By admin | March 7, 2009
By Richard Allen
Richard Childress Racing did not win last week at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway but in one sense they must feel as if they did.
Typically, teams that run well in the season’s second race at the Auto Club Speedway in California run well the next week in Las Vegas. The opposite is often also true. As a matter of fact, the race in California often serves as an indicator as to who will perform well over the first half of the season.
In 2009 that may have seemed to be more true than ever being that testing had been all but eliminated during the past off season.
So, when the RCR teams performed so poorly in California many, including your’s truly, believed they were in trouble in regard to the numerous races run on the 1.5- 2 mile tracks. I had even gone so far as to advise fantasy players to avoid the RCR drivers in choosing their Vegas rosters.
The highest finishing RCR driver in California was Clint Bowyer who placed a mere 19th. Kevin Harvick wound up 38th after having a hole knocked in his oil filter which caused him to crash. The team’s other drivers, Casey Mears and Jeff Burton, finished 24th and 32nd respectively.
Las Vegas is a town known for people changing their luck, but it’s usually from good to bad. The RCR teams beat the odds in ‘Sin City’ and showed marked improvement.
Bowyer scored a 2nd place finish in the Shelby 427 with teammate Burton right behind him. Harvick was scored in 12th at the checkered flag. Only Mears continued to struggle with a 30th place run.
Now with two Top 5s, the other coming in Daytona, Bowyer has moved into the 2nd spot in the overall Sprint Cup standings. Harvick has returned to the all important Top 12 by moving himself into 11th. Burton gained 13 positions in the standings as he now sits in 18th.
The question for these teams going into Atlanta is which run was really most indicative of what RCR is capable of? Either California or Las Vegas was a fluke. Obviously, they are hoping their Vegas runs do not come up ‘snake eyes’ in Georgia.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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