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Sunday, August 17, 2008

House of Roush intact after Edwards holds off Busch, defends Big 3 territory

It was on the verge of happening.
A Toyota was about to take the checkered flag at MIS on Sunday, leaving the Big 3 with a lot of egg on their faces.

Then, as has happened so often in the past, Jack Roush’s drivers showed the intruders at their track who is boss, and Carl Edwards took yet another win for his boss, a Livonia native, and swept the weekend’s races at MIS.

Over the past 14 races in Brooklyn, Roush has won seven.
The numbers from Sunday are even more staggering. The top 5 included 4 Roush cars, and his fifth team came in 10th.

Not too shabby, and the win is especially impressive because Edwards had to fend of Kyle Busch, who has been damn near unbeatable for much of the season. Edwards has emerged as the clear hope for everyone rooting against Kyle Busch in the championship. As is stands, he’d only be 40 points behind Busch at the start of the Chase, and it’s a good bet at this point that one of them will take home the hardware.

The Big 3’s back yard has been defended, for this year at least, and you can be sure a lot of people in suits at those three companies are thankful for Jack Roush and Carl Edwards.

Gibbs team disappoints with ‘magnet-gate’
A team as good as Joe Gibbs Racing does not need to cheat. Joe Gibbs has always portrayed himself as an honest man and I have no reason to doubt him.

But Nationwide officials doing dyno tests after Saturday’s Nationwide race caught them doing just that. And J.D. Gibbs isn’t even trying to deny anything.

“This is clearly an intentional opportunity to lead somebody astray,” J.D. Gibbs said Sunday morning. “We’re not going to (deny it).”

Inspectors say they found magnets under the gas pedals of the team’s Nationwide cars. This would keep the gas pedal from being depressed fully, so the dyno test would think full horsepower was being used.

The Gibbs team has dominated the Nationwide in record-breaking fashion this year, and recently NASCAR began to limit their horsepower to even up the competition. I disagreed with that decision, too, but that does not justify cheating on a dyno test to try to get some edge back.

The team needs to prove to the racing community they’re honest about cleaning up after this mess. When they find out who did this, even it’s a big shot in their organization, they need to fire that person in a very public way.

This ridiculous and unnecessary move will have major effects on the team. First, the respect some people have had for them over the season for all the success they’ve had will be brought into question. Did they cheat elsewhere, many will wonder.
Second, NASCAR will come down hard on them, as they should, with big money fines, big points deductions and long-term crew chief suspensions.

Gibbs said that after an internal investigation is completed, some employees could be fired.
“No matter what NASCAR does, we’re going to address this issue in-house, figure out exactly what happened and those that were responsible,” he said. “There’s going to be a punishment for that,” he said.

I hope he’s telling the truth, and it’s really a sad day in NASCAR when silly tricks like this are exposed. All i can think of is the team won so much it got greedy and wanted to win them all, by any means necessary.

Every once in a while, people will say races are fixed and compare it to WWE wrestling, usually as an exaggeration. But with stuff like this going on, I can see why that comment gets thrown out there.

Bad day for Hendrick teams
17th, 18th, 23rd, and 42nd -- yep, that’s where the Hendrick cars finished at MIS.

I’m no NASCAR historian, but that may be the worst combined finishing positions ever for this elite team. Johnson and Gordon were involved in a wreck brought about by 4-wide racing, which left Gordon’s car complete junk. Jr. slapped the wall late in the race, ruining his day. Johnson had his own share of problems.

You know it’s bad when Casey Mears just misses being the team’s best finisher by one position while driving what is essentially the team’s R&D car.

They’ll be glad when they get to Bristol and can put this behind them ... or maybe they won’t. A lot of bad things can happen there under the lights.

Major points action
The action was heavy between spots 6 and 12 in the points.
Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne and Denny Hamlin all had bad days and each dropped 3 spots -- to 9th, 11th and 12th in the Chase standings.

David Ragan had a brilliant MIS run, and jumped to a tie for 13th with Clint Bowyer, and both drivers are only 26 points out of the Chase.

Matt Kenseth, Kevin Harvick, Greg Biffle all had huge days, leapfrogging those who fell. Biffle is now 7th, Harvick 8th and Kenseth 10th.

After blowing up late in the race, Hamlin had the most honest quote I’ve heard in a while in NASCAR, saying “At this point, we don’t even deserve to be in the Chase”

The most amazing stat of the day ... Jeff Gordon is only 82 points ahead of the 13th place drivers.
Right now, 162 points is the total point spread between 6th place Tony Stewart and Bowyer/Ragan.

And we haven’t even been to Bristol yet ... next week should be a blast.


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