I hate to be one that says I told you so, but… I did tell you so. I did say in the last article the Fords looked tough and it was very evident they were on Saturday night at Texas, too. I know you already know this, but the Roush Fords held four of the top seven spots at the end of the race. Not only that, but Carl Edwards moved into the top spot in the points standings ahead of Kyle Bush. Matt Kenseth became the sixth winner out of seven races for 2011 and broke a drought of 76 races without a win.
Of course, some will say it is no surprise to see the Roush cars running good at a 1 ½ mile track, but with a quick glance back to last year, we see the Roush Fords just didn’t have stellar performances until late in the year when Carl Edwards won the last two races of the season. I’m also not forgetting who was in the Chase at the end of the year (uh, from Roush Racing), so they actually weren’t running all that bad.
While I’m talking about Roush Racing dominance on Saturday night, for a while I was thinking they may finish in the first four spots. Of course that was before Tony Stewart took over the lead and looked like he was going to be in the catbird seat for the checkered flag… (Um, we’ll talk a little more about Stewart later.)
David Ragan qualified on the pole, finished seventh and Carl Edwards qualified second and finished third. Matt Kenseth started fourth and finished first while Greg Biffle started ninth and finished fourth. That’s a pretty strong showing for the Roush teams and, if we include the RPM Ford of Marcos Ambrose finishing sixth, that makes five Fords in the top seven finishing spots along with two Chevys from Childress Racing.
No matter how we look at it, the Chevys weren’t really all that impressive for most of the night, even though there were some bright spots between the Childress and Hendrick camps along with Stewart. Clint Bowyer turned out to be the brightest spot by finishing second. Paul Menard showed that Bowyer’s performance wasn’t a fluke by finishing fifth and then there was Jeff Burton finishing eleventh on the night. As for the Hendrick teams, Jimmie Johnson managed to squeeze out an eighth place finish one place ahead of Dale Earnhardt Jr’s ninth spot.
Jr. and crew chief, Steve Letarte, continue to encourage their fan base with their consistency so far this year, and I have to admit, it is good to see them doing as well as they are. It is also good to see some of the camera shots with Dale Jr smiling more and frowning less this year. Personally, I think he will get back in the win column this year, and if the #88 team continues to perform the way they have so far, he looks very good for making the Chase for 2011, too.
From this fan’s view, Tony Stewart looks to be trying to copy the results of Jeff Gordon from early in the season last year. Last year Jeff could have had several wins and this year it has been Stewart in the “coulda-woulda-shoulda” mode. If things had gone just slightly different in several races, Tony just might have several wins this year. As it is, he doesn’t and he isn’t very happy about it either. From this fan’s view, there appears to be enough blame to go around between the driver, the crew chief and the crew, but since he is also the owner, one has to wonder if he might not want to make a change somewhere along the way (and probably soon.) Now, he may not, but, it still begs the question…
Of course, we all know he didn’t have a very good start to the year, (like in Australia, even before the NASCAR season opened), and he isn’t one to try and smile in front of the cameras and answer what some would call “dumb questions” when everybody already knows how unhappy he is.
I don’t personally think he will make any changes any time soon because, when he actually looks at where he is, he isn’t doing all that bad. Even with the situations he’s had this year, he is still tenth in points and with the way they’ve been performing, he could very well win a race or two and put all the other “almosts” behind him, making the “not-so-great” finishes a thing far off in the rear view mirror.
Of course that’s easy for me to say from where I sit, but I really don’t think he is that unhappy with his crew and crew chief at the moment, but he is showing that, “I’d rather not talk about it”, side from the Tony Stewart we all remember so well. (Hey look, I’m not passing judgment on him, I’m just remembering how it was before. I don’t blame him either; He is very competitive by nature and losing when it looks like you were going to win just isn’t part of that nature, at least not in my opinion.) Just let him win one or two and I assure you, we’ll see the smile come back to that competitive face once again.
I’m guessin’ you noticed I haven’t said that much about the Toyotas and how they did at the Texas track and there’s a good reason for that…
To put it simply, there just wasn’t, and isn’t, anything to talk about…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© April 12, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
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