Friday, April 3, 2009

Rusty Reckons: Hammond's Coming Home (to Texas)

Well, get out the dough (or Cowboy hat), cause it's back to a cookie cutter track this coming weekend (Texas Motor Speedway). After two weeks of short track awesomeness, we are back to talking about down force and horsepower. Don't get me wrong, we should still have some good racing, but we won't get to see nuttin like Jimmie's pass for the win at Martinsville. What we will see is speed, and lots of it. The smooth pavement at Texas makes it one of the fastest tracks on the circuit, and with lots of grip that means two things in terms of the racing; long runs and cut tires. Long green flag runs translate into a lot of sweaty palms for the engine guys. Add good grip to long runs and you can do a number on the tires, especially at high speeds.

Now, the track may be cookie cutter, and the racing may not be as exciting as the last two weeks, but Rusty's going to be bold. Like a nice tall bottle of Heinz 57, it's time to be bold and spicy. Jeff Gordon is going to win this coming weekend. Jeff's hot (kinda like Heinz 57).

He's leading the points and has been running up front every week. He's also mired in a 47 race winless streak, so this fellar's looking for victory lane. Gordon's also won on every track in the circuit except Homestead and you guessed it, Texas. It's not that Jeff doesn't run well in Texas. In 15 starts, he's got 7 top 10's while averaging a respectable 16.6 finish. He just hasn't found victory lane . . . yet!

To win, though, the 24 team's gotta beat some stiff (snicker snicker) competition. Mr. Ed swept Texas last year, but it's his fellow Roush-ka-teer, Matt "the robot" Kenseth who stands as the only driver to average a top 10 finish over the last 5 years; Kenseth's averaging a 7.6. And don't ever count out those boys from Vegas. The Cup series has been the Busch show lately. Kurt and the shrub have combined for 4 wins in 9 races (counting the shootout and duels), and had 3 consecutive victories before this past weekend. Both of them average better than a top 20 finish at Texas, but neither have earned the cowboy hat and six shooters. So, they could be up there in the hunt as well.

JR Prediction

It's amazing what a top 10 finish will do to silence your critics. Driving a car held together by bungee cords and some bubble gum (I'm only kidding on the latter), Junior was able to get as high as 3rd place and come home a very respectable 8th at Martinsville, last Sunday. While he couldn't find the dominance of Jimmie, he did continue his upward climb in the points. He's now in 16th only 44 points behind 12th place. Now, it's on to Texas, the site of Junior's first win in Cup. Unfortunately, he's not been able to repeat the success of 2000. Since 2006, Junior's not posted a top 10 finish, and in the last two years has only finished on the lead lap once. So, Rusty ain't too excited about Junior's chances this coming weekend. He could really use another top 10 finish, but I sure as shoot ain't holding my breath.

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