At this stage of the game, only a dozen drivers really matter in Cup racing. Twelve still have a shot at the championship, 18 more either have the results or the resources to at least theoretically be of interest, while 13 others are just there and rarely, if ever, matter.
It really did not matter if Joey Logano won again in this segment of the Chase, after winning Charlotte, but he could sure spoil the plans of somebody else. That is exactly what Mr. Popular did this time, as he and Matt Kenseth played a bit of football near the end. Kenseth blocked, and Logano punted him to take his second straight. Matt said post-race that he had respect for Logano coming in, maybe one of the few who had yet to have a run in with the lad, but not anymore. That comes as no surprise, for the loss of the free pass that would have come with victory, and by finishing 14th instead, means he must win next week at Talladega or his dream is over for another season.
Same goes for Dale Earnhardt Jr. His car had nothing on the day, other than some questionable work by his crew, to wind up 21st and back in Kenseth country. Well, if anyone can win at Talladega, it might be the six-time winner at that facility. That is about all he has got.
Late miscues on pit road left both Kevin Harvick and Martin Truex Jr. out of the Top Ten. Kyle Busch thought he was blowing up, yet finished with a Top Ten. That still leaves him six points out of contention. Ryan Newman is eight away. However, as it is Talladega coming up, a place where a dozen or more competitors can be removed from action all at once, only Logano is safe as they venture to Alabama. Denny Hamlin finished second on Sunday, but being 18 points to the good does not mean a whole lot considering what looms on the horizon.
I do not know if next year’s rules package will bring better racing, but I sure am looking forward to seeing if that might be the case. I mean, if you were looking for great television from Kansas, you did not find it. Round and round in a single line they went. Watching it live would have been a test. Again, I thank God for the PVR, which ranks just behind fire and the wheel for outstanding discoveries.
Talladega will be different. I guarantee it.
1. JOEY LOGANO – 2 WINS
2. DENNY HAMLIN +18
3. KURT BUSCH +13
4. CARL EDWARDS +12
5. BRAD KESELOWSKI +7
6. KEVIN HARVICK +7
7. JEFF GORDON +7
8. MARTIN TRUEX JR. +6
9. KYLE BUSCH – 6
10. RYAN NEWMAN -8
11. DALE EARNHARDT JR. -31
12. MATT KENSETH -35