The fastest half-mile in the world at Bristol battered many of Cup’s top contenders and spit them out. Bad luck struck more than one competitor, most notably Greg Biffle, causing mechanical problems which dropped him out of the top 15 in our Power Rankings. So, which one of the three men above continues to remain on top of our rankings: Busch, Gordon or Johnson? Read on to find out, and see if your driver rode the new high groove to move up in the standings – or spun out off someone’s back bumper to move down in this week’s Power Rankings post-Bristol.
The label of future Sprint Cup champion is liberally dispensed — but rarely achieved. In the 60 years of NASCAR competition, only 28 drivers have attained the hallowed crown – and it’s a pretty excusive club. 12 drivers have won a solitary championship, while another eight have won two titles. Five men – Jimmie Johnson, Cale Yarborough, Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson and Lee Petty – have won three; Jeff Gordon owns four, while both the King and the Intimidator won a record seven apiece. I’m going to pick a number of current drivers and analyze their chances of winning a Sprint Cup championship at some point in the near (or far) future.
Already, we’re seeing some trends develop only a month deep into the seemingly endless Tragical Mystery Tour that is this year’s Cup schedule. And the following information is offered due to one irrefutable fact – there was no Cup race last Sunday, and there’s damn little to write about right now as a deadline looms.
This has been the opinion shared by an ever-expanding majority of fans, too, who seem to want to pin the reason for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s struggles solely on the relationship between he and his cousin.
Q: Hey Matt. My friend and I were talking after the race and I noticed on the internet that Ryan Newman was awarded the WIX Filters Lap Leader of the Race [at Atlanta]. We talked about it, and I did some looking and couldn’t figure out why. We were both always of the understanding that the driver that leads the most laps should win it. What’s the story?
Heading into Atlanta this past Sunday, David Reutimann, Bobby Labonte and Michael Waltrip were the apple of everyone’s eye – faces and names we haven’t seen atop the standings in a while. Or ever. Well, a quick check of the points this week reveals the harsh reality of racing, as Reutimann is now desperately clinging onto 12th in points with Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and Jeff Burton closing fast. Waltrip stumbled again at Atlanta, while Labonte had one of those days you’d rather just forget; he spun out all by himself, and then his Roush-Yates power plant digested itself on lap 103, dropping him all the way to 23rd in the points standings. Nature’s way can be cruel.
Both NASCAR and a crewman from the No. 47 team, Jimmy Watts, took a lot of flack for the yellow flag that flew in the midst of a pit cycle as a result of the crewman chasing a tire, causing several good cars to be trapped a lap or more down. But was either one really wrong in their decision?
Each week, we’ll go through media reports, interviews, PR and all our own stuff to find the best quotes from the Sprint 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 car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Kurt Busch dominated the race, but a late caution and a two-tire stop put Carl Edwards at the head of the pack. Busch was able to easily retake the lead when the green flag flew with two laps left.
Occasionally throughout history, there’s an exception to the rule of thumb; back in 2005, Jack Roush pulled the miraculous feat of getting all five of his cars to make the Chase, and Richard Childress Racing went three for three in 2007 and ‘08. But far more often, multi-car teams find themselves split in two amidst a package of bad luck, poor performance and an inability for team chemistry to spread throughout an entire organization. One, two, maybe three cars hold up the mantle for a car owner who mixes happiness with angst at another team turning into mush before his eyes. That vision pretty much describes Rick Hendrick’s life as a car owner year in, year out. Never able to get all four cars into the 12-team Chase since it began in 2004, one of NASCAR’s greatest success stories has always been towing along at least one car in his stable that ultimately fails to make the grade.