The Final Word – An all-Kyle finish at Fontana, as Bowyer spins his way to a Top 20

Tires, man. That was the story of the race at Fontana. If one was conservative in their set up, like those owned by Joe Gibbs, all was well. If not…well, they blew it.

California was not like Indianapolis a few years ago, when they could not keep the rubber inflated no matter what they tried. This time, if they messed around with air pressure and camber, they risked ill fortunate. The team of Kyle Busch did not, and that is a big reason why Rowdy claimed his 29th career victory in extending his streak of claiming at least one win in a season to ten. Busch held off rookie Kyle Larson as both broke from the field during the green-white-check finish to get by Kurt Busch and Tony Stewart with one to go.

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It was great racing, with the tire situation just adding to the excitement. As long as a driver did not fall multiple laps off the pace, chances were good they could come back from any miscue. However, one needed time, and when Jimmie Johnson blew a tire with seven to go, his time was up as one of the day’s most dominant cars finished 24th.

Johnson lost a tire, kept the beast under control, and kept the race green.  That allowed Jeff Gordon, who seemed to be nursing some ailing Goodyears of his own, to take his long-run auto onwards toward that checkered flag. Then, Ryan Newman blew a tire, but made it back without caution. Same for Bard Keselowski. Ditto for Marcos Ambrose. Even Clint Bowyer managed to save his car as Gordon charged toward the white flag. Then it slightly accelerated and it appeared Bowyer’s front wheels turned hard left, and the resulting slide caused caution to come out, forcing a green-white-checker.

There are those who might have seen it and thought maybe Bowyer had deliberately spun the car. That he had it saved but then touched the gas and cranked the wheel to make sure that he did not. That he purposely went for the yellow when others did not. According to Bowyer’s Twitter comment, that is not true.

“Love how “some” idiots on here think I really wanted to give up a much needed good run to screw you over.”

Of course, the idiots knew that his good run as over once the tire went flat.  What the idiots are accusing Bowyer of is deliberately bringing out the caution so that he might be better able to recover from his flat. Johnson did not, and finished 24th. Keselowski settled for 26th. Ambrose was 30th. As for Honest Clint…due to the caution he was able to salvage a 16th place finish.  That spin might have cost Gordon a victory, but it saved Bowyer at least 15 positions on the track. Then again, maybe the fans are wrong, maybe the car just got away from him, though the video sure looked suspicious. It is not as if Bowyer has done anything like this before. Or lied about it afterwards.  Of course not.

While Gordon was strong on the long runs, everyone knew he would not be over a two lap dash. He wound up 13th. Dale Earnhardt Jr was 12th, and with Keselowski faltering at the end, Junior remains in second over-all in the standings a single point behind the tenth place Carl Edwards.

It is a good thing that a single win almost buys one a ticket to the Chase. Almost. One needs to finish in the top thirty to keep it valid, and right now Kevin Harvick sits 25th after finishing outside the Top 35 for a third straight event.  Danica was running around 20th or beyond for most of the Fontana race, but in the end she brought it home for a season best 14th.

As for Denny Hamlin, the guy could use a break.  He had to miss five events last year due to a crash at this track, and this year he did not even get to run. A sinus infection that affected his vision took him out of the seat, and replaced by Sam Hornish Jr, who ran 17th.   Yet, despite being AWOL, Hamlin remains 12th in the driver standings.

Great entertainment Sunday, great action on Saturday, where Kyle Larson beat out Kevin Harvick in a fight that also involved Kyle Busch, with Joey Logano fourth. Four Cup guys. The best Nationwide drivers were Elliott Sadler and Chase Elliott, finishing fifth and sixth. Both are within a dozen points of top spot in the standings, behind fellow Top Ten finishers Trevor Bayne, Regan Smith, and Ty Dillon.

Next Sunday, we turn to the short track at Martinsville, where the Cup boys have been stopping by since 1949. Jeff Gordon has been running there since 1993, 42 races, and more than half of those have been won by either Gordon himself (with 8, including last fall), Johnson (8), Hamlin (4), or Stewart (3).  If they keep trying, they might eventually match the King’s tally of 15.

Here are our Sweet Sixteen as we head over to Virginia…

 

Driver

Races

Win

Points

1

  Carl Edwards

5

1

186

2

  Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

5

1

185

3

  Brad Keselowski

5

1

182

4

  Kyle Busch

5

1

158

5

  Kevin Harvick

5

1

97

6

  Jeff Gordon

5

0

184

7

  Matt Kenseth

5

0

179

8

  Jimmie Johnson

5

0

165

9

  Ryan Newman

5

0

150

10

  Austin Dillon

5

0

150

11

  Joey Logano

5

0

146

12

  Denny Hamlin

4

0

140

13

  Jamie McMurray

5

0

138

14

  Brian Vickers

5

0

137

15

  Paul Menard

5

0

134

16

  Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.

5

0

132

3 COMMENTS

  1. I am not overly bothered by what he did, either last year or at Fontana. In 2013, that spin was a good business decision, albeit an unethical one. His problem was being caught and called out on it. Last Sunday, it appeared he did something that benefited his team a good 15 spots, though a selfish move that cost Gordon a win.”

    No, what bothers me most was his reaction to both. Last year, he outright lied about it. Last week, he called out idiot fans in (im)moral outrage who seemed to have been pretty much right on in their observations that he purposely abandoned his attempt to save his car from spinning after the flat (like three others managed to do just before him).

    He is starting to remind me a lot like Kurt Busch after Jimmy Spencer punched him in the head. If you remember, he lied about what happened in that incident, turning him from a talented loudmouth who paid the price to a sniveling little lying weasel.

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