Matt McLaughlin · Monday October 4, 2010
The Key Moment – On lap 206, Greg Biffle powered by Paul Menard to take over the lead en route to an easy victory.
In a Nutshell – This race was easier to stay awake for than the last few. After all, it finished earlier.
Dramatic Moment – There was some intense racing there towards the end, but it was for the second through sixth-place positions. By that point, Biffle had presumably showered, changed into his street clothes, done his interviews, and was halfway home.
They’ll be talking about David Reutimann’s revenge hit on Kyle Busch for awhile. Discussing the incident after the race, Reutimann wore a “Reutimann’s Collision and Repair” T-shirt. Maybe he can have a new one silk-screened that reads “Reutimann’s Collision and Revenge?” (For the record, the repair shop is still in business down there in Zephyrhills, Florida. I wonder if they’ll find a badly tweaked yellow Toyota in the lot awaiting repairs Monday.)
If you were still awake, Matt Kenseth and Kevin Harvick waged a great battle near the front for a few laps. It looked sort of like stock car racing there for a bit.
What They’ll Be Talking About Around the Water Cooler This Week
Perhaps, nay certainly, Sunday’s event wasn’t the best race ever, but it was nice to see some new faces up front for much of the day.
Yet another great moment in NASCAR TV broadcasting! ESPN2, saddled with the pre-race program, had no audio other than annoying white noise for the first half-hour. The amazing thing was with the TV muted, Allen Bestwick and Brad Daugherty’s mouths still imparted the same amount of useful information as if viewers did have sound.
OK, maybe ESPN/ABC is listening to the fans after all. (We have full audio.) It seemed there was an actual attempt to move the start of the race forward closer to the actual announced 1 PM ET start time Sunday. Ultimately, the effort failed, but it at least looked like they were trying. (For the record, the Baltimore-Pittsburgh NFL game was two-thirds of the way through the first quarter when the green flag dropped. Who cares about a Steelers-Ravens game? Fans in Pittsburgh and Baltimore might be asking the same about a Chase race.)
The question has to be asked. In a race with only five legitimate lead changes all day, why was it ESPN took the camera off Harvick and Stewart on lap 171 as they prepared to swap the lead to show fans racing further back in the pack? It was pretty clear that Stewart had a run on the No. 29 car, but fans saw the pass which they watched developing only in replay.
Don’t count me among their swarmy numbers, but my guess is right about now some casual fans are rethinking their opposition to bogus debris cautions in the waning laps of these races. If it gets any worse, I’d fully expect to see Mike Helton doing a swan dive out of the starter’s tower to draw a yellow.
Hey, you don’t have to be a race fan not to think too highly of Brian France! Here’s a multimillionaire who married and divorced the same woman twice in five years and is now behind in alimony and child support for his twins. The lawyer defending the interests of the former Mrs. France had this to say about Brian: “Mr. France apparently believes that he may engage the courts of this state in the same way he runs NASCAR. That is, he can make the rules, interpret them, and when he disagrees with them, change or ignore them.” Ouch. Maybe this cat is a race fan after all.
Want to pick an over/under number on how many articles NASCAR scribes bang out for tomorrow announcing that Jimmie Johnson is a prohibitive favorite to win his fifth straight title and anointing him the “Greatest Gul-dern Stock Car Driver That Ever Wuz?” (There’s not a lot else to write about, eh?) As the networks might say, “If the Chase were to end right now…” to which I’d add, “Most of us would probably be greatly relieved and easily able to find more productive and entertaining ways to spend the next seven autumn afternoons.”
Want to see how a season finale ought to be run and a championship decided? If you weren’t one of the tens of dozens of folks to catch the IndyCar season finale on some cable entity named “Versus,” look up the race on YouTube. Dario Franchitti, who entered the event second in points, led much of the race, running right beside Tony Kanaan lap after lap, wheel-to-wheel. Meanwhile, points leader Will Power (who has the greatest real name in all of auto racing) was running a spirited fourth, a few car lengths behind, but knew he’d have to make up another spot to take the title. The end of the race was a bit of an anticlimax, as Power put himself into the wall and Franchitti slid back to the last car on the lead lap. But the notion of a points leader needing to run third or better rather than finish 42nd in the season finale was thrilling. Drivers actually racing for a championship? Get someone at NASCAR on the horn; I think that’s the sort of novelty they need next year rather than eliminations.
My, how times have changed. Dover Downs, the casino owning entity that also owns Dover Motorsports, that track and its two race dates, would like to sell off its racing division, but apparently neither the France family and the ISC nor Bruton Smith and SMI have expressed any real interest in acquiring the track and its dates. That’s a far cry from a decade ago, when the two entities were fighting tooth and nail and flashing hundreds of millions of dollars for ownership of any track that had a Cup date. Dover Downs has already shown it is unwilling to lose money on its racing subsidiary by shutting down Gateway, which already had two Nationwide dates in place. However, the company announced a merger Tuesday with their casino operations which will help offset the loss of running races at the track and their other facility, Nashville Superspeedway – for now. Like our friend Mr. Dylan used to moan, “The times, they are a-changing.”
The Hindenburg Award For Foul Fortune
Winning the pole didn’t do Kasey Kahne any good. He lost a tire and drove into the wall on his way to a lowly 37th-place finish.
Kevin Conway, driver of the Extenze car, ran 38th after his engine prematurely ejaculated its reciprocating assembly.
Poor Kyle Busch. Who knew the Aaron’s Lucky Dog was female? As it turns out, paybacks are a bitch.
Jeff Burton ran up front most of the day, but after the penultimate pit stop some mechanical issue or ill-handling set of tires ended his chances at a respectable finish. He dropped to 18th.
The “Seven Come Fore Eleven” Award For Fine Fortune
Jimmie Johnson got blocked in his pit stall early in the race and spent much of the event running midpack before reasserting himself all the way to a second-place result.
Casual fans can be forgiven for not knowing Greg Biffle was in the Chase. Heck, some of them probably thought he’d retired this year. The win couldn’t have come at a better time for Biffle and the Ford camp.
Kyle Busch’s wreck paid unexpected dividends to his teammate Denny Hamlin. Hamlin was about to go a lap down when the caution for the Reutimann-Busch incident saved his afternoon. That’s probably why Kyle was so blasé in his post-race comments. Well, that and the Ritalin.
- Greg Biffle is the only driver to score a victory driving a Ford in the Cup Series this year. He also won at Pocono in August.
- Jimmie Johnson (second) has top-3 finishes in four of the last five Cup races.
- Kevin Harvick’s third-place finish was his best since he won the Michigan race in August.
- Jeff Gordon’s fifth-place finish was his best since Chicago.
- Carl Edwards (sixth) has finished twelfth or better in the last twelve Cup races.
- Matt Kenseth (seventh) led laps for the first time since the first Michigan race.
- Paul Menard (eighth) posted back-to-back top-10 finishes in the last two races for the first time in his Cup career. In fact, entering this season Menard had only scored two top-10s in Sprint Cup, period.
- Ryan Newman (ninth) hasn’t finished worse than eleventh in the last six Cup races.
- Kyle Busch’s 21st-place finish was his worst Cup result since the second Pocono race.
- The top-10 finishers at Kansas drove five Fords and five Chevys. Denny Hamlin in twelfth had the best finish by any Toyota driver, while Kurt Busch in thirteenth headed up the Dodge brigade.
What’s the Points?
Jimmie Johnson leaves Kansas with the points lead. (Haven’t we all seen this Looney Tune before?) Former leader Denny Hamlin slides to second in the standings, eight points to the arrears of Johnson.
Kevin Harvick moved up two spots to third, thirty points back, that much closer to the regular season’s lead he held most of the year prior to the Chase. Carl Edwards also moved up two spots to fourth in the standings while Jeff Gordon rebounded three spots to fifth. Neither Edwards nor Gordon have won a race this year.
It wasn’t a good day to be a Busch brother. Kurt fell two spots to sixth while Kyle fell four positions to seventh. Greg Biffle’s win advanced him up a notch to eighth while Jeff Burton’s late-race malaise dropped him two to ninth. Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, and Clint Bowyer round out your top 12.
Overall Rating (On a scale of one to six beer cans, with one being a stinker and a six pack an instant classic) — We’ll give this one two-and-a-half cans. While the race was better than Dover, in no way did it approach what I consider the minimal acceptable standard for a stock car race.
Next Up – It’s back off to Fontana. If the battered and beleaguered Chase still has any trace of a pulse, Fontana ought to deliver the death blow and take it off life support.
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