Tony Stewart ran down Jimmie Johnson with 10 laps to go, but Johnson found enough speed in the upper groove to prevail over the No. 20 car in a battle of the home improvement centers.
Will this weekend cause a repeat of the Dale Earnhardt Jr. vs. Kyle Busch confrontation from this spring? Will the Joe Gibbs cars in general be strong at Richmond again? Can Carl Edwards knock another 10 points off Busch’s bonus point lead for the Chase? Can Jimmie Johnson continue his strong push to the postseason? And which of these men will drive a bid into the fantasy racing playoffs of your own? Read on for this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to see which drivers should be on your roster and which ones should be at Home Depot shopping for generators and plywood.
California is a wide-open track with plenty of room to run. The drivers had to struggle with the sun as it was going down and ultimately struggled with making their cars handle as the track cooled off. The end result was Jimmie Johnson won the race and moved up two spots in the rankings this week as did Denny Hamlin and Clint Bowyer. To see if your driver was chillin’ in the sun or burnt by the California heat, check out the results of our Top 15 rankings.
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 the car owners themselves. This week, here’s a sneak peek at what a select few were thinking following the Pepsi 500 presented at Auto Club Speedway.
1. Thanks For The Memories – Felix Sabates, co-owner of Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates, never one to mince words, took a potshot at sponsor of the No. 42 Texaco Dodge driven by Juan Pablo Montoya. Texaco, after 20 years of sponsoring a NASCAR Cup team, has announced that they have made a business decision to allocate their advertising dollars elsewhere and will no longer sponsor a Sprint Cup team. “They (Texaco) have focused on other things. We really didn’t get that much support from them. The money wasn’t all that great, for us, it was a blessing that we can go out and find somebody who can pay us some real money,” said Sabates. Oh Felix… Texaco says thank you, too.
Bristol’s new variable banking has given drivers the option to pass without having to wreck a guy on the racetrack. But as Carl Edwards showed us Saturday night, the bump-and-run can still be the only option if the car in front is just good enough to keep you behind. Ensuring that move remains alive and well, Edwards’s shove of Kyle Busch was enough to move him into the top spot in our Power Rankings this week, displacing Busch for the first time since Richmond in May. This week, we saw two drivers fell out while two more slipped in – with one Chase hopeful working his way back to the top 10 for the first time in weeks. Who is he? You’ll have to read below to find out in this week’s edition of our Power Rankings.
The Key Moment: On lap 469, Carl Edwards used his bumper to nudge the No. 18 car aside and do something nobody else had done all night, pass Kyle Busch.
With so many drivers’ success or failure dependent on luck, the Bristol Motor Speedway is bound to offer you more questions than answers heading into the weekend. Will Kyle Busch continue his winning ways? Can Carl Edwards win the night race at Bristol again? Is Tony Stewart finally going to break the winless streak? Can Dale Earnhardt Jr. avoid another pit road issue? Will Jamie McMurray continue his run of strong finishes? Only this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans will tell you which guys you should keep on your roster and which ones should be riding the bench after spending half the night with crumpled sheet metal in the garage.
Did You Notice? That California Speedway’s date realignment on the 2009 Sprint Cup schedule did nothing to address the quality of racing at that facility? I will say the Labor Day date was always a horrible weekend for them. Not only did people in L.A. have other things to do, but the heat is pretty unbearable that time of year. I worked the race in 2007, and it was agonizingly hot during the entire four days we were out there. With temperatures reaching upwards of 105-110 degrees, there was little if anything air conditioning could do for fans, media, and drivers alike.
Four wide-open grooves of racing at Michigan gave the drivers a lot of options Sunday — giving the faster cars a great chance to work their way forward. But for Denny Hamlin and Kasey Kahne, the only racing line they were able to handle was the one that led straight to the garage. Both saw their engines go up in smoke well before 400 miles were complete; and as a result, they slid multiple spots in the points and in our latest power rankings chart. Was Carl Edwards’ second win in three races enough to finally knock Kyle Busch off his perch at the top of our list? To see if your favorite driver kept his ranking intact after 400 miles in the Irish Hills, check out the latest results of our weekly Top 15 poll.