NASCAR Talladega postscript
THUMBS-UP to Clint Bowyer for a stunning final lap move that allowed him to win the Good Sam Club 500 for Richard Childress Racing, a team that he will be leaving at the end of this season.
THUMBS-UP to RCR driver Jeff Burton for his tandem racing with team mate Bowyer that was the other half of the final lap drama. This team has been snake bit by horrible racing luck for way too long. The strong run at Talladega had to be a breath of fresh air for them. It was their first top five finish of the season and the first top five since the fall of last year.
THUMBS-UP for the number 100 playing such a big role in the finish of this race. It was Chevrolet's 100th anniversary which was emblazoned across the hood of Bowyer's winning car. It was also team owner Richard Childress' 100th Sprint Cup win.
THUMBS-UP to driver Dave Blaney, and Tommy Baldwin Racing, for their third place finish. It really wasn't that long ago when they had to run some start and park races due to team finances.
THUMBS-UP to Brad Keselowski's fourth place finish, after tandem racing with Blaney. This amazing team wasn't supposed to make the Chase line up. Now their third in the standings only 18 points from the top.
THUMBS-UP to Red Bull Racing drivers Brian Vickers and Kasey Kahne for their fifth and sixth place finishes. The future of this team is still very murky right now. This strong showing could help towards the efforts to secure investors for the team.
THUMBS-UP to Carl Edwards for his 11th place finish. Never really much of a factor in this race, Edwards chose a conservative, big picture, approach to the Talladega race and wound up padding his lead in the Chase standings to 14 points.
WHAT'S-UP with Kevin Harvick's disappointing Talladega weekend? On lap 104 Harvick was caught up in a, nowhere to go, multi car accident that required lengthy repairs. The result was a 32nd place finish and a drop of three positions, to fifth, in the Chase standings. He dropped from minus five to minus 26 in the points. That's going to be tough to make up with only four races left in the Chase schedule.
WHAT'S-UP with Kyle Busch's terrible Talladega weekend? It started with a practice crash that required the use of a backup car. Then Busch found himself caught up in the same crash that sidelined Harvick. The harsh result was a 33d place finish and a drop of two positions in the Chase standings. He's now sixth and 40 points out in a Chase campaign that's beginning to tread water.
WHAT'S-UP with the strategy of the racing tandem of Hendrick Motorsports team mates Dale Earnhardt Jr and Jimmie Johnson? They chose to ride around the back of the field most of the race in an effort to avoid trouble. The plan was to have the tandem charge to the front in the late stages of the race. But why did they wait so long to make their move? Three caution flags, within the final 30 laps of the race, hampered their forward progress. The result was finishes of 25th and 26th. Johnson is now seventh, at minus 50 points, in the standings. His campaign for a sixth consecutive championship appears to be in trouble.
WHAT'S-UP with Kurt Busch's terrible Talladega weekend? On lap 175 Bobby Labonte hit the wall hard and crossed in front of Busch who had absolutely no place to go to avoid the hit. The result was a 36th place finish. Busch has now slipped to eighth in the Chase standing at minus 52. He's yet another victim of Talladega who is watching his status as a Chase contender slip away.
WHAT'S-UP with Jeff Gordon coming up on the short end of what he believed was a solid deal. The final caution of the race led to a two lap final shootout. Prior to that restart Gordon contacted Trevor Bayne and struck a bargain for the two of them to form a tandem and make a run to the front. Bayne agreed to push Gordon's car. But, under the green flag, Bayne suddenly abandoned Gordon and switched lanes to push fellow Ford driver Matt Kenseth. Gordon quickly went backwards through the field and a badly needed good finish turned into 27th place. After the race, a visibly upset Gordon blamed the situation on "team orders." He's now a dismal tenth in the Chase standings at minus 82 points.
WHAT'S-UP with those reports of team orders among the Ford teams? Allegedly Jack Roush, of Roush Fenway Racing, made it clear that Ford drivers were expected to be loyal to the manufacturer. The question has been raised: is there a place in NASCAR Sprint Cup racing for so called team orders? A lot of the sport's observers are already saying no.
WHAT'S-UP with that savage wreck suffered by Regan Smith? The lap 181 wreck was head on straight into the wall. THUMBS-UP for the NASCAR mandated safety equipment inside of the cars as well as the SAFER barriers placed around the track. Without that equipment this would have been a very serious accident.
WHAT'S-UP with Smith's weekend getting even worse when he learned that the tractor, that pulls the team’s car hauler, had caught fire after the race? Crew members were dumping the contents of their fuel cans into a storage can near the front of the car hauler when a spark reportedly ignited the fuel in one of the cans. THUMBS-UP to the crew members for quickly grabbing fire extinguishers to battle the flames. WHAT'S-UP with the "looky Lous", reported to hundreds of other team members, media and fans, that made it very difficult for the speedway's fire trucks to get to the scene? THUMBS-UP to Penske Racing who offered to loan the team a tractor so they could transport their equipment to their Denver located shop.
THUMBS-UP to Mike Wallace for winning the Coca Cola 250, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race, at Talladega. Wallace was driving the #33 Chevrolet for Kevin Harvick Inc. THUMBS-UP to Ron Hornaday Jr, in the KHI #2 Chevrolet, who pushed his team mate under the checkers. In his last three starts, Hornaday has two wins and a second. It wasn't that long ago when Hornaday was 35 points out of first and his drive for a fifth series championship was beginning to dim. He's now fourth in the standings, at minus 16 points, and once again he's looking like a champion.
Both of these drivers, who dominated this event, are in their 50's. THUMBS-UP to them for reminding us that sometimes old guys still rule.
A God Bless goes to KHI driver Elliott Sadler and his wife Amanda who are waiting on the arrival of their second child. Sadler was scheduled to drive KHI's #33 truck and it was the stork visit that placed Wallace in the ride.
A God Bless also goes out to Wallace and his wife Carla who celebrated their wedding anniversary in the Talladega victory lane. During that celebration Wallace told his wife "this is your exotic weekend honey."
WHAT'S-UP with fuel conservation costing Austin Dillon a win and the near loss of the series' points lead? During the final caution flag, Dillon began turning his engine off and on in order to save enough fuel for what was going to be a two lap shootout. Unfortunately NASCAR informed the team that they had failed to maintain the minimum yellow flag speed. A livid Dillon found himself going to the end of the lead lap line, for an 18th place restart, with only two laps left in the race.
Dillon deserves the THUMBS-UP for making chicken salad out of chicken do do. When the race restarted Dillon nailed the throttle and raced hard to a seventh place finish. It was enough for him to retain the series' points lead, by a three point margin, over James Buescher who finished third in the race.
THUMBS-UP to NASCAR, its race teams and ESPN for making a special effort to honor the memory of Indy Racing League champion Dan Wheldon. It's certain that this highly charged emotional effort meant a lot to the fallen driver's family.
THUMBS-UP to Staff Sergeant Jerome Coleman for his outstanding performance of "The Star Spangled Banner" prior to the start of the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race. The fact that he was wearing the uniform of the United States Army made the performance even more special.
WHAT'S-UP with NASCAR confiscating the windshields of three Toyotas during a tech inspection? The windshields were taken from Michael Waltrip Racing's #00 and #56 teams driven by David Reutimann and Martin Truex Jr. Also confiscated was the windshield of the JTG Daugherty Racing #47 Toyota, driven by Bobby Labonte, which was built and maintained at the Waltrip shops. Technical inspectors determined that the windows had unapproved modifications which could have created an aerodynamics advantage. This is probably going to cost MWR a few bucks.
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