Funny what 38 points can do for a driver. That is the amount NASCAR gave back to Matt Kenseth after hearing the appeal for that engine violation that bit him after Kansas. For the 2003 champion, the change of mind moved him from outside a Chase place all the way up to fourth in the standings.
His boss, Joe Gibbs, had all penalties removed from him. Crew chief Jason Radcliff will only have to take a one race vacation, instead of six, but he did not exactly get a free pass. His $200,000 fine was upheld. I think he might have some help in paying that off. Maybe the good folks who built the engine, Toyota Racing Development, might want to chip in. Maybe the chap whose job it is to check the manifest that outlined the parts and their weights might open his wallet, too.
While the fact the team did have a chance to catch the miscue off that manifest, this penalty seemed more in line with what the transgression warranted. The engine part did not enhance performance, did not influence the race outcome, and was obviously unintentional. In this case, justice has been served, and that is something we don’t often say when it comes to NASCAR.
With the return of those points, Kenseth is our biggest mover of the past week as he is now our fourth hottest driver, instead of 16th. Rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr, with ten points races to his credit, is up seven positions to 16th. Cooling down, both Ryan Newman and Kyle Busch drop four notches over the past week.
Saturday night marks the 110th Sprint Cup race held at Darlington, South Carolina since 1950. Of the drivers entered, nine have claimed a victory on the track too tough to tame. Jeff Gordon has seven, with his last coming in 2005. In an eight race run, from the fall of 1995 to the spring of 1999, Gordon won five with another trio of Top Fives.
The favorite? Maybe that would be one Jimmie Kenneth Johnson, the winner of three, including the event there one year ago. Among the other present Chase contenders, only Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle (with two) have won there. Mind you, after last week, maybe there might be yet another surprise in the offing.
|Dale Earnhardt, Jr.||324||3||4||0||3||6|
|Martin Truex, Jr.||269||13||14||0||2||4|
|Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.||256||16||23||0||0||0|