With the way the Chase had been going, I never thought I would be saying this again until next year, but, “The Chase is on … again!” The hoped for, but unexpected, happened in Sunday’s race at Texas Motor Speedway and hope was once again rekindled in the hearts and minds of many Nascar fans that it just might be a race for the Chase all the way to the end in Homestead, FL.
Although it has been hard to not want to award the Sprint Cup Championship to Jimmie Johnson and the #48 Hendrick team, The Dickies 500 proved, once again, why the Chase is decided by performance over ten races and not just one.
In answer to the question I raised in the Texas pre-race article on Saturday, yes, the Dickies 500 did prove to be the great equalizer and Sunday’s race in Texas has quieted at least some of the griping, whining and complaining from the media that was way to anxious (in this fan’s opinion) to hand the trophy over to the #48 team and move on to next year. (In fact, it almost seemed as if they wanted to cancel the rest of the season to expedite the process.)
Many have renewed interest in the race this coming weekend in Phoenix because Mark Martin and others may once again have a chance at taking the Sprint Cup away from Jimmie Johnson. (Now, this is just my opinion, but I’d even be willing to bet several of them are secretly hoping the same thing happens this coming weekend that happened last weekend and makes the Homestead race go right down to the checkered flag to decide the Sprint Cup Champion.) (Hey… stranger things have happened.)
The race in Texas got everyone’s attention with the accident that put the #48 team back in the 43rd position and it seemed suddenly all was right in Nascar again. It appeared to this fan that the media on Sunday were already trying to focus the attention of the fans and viewers on something else other than Jimmie Johnson’s quest for his fourth cup. Things like Kyle Bush trying to be the first one to take a victory in all three Nascar series on the same weekend and that was a story that played all the way through the race. Mark Martin and Jeff Gordon had a great opportunity to make up a lot of points on the points leader if they could finish at or near the front. Although neither one’s story played out as well as some hoped, it was a story to the end of the race, also.
The reporters made a point to continuously tell us all how the points spread had so drastically changed and this could be the end of the quest for the history making fourth Sprint Cup Championship in a row for Jimmie Johnson. It also seemed to me, (and remember, I’m just a fan like the rest of you), they were hoping the #48 team would just take forty third position, put it on the truck and move on to next week. That, however, is not the way a championship team looks at racing. In Nascar, every point counts these days and the twelve points they gained back by practically re-building their car could prove to be the winning edge after the Homestead race. (Hey, I’m just saying… Championships have been won, or lost, by fewer points.)
There were a whole bunch of smaller stories going on during the Dickies 500. One was the two Bush Brothers, Kyle and Kurt, running first and second and the two of them dominating the field for most of the race. Another was Dale Jr and how good of a run he was having while Carl Edwards and Juan Montoya were not doing so well. Kevin Harvick was having a good run and has been making steady improvements along with the rest of Richard Childress Racing.
As it turned out, Kyle ran out of gas while leading and Kurt took the victory, (which you already knew.) Dale Jr ran out of gas while running in the top ten and ended up finishing a very disappointing 25th. Juan Montoya lost control of his car and took Carl Edwards into the wall causing Edwards to finish 39th and Montoya to finish 37th. Kevin Harvick ran out of gas but coasted across the finish line in 5th place.
Looking at the final standings, it appears only six cars finished on the lead lap, which I find very interesting. You see, I don’t recall anyone mentioning how bad of a race it was because only six cars finished on the lead lap and I don’t recall anyone calling for a shorter race or calling for crew chief changes or anything else they’ve been wanting when Jimmie Johnson won the previous races.
Hmmm, does that sound strange to anyone else but me?
See ya next time… Rusty
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)
© November 11, 2009 – all rights reserved
Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman