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NASCAR Texas Postscript

by Dave Grayson
Monday, November 09, 2009

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Kurt Busch leads Kyle Busch on Sunday
Getty Images for NASCAR
NASCAR's Texas weekend was a little tough on potential historic racing moments. Jimmie Johnson's campaign for a history making fourth consecutive NASCAR Sprint Cup title took a surprise hit. We also found out that he's actually not Superman.

Kyle Busch was also trying to create some NASCAR history by winning three different races at the same track on the same weekend. That effort also took a hit due to a lack of "motion lotion". That would be Sunoco racing fuel

But the other Busch brother closed the deal with some good driving and a good job by a crew chief that will soon be leaving the team.

With that in mind let's begin this week with:

WHAT'S-UP with drivers David Reutimann and Sam Hornish Jr racing that hard so early in the race and creating an incident that took out points leader Jimmie Johnson on the third lap?

That leads to the first THUMBS-UP of the week which goes to the Chad Knaus led #48 Lowes team who repaired the massive damage to Johnson's car in one hour and eight minutes and got their driver back on the track. Oh, pardon me, these guys didn't repair damage they practically rebuilt the entire car. Johnson took that car to a 38th place finish a move that softened the blow to his points lead. This is the type of organization and calm demeanor that creates championships and likely still will again for the fourth consecutive time.

The team also lived up to their primary sponsor's advertising logo: "Lowes, let's build something together."

But you can't help but wonder what the reaction was among NASCAR officials watching this scene from their command post high above the Texas Motor Speedway. It's guaranteed that they were naturally concerned about the health and safety of a driver who took such a hard hit into the wall.

But how funny would it be if, strictly hypothetically, NASCAR President Mike Helton locked himself in the executive wash room while singing the following little song:

"Ding dong the Chase is back, the Chase is back, the Chase is back

Ding dong the Sprint Cup Chase is b-a-c-k"

It's been speculated over the years that many executives often observe unusual behavior while behind the private doors of a luxury washroom. I, of course, wouldn't know anything about that.

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THUMBS-UP for Mark Martin and crew chief Alan Gustaffason for taking advantage of the Johnson situation with a strong fourth place finish. A deficit that began at 184 at the beginning of the race was whittled down to 78 points by the time the race was over. Martin's car wasn't exactly a strong presence in this race but it did have enough fuel to make it to the finish which is more than can be said for many of the other teams.

WHAT'S-UP with Juan Pablo Montoya failing to take the opportunity to cash in and gain some points on Johnson. Instead JPM triggered an accident that saw him hit the wall. That incident also sent fellow Chase contender Carl Edwards into the wall and sent yet another Chase contender, Jeff Gordon, into a wild spin on the back stretch.

WHAT'S-UP with Gordon and the DuPont team for not being able to get a handle on the performance of their car? The #24 often displayed the handling nature of a dump truck and came perilously close to going a lap down to the leader. Then, with ten laps to go, there was a fuel issue that sent him down pit road. He's still third in the points but is 112 points back and that's a missed opportunity.

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WHAT'S-UP with that bad luck funky monkey that is still standing on Dale Earnhardt Jr's back? The #88 team was well on their way to a badly needed strong finish only to, once again, watch it evaporate with the unexpected. After getting service during his final pit stop, Earnhardt made his way down pit road only to have the car stall. It took what seemed like an eternity to get it refired. The results was a disappointing 25th place finish and more tears for the Junior Nation.

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Oh yeah, during all of the Chase drama, there was a winner of the Dickies 500. THUMBS-UP to Kurt Busch who scored his second win of the season and 20th career win. After the race Busch did his now patented backwards victory lap and then ran out of gas. The crew had to push the car to victory. A crew member was manning the steering wheel while Busch was standing on the window ledge of the car waving the checkered flag.

A THUMBS-UP also goes to Busch's crew chief, Pat Tryson, who made a very good call that put his Miller Lite Dodge team in the winner's circle. Tryson kept his driver on the track two laps longer than their competitors and then packed the car so full of fuel it's a wonder that the rubber bladder on the fuel cell didn't burst.

Tryson, as we all know, will be leaving this team at the end of the season. He has led this team to two wins and a berth in the Chase. It raises the question: does team owner Roger Penske really need this man walking out the shop door for good in a few weeks?

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WHAT'S-UP with Kyle Busch coming up two laps short on fuel which robbed him of a shot at NASCAR history? Busch was in position to become the first driver to win all three NASCAR events at the same track on the same weekend.

But he does deserve a THUMBS-UP for an outstanding job which led to winning Friday's Camping World Truck Series race as well as Saturday's Nationwide series event. Hey, if you're going to give away a Sprint Cup win then at least you can pass it on to your older brother. I'm sure that will make the younger Busch feel much better.

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Finally this week let's send a THUMBS-UP to that wonderful set up stunt that sent the message that says "it ain't over until the fat lady sings." There was a plus size lady, dressed in a viking outfit similar to a scene from an opera, who was singing her heart out. It was very funny and it turned out to be very true.

A THUMBS-UP goes out to Texas Motor Speedway President Eddie Gossage who made it a special point to honor the shooting victims from nearby Fort Hood. That shocking tragedy left 13 dead and 31 injured. Gossage had a huge U.S. Army logo painted on the front infield grass with the logo "God bless our Fort Hood troops." It was a very classy thing to do.

The final WHAT'S-UP of the week goes to driver Kevin Harvick who literally "freaked" out on his in car radio during Saturday's Nationwide Series race. After a strong run all afternoon long, the team's final pit stop of the race was less than perfect and it cost them valuable track position and a shot at the win. There was no question how angry Harvick was on the radio. But you have to give him credit for having the presence of mind to replace the four letter word known as the "F bomb" with the word "freakin'" It was a good thing because, during that radio transmission, every sixth word was "freakin'".

The final THUMBS-UP of the week goes to "Herman The German" also known as the always wonderful Kenny Wallace. During a radio interview with Sirius Satellite Radio host Dave Moody Wallace was asked about the prospect of Danica Patrick coming to NASCAR next year. Without missing a beat Wallace raised the question: "if Danica comes to NASCAR does that mean that Kasey Kahne will no longer be the prettiest person in the garage area?" This is why everyone loves "Herman The German."

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