[media-credit name=”Brad Keppel” align=”alignright” width=”225″][/media-credit]Okay, maybe they are right, whomever they might be. 600 miles might be too long a race, but the final 70 of the 400 laps provided some pretty good action. The Coca Cola 600 gave Kasey Kahne his first win as a Hendrick driver, his 13th of his Cup career, three of which have come in NASCAR’s Charlotte crown jewel event. Not a bad way to celebrate his 300th race.
Kasey might not be in the top ten just yet, but the victory has him sitting in the final Chase place as we speak. Brad Keselowski, who was fifth on Sunday, has the other spot reserved for winners, while the usual suspects continue to hold down positions of their own. Okay, as long as the usual suspects do not include Clint Bowyer, Ryan Newman, Jeff Gordon, or Kurt Busch. Bowyer could still make it on points, but the way things are going the others will need wins between now and Richmond. When it was over, the top ten in the standings were the top ten on the track, with the exception of Jimmy Johnson, Tony Stewart, and the 12th place Martin Truex, Jr. Their places were taken by Kahne, Keselowski, and Jeff Gordon, in 7th.
Back in the day, some drivers would win a race by a number of laps, not seconds. We had a taste of that this weekend, as only nine cars ran the full 400 laps. If it weren’t for a few debris calls to bunch them up, it could have even fewer. To say that Ned Jarrett’s 1965 Southern 500 win, by 19 miles over Buck Baker, was a race is like saying a confrontation between Mike Tyson and my sister would be considered a fight. On second thought, I don’t think Cindy would kick his ass too badly.
Stewart, who would wind up 25th and three laps down, got tagged coming into the pits by Keselowski. Smoke backed up, did a little spin to turn the car around before smoking them up to perform a little sideways shuffle to get his car back into position for servicing. As for Keselowski, he spent some time paying less attention to his driving and more on getting his crew to tell Mr. Stewart that it was an accident, he was sorry, and that he did not want to be sent flying into the fence.
Flying down the track was Johnson’s gas man. Johnson finished a lap down in 11th, but he could have done better if not for one pit stop. Jimmie pulled out, but the gas can did not. Brandon Harder left the pits like a toddler trying to walk a Great Dane on a leash, sending the big fella flying, flipping, and bouncing. Helmets became a part of the crew’s attire in 2002, but I’m still not sure how much padding there is in those fire retardant suits. My guess is, not enough.
They move over to Dover as the road show heads north to Delaware. Bowyer will be trying to move up, Edwards will be trying to stay where he is, and others will be hunting down a checkered flag. Favorites on Sunday, based on history, would include Johnson, Edwards, and Gordon, while the Busch brothers, Matt Kenseth, and Greg Biffle have wins there in recent years. In short, the guy who wins probably won’t need it was bad as some of the rest, unless his name is Jeff. Enjoy the week.