A palpable sense of tension and anticipation swept across NASACAR nation as Dale Earnhardt Jr. appeared poised to break his 98-race winless streak as the laps dwindled in Sunday’s race. However, for the second week in a row, Kevin Harvick’s late race supremacy was just too much to overcome.
“I had a lot of fun racing with Dale Jr. and I hate to be the guy that is the bad guy here, but we are in it to win it,” said Harvick after the race, referring to extending NASCAR’s most popular driver’s winless streak to 99.
Earnhardt, who currently sits eighth in points, was understandably emotional after the event saying, “We had an opportunity to win the race. I’m disappointed that I didn’t get the job done and it will probably bother me more and more as the night goes on.”
Harvick’s run on Sunday was reflective of his season thus far, as his lap 22 engine failure at Daytona put him at an incredible points disadvantage. The Bakersfield, Calif. driver found himself mired deep in the field at Martinsville battling an ill-handling racecar before emerging as the winner, his first at NASCAR’s shortest track. As he and the rest of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series heads for Texas this weekend, Harvick enjoys a fifth place spot in the point standings.
Kyle Busch, Sunday’s third-place finisher, had a rough week at Martinsville, for him at least. On Saturday, the Las Vegas native was relegated to a second-place finish after having a dominant race truck in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event. Despite his “tough luck” this past weekend, the 25-year-old is now leading the Sprint Cup Series point battle, plus five over Carl Edwards.
Another first time winner was crowned at the Martinsville Speedway in Camping World Truck Series action this past weekend. 2010 Kansas Speedway winner, Johnny Sauter, earned his first grandfather clock; the customary trophy given to winner’s at the Virginia oval, by passing the ever dominant, Busch, in the closing laps of Saturday’s Kroger 250. “It’s pretty cool when you can beat Kyle Busch,” said Sauter after the race.
Sauter is right, Busch has already collected five NASCAR national series wins this season. Even four-time Sprint Cup champion, Jeff Gordon, echoed Sauter’s thoughts after Gordon’s victory at Phoenix earlier this year. In fact, Sauter’s win makes him the first non-Sprint Cup competitor to win either a NASCAR Nationwide or truck series event this season.
The trucks embark upon a two-week hiatus, returning to competition on April 22; however, Sauter won’t have much free time and perhaps even less sleep in the coming weeks. His wife, Cortney, is scheduled to give birth to the couple’s second child early Monday morning. As if this month hasn’t been good enough for the Wisconsin native, he also leads the truck series points by five markers, trailed by veteran Matt Crafton who finished 11th on Saturday.
Race fans can catch the stars of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series in action at Kansas Speedway for the first of two Cup races on Sunday, June 5th. The trucks will make their return to Kansas Speedway on Saturday, June 4th, to take part in the 11th running of the O’Reilly Auto Parts 250. Tickets for all Kansas Speedway events are on sale and may be purchased by visiting www.kansasspeedway.com or by calling 866.460.RACE (7223). Parking is always free and guests may bring a 14x14x14-inch soft-sided cooler into the grandstands filled with their favorite food and beverages.