Watching NASCAR is very much akin to viewing a bunch of toddlers race each other. Little Johnny might take off early, get within a few feet of the finish line, then that damn butterfly takes all his attention and he swerves right and off the course. Saturday night in Texas was a lot like that.
If you tuned in early, you saw rain for two hours. Not the beginning they had hoped for, but for others the rain on their parade would come later. In the beginning, it was pole sitter Carl Edwards dueling Martin Truex Jr. for the lead. If it was not one, it was the other. That is how it went for 200 laps, then came the butterfly. Actually, then came a loose lug nut on the right front after a pit miscue, and Edwards went from leading 124 laps to fighting just to get close enough to finish seventh.
That left Truex. He led 141 laps. He was leading with just over 30 laps to go. Truex did not wander anywhere, but he should have. When most came to the pits for tires under caution, the team threw caution to the wind, and Truex under the bus. Sometimes Little Johnny needs to come in for a change, but the call from Cole Pearn to dive into the pits came too late for the driver to do so, and they were left with a soiled diaper.
Some wore their big boy pants, again. If you tuned in when things turned green, you would have thought Kyle Busch had one hell of a day. He immediately charged past Truex, who finished sixth, and that was it. Rowdy was literally off to the races to claim his second straight Cup victory, the 36th of his career. While Busch was near the front for the latter half of the event, Dale Earnhardt Jr. made a few cameos but only in the late stages did he emerge to claim the runner-up spot. Joey Logano, Jimmie Johnson and Chase Elliott rounded out the top five.
Matt Kenseth was a factor early, but you just knew something had to go wrong. It always does this season. Look, a butterfly. Eleventh proved to be a good result after a flying lug nut in the pits got caught behind a new tire and prevented the crew from tightening the replacement. Greg Biffle is having a sad season, and after hitting the wall he got even sadder. The Biff was boffed, to finish 39th, just one behind Clint Bowyer. Driving for Harry Scott this season as he awaits Tony Stewart’s retirement is not proving to be much fun.
In fact, you probably did not notice Bowyer much out on the playground, at least not until late. With 40 laps left, Austin Dillon tried to fit into a spot ahead of Johnson, but there was not enough room and soon enough not enough air on the rear spoiler. Dillon lost control, hit the wall, and came back across the track to clip the inside fence. Meanwhile, the checkers behind him became wreckers, with Bowyer and Brian Vickers ending their day as a host of other cars received a dent or five in the mishap. Hard to watch for butterflies when someone just kicked open a hornets nest.
The Danica Patrick Line was set this week at 21st in Texas, just ahead of Ty Dillon and one up on A.J. Allmendinger. The trio were all a lap off the pace and nowhere near the front the entire day. As much as I wish for her better things, this fourth season appears a be a lot like the previous three. Patrick sits, as per usual, 24th in the rankings. If we are asking too much of her, at what time should we?
Any butterflies at Bristol this Sunday probably will come in the form of a similar looking vehicle doing things to make a driver’s auto look less similar. Six drivers come in with at least a pair of victories there, but no one could use another more than four-time winner Matt Kenseth. He comes in as the Food City 500’s defending champion. Just as long as those Busch toddlers are not so spoiled as to add to the 10 they have already split between them.
I just do not think you can rely on their sharing natures at Bristol over the past five years to continue. The younger one has been exceptionally greedy as of late.