Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Updated: April 12, 12:57 PM ET
Rusty Nails It: Dodge back with back-to-back wins
By Rusty Wallace
Special to ESPN.com
Kurt Busch won the Food City 500 in Bristol, Tenn., in my old No. 2 Dodge Charger. When the No. 2 car crossed the line, I was thinking back to the nine wins I had there in my career. It was great to see my car, the old No. 2, in Victory Lane. When I talked to Busch in Victory Lane, he said he named the car Rusty. It was a feel-good moment for me.
What also made me feel good was Dodge won its second race in a row (after going winless in 12 previous events dating back to last season) with the Dodge Charger nose. It backs up what we talked about last week. You have to commend the team for trying the Intrepid nose, but the right decision was made to go with the Charger. The Intrepid was a great nose in its year, but Dodge improved on it by creating the Charger. It's a better car, but there was a question with many teams whether or not it was because the victories weren't coming. The last two weeks, the Charger has really knocked all those concerns out of the teams' heads.
After his third-place finish at Bristol, Matt Kenseth moved into first in the Nextel Cup points standings. Drivers have always paid attention to the points because they all want to be a champion, go to New York and finish in the coveted top 10.
But now that drivers have 26 races just to get into the Chase for the Cup, drivers have become even more aware of points. One of the first things drivers do once the race is over is run to the closest computer they can find to see where they are in the updated standings. At least, that's what I did.
Last week was also gratifying for me because I got to see my son Steve in his first Busch Series race in Bristol, in our car. He started the race and took the lead from Kevin Harvick before he got in a little racing tangle, spun and got into a wall. But we're real proud of him. I got a phone call from NASCAR president Mike Helton, and he said, "I'll tell you what, that kid of yours is going to be a star." For a father, that was a great call to receive.
This week in Martinsville, my money is on Jeff Gordon. He has been one of the most consistent drivers in Martinsville (seven wins and 20 top-10 finishes in 26 starts at Martinsville). Don't be surprised if Busch wins for the second straight week, though. He has all the setups I had in the past at Martinsville, and I had a great car for that track the last time I drove there. Mark Martin is always a good driver on the short tracks, too.
Former Cup champion Rusty Wallace will provide coverage for ESPN and ABC during this year's IndyCar Series and selected Nextel Cup races.