After the week’s worth of who is in, who is not, who has been naughty, who has been wronged, we got back to racing. Sadly, the most exciting thing about the day was watching Kyle, Larry, and Kenny discuss the week that was. The race, for me, turned out to be a bit of a let down.
One lap kind of looked like the last one, that looked like the next one. The contenders moved into the front half of the pack and other than an official messing up Jimmie Johnson’s pit stop and Kurt Busch caught speeding, there was not much drama in the proceedings.
Then the rains came. Five hours went by before things got back on track, by which time we caught the PGA event taking place about 70 miles north of Chicagoland, at least until they got washed out. We got to view some NFL action, at least when lightening was not delaying things in Tampa and Seattle. We had time to see the Yankees taking on the Red Sox. Well, not enough time, as I had to watch that game finish before they returned to the race track.
I could have watched it live on computer or got Sirius about it, but I thought I would wait for the tape delayed version after the ball game. I should have known better, but like Clint I just sat there and scratched my arm. The race returned, live and in progress and with just 50 laps left.
I know, I should dwell on the fact Matt Kenseth increased his points lead by winning his career high sixth race of the season. With his 30th career triumph he now sits eight points up on Chicago runner-up Kyle Busch. There was Jimmie Johnson, just 11 points out, after recovering from a failed jack as well as the official problems on pit road, to bring it home fifth. I could seek happiness at the discovery Joey Logano had blown up and would finish 37th, but then Karma bit my butt.
Dale Earnhardt Jr was leading when the action returned to my screen. He then pitted and was buried way, way back, but not for long. He blew up spectacularly in a huge white plume to finish 35th and, like Logano, sits more than 50 points out.
For the rest of the Chasers, they took the top six positions, ten of the top dozen, with Greg Biffle bringing up the rear among those who did not explode in 16th spot. The Biff is 11th in the standings, 31 points in arrears. Still, nobody is out of it yet if history tells us anything.
Rating Chicago – 6/10 – Maybe it just rained on my parade. Kenseth fans no doubt thought it one heck of a great contest.
In 2006, Jimmie Johnson started the Chase by finishing 39th at Chicago, though his 10.8 average Chase finish that year was the worst of the nine among series winners. Over the past six seasons, the eventual champion has averaged 3 Chase wins, 8 Top Tens, and 9 Top Twenties and an average finish of better than seventh. For Junior and Joey fans, that means a Top Five next Sunday would not be good enough.
Now that we have put the controversy of the past week behind us, I wonder if the boys at Michael Waltrip Racing get it just yet? The boss seems to, saying they now know what they can do and what they can not. Clint Bowyer might, though his reputation takes a hit for the perception he can do one thing then lie about the circumstances surrounding what happened. To be honest, he would have been some kind of idiot to confess right after Richmond what he had done. It is like the teacher asking you about your homework assignment, and you reply how the family pet digested it. Clint didn’t raise a stink in his car, the dog did it. We have all been there. He will be forgiven, in time. Just not in enough time to see many wanting him to take the title this year.
Martin Truex Jr does not get it. He figures if Ryan Newman gets in, he should, too. Wrong. He might not have done something wrong, but his organization did. It is the same as when a car has an illegal set up and the team gets sanctioned. The driver may have been an angel, but he gets penalized just the same. To be honest, with MWR being something of a pariah at the moment, no one really gives a damn what they want. As for Brian Vickers, he says he would do the same thing again if asked, which only means he does not mind running for negative points. What they did was fix the outcome of the race, and no professional sport allows that. If he did not get the memo, NASCAR has just reminded everyone that they will no longer tolerate it. End of story.
Thus Sunday, it is off to Loudon and the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, and Chasers have done well there. Three time winners include Johnson, Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch. Bowyer has won there twice, while victory has been celebrated by Logano, Biffle, Kasey Kahne, Kevin Harvick, and Kyle Busch. If fact, the only ones who have never done so are Carl Edwards, Junior, and Kenseth. As for having the best average finish there over his career, it could be a good day for Jimmie Johnson. Enjoy the week.