There was a lot of shuffling at the top on Sunday, but in the end, Martin Truex Jr. had what may be the quietest top 10 of all. Truex wasn’t a contender for the win, but he had a good, solid car, stayed out of trouble, and got a great eighth-place finish when it counted. Can’t argue with that, especially when the driver has scored three straight top-10 results for the first time in two years with Michael Waltrip Racing. Just how long has this drought been for Truex? Longer than you think. The last time he had three straight runs of 10th or better was during the final three season-ending races of 2007.
For a team whose very existence was in serious doubt just a year ago, Richard Petty Motorsports showed flashes of a much brighter future at Charlotte. Both Marcos Ambrose (fifth) and AJ Allmendinger (seventh) posted top-10 results, while Allmendinger wasn’t too far away from contending for a Chase berth this year. Ambrose won his first Cup race as well this year, while AJ has been close – the No. 43 team may also win a consolation prize of 13th position in points. The consistency isn’t quite there to call them 2012 Chase contenders so early, but they have steadily improved… and beat some bigger, more established teams in the process.
They don’t call Dover the Monster Mile for nothing. Even though most of the drivers were kind to each other on Sunday, the track wasn’t so gracious, and its walls took a bite off several cars, including those of Greg Biffle, JJ Yeley and Mike Bliss (twice). The track also had the last laugh in the race outcome, changing just enough late to keep the best team of the day out of Victory Lane. The same could be said for its impact on the Chase, relegating several contenders to mid-pack when they just couldn’t get a handle on the concrete surface. This monster is a mean one.
Matt Kenseth took two tires and Mark Martin stayed out while leaders Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Clint Bowyer all took four during pit stops under caution on lap 364 after Juan Pablo Montoya backed into the turn 4 wall. Hey, being on probation and unable to hit other drivers, he needed to hit something.
While it doesn’t have much to do with this weekend’s race, it has everything to do with NASCAR history. It was sad enough to hear that a piece of history, Smokey Yunick’s Daytona Beach garage, was lost in a fire, but it’s heartbreaking to hear that that fire was intentionally set. With one act of selfishness, the Best Damn Garage in Town stands no more. Luckily, its legacy will stand for much longer.
It was a rare pole for Matt Kenseth, a driver not known for qualifying prowess, and early on it looked as though Kenseth was on cruise control, but after a flat tire and subsequent race spent struggling to get back on the lead lap, Kenseth finished a hard-fought 11th. Considering how long Kenseth was trapped a circuit down, that’s no walk in the park.
Although his best finish of the season came at The Glen, where he both started and finished fourth, AJ Allmendinger’s best race took place at Dover in September.
With 36 points races and 41 weeks on the calendar, the extensive NASCAR Cup season finally came to its long-awaited conclusion at Homestead, Fla. Denny Hamlin had the championship in hand; all he needed to do was finish ahead of Jimmie Johnson and the Sprint Cup trophy was finally his for the taking. But that …
There is a report circulating at Homestead-Miami Speedway that has taken many people by surprise. It’s not really earth-shattering, yet it seems to have crept up on the racing public. In fact many people seem to not have heard it at all. There are going to be 43 drivers in the race on Sunday. Yeah, …
Q: How does David Ragan avoid the Silly Season talk? Drivers like Elliott Sadler, Scott Speed and Sam Hornish Jr. are out of rides and they have performed the same as Ragan, who is in better stuff.