1. Banner Brainstorming – Mike Helton said in New York last week that 2007 was a “banner year” for NASCAR. Which makes me wonder, if you were designing a banner to summarize NASCAR’s season, what would it say? Suggestions welcome.
Greg Biffle’s only win of 2007 came relatively late in the season – race number 29 of 36 – and was marred by controversy. The Lifelock 400 at Kansas Speedway was interrupted twice by rain delays and shortened by 85 miles due to impending darkness. When it finally finished under caution, NASCAR declared Biffle the winner – but other drivers, including Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Clint Bowyer argued that Biffle should not have won because he failed to maintain a reasonable speed after the caution came out. Turned out the No. 16 car may have run out of fuel, and some think he coasted to the line with nothing in the tank when he should have been passed under yellow. Still, the victory ended a 28-race winless streak for Biffle.
10. Kevin Harvick – “Finally, I’ve decided to join the Ricky Rudd Fan Club. I’ll miss you, Ricky!”
10. The season is NOT 37 races long!
Jimmie Johnson took his second consecutive Nextel Cup title Sunday, joining Richard Petty, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, Dale Earnhardt, and Jeff Gordon as the sixth driver in the modern era to put together back-to-back title runs. Should Johnson now be considered among the best drivers in the modern era?
0.852 – Matt Kenseth’s margin of victory over Kurt Busch in the Ford 400 (in seconds).
1. Matt’s Momentum – Matt Kenseth has had a great second half of the Chase, posting finishes of fifth, fourth, second, third, and first in the last five races – an average finish of 3.0. Six races ago, Kenseth was 12th in the points – Sunday, he finished the season in fourth. With all the talk about how critical it is to carry momentum to Daytona, you have to figure Kenseth must be feeling pretty good about the ’08 season ahead.
Dave Blaney not only held onto the final bubble position, he made a statement, carrying the Toyota banner once again with a solid 13th-place finish. It was the team’s best run in over a month and moved them above the No. 45 – who clinched a spot in the Top 35 last week at Phoenix – into 34th in car owner points. To see who locked up a spot for the first five races of 2008 – as well as a recap of what happened around the Top 35 in 2007 – check out this week’s edition of the Bubble Breakdown.
We’ve been to Texas and Phoenix since our last diary. Starting with Texas, our Circle Bar Racing Team went there with the Power Stroke Diesel by International Ford F-150 with our guns loaded and had a top-five finish, but it wasn’t that easy. It sort of left a mark with that last green/white/checkered finish that we had. Thank goodness NASCAR only has one of those.
Before last week’s race in Phoenix, I got an email from NASCAR.com entitled “The Chase continues at Phoenix International Speedway.” It was an opt-in email that included information about the schedule for TrackPass, items for sale in the NASCAR.com Superstore, and so forth. But I think there’s a reason that the folks who built the Phoenix track named it “Phoenix International Raceway” and not “Phoenix International Speedway” – as it’s called in this email. PIR is an acceptable acronym; the alternative, uh, not so much…