Jimmie Johnson who?
Remember the good old days when the Chase was stacked with mile-and-a-half tracks that seemed to suit Jimmie Jonson? He rode that Chase format and those tracks to seven Cup titles.
We may have had a preview of the 2017 playoffs formerly called the Chase at Chicago where Martin Truex, Jr spanked the field for his first playoff win. Truex and Kyle Busch started on the front row and Busch held the lead for most of the first stage, which he won.
But then things took a different twist.
Once again, Martin Truex, Jr lost the race in the closing laps. He dominated the second half of the race but lost the lead on a late over time restart to Kyle Larson. The restart should not even have been necessary after Derrike Cope, yes he is still racing, smacked the wall. Cope was able to continue and considering how late in the race it was, it certainly did not warrant a caution. But someone in the NASCAR booth had an itchy caution finger all night. More on that later.
Denny Hamlin swept the weekend races at Darlington, coming from behind in both cases. In the Cup race, he had a strong car but Martin Truex, Jr once again looked like the class of the field after starting on the front row and winning both stages. And if you add to that the fact that Hamlin missed the entrance to pit road late in the race, well, you pretty much thought the race for him was over. But that’s where you’d be wrong.
The Bristol night race certainly looked better than it has lately. There was a lot of passing and for the second time in his career, Kyle Busch completed the sweep, winning all three Bristol races on the weekend. Love him or hate him, it is an incredible accomplishment and proves that Kyle Busch can really wheel a car. And it’s not like the pole was handed to him. Busch started 18th so he had to pass a few cars to not only get to the front but pass the leader and stay there. And who was that leader? None other than fellow Toyota driver and future teammate Erik Jones. A week after it looked like a Furniture Row 1-2 at Michigan only to lose to the other Kyle (Larson) Erik Jones lost his lead as the track conditions changed late in the race.
Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series
Next Race: Bass Pro Shops NRA Night Race
The Place: Bristol Motor Speedway
The Date: Saturday August 19
The Time: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: NBC, 7 p.m. ET
Radio: PRN, SiriusXM NASCAR Radio
Distance: 266.5 miles (500 laps); Stage 1 (Ends on lap 125),
Stage 2 (Ends on lap 250), Final Stage (Ends on lap 500)
Yes, there was a race this weekend that had a most surprising finish but I will get to that in a little bit.
Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. have had a little back and forth this week, although not really talking to each other, more at each other. It all started with Earnhardt making some comments about the business side of NASCAR. Earnhardt thinks that the latest spate of driver changes is being at least partially fueled by economics. When you don’t have sponsors paying $20-30 million any more, you can’t pay your drivers as much any more and the younger drivers will take a lot less than a veteran to drive that car.