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The Final Word – Smoke wins, others just smoked, while Junior even led (briefly) in California

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Okay, so did we learn from Fontana?

Well, we learned that with the palm trees lining the track and the mountains in the background, it can be a picturesque place to watch a race. It could also provide some action that was actually entertaining to watch, even on ESPN! I usually combine watching a race from Fontana with nap time, but that was not the case this time out. See, I can be wrong! Just not often.

We learned a guy named Smoke would win when during the same race the likes of Greg Biffle, Kyle Busch, and maybe even Matt Kenseth saw their engines go up in smoke. Yah, eerie I know! Stewart’s auto came alive in the latter half of the event as he won his first in California, the second of the season and 39th of his Cup career. Now the two-time champ is back in the hunt for a third, just 107 points behind with six to go.  

We learned that Dale Earnhardt Jr can still lead a few laps. At one time he actually led a three train Hendrick parade for three whole circuits. I’m trying to be a glass half-full type of guy here. Okay, he led because his crew chief tried to scrimp on tires, and Junior paid the price for it. At least he fought back to finish 16th on the day.

We learned that Jeff Gordon could get tagged for speeding and still manage to recover for a top ten. We learned that Jimmie Johnson could fail to win in California, though finishing third did not seem much of a heart break. Heck, even Mark Martin was sixth to make most of the Hendrick boys feel all warm and fuzzy.

We learned that if it doesn’t blow up or start to blow up, a Roush car could just up and quit. Carl Edwards had distributor problems and sat in the back for a few laps before coming home 34th. His title hopes took a hit, but the car looked nice.

We learned that even though Judge Roy Bean grabbed 150 of Clint Bowyer’s points, there is no quit in the boy. He could have won last Sunday, settling for second, though he could use some help digging out of the 247 point hole he finds himself in. Having another of those myterious debris cautions coming out late when Bowyer was in front was not exactly the kind of help he was looking for.

We learned that David Ragan did not help Kurt Busch when he pinched the Chaser into the wall with a half dozen laps to go. The 21st place finish dropped the contender 140 points out to bruise his title hopes a tic.

We learned that Jeff Burton can tick off team mate Kevin Harvick. The boys got close early in the event, making Harvick rather unhappy. I’m sure they hugged when it was over and all is now swell. Too bad, as a Burton-Harvick tiff could have been exciting. More so than, say, Harvick-Edwards turned out to be. That was the biggest disappointment since Danny Partridge beat down Greg Brady.

The next date is at one of my favorite tracks as the boys return home to Charlotte. Half the Chasers have won there, with Johnson and Gordon already boasting rich histories at the venue over the years. As to who will be the big winner this Saturday night, I’m guessing that it will be you and me for tuning it in. Enjoy the week.

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Ron Thornton
A former radio and television broadcaster, newspaper columnist, Little League baseball coach, Ron Thornton has been following NASCAR on this site for 13 seasons. The fact he is referred to as a Senior Writer has little to do with his ability or length of service, but more about just how old he has become. It is anticipated that before the end of this campaign, he will be promoted to Ancient Scribe.

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