The Final Word – A NASCAR Supernova stars in Kansas

There are three major stars in NASCAR’s constellation of drivers. They are simply called Jimmie, Junior, and Jeff, and few could argue that this trio has shone the brightest. Jimmie Johnson has six championships, including five in a row. Dale Earnhardt Jr. is the legacy of the legend, with 15 wins in his first five full seasons and four straight at Talladega. His track success might have cooled, but Junior Nation’s fervor has not. Jeff Gordon, the four time champion, won his third at Kansas, but his first since 2002, to all but lock his place in the Chase.

Gordon led in points, even without a win, but Saturday night he put a lock on a race he dominated. Well, for all but one other entry, he was the undisputed leader of the pack. Kevin Harvick had designs to add to his win total, only to fall just short. While both drivers have been stellar thus far in the season, only the wreck at Talladega mars Gordon’s record in 2014. Harvick has been a factor in every race, winning two, but he has been up front only until misfortune bit him hard at Las Vegas, Bristol, California, and Texas.

Winning is important, but it sure comes in handy to also be relevant week in and week out. Danica Patrick was just that the entire race, finishing seventh, while Tony Stewart was for a time before coming home 20th. One has a great track record, one does not, but both have driven SHR autos that have been providing sub-par results much of the year. Other than Harvick, one wonders how much are their woes car based. Just ask the fourth member of that stable, as Kurt Busch finished outside the Top Twenty for the ninth time in eleven attempts. If not for his win at Martinsville, which this season makes him relevant, being 28th in points would have otherwise left him an also ran a couple of points beyond the total of even Ms. Patrick.

However, a win is the golden ticket this season to challenge for the championship. Joey Logano and Harvick have a couple, with Gordon, Junior, and the Brothers Busch among the seven with one to their credit. Seven more are within the Top 16 in points, but a single win and a spot in the Top 30 vaults one up the ladder. Who will be next?

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Before the World 600, the boys and girl have the All-Star race on their schedule this Saturday night at Charlotte. Nineteen are in, having won since the 2013 Daytona 500, by winning this race in the past, or by having been a Cup series champion. Three more will be added, with two coming from the top finishers from among the 23 car field that will run in the Showdown on Friday night. The other will come via a fan vote. If that goes the way I think it will, I would expect the All-Star race to include every driver mentioned above. Yes, even her.

Who will win on Saturday night? That is easy. Every driver who has ever won the All-Star race since Darrell Waltrip claimed the Winston back in 1985 has or will be either a Cup champion, the winner of the Daytona 500, the World 600 or the night race at Bristol. No exceptions.

A star won last Saturday night, and another should claim the prize in Charlotte this Saturday evening.

Darrell Waltrip – All-Star 1985 – Daytona 500 1989 – World 600 1978-79, 1985, 1988-89 – Bristol 1979, 1981-83, 1986, 1989, 1992 – Champion 1981-82, 1985

Bill Elliott – All-Star 1986 – Daytona 500 1985, 1987 – Champion 1988

Dale Earnhardt – All-Star 1987, 1990, 1993 – Daytona 500 1998 – World 600 1986, 1992-93 – Champion 1980, 1986-87, 1990-91, 1993-94

Terry Labonte – All-Star 1988, 1999 – Bristol 1984, 1995 – Champion 1984, 1996

Rusty Wallace – All-Star 1989 – World 600 1990 – Bristol 1994, 1996, 2000 – Champion 1989

Davey Allison – All-Star 1991-92 – Daytona 500 1992 – World 600 1991

Geoffrey Bodine – All-Star 1994 – Daytona 500 1986

Jeff Gordon – All-Star 1995, 1997, 2001 – Daytona 500 1997, 1999, 2005 – World 600 1994, 1997-98 – Bristol 2002 – Champion 1995, 1997-98, 2001

Michael Waltrip – All-Star 1996 – Daytona 500 2001, 2003

Mark Martin – All-Star 1998, 2005 – World 600 2002 – Bristol 1993, 1998

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. – All-Star 2000 – Daytona 500 2004, 2014 – Bristol 2004

Ryan Newman – All-Star 2002- Daytona 500 2008

Jimmie Johnson – All-Star 2003, 2006, 2012-13 – Daytona 500  2006, 2013 – World 600 2003-05 – Champion 2006-10, 2013

Matt Kenseth – All-Star 2004 – Daytona 500 2009, 2012 – World 600 2000 – Bristol 2005-06, 2013 – Champion 2003

Kevin Harvick – All-Star 2007 – Daytona 500 2007 – World 600 2011, 2013

Kasey Kahne – All-Star 2008 – World 600 2006, 2008, 2012

Tony Stewart  All-Star 2009 – Bristol 2001 – Champion 2002, 2005, 2011

Kurt Busch – All-Star 2010 – World 600 2010 – Bristol 2003 – Champion 2004

Carl Edwards – All-Star 2011 – Bristol 2007-08

Casey Mears – World 600 2007

David Reutimann – World 600 2009

Kyle Busch – Bristol 2009-10

Jamie McMurray – Daytona 500 2010

Trevor Bayne – Daytona 500 2011

Brad Keselowski – Bristol 2011 – Champion 2012

Denny Hamlin – Bristol 2012

 

 

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