Anyone that chooses not to watch the season-ending and championship-determining race this Sunday at Homestead-Miami Speedway, I’ve just got one thing to tell you: you may be bitterly disappointed. Don’t be surprised if you shake your head in disbelief that night, hearing final results on SportsCenter that were radically different from what you assumed to be a foregone conclusion after Sunday’s race at Phoenix.
Did the series of shakeups at Roush Racing the last two months cost Matt Kenseth his shot at the title?
High-fives all around this week to Kevin Harvick’s pit crew, which deserves as much credit for Sunday’s victory as the driver himself. The No. 29 team delivered flawless sub-14-second stops throughout the race, making sure Harvick consistently got off pit road ahead of the pack. As a result, Harvick’s crew won the weekly pit-crew challenge in Phoenix, marking their third such victory of the season.
After 35 races, over 10,000 laps and countless hours spent behind the wheel, the final race of the season comes down to five drivers from five different organizations battling for the 2006 Nextel Cup championship. There is Jimmie Johnson, the perpetual bridesmaid who has specialized in watching titles slip just out of his grasp; Matt Kenseth, the quiet former champion; Kevin Harvick, the brash driver in search of rewriting NASCAR history; Denny Hamlin, the rookie nobody expected to be this far this fast; and Dale Earnhardt Jr., the fan favorite searching to keep a family tradition alive. Now all that is left is 400 short miles, just 267 laps to decide who will etch their name in the NASCAR history books.
Harvick outlasted Jimmie Johnson following a restart with three laps remaining to take his second Cup win of the year at Phoenix. Denny Hamlin, Jeff Gordon, and Carl Edwards rounded out the top five. The season sweep bumped Harvick to third in the championship standings, but with Johnson finishing second, he wasn’t able to gain much ground on the points leader, moving to within 90 of the top spot with one race left. Johnson’s other main competition for the title, Matt Kenseth, had an awful handling car and wound up 13th, falling 63 points behind heading into the season finale at Homestead next Sunday.
Team Red Bull has had an auspicious debut, failing to qualify for any of the races it’s entered this season. Is this a true indicator that Toyota has a lot of homework to do, or is it hard to tell anything because they’re using Dodges?
Sunday’s Dickies 500 blew through the 2006 Chase standings like a Texas tornado; when the dust settled, no position in the top 10 went unchanged. The rough and tumble winds meant that for many Chase drivers, it wasn’t such a beautiful day. Jeff Burton‘s title hopes took a major hit when a blown tire sent …
Dominating the race for the second straight week, Tony Stewart survived a green-white-checkered finish over Jimmie Johnson to take his first career win in the Dickies 500 at Texas Motor Speedway. Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Clint Bowyer rounded out the top five.
The Dickies 500 is the 34th race on the 36-race NASCAR Nextel Cup Series schedule. The Cup Series will visit the 1.5-mile Texas Motor Speedway for the second time in 2006. Texas has hosted the Nextel Cup Series since 1997 – Jeff Burton was the track’s first winner. The field will include 2005 fall polesitter Ryan Newman and race winner Carl Edwards.
Well, you can’t say NASCAR has failed to join in on the festive Halloween spirit. This weekend’s race at Atlanta certainly dished out plenty of tricks and treats for the 10 drivers battling for the Nextel Cup championship.
26 – penalties handed down by NASCAR Sunday during the running of the Bass Pro Shops 500.
The tight Martinsville paperclip did its part to keep the points close Sunday, throwing a wrench into the Chase for the Nextel Cup standings with the first seven positions in points changing hands by the end of the day. Which drivers are heating up as the number of races wind down? Read this week’s Who’s Hot/Who’s Not in the Chase to find out.