2008 Goody’s Cool Orange 500 Review

Goody’s Cool Orange 500 Review
by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com

Sunday was certainly different than the past few days at Martinsville Speedway. While the majority of practice and qualifying ran under 70-75 degree temperatures, Sunday’s race ran started under daunting skies and 41 degree temps. Luckily for me, I was under the overhangs right after the start/finish line and managed to stay dry and relatively warm. While the weather may have been bad for the fans, it held out long enough to get the entire race in, although it was clear that some drivers were hoping for an early end to the day.

As would be expected, Hendrick showed their dominance once again on a track they are known for ruling. Gordon and Johnson had problems early though, both being involved in separate wrecks but somehow managing to make a show at the end of the race. Would you expect any less from them here? I have to say, though, that the crowd erupted when Jimmie Johnson spun out. We all figured it was the end of his day. Although a fan, I myself am a bit sick of his dominance. It was nice to see some other drivers in the front for once. Jr. was up front for a great majority of the day as was Denny Hamlin. They showed their true colors, drudging through the nasty weather and changing track conditions and maintained strong performances throughout the entire race.


Jeff Gordon spun out and suffered some damage to his front end. Steve Letarte, his crew chief, was concerned about water temperatures even in the 40 degree weather because of this damaged, but it proved to be rather negligible as the day went on. Through the pit stops, Gordon managed to get back up to the front and ran in the top five, giving Denny Hamlin a run for his money in the closing laps of the race. Gordon claimed throughout the race that his car was better on the long runs. That is what cost him the race in my opinion. There were several cautions in the last laps, leaving Gordon with only a few short runs to work with. Given five more laps, I think Gordon would have taken the race. It was only a few years ago when Gordon managed to come from three laps down and take the checkers. That is just the type of driver Gordon is and also a reflection of how well he works with his team. They all work together and strategize to get to the front. Gordon’s short track runs are a bit like Tony Stewart’s super speedway runs. They sit in the back of the field or midfield for a great deal of the race and then start picking up positions as the laps wind down. They are notorious for doing this, and it seems to be a winning strategy as Gordon has seven grandfather clocks from Martinsville victories.

The race was a good one for a few drivers but a terrible one for most. Kurt Busch and his brother Kyle seemed to have problems all day long. In fact, Kyle was spun around by his brother and eventually went to the garage for rear end problems. On his radio, Kyle claimed he was having differential problems, although some reports claim transmission issues. His brother Kurt continued to have problems throughout the day as well, never being able to get in the groove and falling to the back. Matt Kenseth is another driver that desperately wanted to see an early end to his day. His problems began with overheating early on and then getting penalized for aggressive driving. He ended up spinning and taking his car to the garage for a short while. Sunday was not his best performance by any means and hopefully not one that he will repeat in the near future.

Finally, I think that Jeff Burton deserves a little time spent on him seeing as he is the new points leader and all. Burton showed a very dominating performance on Sunday and one that could have and probably should have won the race. Burton had issues with the 00 car of Michael McDowell. There were several other drivers that did as well. Over his radio after the race, Burton clearly explained that “That 00 car is going to learn some manners. He can choose how he wants to learn them, but he WILL learn some.” That is the most frustrated that I have heard Burton in a long time. While this was McDowell’s first Cup appearance, he was such a hindrance for the top 3 or 4 cars the entire race. Being a lap car, his spotter or crew chief should have told him not to interfere with the lead contenders. I understand racing for the lucky dog and trying to stay ahead of the other lap cars, but racing Gordon or Burton was unnecessary and obviously a memo that this new kid has yet to receive. It will take time, but like Burton said, he will learn one way or another.

Hamlin was your winner, with a fuel only pit stop putting him ahead of Gordon. Burton ended up third.

Your top ten in the field are as follows:

1. Denny Hamlin
2. Jeff Gordon
3. Jeff Burton
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Tony Stewart
6. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
7. Casey Mears
8. Jamie McMurray
9. Carl Edwards
10. Clint Bowyer

These positions shook up the points standings for another week in a row putting a couple more Hendrick cars in the top twelve.

The top twelve in points are:

1. Jeff Burton
2. Kevin Harvick
3. Greg Biffle
4. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
5. Kyle Busch
6. Tony Stewart
7. Kasey Kahne
8. Denny Hamlin
9. Jeff Gordon
10. Jimmie Johnson
11. Ryan Newman
12. Clint Boywer

While Denny Hamlin is representing Gibbs well, it’s obvious that the Hendrick teams are not out of the running. They proved this weekend that they are still contenders and are able to make their way to the front despite the past few rocky weeks that Johnson and Gordon have had. Jr. has managed to be consistent moving up a spot this week in points thanks to his great run on Sunday. Hopefully, the next time I head to Martinsville the weather will cooperate more, but if you are a true race fan, there’s no weather that will stop you from getting to a race. The drivers put on a great show for the fans, and we really appreciate it. I am sure that this Sunday at Texas will be no different. Stay tuned as I bring you the latest in the world of NASCAR news and the preview to this weekend’s race coming up later this week!