1. Carl Edwards: Edwards took two tires on the final pit stop with 33 laps remaining and held off Tony Stewart, who took four, to win at Las Vegas. Edwards led 69 laps and won for the first time this year, and third in the last five races. The win vaulted him nine places to third in the Sprint Cup point standings, only seven out of first.
“What does the comically oversized wrench, awarded the victor in Las Vegas, signify?” Edwards asked. “Duh, ‘winning!’ What’s my favorite luxury hotel in Las Vegas? Duh, ‘Wynn!’ Man, since late last year, all we’ve done is put wins in the record books. I wouldn’t go so far as to say ‘I win so radically in my underwear before my first cup of coffee, it’s scary,’ because only Charlie Sheen can do that. Me? I don’t drink coffee, and I don’t wear underwear, but I win anyway. Take that, Sheen!”
2. Tony Stewart: Stewart led a race-high 163 laps, clearly boasting the day’s best car, but saw the win slip away on the final pit stop. Stewart opted for four tires for the No. 14 Mobil 1/Office Depot Chevrolet with 33 laps remaining, while Carl Edwards took two, which gave him the lead, and eventual win.
“No one can say we didn’t give it our best shot,” Stewart said. “We left it all out on the track, including the win. To say I’m disappointed is an understatement. In the three races so far this year, I could have won each. But I have to be patient. The wins will come, probably when the weather heats up and I go on my usual mid-season tear. Edwards can have the back flips now; I’ll do ‘summersaults’ later.
“As you know, I’ll be switching cars with Formula 1 driver Lewis Hamilton at Watkins Glen this summer. He’s the best at what he does and I’m the best at what I do. And together it’s like, it’s on. It’s epic.”
3. Kurt Busch: Busch finished ninth at Las Vegas, surviving a spin-inducing run-in with Juan Montoya, earning his second top-10 finish of the year and leading one valuable lap in the Kobalt Tools 400. Busch is tied for first with Tony Stewart in the Sprint Cup point standings.
“The last time Stewart and I were in the same place,” Busch said, “I got punched. I shudder to think what he would have done with fire-breathing fists. Luckily, only Charlie Sheen has those. I learned a hard lesson that day. There’s only one thing worse than picking a fight with a warlock, and that’s picking a fight with Tony Stewart.
“Now, the subject of Stewart’s assault seems like a decent reason to give a shout out to the upcoming release of the movie Sucker Punch. And all this talk of Charlie Sheen begs for the making of the sequel to Platoon, called Buffoon.”
4. Juan Pablo Montoya: Montoya finished third in the Kobalt Tools 400, racing in the top 10 for most of the day. Montoya led eight laps on Sunday, and jumped five places in the point standings to fourth, seven points out of first.
“The No. 42 Clorox Chevrolet was fast on Sunday,” Montoya said. “I like to call her ‘Bleached Lightning.’ It’s ironic that NASCAR would allow a bleach product such a prominent advertising role. Why? Because the last thing this sport needs in more ‘whitening.’
“I may not be the most popular driver here in America, but I’m a total frickin’ rock star in Colombia, which might as well be Mars as far as the typical NASCAR fan is concerned.”
5. Ryan Newman: Newman posted his second-straight top-5 finish of the year with a fifth at Las Vegas, joining Stewart-Haas teammate Tony Stewart, who finished second in the top 5. Newman is fifth in the Sprint Cup point standings, ten points out of first.
“Obviously, Tony should have won the race,” Newman said. “Had he not been penalized for leaving his pit stall with the air hose still attached, we’d be celebrating a Stewart victory. And speaking of ‘air ho’s,’ Charlie Sheen’s been on television an awful lot lately talking about his live-in ‘goddesses.’ Hey Charlie, that’s not Adonis DNA and tiger blood coursing through your veins. It’s penicillin.”
6. Kyle Busch: Busch, a Las Vegas native, saw his day at his home track end abruptly when the engine of the No. 18 blew on lap 107, just 20 laps after a blown tire had sent him into the wall. Busch, in the Snickers Penaut Butter Squared Toyota, finished 38th.
“There was absolutely no indication the engine would go,” Busch said. “It was a lot like Charlie Sheen: it just ‘quit’ with no reasonable explanation. Then it caught on fire. That sucks. What do you call an engine that’s afire and has gone kaput? ‘Hot Shot.’ Hopefully, I won’t have to experience that again. Incidentally, that’s what moviegoers said after the first installment of Hot Shots.
“As you may know, my New Year’s Eve wedding to Samantha Sarcinella was televised on the Style Channel last Saturday. It’s a monogamy story. It’s like an organic union of the hearts. Apparently, people watched it despite all that.”
7. Paul Menard: Menard climbed to sixth in the Sprint Cup point standings after a solid 12th-place finish at Las Vegas. He’s leading the way for Richard Childress Racing so far, as teammates Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, and Jeff Burton sit 18th, 20th, and 31st in the standings.
“I’m the new guy at RCR,” Menard said, “and although I wasn’t blessed with top-billing, Adonis DNA, or tiger blood, I nevertheless have talent that significantly contributes to the team. You could say I’m ‘carrying’ RCR right now. I’m the consummate teammate. I carry jock straps, and I carry the torch.”
8. Jeff Gordon: Gordon’s No. 24 Dupont Chevrolet blew a tire and slammed the wall, sending him to the garage and leaving him with a disappointing 36th-place finish. The result halted the momentum Gordon established with last week’s breakthrough win at Phoenix, and sent him tumbling down the point standings.
“What are Robby Gordon and Kevin Conway guilty of in Las Vegas?” Gordon said. “Duh! Sinning! Gordon should proceed with caution, though. In light of Conway’s Extenze sponsorship, charges aren’t the only thing Gordon could have pressed against him.
“As for my tire, it exploded like the body of someone who tried the drug ‘Charlie Sheen,’ which, not surprisingly, only comes in ‘pill’ form.”
9. Denny Hamlin: Hamlin finished 7th at Las Vegas, posting his first top-10 result of the year, to lead the way for on an otherwise disappointing day for Joe Gibbs Racing. JGR teammates Joey Logano and Kyle Busch finished 23rd and 36th, respectively, with Busch suffering a blown engine just 107 laps into the race.
“It was a good result after two unsatisfactory finishes to start the season,” Hamlin said. “The No. 11 Fed Ex team is still finding its groove, and I’m still battling through some lingering pain from last year’s knee surgery. Painkillers have helped. I’m on a drug called ‘Charlie Sheen’ that alleviates the pain in my knee. Unfortunately, it has one glaring side effect: it causes severe pain in the ass.
“Despite my teammates’ troubles at Vegas, the JGR squad is totally capable of competing for the Sprint Cup title. Obviously, Kyle and I are perennial favorites, while Logano is probably just 2-3 years away from sharing that distinction. So, you could say that JGR has ’Two And A Half Men’ capable of winning the Sprint Cup championship.”
10. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson battled handling issues and struggled in the Kobalt Tools 400, finishing 16th. Johnson’s No. 48 Lowe’s Chevrolet team never unlocked the right adjustments, and last year’s Las Vegas winner posted a disappointing finish after last week’s third at Phoenix.
“What’s a bigger story than all of Charlie Sheen’s boasts of ‘winning?’” Johnson said. “Me not winning. That truly is gnarly. But I’m not fretting. Like Sheen, I’m making things interesting. And, like Sheen, I’ve got one gear. I’m not sure what his only gear is, but mine is ‘first,’ because that’s where I always finish.”