Well, boys, you are not in Kansas anymore. Thank God, at least for the gents from Hendrick. If not for a blown tire by Brad Keselowski to allow a Penske driver in on some of the fun, the bottom four would consist entirely of drivers working for Rick Hendrick. However, unlike Napoleon at Waterloo, Hendrick’s boys will have a shot at redemption.
Jimmie Johnson started near the back of the pack after a qualifying miscue, and he would end there. After Greg Biffle sent Johnson for a long slide into the infield wall, the Lowe’s Chevrolet was looking pretty low for a 40th place result.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. was looking mighty fine setting the pace. Then his right front failed, causing the car to take a very unhealthy bounce off the fence to leave him 39th.
While teammate Joey Logano had the strongest car at the end of the day to take the win, Keselowski appeared to be a contender. At least, for a while he did. Running fifth, his failed rubber introduced him to the fence to leave him 36th.
That trio had horrid days that only a win at Charlotte or Talladega might be able to fix, unless those races bring big problems for some of their rivals. For Kasey Kahne, an earlier tire issue got him behind, causing him to try to do too much. That resulted in a little wall time, a 22nd place finish, and left him eight points in the weeds behind Jeff Gordon. Gordon stayed in the top dozen coming home 14th after some penalty time for a tire that rolled away in the pits. Still, if not for Keselowski’s misfortune, the entire Hendrick organization would be at the bottom. That was the big story at Kansas, but not quite the entire story.
At the end, it became obvious no one was going to catch Logano. That win, his fifth of the season, means he will remain a Chase contender for the next five events. There were others who we thought had something, such as Earnhardt and Keselowski. Kevin Harvick once again was a major factor, at least until he thought he had a tire going down and came to the pits. It was not. His handling issues cost him a shot at the win, and left him sixth.
That left Kyle Larson, who missed the Chase, but he has been one of the best since Richmond. At least he gave Logano somebody to look at in the rear view. With finishes of third, second, sixth, and now second at Kansas, the 22-year old has become part of the conversation, if only as a preview as to what we might expect in 2015.
If someone new among the Chasers falters at Charlotte, Kahne could get back in it. As far as Keselowski, Earnhardt, and Johnson are concerned, their performances over the next couple of weeks can not be anything short of awesome. Maybe even winning awesome. That, or they must hope a few other drivers have a day in North Carolina just like the one they had out on the plains.
Great to rate amongst the eight…
1 – Joey Logano – 1 Win – 3048 Points
2 – Kyle Busch – 0 – 3042
3 – Carl Edwards – 0 – 3039
4 – Ryan Newman – 0 – 3039
5 – Denny Hamlin – 0 – 3037
6 – Kevin Harvick – 0 – 3033
7 – Matt Kenseth – 0 – 3031
8 – Jeff Gordon – 0 – 3031
Four at the door…
9 – Kasey Kahne – 0 Wins – 3023 Points
10 – Brad Keselowski – 0 – 3009
11 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – 0 – 3006
12 – Jimmie Johnson – 0 – 3004