Crunching numbers after Dover

May, 18, 2010

Greetings to everybody. Thanks for showing up today, we've a got a great show planned. We're going to have some notes on Kyle Busch and all of Joe Gibbs Racing. Sitting in with the band tonight is the Dover Monster.

I think I'm all set for my own late night show here on the World Wide Leader. People would watch, right? Maybe if we just throw it deep in the bowels of Hey, it'd come free with the Internet.

I just need a sidekick, somebody to faithfully laugh at my jokes and be there to make the inane chitchat that I so desperately love. Hey, it's why you come to this blog, unless it's for the NASCAR stats. Who am I kidding? It's definitely the inane chitchat.

My first and only nominee is fellow researcher and F1 blogger Tom McKean ( for the spot. I think he has to take it, just for the addition of 25-30 Simpsons quotes a show. If you're not on board for that, let me give you my monologue first.

I've always said that I think everything is NASCAR is cyclical. If I went to a NASCAR fan 40 years ago and told them that the Wood Brothers would be a part-time team and Petty Enterprises would've merged with another team to stay alive today, they would've thought I was nuts.

20 years ago, I might've been nuts to suggest that single-car teams would rarely finish on the lead lap, Junior Johnson/Harry Melling wouldn't even have teams and we'd no longer go to Rockingham or North Wilkesboro. You'd slap me right across the face if I told you Michael Waltrip would be a two-time Daytona 500 winner.

That being said, it looks like Joe Gibbs Racing is the current team to beat in the series, but maybe only for this week or this month. Hendrick Motorsports is still a powerhouse, look how good Jimmie Johnson was at Dover until his pit-road speeding penalty, despite the recent struggles of the No. 5 and No. 88 teams.

Teams will continue to rise and fall in time. Roush Fenway Racing will win lots more races, especially when Ford figures out their new engine. Up-and-coming teams like Michael Waltrip Racing will get some wins. And we'll probably get to a point down the road where Hendrick Motorsports is more prominently featured in the Hall of Fame than on the racetrack.

Now, let's move on to some post-Dover goodness.

Cut of his Gibbs

Not to call myself a soothsayer or anything (I prefer the term visionary anyways), but I did talk about how Johnson's run of dominance could be interrupted (but not ended by any means), by the addition of the rear spoiler to the car.

One team has picked up on it pretty quickly, that being the aforementioned Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR has won five of the seven races run since the rear wing was swapped out for the sporty spoiler, and Denny Hamlin and Kyle Busch are 1-2 in points in those seven races. Meanwhile, Jimmie Johnson is a complete bum, being 10th in points in that time.

Most NSCS points, last seven races
Denny Hamlin - 1,103
Kyle Busch - 1,093
Jeff Gordon - 1,002
Kevin Harvick - 994
Ryan Newman - 952
Martin Truex Jr. - 921

I expanded the list to six to show that Martin Truex Jr. has picked up on it pretty quickly himself. The pride of New Jersey moved himself into the top 12 in points, where I expect him to hover around all season. J-Woww and The Situation were unavailable for comment.

Trivia break: Martin Truex Jr. is one of two drivers to get his first NSCS win at Dover. Who is the other?

A whole mess of Kyle Busch notes

I'll follow a little truth-in-advertising laws with the title of this section, because, honestly that's what I'm going to offer you here. That means only one thing. Lightning round!

xxxxKyle Busch became just the second driver to sweep the Nationwide and Cup Series races at Dover in the same weekend, joining Handsome Harry Gant, who did it back in 1991. Gant dominated the Cup race, lapping the field on the way to victory.

xxxxBusch also had a dominating win, winning by over 7.5 seconds. That's by far the biggest margin this season, the previous biggest was 1.9 seconds by Denny Hamlin last week at Darlington.

xxxxBusch could've won the Truck race if not for late-race issues bordering on profound, and also dominated the Nationwide race, leading 191 of 205 laps. For the weekend, Busch led 494 of the 807 laps run at Dover, over 61 percent.

Phew, deep breath.

Trivia break: Who was the last driver to win by more than 7.5 seconds at Dover?

Child, please

I'd be more than happy to close this blog with a note about the guy who's still atop the series in points, Kevin Harvick. Harvick finished 19th in points last season, right between Marcos Ambrose and rookie Joey Logano. Flash ahead to the present, and he's atop the points for a third straight week, and for the seventh time in 12 races this season.

Richard Childress Racing hasn't won a Sprint Cup Series title since Dale Earnhardt's seventh and final title in 1994. If he leads after a couple more races, Harvick would be the first RCR driver to lead the points for five straight weeks since Earnhardt in 1996.

And you thought that would be the trivia break, but no!

Trivia break: RCR drivers have won 10 NASCAR National Touring Series championships (driver titles, not owner titles). Earnhardt won six in the Cup Series. Who collected the other four?

Trivia break answers

1.) Jody Ridley got his only career win at Dover in 1981.

2.) Turns out you don't have to go back far. Jeff Burton won by nearly 8 seconds at Dover in 2006.

3.) Kevin Harvick won two and Clint Bowyer one Nationwide titles; and Mike Skinner the inaugural Truck Series title in 1995.

Matt Willis | email

ESPN Staff Writer
Matt Willis has been a studio researcher at ESPN since 2006, working on "NASCAR Now" and "SportsCenter," among other shows. He graduated from Ithaca College in 2006 with a degree in journalism. While there, he worked on ICTV, on shows such as "Ya Think You Know Sports?" and "Sports Final." He also was a member of the IC Comedy Club and figures about half of the jokes he makes in his column are actually funny.



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