Welcome to the April 10, 2013 edition of Start ‘N’ Park Blog’s Stock Watch. Each week we’ll take a look at who’s rising, falling, and treading water in the world of NASCAR. This stretches all division and all aspects of NASCAR, including drivers, owners, crew members, media and fans. Finding their way onto this week’s watch includes Jimmie Johnson, Martin Truex, Jr., Jeb Burton, Johnny Sauter, and Ron Hornaday, Jr. Is your favorite NASCAR personality rising, falling, or treading water? Find out below.
Jimmie Johnson (Sprint Cup Series) – Johnson continued his dominance at Martinsville by leading 346 of the 500 laps for his second win of 2013 and eighth win of his career at the track. As an added bonus Johnson also re-took the lead in the points. Many were surprised that right after the conclusion of Homestead Johnson became the odds on favorite for the title. This performance once again underscores that Johnson will be a factor again for the title and for wins every week.
Johnny Sauter (Camping World Truck Series) – Engine failures made a two win season last year not worth much to Sauter and his team. So far this year they are two for two in the win column, first time someone did that since 2006 in the series. He didn’t have to lead many laps, 17 of 250, but he led the most important one.
Jeb Burton (Camping World Truck Series) - My bad habit is to assume that a son of a driver usually didn’t work their way up because of talent, usually because of the family connections. Jeb Burton showed Saturday that he has talent to back up the name after grabbing the pole and leading 154 laps on his way to finishing third. He will be one to watch going forward to make some noise in this series.
Camping World Truck Series - Amazingly Saturday’s race only had Kevin Harvick as a driver from a higher series in the race. Usually the trucks don’t attract as many as the Nationwide Series, but usually there’s more than one. It was great to see the series veterans and young guns allowed to battle it out and put on a great show for the fans. If only the Nationwide Series could do this more often at champignon races.
Martin Truex, Jr. (Sprint Cup Series) – Truex was running near the front when a chain reaction crash caused him to get significant damage to the front of his car. The team tried to repair it, but after he went back out, another spin put a fork in his day. To his credit he did finish the race 115 laps down. Truex makes the list because he was a top-10 in points contender week in and week out last year, now sitting he sits 25th in points after six races.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (Sprint Cup Series) – Lost in the post-race shenanigans from last weekend was the fact that Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was not only leading the points and had not finished outside of the top-10 in each of the first five races. Maybe people not paying attention to that makes this weekend less of a blow for Earnhardt. He was doing good most of the race, but damage in an incident began the slow decline for his day. It was topped off when he was spun out by Danica Patrick, which put him two laps down, and he never recovered. He finished 24th and dropped to second in the points, on the flip side it could have been worse.
Mark Martin (Sprint Cup Series) – Some people (me) thought putting Martin in the #11 FedEx Toyota at Martinsville would be the recipe for success. The reality was it was a very long weekend for Martin and the team. It started with Martin using Denny Hamlin’s setup, which sounded good at first, but struggles in practice and qualifying left him to start the race in 35th place. Martin worked his way up through the field, but seemed to hit a wall. Then on pit road, he tried taking off before the left front tire was tight, leading to extra time on pit road and losing some laps. Even with that, he got the laps back and captured a top-10 finish coming home tenth. Too bad the teams wouldn’t allow Martin another try in this car next weekend at Texas.
Ron Hornaday, Jr. (Camping World Truck Series) – Hornaday did score a top-10 finish Saturday, but I was expecting more out of the crafty veteran. Since Kevin Harvick, Inc. disbanded before the 2012 season, Hornaday has just been lost trying to find his way back to the front. Hopefully for him this is the season when it can be turned around and Martinsville is just the start.