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NASCAR Charlotte postscript

by Dave Grayson
Monday, October 18, 2010

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Over the previous weekend we watched another exciting episode of the comeback of the year. We saw another example of why a championship team may actually have a golden horseshoe inside of their anatomy. We also learned how to adjust a tachometer while driving a race car at a high rate of speed. With those thoughts in mind let's begin with:

Jamie McMurray leads Jimmie Johnson
Getty Images for NASCAR
THUMBS-UP to Jamie McMurray for winning Saturday night's Bank Of America 500 at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. The effort marked the popular driver's third win of the season and his sixth career Sprint Cup win. McMurray also became the first non Chase driver to win a Cup race since the championship series began.

When you consider the state of McMurray's career this time one year ago his racing career is absolutely the big comeback story of the year. Last year the driver was not sure what direction his Sprint Cup career would take. He was the odd man out at Roush Fenway Racing when NASCAR's team ownership cap, limiting owners to four teams, became effective this year. He was signed by former owner Chip Ganassi to drive the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing Chevrolet for one year. There were reports that the team's sponsor, Bass Pro Shops, were a little dubious about the arrangement.

We all know what happened next. McMurray won the Daytona 500 and the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis two of the most prestigious events on the Sprint Cup schedule. Needless to say his team owners are very busy preparing a contract extension and the sponsors are reported to be very happy.

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This week's making chicken salad out of chicken do do THUMBS-UP goes to Jimmie Johnson and his #48 Lowes team. Johnson found himself involved in a solo car spin during the early laps of the Bank Of America 500. Amazingly, good luck followed the spin out. Despite the presence of on coming race traffic, no one hit the Johnson Chevrolet.

The always stoic Chad Knaus led #48 team remained calm and used pit road to massage their car's handling and help their driver charge through the field. Johnson wound up with a third place finish and even managed to add some padding to his Chase points lead over championship rivals Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick.

Several months ago Harvick made a wry observation about this team's good luck and speculated that they may have golden horseshoes up their backsides. It's becoming more and more apparent that Harvick may be right.

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Speaking of Jimmie Johnson, and we will be doing that a lot during the weeks to come, we have three THUMBS-UPS for this week's NASCAR notable quote-ables.

The first one goes to SPEED Channel's Jimmy Spencer who said "if the #48 teams wins a fifth consecutive championship I'm going to need therapy or least a few cases of beer. Maybe Kurt Busch. (driver of the Miller Lite Dodge), can help me out with that."

Another THUMBS-UP goes out to Dave Despain, the host of the SPEED Channel's "Wind Tunnel" who recently invited his viewers to come up with a suitable nickname for Jimmie Johnson. So far my favorite is "J-LOWE" although Jennifer Lopez might have an objection to that.

Then there's the matter of the girl friend. Upon learning that Jimmie Johnson padded his points lead following the Charlotte race, "Sweetie" growled "why don't they just install him in the damn Hall Of Fame right now and be done with it?"

It's not that the girl friend is anti Jimmie Johnson. The remark was made out of sheer frustration. "Sweetie" is a card carrying, T shirt wearing, member of the Junior Nation and she was frustrated with spending the better part of three hours watching Dale Earnhardt Junior's latest mediocre finish.

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WHAT'S-UP with Johnson's team mate, Jeff Gordon, who could have used some of that golden horseshoe luck during the Charlotte race? Gordon's Chevrolet suffered a mysterious loss of power that was later attributed to the voltage regulator not charging the car's battery system. That resulted in a lengthy pit stop for a battery change. Adding insult to injury was a second pit road situation involving a speeding penalty. The result was an unfortunate 23d place finish.

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THUMBS-UP to Brad Keselowski for winning Friday night's Dollar General 300 NASCAR Nationwide Series race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway. It marked his fifth win of 2010, 11th win in 135 series starts and his second win in the Nationwide Series Car Of Tomorrow. More importantly, Keselowski increased his points lead to a whopping 450 points over second place Carl Edwards. It's absolutely guaranteed that he will be presenting team owner Roger Penske his first ever national NASCAR title.

THUMBS-UP to the fourth, and final appearance, of the Nationwide Series' Car Of Tomorrow of 2010. Once again these racy new cars turned up another highly competitive performance during the Charlotte race while increasing the element of driver safety. This exciting new car will be on the track full time next season.

WHAT'S-UP with Carl Edwards having to make in car adjustments the old school way? During the Charlotte Nationwide Series event some paper debris lodged itself on the grill of Edwards' Ford. This in turn created a rise in the engine's water temperature. But Edwards had a problem reporting the water temperature to his crew chief. That was because the tachometer, attached to the steering column, was blocking the view of the water temperature gauge. While piloting his Ford at speeds of 190 MPH plus, Edwards used his left hand to loosen the tach and then hit it several times until the gauge was moved over to the right. It's good to know that old school methods still work.

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Finally this week we have two GOD BLESS items. The first notes the sad passing of Jeff Byrd who succumbed to a lengthy illness last Sunday at the age of 60. Byrd took over the reigns as President and General Manager of the Bristol Motor Speedway and Dragway in 1996. His vision and dedicated hard work was the catalyst that led to Bristol becoming one of the premiere racing facilities in the country. Our condolences goes out to Mr. Byrd's family, friends and fans.

The second GOD BLESS goes to Chris Economacki, the founder of the famed "National Speed Sport News" who recently celebrated his 90th birthday. Economacki is a true NASCAR icon who played a major role in ushering the sport into its television age.

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