Why was there confusion during the NASCAR weekend at the Charlotte Motor Speedway? That’s because literally everything we expected to happen didn’t happen. During the weekend we watched a former NASCAR Sprint champion quietly drive his way into major contention for a second title. We watched a Sprint Cup dynasty take a major hit in their latest championship effort. In the NASCAR Nationwide Series’ portion of the Charlotte weekend we watched a wrecked race car literally get shoved to the checkered flag. Meanwhile in Las Vegas, a 53 year old champion once again proved he wasn’t finished and the points championship in that series left us wondering how it was all going to end. With those thoughts in mind, let’s begin this week with:
[media-credit name=”Brad Keppel” align=”alignright” width=”208″][/media-credit]HOORAH to Matt Kenseth, and Roush Fenway Racing, for winning the Bank Of America 500. With 24 laps remaining in the race, Kenseth outgunned Kyle Busch and led him under the checkers by a margin of 0.968 seconds. But this process was disrupted by a late race caution followed by a double file restart with only 11 circuits remaining. That’s when Kenseth pulled off a beautiful restart during the course of an evening when his restarts could have used some work. The effort netted him his third win of the season and 21st career win. Of equal importance Kenseth is now third in the Chase standings only seven points from the top.
HOORAH to Kenseth’s sense of humor, (yes, he really does have a good one), regarding his sponsor Fluidmaster, a manufacturer of water conserving, slow flow, toilet systems. With a smile on his face, Kenseth said “with all of those toilet jokes about my restarts, we finally got a good one today. Thankfully, we got a good there at the end.”
One can only imagine the level of toilet jokes this driver had to endure. I’m sure there were comments like “don’t flush your race down the toilet, or hey what’s that chasing your Chase hopes down the toilet?” It’s even possible there were comment regarding the famous Tidy Bowl man from television commercials of yesteryear.
(A brief pause while the younger NASCAR fans ask “who’s the Tidy Bowl Man?).
HOORAH to Kenseth for having the where with all to promote his sponsor situation for next year. Crown Royal earlier this year announced they would not be returning to the team as their primary sponsor. In victory lane Kennseth said “Crown Royal, it’s not too late to come back. We don’t have any sponsors for next year, so this should be a good audition.”
HOORAH to Kenseth’s #17 team for their strong sense of promoting Crown Royal prior to the Charlotte race. During the Thursday afternoon Sprint Cup practice session, the ESPN Network introduced us to their new garage cam: a television camera attached to the roof of the garage so we could all enjoy watching the busy activities. Seizing an opportunity, Kenseth’s crew hung a giant cardboard cut of a Crown Royal bottle, from the garage ceiling, directly in front of the television camera. That, racing fans, is what you call product placement.
WAZZUP with Jimmie Johnson’s misfortunes at the Charlotte Motor Speedway? On lap 316 Johnson was involved in a tight racing duel with Ryan Newman. He slid sideways to the bottom of the track and then went back up the track nose front into the turn two wall. The hit was very hard causing the car to sustain race ending major damage.
HOORAH to the NASCAR mandated safety equipment both in the cars and behind the crash walls. It wasn’t that many years ago when a hit like the one Johnson took would have been a very serious situation.
The hit in the five time champion’s Chase standings was also a hard one. Johnson fell from third to eighth in the standings 35 points from the top. WAZZUP with all of the speculation that says this team’s bid for a sixth consecutive title is over and done with? It’s a tad early to be making that prediction. The doomsday prophets need to remind themselves that they’re talking about the #48 Lowes team.
HOORAH to Jimmie Johnson for being placed on the cover of “Sports Illustrated” magazine for the second time since 2008. The magazine hits newsstands on Wednesday, October 19th. This is only the tenth time “SI” has placed a NASCAR driver on its famed cover. The first one featured “Million Dollar” Bill Elliott back in 1985.
WAZZUP with all of this talk about the “SI” curse that lands on athletes who land on the magazine’s cover? There has been a lot of talk over the years about this curse leading to problems, such as physical injuries, for superstar athletes right after their “SI”cover photo hit the newsstands.
Prior to the Charlotte race, Johnson thought all of this was pretty funny. We all thought it was pretty funny. But following Johnson’s savage crash at Charlotte some people are beginning to wonder about the curse.
If you listen closely you may be able to hear the theme song from the old television series “The Twilight Zone” somewhere in the background.
(A brief cause while the younger NASCAR fans ask “what’s a Twilight Zone?”)
The HOORAH for making chicken salad out of chicken do do goes to Kyle Busch whose Charlotte weekend went from bad to good. The process began prior to the race when his crew was performing some final pre-race prep work. The result was a stripped rocker arm bolt which necessitated an engine change which in turn led to Busch having to start at the rear of the field.
In typical fashion Busch charged his way to the front and led a race high 111 laps and finished second. Also in typical fashion, the “Rowdy One” was not exactly thrilled over finishing in the runner up spot but he had to be happy about moving up to fourth in the Chase standings. He’s 18 points from the top and still very much a championship contender.
A HOORAH also goes out the Busch’s pit crew for good service all evening long. This is especially true of the team’s final four tire stop which they performed in 12.4 seconds.
Let’s send another HOORAH heaping helping of chicken salad to Carl Edwards for winning the Dollar General 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Charlotte under some dire circumstances.
On lap 32 Edwards smacked the wall hard in his Roush Fenway Racing Ford. He pancaked the entire right side of the car, broke the crush panels and damaged the toe in. Despite that he managed to race his way to the front and, following a double file restart with five laps remaining, pulled in front of Kyle Busch to steal his eighth win of the season and 37th career win.
HOORAH to Roush Fenway team mate Trevor Bayne who, during that final restart of the race, lined up behind Edwards’ rear bumper and shoved him past Kyle Busch. It was the race winning move for Edwards.
WAZZUP with Trevor Bayne not electing to stage a three wide move to try to steal the race for himself? That’s what Edwards was expecting.
HOORAH to Roush Fenway Racing whose drivers, Kenseth and Edwards, swept the NASCAR weekend at Charlotte on the 110th anniversary of Ford Racing.
HOORAH to Nationwide Series drivers Elliott Sadler and Ricky Stenhouse Jr for the many competitive moments they presented to the fans during the Dollar General 300. Stenhouse arrived in Charlotte with a 20 point lead over Elliott Sadler.
WAZZUP with that final restart by Stenhouse with only five laps to go. Restarts for the Roush Fenway Racing Ford driver had been a concern throughout this race. But this final one really hurt the cause. He fell to ninth in the final standings, compared to Sadler’s fourth, and now the championship separation is only 15 points with only three races remaining in the season.
WAZZUP with the high cost of that final restart? Stenhouse and Sadler were candidates for the Nationwide Insurance Dash For Cash program which paid a $100,000 bonus for the highest finishing driver among the four candidates. Sadler left the Charlotte Motor Speedway with the bonus following Stenhouse’s restart miscue.
HOORAH to Joe Thorton of New Port Richey-Florida. Who’s that you ask? He’s the lucky fan who won the $100,000 Nationwide Insurance Dash For Cash bonus after being teamed up with Elliott Sadler.
HOORAH to Ron Hornaday Jr for a strong dominant performance in the Smiths 350 NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The four time series champion led 107 of the 146 laps en route to his second win in a row, his third win in the last five races and his fourth win of the season. He had to fend off a late race charge from Matt Crafton to preserve the win.
WAZZUP with the completely unexpected shake up in the points standings during the course of this race? Points leader Austin Dillon hit the wall on the third lap of the race and finished 17th and five laps down.
WAZZUP with James Buescher not being able to capitalize on Dillon’s misfortune? Buescher, second in the points prior to the race, found himself tangled up with another truck, on lap 48, and had to go behind the wall for repairs. The damage led to a 21st place finish.
HOORAH for an even tighter series championship run with four races remaining on the schedule. Dillon remains on top of the standings but only has a five points lead over Johnny Sauter. Buescher drops to third seven points away. Hornaday moves to fourth, 21 points out. This is going to get exciting race fans.