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June 6, 2013

TRACKSIDE: Bad weather gives time to reflect

----- — With weather-related issues continuing to plague the Wabash Valley racing scene, the lack of on-track activity presents an opportunity to offer an overall assessment of the 2013 campaign to date.

A quick review of a season that thus far has generated its share of highs and lows, whether on or off the track.

On the national picture, most eyes are focused in the direction of the NASCAR Sprint Cup scene where Jimmie Johnson continues his winning ways, much to the chagrin of many.

While he might lack the respect and popularity deserving of a five-time champion, Johnson and his crew chief Chad Kanaus are quietly positioning themselves for another solid run at a sixth title.

Heading into Dover, the team was atop the points on the strength of a pair of wins and six top-five finishes.

Although he was an early retiree at Dover, Matt Kenseth has been the biggest surprise this year, already with a circuit-leading three wins. His jump to Joe Gibbs Racing has produced instant winning results.

Kyle Busch continues to be the big race winner in NASCAR, having posted 10 wins — six in the Nationwide Series and a pair each in Sprint Cup and Camping World Trucks.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, until this past weekend, were the fortunes of Stewart-Haas Racing, where the combined efforts of Tony Stewart, Ryan Newman and Danica Patrick had produced only one top-five finish all season.

Of course, Stewart’s late-lap pass of Juan Pablo Montoya for the win at Dover may make Stewart a little easier to deal with. And, yes, Terre Haute Action Track promoter Bob Sargent has confirmed that Stewart has given his commitment to be here for NASCAR Night on July 2.

Also suffering from early subpar seasons are Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Mark Martin and Montoya.

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