Chase has been disaster for Gibbs teams
Associated Press photo
Tony Stewart gets off course during Sunday's race at Kansas Speedway.
Two things are crystal clear to me after today’s race at Kansas Speedway, after by some miracle I managed to stay awake until the end.
First, after seeing Carl Edwards wreck his car on purpose in an attempt to win the race with a move he said he learned from video games, I’m convinced there is very little he wouldn’t do to win the title, and that should make it interesting as the Chase comes to a conclusion. Today, he said he didn’t want to wreck Johnson. If he has the same choice at Homestead, his decision may be different.
Second, all the fans who were dreading the possibility that a Toyota team would win the title can celebrate, as now all three Gibbs cars are officially out of the running for the title. The magic that team had all season, particularly the 18 team, has officially been used up. The teams’s drivers are 10th, 11th and 12th in the Chase and are all at least 243 points back. Kyle Busch had mechanical issues for the third straight week, and at this point it looks like his prediction last week that he’ll finish 12th could easily come true.
It all goes to show how timing is everything in this sport. No one could have envisioned this much disappointment for the Gibbs teams, and the amount of bad luck all-around is bizarre. Stewart had to deal with all kinds of issues today, including a member of the #83 pit crew ending up on his hood at one point. Now that he’s out of contention, look for Tony to do a lot of gambling in these next seven races in an effort to get one last win with Gibbs before moving on to his own team next year.
Denny Hamlin has become a self-fulfilling prophecy, as he said two weeks before the Chase that he didn’t even belong there. That appears to be true, as his team has been snake-bit in the first few races and will not be a factor.
As far as Kyle goes, I can’t even imagine the disappointment he’s feeling. To have the kind of season he’s had and start the Chase like this is unheard of … I’ll liken it to the Detroit Red Wings losing to the San Jose Sharks in the first round of the NHL playoffs in the mid-1990s. It’s completely unexpected and knocks the wind right out of your sails. Kyle is out of the hunt, but still has to put on his best game face now and hope for a better finish next year. But deep down, he’s probably disgusted. It will be interesting to see if he can manage good finishes as the year comes to an end, or will throw in the towel and not give his all now.
Three-man battle for Cup solidified
In a result that’s likely going to be an indicator of the future (with the exception of Talladega), Johnson, Edwards and Greg Biffle finished 1-2-3. Not coincidentally, they’re also 1-2-3 in the points, only 30 points separating them. These three teams are at the top of their game at the right time, and should be the ones alive for the title battle come Homestead, assuming they don’t get caught in a Talladega wreck.
Kevin Harvick , Clint Bowyer, Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer are running respectably, but that’s not enough to get them in the title hunt unless the top three have some problems.
Allmendinger has great audition
As his time at the Red Bull team comes to a close, A.J. Allmendinger scored a top-10 finish in what may end up being his final race with the team. A.J. has been a solid driver at times this year, but lacked consistency. He wanted a longer contract, but Red Bull would only give him a one-year deal so negotiations fell through. Look for Chip Ganassi to announce real soon that he's hired A.J. for the 41 car in a multi-year deal that could pay dividends for the struggling Ganassi team.
Formula 1 shines under the lights
Those of you who follow Formula 1 no doubt saw an amazing spectacle this weekend in Singapore, as the first-ever night Grand Prix was run. The 3 mile-plus street course was beautifully lit and watching Formula 1 cars race under the lights was an amazing thing to see. Between this milestone for Formula 1 and NASCAR dusting off its rain tires for the Montreal Nationwide race, it's been quite a year for racing firsts.