Rating the race – Tired tires fail to make Juan as happy as Happy at RichmondBy Ron Thornton
Why I watched…
Hey, it was Saturday night racing! Well, it was, but I am not one of those old school short track kind of fans. Hell, growing up Saturday night was reserved for Hockey Night in Canada. I tuned in Friday night to Richmond seeking a preview of what might be expected. To be honest, the short time I viewed the Nationwide race did not exactly leave me enthralled. At least no one tried to kick me in the berries and haul my arse off to jail, so it was better for me than it was for some others.
The real reason I watched was to see if those in need of some good news might get some. The penalties in Kansas had dropped Matt Kenseth to 14th in the standings, yet he was still ahead of Jeff Gordon, Ryan Newman, Joey Logano, Tony Stewart, Kurt Busch, and Jeff Burton. If any of those boys wanted to stay relevant this season, a positive result at Richmond would have gone a long ways in doing so. A stumble, and a long season would just get a bunch longer.
Ye…or rather…me of little faith. In a season thus far filled with good to great races, this one was pretty entertaining. There were surprises, such as Juan Pablo Montoya seeking just his third Cup win with just a handful of laps remaining. Too bad about Brian Vickers, who lost tire, found a wall, brought out a caution, and so ended the Columbian’s hopes. He would finish fourth.
The restart had Jeff Burton on point, but his tires were ancient. Low and behold, the guy trying to chase down Montoya earlier comes flying up from seventh place as Kevin Harvick claims the checkers. It marked his 20th career victory. Having rubber about 60 laps fresher than some sure helped his cause. Having a car that came alive at the right time didn’t hurt either.
Some needing a good finish got it, including Logano, Burton, the elder Busch, and Gordon. Dale Earnhardt Jr was on the lead lap all night, but proved a non-factor until he somehow managed to finish 10th. Some who have been hot lately continued to be very warm, including Carl Edwards and Aric Almirola. As for points leader Jimmie Johnson, he actually extended his lead by finishing 12th.
Tony Stewart was hot, at least with Kurt. After the green-white-checkers restart, Busch bumped Stewart out of the way, and way, way back went Tony. 18th is not what he was hoping for as he drops now to 22nd in points. Busch did not do anything wrong, he just did it to Stewart, who could not afford it.
Rating the race…
8.5/10 — Yes, I’m surprised, too. Even as Kenseth dominated the first three-quarters of the Richmond contest, before fading to 13th, the rest of the field positions seemed to be continually in play. We had an exciting finish, in two parts, we had a hard wreck that took out Mark Martin and Kasey Kahne, and we even had a pair of drivers jawing as to who did what to whom when it was all said and done. Danica Patrick had a less than stellar day, but at 29th the record shows her doing better than Brad Keselowski, Vickers, Greg Biffle, Martin, and Marcos Ambrose. Now, if you think that was exciting, we have Talladega coming up on Sunday. Me thinks that anything less than a 9 next weekend would be disappointing afternoon.