One driver in particular made it through the carnage unscathed; and despite running like he was towing an anchor at the finish, Jimmie Johnson did what he had to do to put a third title firmly within his grasp. It also increased his lead in the Frontstretch Top 15, making him a clear favorite to end the year on top. Behind him, the shuffling was as fast and furious as the Talladega draft — and two drivers got left behind. Read on to see if your driver made the slingshot move towards the front of our list, or if his fortunes were swept up by disaster in this week’s Power Rankings.
In the end, after a number of Chasers raced conservatively for three quarters of the Talladega race in anticipation of the big wreck, it was ironically one Chaser tangling with another that triggered a multi-car pileup that included several of those in the top 12. No. 2 in points Carl Edwards ran over teammate and No. 3 man Greg Biffle to start a chain reaction that claimed 11 cars. One of the few Chasers surviving the race was points leader Jimmie Johnson, who opened up a sizable 72-point lead in the standings as a result. Johnson remains on the HOT list this week, but a surprising driver joins him, becoming a surprise player in this year’s championship battle. To see who it is, and whose Chase hopes went up in smoke, check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup, Chase Edition.
This past weekend’s on-track action at Talladega Superspeedway will be remembered for three notable things: One is the shear number of lead changes (64, the most since the Talladega 500 in July, 1984). Another is the now infamous judgment call that gave Tony Stewart the victory and dropkicked Regan Smith back to 18th. However, the one factor that was prevalent all weekend were the tires and their propensity to fail, once again.
The race was decided in NASCAR’s control room almost a minute after the event itself ended. Yogi Berra once said, “It ain’t over until it’s over.” Apparently sometimes it’s not over even when it is over.
1. Change In Direction – Joey Logano, heir to the No. 20 Toyota presently driven by Sunday’s race winner Tony Stewart, will not compete in any further races this season in the No. 96 Hall of Fame Toyota. The 18-year-old Joe Gibbs Racing phenom had been scheduled to fill the driver’s seat in the HoF ride for three of the final six races of the Sprint Cup Season. “We talked to Gibbs and both decided that, for [Logano’s] development and for our team, this the best thing for all of us. The best thing for all of us is for them to focus on Joey’s development, and for us to focus on our team,” said the co-owner of HoF, Tom Garfinkel. Is that kind of like being fired?
The furor over the dominance of multi-car teams reached its peak in 2005, when half of the Chase field consisted of Jack Roush’s machines. Especially in a season where the immensely popular Dale Earnhardt Jr., driving for a much smaller operation, failed to make the Chase, it seemed unfair to many fans that two powerhouses with twice the ability to practice, test, and learn seemed to dominate the circuit. And so, responding to these complaints, NASCAR announced they would be knocking down the multi-car operations, starting with Jack Roush.
With so many unknowns at Talladega, where do you turn? Of course, the Chase favorites have to be considered for your team, but which ones? Points leader Jimmie Johnson is peaking earlier in the playoffs than usual; but can he avoid causing the Big One this weekend and get a win? Or will it be second-place Carl Edwards overcoming the dark history of Roush at Talladega and actually running well on a plate track? And of course, there’s the Kyle Busch enigma; will he finally get the black cloud removed from over his head and back up his Talladega win from earlier this year? Read this week’s Picks ‘N’ Pans to find out, discovering what drivers should be running for you on Sunday – and which ones you should avoid at all costs.
News that driver Paul Menard and his father’s sponsor dollars will soon part ways with Dale Earnhardt Inc. seems to lend credence to the prediction by many that the company’s demise was inevitable. Old prophecies spurred by DEI owner Teresa Earnhardt’s failure to come to contract terms with her stepson have returned, with observers saying the worst is still to come for an organization which they claim forced the sport’s most popular and bankable personality to leave them behind.
As the 2008 postseason rolls on to Talladega, Jimmie Johnson continues to make the playoffs his own private playground. The all-time winningest driver in Chase history scored another one this past weekend at Kansas, and it was enough to propel him into first in our weekly rankings. Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Clint Bowyer, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Denny Hamlin all moved up along with him this week, but none have the head of steam Johnson’s run towards a third straight title is picking up. Not surprisingly, teams falling down the ladder included a three-car tumble over at Joe Gibbs Racing. Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch were the week’s biggest losers – but just how far did they fall? And which “lame duck” driver worked his way into our poll this week… in what will likely be his final appearance of the season? To see if your driver reaped what he sowed or if his crop was plagued by locusts at Kansas, check out the results of our latest Power Rankings.
It was another week, another mechanical problem for Kyle Busch this weekend at Kansas. Busch is going through one of the most surprising slumps in recent history, dropping from the points lead to 12th in a manner of three weeks. But while Busch continues to struggle, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle continue to fight for the title. The big three all finished in the top three this weekend, but it was a Johnson win that gave the No. 48 team the points lead heading to Talladega next weekend. To see who has the best chance of catching the two-time defending champ, check out this week’s edition of Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in Sprint Cup.