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Monday, March 22, 2010

Penske making Dodge proud with strong performance in 2010

When Brad Keselowski announced last year he was making the move from Hendrick Motorsports to Penske Racing, many people thought he was taking a big step down.

After seeing how Penske’s teams are performing in 2010, especially over the past couple weeks, it’s clear that the step wasn’t as far down as many believed at the time.

Fresh off Kurt Busch’s win at Atlanta (and a top-10 run by Keselowsi ruined by that little incident), the Penske cars took positions 1 and 2 in the Nationwide race at Bristol, with Justin Allgaier getting an overdue first win in the series, and Keselowski second. Then on Sunday, Kurt Busch led the most laps and should have won, but ended up falling to Jimmie Johnson at the very end.

Not too bad for an organization many thought would struggle as the lone Dodge operation in Cup this year. The addition of crew chief Steve Addington has been a huge factor in this resurgence, and you can bet that Joe Gibbs is kicking himself right now. Why on Earth did he let that guy go after he led Kyle Busch to so many victories? I’m guessing there’s more to the story than they are telling, because it makes absolutely no sense.

Regardless of why it happened, Addington is with Penske now and he has helped Kurt Bush, and the rest of the Penske teams, get better this year. Add in a quality driver like Keselowski to the mix, and you get the kind of resurgence the team is having in 2010. Don’t let the low points positions of Keselowski and Sam Hornish Jr. fool you … they are better than those numbers and will move up as the year goes on.

It’s good to see Penske doing well, against all odds, and it gives the fans a solid underdog team to root for as the rest of the field tries to end the monotonous Hendrick domination that continues to dominate NASCAR in 2010.

Legends race marred by wreck
So I was watching a fun race with NASCAR legends including David Pearson and Dave Marcis and enjoying it tremendously, then I almost saw a guy die. Thankfully, I was watching it on a DVR, or I would have had to wait a half hour until I was told whether Larry Pearson, son of David, was alive after a horrific wreck that easity could have killed him when he was driven into by Charlie Glotzbach. (Thankfully, he and Glotzbach both survived.)

It’s too bad that had to happen, especially since it’s possible that incident might mean this event doesn’t return next year. I really enjoyed watching the race, and seeing Marcis and Pearson out there racing was pretty cool for me, as I never saw Pearson race during his career.

Many people will say this is proof it’s not same for the old-timers to race, but I want to see this fun event continue. The key: If they do come back, the cars need to be a lot safer that the ones they used Saturday.

Another Johnson win? Seriously?
OK. I understand Jimmie Johnson is a good race car driver, but this is getting ridiculous. This Twitter post I saw Sunday sums it up for me:
“Yawn. Jimmie Johnson wins again. Guess I'll find something else to do on Sundays. #NASCAR is putting me to sleep.”

Note to NASCAR: This is not an uncommon thought among fans in 2010. Don't believe what you hear from the so-called experts, Johnson's dominance is not a positive thing: It is turning people off from the sport.

What’s up Waltrip?
So it looks like Michael Waltrip did a start-and-park job for his buddy Phil Parsons in the #55 car.
All I can say is “Wow” … I never thought I’d see the day.

-- Side note: Was I the only one who thought Phil Parsons might start-and-park in the legends race?
-- Kenny Wallace got the Lucky Dog pass five times during the Nationwide race … that's got to be some kind of record.
-- Dale Earnhardt Jr. had a quiet day, but finished 7th and made huge points gains.
-- Starting lineups will now be based on 2010 owners points. The most notable person guaranteed a spot now: Scott Speed, who always was having to race in on Fridays. Also, all 3 Front Row Motorsports cars are barely in. Who’s out?: Most notable are Robby Gordon, the new #26 team, the #36 Tommy Baldwin car, both Prism cars and the #13 car driven by Max Papis.


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