With two laps to go, Jimmie Johnson finally made the race-deciding pass on Matt Kenseth after a fiercely waged eight-lap battle.
Jeff Gordon – Quick; Gordon hasn’t won at which two tracks currently on the Cup schedule? That’s right… Homestead and Texas. Gordon did finish second at TMS in 2002 and has top-10 finishes in six of his 13 Cup starts here; however, his average finish in Fort Worth remains a paltry 16th.
No matter what you think of the ending, once the smoke cleared there was certainly no surprise up front; the Gordon/Johnson juggernaut had tightened its grip on the competition. It was Johnson who fared the better of the two, scoring his series-leading eighth win of the year to narrow the deficit to just nine points behind Jeff Gordon as the series heads to Texas. But could that monopoly on Victory Lane end this weekend, as the Nextel Cup boys head to a track where neither Jimmie Johnson or Gordon have won? Cinderella Clint Bowyer is hoping for just that, perhaps the only other driver within striking distance as the championship prepares to enter its final set of turns.
Truth be told, this weekend was the closest Jarrett’s been to the front since sliding behind the wheel of Michael Waltrip’s Toyota team; and while it wasn’t the finish the driver may have wanted, it brought the satisfaction that his fans were looking for. It was a top-20 finish, on the lead lap, with the car coming home in one piece; that’s a scenario producing the type of dignified emotion seen far too little this season when it comes to discussing this veteran. It’s called respectability.
Jeff Gordon – In 30 Cup starts at Atlanta, the points leader has posted four victories and 18 top-10 finishes. However, he finished 12th in the race this spring.
The Hendrick stronghold on the Chase for the Championship tightened Sunday at Martinsville, as Jimmie Johnson scored his series-high seventh win of the season. Not to be totally outdone, teammate Jeff Gordon finished third, maintaining a 53-point lead over Johnson in what has quickly become a two-man race for the championship. As things stand right now, it’s the Gordon/Johnson show down the stretch, with Clint Bowyer barely holding on in a possible spoiler role for yet another week.
Jeff Gordon – In the last nine Cup races at Martinsville, Gordon has won four times, finished second twice, and never finished outside the top 10. In 29 Martinsville career starts, Gordon has won seven times, and is averaging a seventh-place finish.
All weekend long at Lowe’s, both complaints and concern centered around the tire Goodyear brought to the event. After seeing the race unfold, is the tire still too hard for this surface – or are drivers getting to the point of whining about something a little too much?
Did You Notice? That NASCAR mismanaged another late-race issue Saturday night? OK, try and follow me here… a crash by Johnny Sauter with 11 laps to go became an opportunity to throw the red flag, as Jeff Green’s blown engine left oil splattered all over the racetrack. Clearly, that’s understandable; NASCAR was making an effort to keep the racing surface safe for everyone involved. However, usually when a red flag is thrown, you stop the cars until the racetrack is ready to go back to green. Well, the cars were restarted with 10 laps to go – and they ran an additional five laps under the yellow flag.
Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR, and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Nextel Cup race, capturing the story of how the weekend unfolded. It’s the most original commentary you’ll ever find: the truth, coming straight out of the mouths of the drivers, crew members, and the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Bank of America 500 at Lowe’s Motor Speedway.