Phoenix the place to get back into Chase contention

April 07, 2010|By Tania Ganguli | Tribune Newspapers

Let's try this again.

Two weeks ago, I wrote if Denny Hamlin wants to challenge Jimmie Johnson's success, he would have to start at Martinsville, during short-track season when he typically excels.

Hamlin then won at Martinsville.

Can Mark Martin follow suit?

If Martin is to challenge for a championship this season, he must start having better finishes. What a better weekend to start than this one. Martin notched his first of five victories last season at Phoenix.

So far Martin is 17th in points after 33rd-, 35th- and 21st-place finishes at Atlanta, Bristol and Martinsville.

Bring back (old) Busch: My how times have changed for Kyle Busch.

First he gets engaged, then he accepts a guitar trophy at Nashville and doesn't smash it to smithereens?

"I'm going to give it to (artist) Sam (Bass) and if he wants to, he can beat my truck up with it because of what I did here last fall," Busch said. "I don't think he'll take me up on it, but he can have at it if he wants because he said he wanted to drive it into a brick wall anyway."

I have to say, I kind of liked the old Busch better. Higher entertainment value, if not production on the race track.

But I bet his team prefers maturity. That, after all, is what makes a great driver.

Ten things we learned last week:

1. A Cup off-weekend is a great time for vacations.

2. Unless, of course, you're a racing fiend like Busch and want to work even on your off-weekend.

3. Watch out for Johnson with two weeks of preparation. Phoenix was already one of his better tracks.

4.Carl Edwards will make his 200th start at Phoenix this weekend. He has lost his luster just a little bit, hasn't he? He's 14th in points and has had top-10 finishes, but lately Edwards has been making more news for feuds and scuffles than racing.

5. Not that there's anything wrong with feuds and scuffles. Hear that, other drivers?

6. The Subway Fresh Fit 600 is not 600 miles long. Thank God.

7. Still, it is a 600-kilometer race that will go 375 laps, making it 63 laps longer than the race was last year. Did we really need more laps of Phoenix?

8. Texas Motor Speedway is filled with kidders. In an April Fools joke (that came out one day early), President Eddie Gossage offered $100,000 to a radio host who said he would change his name to and get a tattoo that said that.

9. Perhaps the funniest part of this story was that according to the Fort Worth Star Telegram, the Tarrant County District Clerk and his staff weren't the least bit amused. They spent several hours preparing for the media crush following the radio personality to watch him change his name to

10.Robby Gordon's No. 7 car is the first one out of the top 35 in owners points and will have to race his way into Phoenix this weekend. At the top of the standings, Joey Logano (13th) and Edwards will be trying to race their way into Chase contention.

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