Race Weekend Central

Busch Series Breakdown: 2006 Sam’s Town 250 at Memphis

In a Nutshell: What a finish! OK, so I have to tell you Kevin Harvick won for the eighth time this season, but at least it was interesting this time. Carl Edwards was leading when the caution came out for a Steve Wallace spin with four laps to go and set up a green/white/checkered finish. Harvick, trailing Edwards, would get one more shot at the Sam’s Town 250 win and took advantage of a poor start by the No. 60 Ford of Edwards to pounce going into turn 1.

Teammate Clint Bowyer joined the fray, making it three-wide briefly before Harvick and Bowyer ran off to settle it amongst themselves, leaving Edwards to race Johnny Sauter for third. Harvick came out on top with Bowyer finishing second yet again. Edwards held on for third over Sauter with Shane Huffman rounding out the top five.

Who Should Have Won: Edwards. To be honest, I really do think Harvick actually had the better car for much of the day. Edwards had one really great run where he caught Harvick and got by and drove off to a lead but then track position can be everything. If Wallace doesn’t spin and bring out the caution with four to go, Harvick probably doesn’t catch Edwards, regardless of whether or not he had the better car though and so that’s the difference in this category.

Three Questions You Should Be Asking After the Race Weekend

1) Is it the cars or the drivers?

The Cup drivers have spent the season handing the Busch drivers’ backsides (can I say asses?) to them just about every weekend. It’s particularly bad when all the Cup guys are handicapped with starting in the rear and still manage to take all the top spots. But what is it really? Driving talent? Superior equipment? The combination of both?

2) Is Juan Pablo Montoya going to make the transition look easy?

He had his ups and downs in Memphis, but he never got frustrated and he certainly didn’t make a featherless dart out of himself. In spite of a mid-race spin that dropped him deep in the field and sent him for multiple trips down pit road for repairs, Juan Pablo Montoya rallied to finish a very respectable 11th. Then again, it could have been beginner’s luck but I was suitably impressed. Either way, I still need to get used to seeing Montoya’s name in the middle of a listing between JJ Yeley and Jason Keller.

See also
Should the 2006 Busch Series Champ Play Hooky at Memphis?

3) Did Harvick and the other Chasers do the right thing?

As much as I respect and am overjoyed by Harvick’s decision not to minimize the importance of the Busch Series by skipping the race in Memphis, I also hope that decision doesn’t come back to bite him. In order to make the tight travel times allotted, Harvick skipped out on final Cup practice to get to Memphis on time. While guys like Yeley or Reed Sorenson might not have had much to worry about, Harvick, Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne are in the hunt for the Nextel Cup championship. Hopefully the missed practice time doesn’t turn out to be a reason Harvick comes up short in the Chase.

Worth Noting/Points Shuffle

Sauter in fourth is the top-finishing Busch regular for the week while Danny O’Quinn takes the Raybestos Rookie of the Race award for the week with a ninth-place run. He’s not officially among the competitors running for Raybestos Rookie honors, but a mention to Huffman for a nice fifth-place result, even if he did run over Paul Menard on the final lap to get it.

Of course the champion has already been crowned, but for what it’s worth, if you are trying to guess how big the final margin might be, it currently stands at 790 points over second-place Edwards. Bowyer, Hamlin and Yeley continue to round out the top five. The only position change is at sixth, where Menard moves up one to take the spot from Kyle Busch, who falls to seventh. Busch did not race in Memphis, electing to stay in Atlanta to concentrate on his Cup effort. Greg Biffle, Sauter and Sorenson round out the top 10.

Buschwhacker Watch

Buschwhackers in this race: 7
Starting spots taken by Buschwhackers YTD: 452 of 1,384
Buschwhackers finishing in top 10: 7
Buschwhackers finishing in top 10 YTD: 235 of 320
Races won by Buschwhackers YTD: 30 of 32
Buschwhackers ranked in top 10 in Busch Series points standings: 8

Next Up: As the season continues to wind down, it’s off to Texas Motor Speedway for the Texas 300. Coverage starts at 2:00 p.m. ET on TNT on Saturday afternoon, Nov. 4.

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