Perspective. It means everything.
Take Trevor Bayne, for instance. Last Sunday at Dover, he picked up a speeding penalty while on pit road during an early caution. No big deal. Sure, he finished 20th on the day, but with not a single Roush driver making the Chase, expectations were not exactly soaring.
Then there was Kevin Harvick. It was he who blew a tire and brought out the caution in the first place. He had to head to the garage for repairs. Did it ruin his day? Forty laps down in 37th does not cause much celebration, but nobody’s dog was going to be in danger of being booted by a disgruntled driver. That win in New Hampshire had given Harvick a new perspective, and a pass into the Round of Twelve in the Chase.
That brings us to Kyle Larson. He needed to make up five positions to continue the hunt. On the Harvick-manufactured yellow, he came to the pits complaining of a lack of power. During the diagnosis, an extra man went over the wall and that got Larson slapped with a penalty. No problem, you can get a lap back. Maybe. Not if you lose your right front and slap the wall to go six laps down. In the loaf of life, that turns your hopes into toast.
Still, there was yet another Chip Ganassi auto still in the hunt. Jamie McMurray had eight cylinders to power him there. Make that seven cylinders. How about six? We had not even made the half-way point in the race when the gerbil finally died and McMurray’s engine up and died with it.
That left only Tony Stewart to challenge Austin Dillon for the final transfer spot. Only Tony remained to offer up some drama, but he had a hill to climb and a car more adept at running in the valley. Stewart, with a Top Fifteen car that needed to win, finished 13th and out of the running.
Martin Truex Jr., on the other hand, continues to prove that Furniture Row can no longer be considered anyone’s weak sister. Winning three of the past five, and his fourth of the campaign, the single car outfit from Colorado is making one heck of an argument that just maybe they might be considered a favorite to win it all.
Six was all that finished on the lead lap in this one. Joining Truex were Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Brad Keselowski, Matt Kenseth, and Joey Logano. Chasers one and all. Jimmie Johnson would have, but a man over the wall way too early dropped him from first to 16th, and down a lap he never would get back.
Those seven drivers are now deadlocked in points as the next round of the Chase begins. Along with Harvick, Dillon, Kurt Busch, Denny Hamlin, and Carl Edwards, the dozen contenders all head to Charlotte with 3000 points in the bank, with no advantage held by anybody. Maybe Johnson had an edge, with seven career wins at everybody’s local track. Okay, local for everyone but Truex. Truex only has one there. The way he is running, nobody is betting against him making it two this Saturday night.