Monday, April 07, 2014

Monday Knights Logano At Texas

It's become a running joke in Winston Cup - if you're suffering a drought, then bring NASCAR to your region and the drought will end.   Rain has hit the majority of the first seven NASCAR weekends of the season and it was appropriate for Texas given the Duck Commander sponsorship.   The race nonetheless got in on Monday and Joey Logano swam to the win, his second with Penske Racing and where he led the most laps (108) of any of his four Winston Cup wins.   He had to sweat out an ill-timed late yellow that set up a green-white-checker finish, but on fresh tires he easily disposed of Jeff Gordon and also a wildcard bid by Brian Vickers.

So what to take out of this Texas 500?   Some observations -


Not a banner weekend for Hendrick Motorsports or its Stewart-Haas satellite -  Gordon finished second and Tony Stewart finished tenth - other than that it wasn't much to feel good about for Hendrick Motorsports and Stewart-Haas.  Stewart led 74 laps but never seemed up to challenging again once he lost the lead.   Kevin Harvick's season has gotten worse since winning at Phoenix, Kurt Busch's season has never really gotten going even with the Martinsville win and third at Fontana, and Danica Patrick is getting worse, not better.   On the hendrick side, Dale Junior's Daytona win keeps fading in the rearview mirror of a 12th at Fontana, third at Martinsville, and finishes 24th or worse in two of his last four races.   Gordon and Johnson have run good, but not great, and Johnson suddenly isn't dodging the bullets he seemed to dodge in his title heyday, while Kasey Kahne has almost fallen off the map.

So when does the series get a repeat winner? - So far seven drivers have won the first seven races, and there are suddenly more than expected in terms of potential winners.  The Hendrick fleet is what they are, so keep an eye there.    Brad Keselowski has curiously faltered in terms of finishes since Vegas but showed real hustle at Texas despite hood damage from one of the jet dryers (insert your own Juan Montoya joke here).   There remains the JGR Toyotas, which showed some return to competitive form at Texas.   There is also the Ganassi/SABCO pair, as Kyle Larson is running away with top rookie honors and contending for even more.

Among the darker horses, more and more Richard Petty's team is making a case for itself as it starts developing its own adjustments to its racecars and Trent Owens steadily proves himself a star of the future among crew chiefs. 

Curiously quiet have been Richard Childress and Roush Fenway - since Carl Edwards' Bristol win the Roush fleet has managed just one top ten finish, while RCR looks lost as an organization - that Austin Dillon's crew chief acknowledged during the race to running conservative setups, right or not, isn't the ringing endorsement of Dillon that he needs, and you cannot be a credible team with the worthless Paul Menard leading the way in top ten finishes for your organization. 

Tires an issue - or not - Tires were a controversy before the race and there were several tire issues during it, but overall it was a quiet day for Goodyear.   Given Goodyear's history, though, at some point later this year tires will become an issue again.

There was a Trevor Bayne sighting - Trevor put the Wood Brothers #21 in the top-seven in qualifying and ran okay for awhile.   It remains curious nothing more consistent has been assembled for Trevor and the Woods.

So it goes with Texas now a wrap and the Southern 500 beckoning this Saturday before the Eastern bye week.

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