Things do not look good for Michael Waltrip and the no. 55 NAPA car. A spin on his second lap of qualifying today at Las Vegas means the popular driver will be watching the race, instead of competing in it, for the second time in a row.
Consider this: The only reason Dale Jarrett will be in the race is because of his Past Champion's Provisional. This is race three of the season, and his third provisional. With the new rule limiting drivers to six, Jarrett, and indeed Michael Waltrip Racing, are in BIG trouble. They simply can't get their Toyota Camrys up to speed, and Jarrett's no. 44 UPS car will be the only of the three MWR rides in the field: rookie David Reutimann will be delivering pizza for Domino's Sunday, rather than driving his double-zero race car.
Team Red Bull will six and watch again... Only one start for the team of Brian Vickers (who finished in the top-10 at Fontana two weeks ago) and A.J. Almendinger in three races. This is going to be an uphill battle for RBR, MWR and Jeremy Mayfield: Six Camrys, and only one in the race this week, and again, that's just because of his provisional. Jarrett has to hope he's securely in the top-35 after the first five races so he doesn't have to sweat qualifying.
The Chip Ganassi cars of David Stremme (2nd), Juan Pablo Montoya (4th) and Reed Sorenson (7th) were strong in qualifying. It will be interesting to see how they run on Sunday. Montoya will fall back, as will Sorenson, but Stremme is looking strong through two races.
Kasey Kahne (and his mid-age female following) is on the pole for Sunday with a new track record of 184.855, teammate Elliott Sadler will start third and Scott Riggs sixth - a good start for Ray Evernham Racing. I'd put money on Kahne for Sunday... Except that I didn't pick any of these guys for my Fantasy Racing team...
The Busch Series will have the usual Cup Series faces leading the field to the green Saturday, with Kevin Harvick on pole, David Stremme second, Sorenson, Kurt Busch, and Clint Bowyer rounding out the top-five. "Busch bashers" fill out the top-10, with Steven Wallace being the first non-Cup driver starting 11th.
So far in watching practice and qualifying the story seems to be the track being slick, and the number of cars getting into the wall coming off of turns two and four, and spins coming out of four. Oops... Mike Wallace just planted his car into the wall in two.
Uh oh... Better get Maaco!