NASCAR's Winners and Losers: Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway

Patti RodischAnalyst IMarch 4, 2010

LAS VEGAS - FEBRUARY 28:  Jimmie Johnson, driver of the #48 Lowe's/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet, celebrates by doing a burnout after winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Shelby American at Las Vegas Motor Speedway on February 28, 2010 in Las Vegas, Nevada.  (Photo by Geoff Burke/Getty Images for NASCAR)
Geoff Burke/Getty Images

Last Sunday the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers hit the track for a Sunday afternoon date at Las Vegas Motor Speedway.

Check out the winners and losers of the Shelby American.



Jimmie Johnson

I asked the question last week if Jimmie Johnson could win back-to-back races. Clearly, Johnson can and he did. In Johnson style he won the race without ever being a factor early on. Johnson took four tires instead of two and passed Gordon with a handful of laps to go.

People are debating whether or not his constant presence in victory lane is bad for the sport. Let’s be honest, the rest of the field needs to step it up.

At Atlanta Motor Speedway, Johnson has three wins along with nine Top Fives and 11 Top 10 finishes. Johnson has a series-best running position of 7.7. Johnson knows his way around AMS and he will be one of the drivers to beat on Sunday.

Points: fifth

Jeff Gordon

Jeff Gordon did everything right on Sunday but lead the final lap. Everyone wants to criticize the call by crew chief Steve LeTarte, but it was the only call to make. Gordon dominated on Sunday in a way we have not seen in 10 years.

After leading all but 48 laps on Sunday, Gordon made it clear to his fans and competitors expect to see more of what they saw on Sunday. His fans might have been disappointed with his third place finish, but there are bigger things coming for this team.

Gordon has found victory lane at AMS four times. He has 14 Top Five finishes and 23 Top 10’s. Second best in the series, he has spent 83 percent of the laps run in the Top 15.

Points: 13th



Kurt Busch

There were records broken last weekend at LVMS during qualifying. Kurt Busch laid down the fastest lap of the session but the race did not go as he planned. Immediately on the restart Busch struggled with the handling of his car.

Then he got caught up in the accident on lap 93 that caused damage to his car. He finished a disappointing 35th . He too needs a strong run this weekend and there is no other place to do it at then AMS.

Busch dominated the spring race in 2009. He has two wins, one which came last year. With two Top Five finishes and six Top 10’s this is the perfect place for Busch to rebound. He has slipped back in the standings and they need to get back to doing what they did in 2009, that is have consistent finishes and solid pit stops.

Points: 19th

Juan Pablo Montoya

It is bad enough when you wreck but it is worse when you wreck with your teammate. On Sunday at LVMS that is exactly what happened. Montoya got collected when his teammate Jamie McMurray got loose and collected him and pole sitter Busch.

Montoya was not afraid to share his displeasure with his teammate. It has not been the start to the season he was looking for. At LVMS he finished 37th.

He is still searching for his first win on the oval but at AMS he has two Top Fives and two Top 10 finishes. Montoya needs to rebound this week at AMS and cannot afford another poor finish otherwise he will not be trying to fight for a Championship; he will be fighting to finish in the Top 20.

Points: 26th

Final Lap…

My first of two dark horses is Carl Edwards. He has three wins at the Georgia track. He has six Top Five finishes and eight Top 10 finishes. Edwards is off to a bit of a slow start in 2010. He has struggled to find the consistency that led him to a career high nine wins in 2008. On Sunday he should be able to return to top form.

My second dark horse is Kyle Busch. Although he is not really a dark horse he has dominated at this track both in the trucks and in the cup cars, Busch will be a threat to win on Sunday. He has two top fives, two Top 10’s and one of those Top Five finishes was a win.

Busch knows how to get around AMS and I expect to see him up front even though he is off to a slow start this season.

The race at LVMS was pretty good but I expect Sunday will be even better AMS has high banks and drivers can use the entire track to pass. AMS’s grooves are similar to Michigan International Speedway, where we see the entire track being used.

The race is a long race so teams need to save their stuff for the end and put themselves in position to win.

The Kobalt Tools 500 is Sunday, March 7 on FOX at 12 EST.