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Sunday, July 13, 2008

Championship-caliber move gives Busch win No. 7

I can only imagine how happy Jimmie Johnson must have been as he passed Kyle Busch late in the race at Chicagoland, thinking someone had finally tamed the beast that Kyle Busch is this year. The two-time defending Cup champion probably could feel the checkered flag in his hand as he did something so few have done this season … passed the seemingly unstoppable Busch so late in a race.

And then, the caution came, giving Busch one more chance to get the win. He had to begin his pass as soon as the green dropped to have a realistic shot at getting back by Johnson. When Johnson tried to get a slower start going, Busch wasn’t having that and basically pushed Johnson so he had to go faster. Then, in a championship-caliber move, Kyle Busch went to the outside and took back the win.

While in many past weeks, it could be argued that Busch simply had the best car, there was no doubt at Chicago that his win was due to the guy behind the steering wheel.

After sweeping the weekend at Joliet, Busch has 7 Cup wins, 5 Nationwide wins and 2 Truck series wins ... and it's only mid-July. Unless the other teams can come up with some major improvement to their cars in the upcoming week off, look for Busch to continue his dominance of the series when they get back on track. At this pace, 14 or more wins is not out of the question. The Chase, and the bunching up of points that it brings, is the only reason any of the other drivers even have a chance at winning the title.

As far as the race overall, I was somewhat unimpressed. There were some exciting moments and a decent amount of competition/passing, but the cookie-cutters don’t really do much for me. Having the race at night was a great idea, though, as it adds in the variable of how the cars will change once darkness sets in. Some cars got better, and others got worse.

Also, let me be poetic and say the sunset was absolutely beautiful and a great background for the racing as the evening came on.

Remembering Davey
15 years ago today, on July 13,1993, the great Davey Allison was taken from us in a helicopter accident at Talledega. For those who don’t know about Davey, he was a talented second-generation driver whose future was bright as can be at the time of the tragic accident. He was 1987 Rookie of The Year, won the Daytona 500 in 1992, and won 19 races overall.

Allison was most famous for driving the #28 Texaco/Havoline car for Robert Yates, and was involved in the tight three-way battle for the championship at the season-ending Hooters 500 at Atlanta in 1992. A wreck took him out of contention, and Alan Kulwicki (who also tragically passed in 1993) beat Bill Elliott for the title by just 10 points. There’s no doubt Davey would have been a championship contender for years to come, perhaps even strong enough to lessen the number of titles taken by Dale Earnhardt Sr. and Jeff Gordon in that decade. Sadly, we’ll never know.

Biffle jumps, Hamlin freefalls
The points saw some major shakeups this week, and Denny Hamlin’s bad day dropped him five spots, from 7th to 12th in the standings -- just 27 points ahead of Clint Bowyer, who fell out of the Chase. The big winners were Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick, who each jumps four spots to 7th and 9th, respectively. Another strong performance was given by BrianVickers, but he’s still in 14th, 95 points out of the Chase. He has the car and ability to make the Chase, but needs people like Hamlin, Bowyer and Kasey Kahne to struggle a little for that to happen.


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