Good Ol' Boys - NASCAR
review of 2000 Winston Cup season
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With the approach of the half-way point of the season, one can look back
thus far, and determine that it has been an interesting season. We have seen twelve different race winners, only three of those winners winning more than one race, and the top 10 positions in the race points separated by only 366 points. We have seen two rookies, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and Matt Kenseth, take center stage at Charlotte, while Dale Earnhardt, who many considered past his prime, make a serious run towards the championship. We have seen younger drivers, such as Tony Stewart and Jeremy Mayfield, continue there march towards legendary greatness, while Ward Burton, who has come close so many times to returning to Victory Lane, finally get his second career victory, and also challenge for the Winston Cup Championship. All this, and the continued consistency of Bobby Labonte and Dale Jarrett, have made this an exciting and interesting Winston Cup Season.
Jeff Gordon has won the last five road course races. Although he has been fairly consistent, he definitely has not been the Jeff Gordon of old. A new crew chief and pit crew have made this a rebuilding year for the three-time champion. If Jeff is going to make some serious strides towards making it a four-time champion, the road courses are a good place to start. However, he is going to have to hold off challenges from two road course masters: Mark Martin and Ricky Rudd. Mark scored his first top five finish, this past weekend at Pocono, since his victory at Martinsville. It has been a so-so year for Mark, but he did win at Sears Point in 1997, and has three career victories at Watkins Glen. Mark needs to regain his consistency to make a push towards the top five point leaders. A road course victory, and continued success in the fall Dover race, will help. Ricky Rudd is a victory waiting to happen. Rudd has four top-5 finishes in the last six races and has always run well at the road courses, and with Loudon and the Brickyard coming up, Ricky should make his way to victory lane, soon.
If we where to judge the 2000 Winston Cup season, based on pole winners, Rusty Wallace would be the man. His five pole-positions, thus far, have been astounding. He is ,clearly, the man to beat at Bristol. With the Bristol night race coming up, as well as Martinsville and Richmond, Rusty has many good chances for career victory 51. Rusty is also a formidable road course driver. Bad luck seems to follow Rusty, though, so he needs to avoid it. Hopefully, Kenny Irwin did not start a string of bad luck scenarios for Ward Burton. Ward has been one of the pleasant surprises of the season. Although, he has not run as strong as he did earlier in the season, Ward has still been managing top-10 finishes. A few more victories will keep Ward in sight of the Winston Cup, and with visits to Darlington and Rockingham, remaining, Ward could be the dark horse in the chase for the crown.
Bobby Labonte is simply the man to beat, right now. He is the most consistent guy the track, and with several of his favorite tracks still remaining on the schedule, look for Bobby to visit Victory Lane a few more times. The only thing that can stop Bobby Labonte is bad luck. He received some at Pocono, but still was able to scrap for a top-15 finish. Look for Bobby to be racing for his first Winston Cup Championship at Atlanta.
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