Left, left, left, and (if not at Pocono) a final left. That is usually how it goes each week in NASCAR. This week is one of those unusual ones. Eleven turns at Watkins Glen and seven of them are right. I think these road courses provide more exciting NASCAR races than some ovals, including Indianapolis. Let the arguing begin.
Some say that Chris Buescher’s win last week showed a weakness in the Chase format. I think it strengthens it. Winning is everything, and if that is so, then a regular should get his pass by simply winning. There are worse things, like not being a regular and winning races at lower divisions, but I digress.
No more Dale Earnhardt Jr. for at least another couple of weeks, while replacement Jeff Gordon reaches the 800 race milestone at Watkins Glen.
Kevin Harvick’s crew chief, Rodney Childers, returns after a week in the doghouse and $20,000 lighter for missing a lug nut at Indianapolis. It was a week where he needed dental work, a new windshield, and some twit did a little spin on his lawn. Oh, Harvick finished fourth at Pocono without him. Other than that, it was one hell of a week.
Kids. They are coming up in NASCAR, though at least a couple have to wait. One apparently fudged his birth date by a couple of years, another was thought eligible through something akin to a grandfather clause and additional insurance. Carson Hocevar won a Super Late Model race earlier this year in Michigan. Andrew Molleur won a recent SK Light Modified in Connecticut. Both lads are 13. Both are now parked by NASCAR. No question that the pair are good enough, but you need to be 14 to be old enough.
So, what to watch for this time out? Well, last week, a 24-year-old claimed the race and a four-year-old claimed some hearts. This week, one of them is racing to beat David Ragan and pick up points. If that happens, Kyle Larson’s Chase spot disappears like a fart in the wind, to use a most beloved phrase, and the boys outside will need to change focus and try to chase down Jamie McMurray. As for Kurt Busch, he will be out to run all 90 laps to keep his streak alive.
We already have Buescher in the picture. What if 2014 winner A.J. Allmendinger wins on Sunday? That would have some boys scrambling. This could be fun.
Our Hot 20 heading to Watkins Glen include…
1. BRAD KESELOWSKI – 4 WINS (687 Pts)
Buescher needed that win a lot more than Brad did.
2. KYLE BUSCH – 4 WINS (634 Pts)
Kids love him. He is Keelan Harvick’s favorite driver, William Byron’s favorite team owner.
3. CARL EDWARDS – 2 WINS (626 Pts)
Does fine at the Glen, but a win would be different.
4. JIMMIE JOHNSON – 2 WINS (577 Pts)
Sits high on the standings, was third at Indianapolis, yet basically has been “Jimmie Who?” lately.
5. MATT KENSETH – 2 WINS (569 Pts)
In the future, when asked to go cycling he probably will ask more questions, like “how far?”
6. KEVIN HARVICK – 1 WIN (709 Pts)
Once known as being a former NASCAR champion. Today, he is better known as Keelan’s dad.
7. KURT BUSCH – 1 WIN (658 Pts)
5811 laps have been completed this season, and Kurt is the only one to have completed them all.
8. JOEY LOGANO – 1 WIN (612 Pts)
For whom does the Chase troll? He trolls for thee.
9. MARTIN TRUEX JR. – 1 WIN (577 Pts)
Fresh rubber and still he ends up getting fresh with the fence.
10. DENNY HAMLIN – 1 WIN (576 Pts)
Second at Sonoma. Win at Watkins Glen?
11. TONY STEWART – 1 WIN (353 Pts)
Got word his insurer is not liable for covering costs of his defense in the Kevin Ward Jr. lawsuit.
12. AUSTIN DILLON – 549 POINTS
Still keeping Grandpa happy.
13. RYAN NEWMAN – 537 POINTS
Future would be more secure if Richard Childress adopted him.
14. CHASE ELLIOTT – 533 POINTS
Pocono does boast a wide track. Just not that wide.
15. JAMIE MCMURRAY – 517 POINTS
Could be the new bubble boy after Sunday.
16. KYLE LARSON – 508 POINTS
This Chase place disappears if Buescher gets the points.
17. KASEY KAHNE – 488 POINTS
Is within 20 points of making the Chase…or is it within 29?
18. TREVOR BAYNE – 480 POINTS
Be it 28 points, or 37 points, the lad has some work to do.
19. RYAN BLANEY – 480 POINTS
20. RICKY STENHOUSE JR. – 472 POINTS
Made our list; Junior, Allmendinger, Biffle, Menard, Patrick, Bowyer, and Almirola did not.
30. DAVID RAGAN – 287 POINTS
Sometimes 30th matters.
31. CHRIS BUESCHER – 281 POINTS (1 Win)
Talk about incentive.