[media-credit name=”Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images for NASCAR” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]Leading the pack? Check. Winning a race and ending a 49 race slump? It was mission accomplished for Greg Biffle Saturday night in Fort Worth when he got by Jimmie Johnson with 30 laps to go and held that lead right to the checkered flag.
Winning. Points are nice, but so is a hug from your grandmother. After a while, a man wants something more. Rick Hendrick would like 200 Cup wins on his team owner resume. Came close the past couple of weeks, and maybe it will come in Kansas. That is, if the good Lord’s willing and Reutimann’s car don’t up and dies.
Dale Earnhardt Jr is doing well. Seven races in and five Top Tens, third place in the standings. That is nice, but it has been 3 years, 10 months since Victory Lane held him in her warm embrace. 136 races. Maybe Kansas, but probably not.
Jimmie Johnson won there twice, including last fall. Jeff Gordon won the first two events held there back in 2001 and 2002. Still, no Hendrick wins for this season. None for the Childress racers either. Bowties are not totally out, as Tony Stewart already has a couple of wins this season and team mate Ryan Newman has one of his own. Matt Kenseth won at Daytona, while Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski won the others. Carl Edwards, so close to a championship last season, is another marquee driver still seeking his first.
The last time a Cup champion claimed the prize without at least a single victory was, well, never. Four did it with a single victory, with Kenseth the last in 2003 to join Benny Parsons (1973), Ned Jarrett (1961), and Bill Rexford (1950). No, wins are rather important, it would seem.
Still, with 17 races to run before the Chase begins, it would seem a bit premature to count the usual suspects out just yet. Mark Martin won’t, as he is running a partial schedule. Based on past performance, the Busch brothers and Kasey Kahne, in 26th place, still could do it. I doubt Casey Mears, in 27th, or any of the rest behind him will.
I think we can be pretty sure that #10 shared by David Reutimann and Danica Patrick will not be out of the Top 35 again anytime soon. It sits in 34th, three points up on Landon Cassill’s #83 and four up on the #33 Tony Raines drove in Texas. Only 36 cars still contend for a spot in the Top 35. My guess is, if there is any chance Danica finds herself needing a sugar daddy to get Go Daddy into the show, Dave Blaney, ten points up on the #10, will be asked to take one for the team…again. On Saturday, I reckon nobody was taking any chances, as Reutimann finished eleven spots ahead of team mate Blaney. They just have to navigate Kansas, Richmond, and Talladega before Patrick’s return for the Southern 500 at Darlington May 12th.
While some are just happy to be there, others will be out to end their “0-for” status, or at the very least make sure they have a tighter grip on a spot among the Top Ten in the standings. All, that is, except for Tony Stewart, as those two wins all but gives the defending champ a lock on one of the Chase wild car berths. Still, I’m sure he would like to win on Sunday. I mean, he is the middle of a two race drought of his own. Enjoy the week.