for your iPhone
for your iPad
NASCAR

NASCAR Links

Scanner Frequencies

Meet the Staff

2014 Schedule

NASCAR Homestead-Miami postscript

by Dave Grayson
Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Advertisement

Five straight titles for Johnson
There was no question that the NASCAR Sprint Cup championship weekend was going to be loaded with story lines before and after Sunday's running of the Ford 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Fortunately for race fans the level of entertainment exceeded any and all anticipations. By the time the weekend was over we witnessed the saga of "Jimmie five time," "Carl two time" and we learned the true meaning of an old racing term that says "to win a championship you must first lose one." With those thoughts in mind let's begin with:

THUMBS-UP to Jimmie "Five Time" Johnson, and the entire #48 Hendrick Motorsports team. Winning just one NASCAR Sprint Cup championship is difficult. To win five consecutive titles is just simply amazing. There are already comparisons of this team to other major league sports dynasties such as Major League Baseball's New York Yankees and the National Basketball Association's Boston Celtics. There's already talk about Johnson and company making quick work of topping the nearly impossible seven NASCAR championships held by Richard Petty and Dale Earnhardt.

There's also grumbling among NASCAR fans regarding the same driver and team winning the Chase five years in a row. But the fact of the matter is: when the green fell on the final acclaim of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup season the best driver, team and race car, among the final three Chase contenders, rose to the occasion.

THUMBS-UP to team owner Rick Hendrick for winning his tenth championship which now puts him ahead of Petty Enterprises making him tops in the category. THUMBS-UP to Chevrolet, the bow tie brigade won their 34th team championship last Sunday.

However WHAT's-UP with some of the pit stops Johnson received from Jeff Gordon's crew? At least two of those stops were close to 16 seconds and cost the driver valuable track position. This is the same crew, on loan to Johnson for the final races of the Chase, who performed flawlessly at Texas and Phoenix.

************

A combo WHAT's-UP-THUMBS-UP goes out to Denny Hamlin. The WHAT's-UP portion is for the frustration Hamlin and company went through last Sunday while trying to win their first championship. The process started on qualifying day when the best Hamlin could do was a 37th place start for the race. The next major setback came on lap 24 of the race when Hamlin, following contact with Greg Biffle, found himself spinning wildly across the infield grass. There was damage to the right front splitter that resulted in some lengthy pit stops for repairs. That included trying to get the handling right on their Toyota again. Hamlin later explained that the toe out was impacted by the spin and the car was a handful to drive all day long.

The THUMBS-UP for Hamlin is for the wonderful season, and the impressive effort it took to create it, this Joe Gibbs Racing team had. It's been often said in racing that to win a championship you must first lose one. The final results of the Chase may have been a bitter disappointment for Hamlin but, looking on the bright side, this team won a series high eight races and that's a sign of strength that will make them championship contenders next year.

************

Another WHAT's-UP-THUMBS-UP combo also goes out to Kevin Harvick. Starting the race third in the Chase standings, Harvick had nothing to lose and everything to gain. He raced with the heart of a champion and he deserves a THUMBS-UP for that. So does his pit crew who were actually on loan from team mate Clint Bowyer. These guys put on a stellar performance and more than earned their THUMBS-UP.

The Harvick WHAT's-UP elements centers around a trio of bizarre incidents during the course of Sunday's race. With 81 laps left in the race, a yellow flag came out for debris and Harvick joined a procession down pit road for fuel and tires. His crew pulled another stellar pit stop and got him back on the track in the lead. Unfortunately the effort unraveled when NASCAR officials determined that he was speeding during the entry to pit road.


Harvick was livid over the penalty but presented an interesting point after the race. He wondered how he could be speeding when he was literally glued to the bumper of Martin Truex Jr's car yet Truex was not judged to be speeding. "I don't think that penalty will ever settle in my stomach," he said adding "only a handful of people get to see the pit road speeds. I won't ever settle for that."

Making the situation worse was the fact that Harvick, exiting his pit stall, accidentally hit the right rear tire changer from Kasey Kahne's crew. The Red Bull Racing crew member was transported to an area hospital for treatment for an injury to his lower right leg and ankle area.

The other Harvick related highlight involved contact with Kyle Busch with 25 laps remaining in the race. Busch went spinning nose first into the wall. In an effort to drive his wrecked Toyota to pit road, the rear of the car burst into flames. The driver escaped quickly but clearly was upset over the incident. He later said that Harvick "didn't have his head on straight."

Afterwards there was a post Chase press conference and it was inevitable that Harvick would receive questions regarding the Busch incident. It spurred a lively exchange between Harvick and Denny Hamlin, Busch's team mate: (Harvick), "he raced me like a clown all day, three wide, on the back bumper, running into me and I just had enough." (Hamlin), Sounds like the way your team mates raced me all day." (Harvick) "I just parked yours." (Hamlin), "God it's never ending."

************

While the Chase was the focal point last Sunday, we cannot overlook the THUMBS-UP to Carl Edwards for winning the Ford 400 in a Ford Fusion. Edwards won his second, consecutive, Sprint Cup race as well as his 18th career win. He also served notice that the #99 Roush Fenway Racing team is back on track and will be a force to be reckoned with next year.

************

WHAT's-UP with the harsh, not to mention expensive, racing luck that plagued Joe Gibbs Racing last Sunday? It's bad enough that unexpected circumstances cost Hamlin a $5 million plus championship not to mention that Busch's Toyota sustained extreme fire damage. But the bad luck continued with the team's third car: Joey Logano's #20 Toyota.

On lap 140 Logano received some contact from the Chevrolet of Juan Pablo Montoya and went spinning into the wall. While driving his badly damaged car to the garage area, Logano came over his radio and said "that's twice with him, (Montoya), and I'm sick of that." Logano spent the next 40 laps of the race watching the repairs being made. He returned to the track apparently with one thought in mind: revenge. With 64 laps remaining, and the race under the yellow caution flag, Logano found Montoya and crashed him. A lot of observers have been saying it's past time for this driver to stand up for himself. Apparently he's learned how to accomplish that.

************

Finally this week we have a GOD BLESS that goes out to Mr. and Mrs. Ryan Newman. Krissie Newman delivered a beautiful baby girl, the couple's first child, November 18th. The newest member of the NASCAR nation was named Brooklyn Paige Newman. The proud papa sent a "Twitter" message reporting that "mom and the baby are doing terrific."

Feedback can be sent to feedback@autoracing1.com

Go to our forums to discuss this article