4 various winners in 4 races speaks to efforts of Chevrolet, Ford, Toyota
By: Al Pearce on March 18, 2014
LAT PHOTOGRAPHIC – Dale Earnhardt (88) and Carl Edwards (99) have a leg up on the race to the Chase with victories already this season.
4 races on diverse tracks beneath different problems are not fairly adequate to supply a clear look about what’;s coming in Sprint Cup this year. Most teams typically wait right up until soon after the 400-miler at Automobile Club Speedway in California before evaluating the place they are in contrast with the competition.
Following this weekend, teams will have run 500 miles on the 2.5-mile restrictor-plate track in Daytona Seaside, 312 miles on the flat 1-miler at Phoenix, 400 miles on the one.5-mile quad-oval at Las Vegas, and 500 tough laps on the half-miler at Bristol. Foul weather impacted the Daytona Seaside and Bristol races, but Phoenix and Las Vegas were run as scheduled.
The only configurations remaining on the 36-race schedule are street programs (2 races this yr) and 2-milers (3 races). That is why teams are hesitant to judge themselves too cautiously until right after Fontana. Just for entertaining, even though, let’;s throw out some preliminary observations of our personal:
— Parity is everywhere, with 5 different organizations and all 3 manufactures represented amid the top 10 in factors. Penske Racing has leading-ranked Ford drivers Brad Keselowski and sixth-ranked Joey Logano. Hendrick Motorsports has 2nd-ranked Chevrolet drivers Dale Earnhardt and 4th- and fifth-ranked Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson. Roush Fenway Racing has third-ranked Ford driver Carl Edwards and 10th-ranked Ricky Stenhouse. Joe Gibbs Racing has 6th- and eighth-ranked Toyota drivers Denny Hamlin and Matt Kenseth. And Richard Childress Racing has ninth-ranked Chevy driver Ryan Newman. 4 other organizations have drivers in between 11th and 20th in factors
— 4 different drivers have won poles by way of the 1st 4 races. Rookie Austin Dillon (RCR) was on the pole at Daytona Beach, Keselowski was quick qualifier at Phoenix, teammate Logano was on the pole at Las Vegas, and Hamlin started out No. 1 at Bristol. FYI: Logano started 2nd at Phoenix and Keselowski was second at Las Vegas and Bristol, providing Penske Racing a front-row auto in 3 of the first 4 races this spring
— Just as 4 diverse drivers have won poles, 4 various drivers have been to victory lane. Earnhardt gave Junior Nation one more purpose to celebration by winning his second Daytona 500 last month. Kevin Harvick gave Stewart-Haas Racing a single of its few bright spots with a dominating victory at Phoenix a week before Keselowski beat fuel-gambler Earnhardt on the final lap at Las Vegas. Then, right after a extended rain delay final weekend, Edwards led only the ultimate 78 laps to win the day-into-night ordeal at Bristol
— Only 1 driver has been genuinely constant. Gordon has consecutive single-digit finishes of 4th, fifth, ninth, and 6th. Earnhardt was 1st, 2nd and 2nd going into Bristol, but his inexplicable 24th-location finish right after beginning 14th cost him the point lead. Point-leader Keselowski opened the season by finishing third, third and 1st, but an accident at Bristol left him 14th. Edwards opened with a 17th at Daytona Seashore, then rallied to finish eighth and fifth ahead of winning at Bristol. Jimmie Johnson, regarded as by some the Cup favourite, was performing just fine – fifth, sixth, and sixth to open the season – ahead of a tire concern left him 19th at Bristol
— Some of the sport’;s biggest names haven’;t had an straightforward time of it. Harvick won Phoenix, but also has 3 poor finishes. Kyle Busch has 3 double-digit finishes and only one top 8. Tony Stewart had 3 negative finishes prior to a sturdy 4th-place at Bristol, a finish he called “almost as good as a win.” Newman, Marcos Ambrose, Jamie McMurray, Aric Almirola, Paul Menard, and Greg Biffle also have 3 mediocre-to-bad finishes. Kurt Busch and teammate Danica Patrick have 4 mediocre-to-poor finishes, though Patrick’;s finishes have improved weekly: 40th in Daytona Seashore, 36th at Phoenix, 21st at Las Vegas, and 18th at Bristol
— Rookies Dillon and Kyle Larson have had their adventures, the 2 great and negative. Dillon finished ninth in the Daytona 500, then struggled to 24th at Phoenix and 16th at Las Vegas ahead of finishing 11th in the Bristol race. Larson has enhanced in each and every of his 4 begins: 38th at Daytona Seashore, 20th at Phoenix, 19th at Las Vegas, and 10th at Bristol. Dillon’;s 44-38 lead in Rookie of the Yr factors is meaningless this early, as is his benefit in the standings, 13th to 21st.
After racing on 4 consecutive weekends, teams will go from Fontana to Martinsville to Fort Well worth and to Darlington before their yearly Easter weekend break on April 19-20. By then, no doubt, the championship image will be a lot clearer.
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