The Final Word – The Southern 500 featured SHR’s good, their bad, their ugly…and their boss

By Ron Thornton On Mon, Apr. 14, 2014

Photo Credit: Ted Seminara
Photo Credit: Ted Seminara

There is a reason we read the entire book, rather than rely totally on the CliffsNotes version. For example, the shortened description of Saturday night’s Southern 500 action at Darlington would read that Kevin Harvick dominated and went on to win his second of the season. That would be correct, yet it misses the fact Jeff Gordon had a shot, then Dale Earnhardt Jr had an opportunity, before Harvick charged ahead on fresh tires in the green-white-checker to run away with it in the end.

It has been feast or famine for Harvick in the opening eight. He won at Phoenix and Darlington, was 13th at Daytona and 7th at Martinsville. Then there are the four races where he wound up beyond 35th. At least in a season where Stewart-Haas drivers have had their share of adversity on-track, he has given some hope, even if it proceeded a feeling of hopelessness. He has been damned good in all, a force to be reckoned with in each, but too often some part fails and the day goes for naught.  Saturday was not one of those days.

If not for Harvick, we would be telling tales of woe regarding his team mate Kurt Busch. He did have one of those days on Saturday night, when he crashed out in 31st, a week after crashing out in 35th in Texas. A bad engine left him 39th at Phoenix, and when he clipped his brother at Bristol, once again 35th was his fate. Still, he has that win and that is going to mean a lot over the next few months.

The CliffsNotes might have missed that little factoid, along with just how ornery that Lady in Black proved to be, especially to the rookie class. Both stand-out rookies Kyle Larson and Austin Dillon clobbered the fence coming off turn two, yet did finish 8th and 11th respectively…and respectfully.  

When measuring the Danica Line, 25th or better usually finds one sitting ahead of her on the track. Not so on Saturday, when the third member of SHR finished 22nd. Of the other newcomers at Darlington, only the 23rd place of Justin Allgaier came close. Still, you have to show some respect to the other boys and their teams who are out there to race, to learn, to grow, to compete, and not just there to start and park and collect some undeserved cash.  Of the 43 who ran, maybe one might have exited early due to having a bad hair day.

As for the driver in the owner’s seat, just where did Tony Stewart come from last weekend? Most of the night, he was trailing Danica, for goodness sake, but at the line Stewart recorded a Top Ten. How in blazes did that happen?  Fortuitous and smart pit strategy brought him back from the dead.

Among those who do not get to hang with Gene Haas, Earnhardt and Gordon finished 2nd and 3rd, while Kyle Busch, Matt Kenseth, and Jimmie Johnson all had Top Ten days to remain high on the charts. Carl Edwards is still the best among single race winners, and he came home 13th.

It burns me that the Nationwide series is still a showcase for five or six Cup guys, but I am pleased to see they are now joined by Chase Elliott. Bill’s boy won his second straight when the series regular won at Darlington to lead the over-all standings. Elliott Sadler (2nd), Regan Smith (8th), Trevor Bayne (9th), and Ty Dillon (10th) also finished strong among the relevant performers.

If wins are the thing, then Harvick takes over the top spot in the Cup standings, while Gordon and Kenseth remain the best among those who have yet to shake up the bubbly post-race as we take the week off for Easter. A fellow might even have time to read a full sized book this weekend. Any suggestions?

 

Driver

Races

Wins

Points

1

  Kevin Harvick

8

2

186

2

  Carl Edwards

8

1

278

3

  Dale Earnhardt, Jr.

8

1

271

4

  Kyle Busch

8

1

269

5

  Brad Keselowski

8

1

246

6

  Joey Logano

8

1

245

7

  Kurt Busch

8

1

164

8

  Jeff Gordon

8

0

297

9

  Matt Kenseth

8

0

296

10

  Jimmie Johnson

8

0

270

11

  Ryan Newman

8

0

236

12

  Austin Dillon

8

0

235

13

  Greg Biffle

8

0

227

14

  Brian Vickers

8

0

224

15

  Tony Stewart

8

0

224

16

  Denny Hamlin

7

0

223

17

  Kyle Larson

8

0

223

31

  Reed Sorenson

8

0

118

Ron Thornton (262 Posts)

Ron is a former broadcaster who is in his 11th season writing for SpeedwayMedia and is celebrating his 21st season as Amy's husband. Their 19-year old sons are in their second year of Civil Engineering Technology, and they will have to wait and see if their family time at the baseball diamonds extends another season or not. Something about budding careers might get in the way. Ron is still not sure he wants to do when he grows up, other than possibly not actually growing up. So far, so good.


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Displaying 6 Comments
Have Your Say
  1. Ron Thornton says:

    Jimmie…Jeff…I thought they were interchangeable.

  2. linda walden says:

    you make it sound like Kurt can’t drive, bad finishes are not indicative of how he drove, forget he had a little help from BOWYER and was running 9th w/2 laps to go?

  3. Bill B says:

    If you didn’t watch the race you could at least look up the finishing order on-line. Gordon finished 7th not 3rd. Johnson finished 3rd.

  4. Bill B says:

    Did you actually watch the race Ron? If you did you’d know the only reason Stewart (Edwards too) finished as good as they did was because of the wave around rule and a GWC finish. I don’t call that pit strategy, I call that using NASCAR’s lame ass rules to their advantage at the expense of others who actually ran well for the entire race. What a road of clap.

    • Rusty W says:

      Bill…

      I agree with you 100 percent – and you can’t get a mark higher than that. This “lucky dog” thing still gnaws on me. I don’t like to see my favorites a lap down but, as they say, “that’s racing.” Dale Earnhardt had to come back into the pits at The Brickyard one year because a crew member left a tire in the way and she smacked it when he pulled away from the box. Earnhardt was furious and told Childress it’s tough enough to keep the f’ing car out front without having to deal with mistakes in the pits. The mistake didn’t cost him a lap but it put him back in the pack. Under NASCAR’s wave around, if a mistake like this costs a driver a lap, there’s nothing to worry about because you may be the next “lucky dog.” It’s ridiculous.

      Rusty

  5. william floyd says:

    You keep saying Gordon finished 3rd when it was Jimmie. it was also Jimmie not Jeff who had the late lead with a chance to win. keep trying, you will get it right after 19 plus years, sometime.

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