While Martin Truex, Jr is a threat to win at any track this year, he didn’t look like the most probable winner this weekend. Even though he started third, Kyle Busch looked like he was going to run away with the race in the early stages, but then contact between Busch and Brad Keselowski about halfway through sent them both spinning and opened the door for anyone else.
I know many race fans hate fuel mileage races and this turned out to be one of those. But that can often be the case with road courses and the staged racing really didn’t affect that much. Kyle Busch won the first stage and Daniel Suarez held off Truex to win his first stage of the season. Suarez held on to finish 3rd in a great race for the rookie. The race was pretty much green flag racing all day with only three cautions, including the two stage breaks. That meant instead of passing on pit road, a lot of passing had to be made on the restarts and during the race since there was only one other yellow flag.
The fuel strategy and the playoff picture meant no one was going to take any chances in this race to have a worse finish than if they had to try and stretch fuel and possibly run out of gas. Truex managed his race perfectly and let cars pass him while he ran his own race at the end. Inevitably, those drivers wound up pitting while Truex had not only enough to finish the race but do a sick burnout at the end.
This was not the way the 88 team wanted to go out. Once again, they struggled to find the right balance in the car and then a mechanical issue ended their day. An obviously frustrated Dale Earnhardt, Jr tried to put a positive spin on the day and his memories of the track, but so far his farewell season has given his team little to cheer about. Maybe Michigan will be the track to cure their ills.
As the playoff picture domes into focus over the final few races, drivers like Jamie McMurray have to kick themselves over a race that they were fast in. A terrible pit stop took them out of contention. At this point in the season, a win by any other driver is a bad day for them. You could look on the bright side and say at least it wasn’t one of the drivers they are chasing for one of the remaining playoff spots, but a loss is a loss.
Kenseth did himself a huge favor in points by finishing 2nd at the Glen, but he, Chase Elliott and Murray are the three winless bubble teams scrambling for points. Bowyer is right behind them and a slip by any of those three opens the door for him. Joey Logano is just about in win or go home mode right now due to his encumbered win. If Logano misses the playoffs this may prove to be the biggest penalty ever levied by NASCAR.
I think it is safe to say goodbye to AJ Allmendinger’s playoff hopes as well. This was his best shot at a win in the remaining races and while he had a good run, it wasn’t what the doctor ordered. The car was good, just not good enough to chase down the Toyota’s.
In perhaps the strangest news of the past week, SHR announced it won’t be picking up Kurt Busch’s option in 2018, meaning he may be moving on. While SHR said that he isn’t going anywhere, you have to wonder about that. More than any other sport, NASCAR is reliant upon sponsorship to survive and SHR is no different. Busch may be back at a reduced salary or he may look at another offer, although I am not sure what that might be unless another organization adds a team or he goes back a step. Furniture Row has proven to be a contending organization and Kurt did race there and Erik Jones is moving on, so…. that may be a possibility if Kurt and Truex mixed well together. On the other hand, Kurt and his bosses may kiss and make up especially if Monster stays with Kurt and not the organization.
And finally, a big bow of the head for Harry Scott passing away at the young age of 51. Our condolences to his family and friends..