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NASCAR Lowe's Sprint Cup postscript

NASCAR
Tuesday, October 20, 2009

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Jimmie Johnson celebrates
Rhonda McCole/AR1.com
Complete with television reporters wrapped up like Eskimos, Mother Nature was a major story line during the NASCAR weekend at the Lowes Motor Speedway. We also watched a high powered championship machine get max points again and we watched some Chase contenders receive some "Lowe" blows. With those thoughts in mind let's begin this week with:

THUMBS-UP for Jimmie Johnson for a very perfect performance at the Lowes Motor Speedway. The process began by Johnson topping the speed charts in both practice sessions, followed by setting the fast time in qualifying and then putting on another dominant race performance where he once again earned "max points after leading the most laps in the Banking 500." It was Johnson's 46th career win, his sixth win of the season and his sixth win at Lowes. He has now won three of the five completed Chase races and, in Chase history, the team has won 17 of 55. This is exactly what it takes to to win four consecutive championships.

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Mark Martin
Rhonda McCole/AR1.com
WHAT'S-UP with the "Lowe" blows suffered by some of Johnson's Chase contemporaries? First there was Mark Martin who struggled to a 17th place finish. Martin sustained a hole in the nose of his Chevrolet following contact with Juan Pablo Montoya in the course of a restart. With aerodynamics so important at this track, you have to wonder: why did the team wait as long as they did before they patched the hole? When they did address the issue, two pit stops later, the cold temperatures forced them to use a plumber's torch to make the Bear Bond patch stick. Martin still is in second in the Chase but now finds himself 90 points behind team mate Jimmie Johnson.

Meanwhile Montoya's car suffered damage to the right rear quarter panel and the hit in the car's aero abilities had him going backwards through the field. The team borrowed a new quarter panel from their back up car. That leads to a THUMBS-UP to that team member who caught a heavy duty drill in mid air with his left hand while holding the new quarter panel in place with his right hand.

But WHAT'S-UP with that quarter panel falling off in the middle of the race? The result was of course a caution flag for debris. That quarter panel lying on the track was so large even Kasey Kahne could see it. (Sorry about that: it's an old joke left over from California last week,)

WHAT'S-UP with Montoya blaming his altercation with Martin on race leader Jeff Gordon? It seems Montoya thought Gordon was intentionally stages slow double wide restarts so no competitor could get a run on him. "Every time the 24 leads the restart it's the same thing," Montoya said adding "we all accelerated and then they all checked up. Every time the 24 leads the restarts we all get packed up in the back." Montoya's long day resulted in a 35th place finish and a slide to sixth in the Chase standings.


WHAT'S-UP with Greg Biffle being sent sliding through the infield grass for the second race in a row? It's almost like he's suddenly in the landscaping business. This time it happened after David Stremme bounced off of the wall. Biffle got collected and went on the wild ride across the grass. A potentially good race became a 16th place finish.

WHAT'S-UP with Carl Edwards whose sour engine created a very long night in Charlotte as well as a disappointing 39th place finish? One of the live announcers on PRN, Performance Racing Network, actually said "the AFLAC Ford is riding around like a wounded duck."

WHAT'S-UP with Denny Hamlin's engine? A seemingly strong performance that lasted 190 laps plus ended with Hamlin driving his car behind the wall. It now appears that the lone hope of Joe Gibbs Racing's Chase effort may now be hopeless.

When Hamlin's car was strong early in the race his Toyota was hugging the bottom of the turns like it was riding on rails. That prompted ESPN Television's Rusty Wallace to call the car a "bottom feeder."

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There were some bright moments in the finish order of the Banking 500. A THUMBS-UP goes out to Kasey Kahne for his third place finish and a strong presence in this race. Kahne has been dealing with up and down team consistency and the distraction of his employer merging with another company in the near future. This team needed a run like this.

THUMBS-UP to Matt Kenseth for bringing his Roush Fenway Racing Ford home to a second place finish. Kenseth led the race on three different occasions and it was good to see that team competitive again.

WHAT'S-UP with Dale Earnhardt Jr and his Hendrick Motorsports team getting snake bit again. This time is was a faulty transmission that led to a 38th place finish. The best finish this team has had within the last seven events is a 17th. Earnhardt is at the height of frustration and was quoted saying "I don't what to do anymore, I'm at the end of my rope and I've had enough."

WHAT'S-UP with Penske Racing driver Sam Hornish causing two caution flags via single car spins so early in the race? Both incidents came within the first ten laps. Do you suppose he's thinking that the Indy Racing League is starting to look good again?

THUMBS-UP to Kyle Busch for his return to victory lane after winning Friday night's Nationwide Series race. Busch led 137 of 200 laps in the Dollar General 300. It marked his seventh win of the season and his 58th career win which now places him fourth on the all time series win list. Busch now has a lead of 195 points over Carl Edwards with only four races left in the season. I think it's okay to start engraving his name on the trophy now.

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A giant double THUMBS-UP goes to Carl and Kate Edwards who last weekend officially announced that their expecting their first child, a girl, in mid February. The same best wishes also goes to Amanda and Elliot Sadler who will be welcoming their first child in March.

The final THUMBS-UP of the week goes to the North Carolina A&T marching band for their magnificent rendition of "The National Anthem." It was a breath of fresh air compared to pop singer Jesse McCartney who, last weekend at the Auto Club Speedway, made a giant mess while performing the song to the point of leaving out some of the lyrics.

The final WHAT'S-UP of the week goes to Mother Nature who personally delivered a cold front to Charlotte-North Carolina. However it seems that the frequently seen use of mittens was a source of relief for public relations reps from Joe Gibbs Racing. As long as Tom Logano had his mittens on then no one going to see Joey's Dad flash his middle fingers at someone.

(Again, sorry about that. It's yet another left over joke from California from last week.)

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