seem very comfortable in that car from the get go.

This was the first time he had never raced at Atlanta and they never could get the feel Allgaier wanted. He started 33rd and was way too loose early on.On one of the first pit stops, he over shot his pit and ran into Greg Biffle's crew as they were making a stop.

Allgaier was never able to make up any ground and was three laps down by the end of the race. They finished 17th..

They have been in a bit of mini slump. They have been struggling on type tracks where traditionally he has run well on this year.

Let's be honest they have been running at alot of tracks where he ahs never run before so he going to these tracks with limited track time.

The leading rookie of the year driver looked like a rookie tonight, which is a rarity for Allgaier.

Points: Fifth

Kenny Wallace

For Kenny Wallace it was a tough day from the start. They had a mechanical issue during the first practice and they had to make repairs on the car.

They didn’t make many laps during the practices and a poor qualifying run putting them way back in the field starting 39th.

They were way to loose and they were lapped early, Wallace was never able to get a good feel for the car.

Wallace really seemed to struggle with the handling and none of the adjustments they made really seemed to help.

They finished 27th but six laps down. Wallace had been making ground on the top 10 in the standings. Unlike many other drivers Wallace doesn’t have the luxury of teammates to bounce information off of.

Even so Wallace is proving it can be done. In 2009 he hasn’t had many races like this and he should be able to bounce back next weekend.

Wallace fans don’t worry while he dropped in the standings he has plenty of time to make up that ground.

Points: 12th

Lucky dog…

 

Carl Edwards

Well we all know the story by now, Carl Edwards broke his foot playing Frisbee this week. Edwards said he would race both events this weekend, regardless of his discomfort.

Edwards started 12th but wanted to get a feel of his car so he dropped back but was able to make up ground.

He lost time and positions on pit road and was never a factor. They got lapped on the long green run and gambled on fuel to finish seventh.

Edwards could have bowed out of the race and not risk an accident that could have ruined his Cup championship chances. With a championship on the line in the Nationwide, not racing was not an option.

I give Edwards credit for his hang tough attitude and if he was in pain you would never have known it with the smile on his face both before and after the race.

Points: Second

Final Lap…

Well with all the talk of the first night race at Atlanta for the nationwide series, the anticipation as high, and with the series carrying momentum from a eventful race in Montreal.

Fans were hoping to see some great side by side racing, what they did see was the leader hold at one point a 30 second lead over sixth place.

The long green run did not help this race, Harvick nearly lapping the entire field. Without that caution who knows what would have happened.

The race was essentially over early on as the battle for the lead was only for a few laps and that was right after a restart.

The drivers can say what they want, but they weren’t sitting in the stands or at home watching the race, and what turned out to be 195 laps of follow the leader.

I am surprised by what we saw tonight, because usually with the nationwide cars racing like this doesn’t happen very often. It does show just how stout Harvick was tonight.

If you looked at the top 15 only one strictly Nationwide driver that and has not run a cup event in 2009. Michael Annett, who was three laps down in 14th.

See you next week at Richmond on Friday night.

 

Writers note: Starting next week the Nationwide Winners and Losers series will be moving to Fan Huddle.

 

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