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What drivers are hot(and not) going into the Phoenix sun?

By admin | April 16, 2009

By Richard Allen


Some drivers on the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series enjoyed a happy Easter break while others found an empty basket in their homes when they awoke on Sunday morning. After seven races there has been enough time to gauge who is set to contend throughout the 2009 season and who has work to do.

Let’s take a look at some of those who woke up Easter morning to find a basket filled with goodies:

Jeff Gordon- This great driver has returned to championship form after a 2008 dry spell. His win in Texas ended that drought and placed him even more solidly atop the Sprint Cup standings.

Kyle Busch- He may not be popular among many NASCAR fans but he proved to be a big hit with the Easter Bunny. He has two wins so far and looks to be on pace to equal or better his total of eight wins in 2008.

Matt Kenseth- He got the biggest treat of all so far in this early season with a Daytona 500 victory. He followed that up with a win in California the next week.

Kurt Busch- Little brother isn’t the only one in the family doing well. Despite a well publicized dust up with owner Roger Penske during the Martinsville race, Busch had a win in Atlanta and is 3rd in the overall standings.

David Reutimann- He has Michael Waltrip Racing in the unfamiliar position of serious contender. He is 11th in points and has earned a pole so far in 2009.

Now, let’s take a look at some drivers who were disappointed after the Easter bunny shorted them on Sunday morning:

Mark Martin- Much was expected of the union between Martin and Hendrick Motorsports. So far, blown engines and cut tires have spoiled their hopes although they seem to be poised for a surge going forward.

Joey Logano- He may have just won a Nationwide Series race but his Sprint Cup campaign has been a disaster so far. He has only one finish in the Top 20, a 13th in Las Vegas.

Matt Kenseth- That’s right, this driver is listed twice. After winning the first two races he was never a contender in the next four outings. Finally, a Top 5 in Texas may have turned things back in the right direction.

DEI- Dale Earnhardt, Inc. merged with Chip Ganassi Racing during the off season and now is shutting down the once popular car #8. Many said when Teresa Earnhardt let Dale Earnhardt, Jr. leave that the driver would be able to buy the team at auction someday. Someday is coming soon.

Seven weeks is enough time to establish trends. Some trends look good and others do not. Of course, there are other drivers than those mentioned who are doing well and there are other drivers than those mentioned who are not doing so well. But, those mentioned are among the most noted so far in 2009.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

*For a chuckle click on the link below to watch my latest animated short film, “Racing Re-Cap: Special Edition”. In this episode racing reporter Mark Mustang attempts to do an in depth interview with rookie driver Dusty Davis but finds the driver’s overly scripted answers to be a bit frustrating.

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