Do not count your chickens before they hatch. That was the lesson we got in Dover on Sunday. A lot of things can happen between the time the egg emerges from the backside of the hen to when that little pecker bursts from the shell. A lot of bad things.
You might have a metal part with the resilience of cheap plastic before you even get started. You might have a little knob not registering what the little knob is supposed to be accomplishing. You might have a visit to the pits turn into something that rhymes with pits. You might bounce off a wall or a competitor. Yes sir, a lot of bad things can happen.
Jimmie Johnson started the race in the garage. Under the pace laps, he had a lower ball joint failure at 45 miles per hour. The car you use to take Grandma out for a nice Sunday drive would last longer than what Johnson was in. Bad part or bad mechanic? It damn near made what happened the previous week at the Roval seem totally irrelevant.
Kyle Busch started on the pole and ran point the opening fifteen laps. He tried to make some adjustments to the track bar using a little knob in the car. It registered nothing on his dash. It seemed to register nothing as to what he wanted adjusted. Eighth place seemed more than he deserved in the end.
Kevin Harvick owned this race. He took over from Rowdy and won the opening stage. He was untouchable in the middle frame. His valve stem was touchable when the car went down off the jack while the lug nuts were still being tightened. Gone went the stem, back came the car, back a lap down he went. Sixth was the best he could do after that. The pits is where Harvick’s hopes seem to die all to often.
Aric Almirola looked good among the replacements up front. So did Brad Keselowski. As did Clint Bowyer. Then Bowyer got a flat. Six laps later, something broke in front and his car got broken up along the wall. 35th place is not where he belonged.
With just a handful of laps left Almirola and Keselowski gave up the challenge. Aric rubbed the wall, that caused him to rub Keselowski, who then rubbed out Alex Bowman, who finished 28th.
Into over-time we went, and for the second time in his career it was Chase Elliott giving the fans a thrill as he brought it home in front and took his golden ticket to the Round of Eight. An early birthday gift to his dad. “KyB” and Happy could lock their way in if Talladega is kind to them. At the other end of the spectrum, Bowman is left with two races and 34 points to make up to make it. He won’t. Kyle Larson (12th) is a dozen out, while Bowyer and Almirola (13th) each are ten points in the rearview mirror of Ryan Blaney (11th).
In front of them all looms the 2.66-mile experience known as Talladega. Nobody is out at the hen house doing a statistical survey just yet. Maybe they might do a tally heading to Kansas, but the whirlwind to watch out for right now is the one about to roar in to Alabama this Sunday.