Kentucky. The land of Daniel Boone. Horses. Bluegrass (be it those you can grow, pick, or sing along to). Bourbon. Maybe they should consider marketing something called Dr. Truex’s Tonic and Magical Elixir. I mean, whatever he is drinking delivers some pretty positive results.
Martin Truex Jr. won both stages and won at Kentucky. Both last Saturday night and the year before. Sure, there were some who were up to the challenge of at least dueling the pole sitter from time to time. For a while, Kurt Busch used a two-tire strategy and it worked for a short time. Brad Keselowski tried the same later, with the same results. In the final portion of the event, the elder Busch did it again. I mean, he had to try and it got him noticed, but he still finished sixth. Keselowski was third. Truex won his fourth of the season, the 19th of his career.
The Big Three were again dominant. Often, they were the leading three. Five-time season winners Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick finished fourth and fifth, while Ryan Blaney was again strong in a runner-up result. No change among the Chasers, though things have tightened up regarding that final playoff spot. Alex Bowman had a horrid day, and is now just nine points ahead of Ricky Stenhouse Jr., while Paul Menard finished 11th to move to within 23 points.
Another thing we discovered is that wins are not everything. The Big Three have claimed 14 races, Clint Bowyer has a couple, and Austin Dillon, Erik Jones, and Joey Logano all have wins in the bank. That means only seven drivers have won and with only seven races to go, at least two drivers will advance to the Chase based solely on points.
Stewart-Haas has great equipment, great divers in Harvick, Bowyer, and Chase contenders Kurt Busch and Aric Almirola, who put in another Top Ten effort. What they also have are pit crews that cost them. Harvick and Bowyer got bit again by friendly fire when the money stop leaked change all over the place.
A perfect day for Truex, very good days recorded by Kyle Busch, Harvick, and Blaney. Bowman had the worse luck among those who expect better when a right front let go and he pasted the fence to end the day dead last in 39th.
Kyle Larson had an adventurous evening. Too much time with some friends left not enough time to show up for driver introductions, and that got him sent back in the pack to start. He worked his way forward, only to discover a track bar automatically heading down in the late going. That was not the plan. Three inches is a big drop, so five made the car damn hard to handle. 14 rounds of wedge later, and it drove good enough to finish ninth.
I recorded the race and went out for the evening. Kentucky usually means me and the fast-forward button get real chummy. I mean, there is not much to see but round and round and broadcasters telling me what I already can see right before my eyes. Not this time. I had to stay up late. After years of complaining about how awful the broadcasts have been, I finally got what I have been asking for. It was a late night thanks to NBC. If fans discover that they do not want to miss a single word you say, you are doing it right.
From the land of Daniel Boone, bluegrass, and bourbon, we return to Sunday afternoon and the race in Loudon, New Hampshire. You have to love a place with no state income tax. If you love winds up to 230 mph and temperatures as low as -50, you will love Mount Washington. The state was also the home of the moon’s first golfer in Alan Shepard.
Loudon is a place where Truex has never won. Both Busch boys, Jimmie Johnson, and Denny Hamlin have, three times each. So has Ryan Newman. The last came in 2011. He sure could use another one this weekend.