Food City 500: Surprising, Not Surprising

Ben BombergerSenior Writer IMarch 23, 2009

BRISTOL, TN - MARCH 25:  A general view of cars rounding the track, during the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series Food City 500 at Bristol Motor Speedway on March 25, 2007 in Bristol, Tennessee.  (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)

One short track down, and another right around the bend. Bristol was...well Bristol.

Although it's now the "NEW" Bristol, and not the "OLD."

By new, I mean there is less bumping and passing, and cars can actually pass on the outside.

Anyway, here are a few things I found "Surprising," and "Not Surprising" following the Bristol weekend.

Surprising: Jimmie Johnson Ran Well at Bristol

Really? Surprising that Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe's team ran well?

At Bristol, this team has struggled to finish 500 miles, and always seemed to fall off near the half-way point.

But not only did the No. 48 not fall off, but they remained up front, led a bunch of laps, and brought home a top-five finish.

The third place finish was only the third top-five for Johnson in 15 trips to the bull-ring in Tennessee.

The top-five was well above his average finish of 16.4 and his best finish since a third-place showing since 2004.

Not Surprising: Kyle Busch Won

The Shrub (or Rowdy, whichever you wanna call him), continued his streak of five straight race weekends with a win in one of NASCAR's top three series.

I said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again: This kid could put cement wheels with 10 inch spikes sticking out on a cardboard box, dragging an elephant and he'd still be fast.

Busch's win on Sunday was his second, and continued the Busch-Brother streak to three in a row.

Busch led 378 laps (75.6 percent) and is now tied with Matt Kenseth for two wins on the season.

Surprising: Michael Waltrip Racing Continues to Excel

It's a bit harsh, but it's no secret that MWR has seen its fair share of problems since it joined the Cup Series.

But recently the team has turned around and appears to be moving up above a lower-tiered program, to at least a mid-packer.

Marcos Ambrose (10th) and David Reutimann (12th) both brought home decent finishes at the world's fastest half-mile, and Reutimann remains in Chase contention, sitting 11th in points.

As a side note, all three teams reside in the top-24 of the owner's points and are well locked into the races again.

Not Surprising: Drivers Outside the Top-35 in Points

A few teams we all suspected would be outside the top-35 heading into Martinsville, are there.

Teams such as the No. 98 of Paul Menard, No. 82 of Scott Speed, and the No. 8 of Aric Almirola were all guaranteed starting spots for the first five races.

In Martinsville this Sunday, they will all three be relegated to a parking spot outside of the track and deemed a "Go- or Go-Homer."

Team Yates has got to be thinking they did something wrong. Remember last year's driver, David Gilliland?

Yea, the guy they cut?

He is now locked into the top-35 in the underfunded No. 71 car.

Luckily for these three teams, the points aren't that far apart, and only a few teams have been sent packing each weekend, so they should be OK.

As a side note, AJ Allmendinger, the guy Team Red Bull booted for Speed, yea, he's in the top-35 as well.

My prediction: Speed will get back into the points, but I don't see Almirola or Menard knocking anyone out.

Surprising: I Didn't Watch the Entire Race

Maybe it's just me, but I'm having a hard time watching four and a half hours of racing these days.

I was surprised that Bristol (of all places) didn't keep my attention though.

Maybe it's because the racing just isn't the same since they repaved the track and brought the Car of [Today] into the Series.

Or, maybe I'm just too focused on other things to sit still for that long.

Either way, I love DVR'ing the races and fast-forwarding through most of it!

Not Surprising: Tony Stewart Beat the "Odds" and Didn't Use a Provisional

Stewart is now officially locked into the top-35 in points in his own car.

Many people (not me, however), thought that Stewart would struggle, and have to rely on his past champions provision to make a few races.

Now only did he now, but he was one of the top (if not the top) go- or go-homers each and every weekend.

Now, Stewart and his No. 14 team are locked in, get the good parking spots and can continue their journey towards a Chase berth.

It's onto the paperclip now!


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