by Jason Ferris - 05/11/2005
Recap of Dodge Charger 500:
Greg Biffle's first place finish in the Dodge Charger 500 at Darlington Raceway shows how much NASCAR is a team sport. He questioned late lap changes by his pit crew, but, the four new tires are what allowed him to weave through the pack for his third win of the year. Jeff Gordon's crew chose to replace his tires late also, and he said after the race that he knew that whoever made it out of the pit first between the two would win the race. Biffle held off late charges from young guns such as Ryan Newman and points leader Jimmie Johnson for the win.
NASCAR put on a great contest at the struggling Darlington Raceway, which has already lost one of its races to track expansion. Darlington, one of the oldest tracks, added lights last year to try to draw excitement to this race. Mission accomplished. This was the first race here run almost entirely at night. This could be the rebirth of this track, which was once a darling of the circuit.
Preview of Chevy American Revolution 400:
As if the Nextel Cup wasn't exciting enough this year, we move to The Chevy American Revolution 400 at Richmond for a race that will undoubtedly show who is the best "driver." The eighth-of-a-mile oval at Richmond International Raceway slows the speed down, but not the excitement. This track allows the veterans to show what it takes to make it in this sport. With average race speeds below 100 mph, the "young guns" can't just put the "pedal-to-the-metal."
There are many reasons why The Chevy American Revolution 400 may possibly be the most exciting race this season. First of all, there is the Jimmie Johnson vs. the entire field feud, which has escalated to the point of grown men acting like children. I think Johnson has watched "Days of Thunder" too many times, and Dale Earnhardt Sr. is rolling over in his grave (may he rest in peace) listening to his son, Dale Jr., cry about rubbing and intimidating. Jimmy is simply imitating the style that brought Dale Sr. so much success. Hint to Junior, show him what made daddy famous.
Also, Richmond's short oval allows for many lead changes and exciting finishes. Short tracks allow few drivers to be on the lead lap, causing each lap to be more crucial. One of the most exciting things in racing is seeing drivers go three wide, put that on turns three and four on an oval track and you've got Richmond. I tell you this; there is a reason why Richmond is the hardest place to get a ticket.
Winner Circle for the Chevy American Revolution 400
Ride to Victory
Jeff Gordon (6-1): Gordon has been a force since entering the Cup, and he is really putting his skills on display this year. He has won twice at this track and has 10 top five finishes. That, topped with his success at other short tracks, makes him the odds on favorite for the Chevy American Revolution 400. Love him or love to hate him, he's the best low risk bet.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. (10-1): Not only is Junior arguably the fan favorite, he may be the best bet in the Chevy American Revolution 400. He has finished in the top five in over half of his starts in Richmond, including two wins (plus one Busch win). He is the defending champ and finished third in 2003. Also, he has the best finish average at Richmond 8.82 (min five starts). Junior has yet to win this season, but that should not last long.
Tony Stewart (15-1): Stewart has had a good start to the season, but I'm sure if you asked him, he would have expected at least one win by now. Tony, look no further, this week is your shot. Tony's won here three times and has proven himself a good short track driver. This could be the week he gets that elusive first victory of the year.
Mark Martin (12-1): Martin is the first of my two sentimental favorites to bet. Fortunately I can justify both. Mark has only one victory in Richmond, but a very impressive record that includes 22 top 10s. Couple that with this being his final season, you have a good match.
Rusty Wallace (12-1): Rusty, Rusty, Rusty. Wouldn't it be nice to see him win one? Well, this is an excellent opportunity here in the Chevy American Revolution 400. In 42 races in Richmond, he has an average finish of 9.17, which includes three victories. His lack of recent success is overshadowed by his overwhelming success in short track racing. He's not the best in the bunch, but he might surprise us.
Matt Kenseth (25-1): Matt is a very interesting bet this week. He has been in the top 10 in the Chevy American Revolution 400 each of the last four years. His year has been anything but exciting, but he has to feel confident going into this week. For the odds, he is a good high-risk bet.
Bobby Labonte (30-1): Bobby has had his share of bad luck this year. He has been knocked out of contention by accidents and engines in eight races this year, but he could be the sleeper in the Chevy American Revolution 400. Bobby finished second in 2003 and third in 2004. If he can stay on the lead lap, which is a task in its self in Richmond, look for him to make a late run.
Carl Edwards (25-1): Carl is proving he can race. He is leading the Busch series, and is in the "Chase for the Championship." Carl has proven himself since he came on the scene in August of last year, including a top 10 at Richmond last year. Until his odds begin to come down, Carl is someone you can bet as a favorable long-shot.
Jimmie Johnson (7-1): What can you say about this guy? He is the points leader. He has been THE force over the last two seasons. It's hard not to bet him because of his recent success, but despite his second-place finish last year in the Chevy American Revolution 400, he has had little to cheer about in Richmond. He could win, if the field lets him finish, but the risk is too high for the reward.
Greg Biffle (8-1): I know, your asking how you can take me seriously on this one. Well, when it comes to money, I don't throw money down on unproven commodities. Yes, he is in third place in the standings and has three victories this year, including last week. However, he has yet to prove himself on short tracks. He has too many 20-something places on this track to suggest an 8-1 line.
Kurt Busch (12-1): He's good, no doubting that. But prove yourself on these tracks, then ask for my bet.
Kasey Kahne (15-1): Kasey is another young guy who has yet to prove himself on short tracks, and surely doesn't merit a 15-1 line.