Roush reliability issues ruin any realistic shot at Chase title
First, they (especially Jimmie Johnson) tend not to screw up in the Chase.
And second, the other teams do tend to screw up in the Chase.
This week, it was the Roush Fenway team's turn to self-destruct. Things were looking good early, with Matt Kenseth running up front and leading, but then all hell broke loose.
First Greg Biffle blew up, ending any realistic shot at the title for him. Then Carl Edwards had mechanical issues, putting him far enough back that he's probably a longshot.
At the end of the race, even Kenseth, who had run up front all day, was spitting out smoke and finished 30th.
On top of all that, non-Chase driver David Ragan drove straight into a wrecking Kurt Busch and crumpled up his car. In short, everything that could go wrong did go wrong for the Roush team.
It's all about reliability, and that's not something the Roush team can claim its had this year. They started poorly, picked things up in mid-season, but have never been truly consistent other than one recent string of good runs by Carl Edwards.
That's just not going to be enough to win a title.
When you look at what happened Sunday, and you'll see why Roush Racing hasn't won a title since Kurt Busch won the inaugural Chase (and that one came in miraculous fashion, with Kurt losing a tire at the perfect time ... right in front of pit road, to save his day.
Here's a quick game for you: Think back to the last time Hendrick Motorsports had several of its cars' engines fail in one race.
I'm sure it has happened, and I vaguely remember it a time or two, but it's so rare that I can't even remember when it happened.
Reliability in the Chase is the key to having any shot at a title. It's clear there is not enough reliability at Roush Fenway, and with Kyle Busch's woes the Joe Gibbs team has some issues too.
And as the others fall off, a couple of four-time champs at Hendrick Motorsports will continue to have reliable cars and battle each other for the title.
Stewart staying alive
After a rough start to the Chase, highlighted by his running out gas at New Hampshire and tumbling in the points, Tony Stewart is alive again.
After beating Jimmie Johnson to take the checkered flag in a place where the #48 has basically owned Victory Lane in the recent past, Stewart is in 5th place and still withing striking distance of the points lead ... he just can't screw up anymore. All his opportunity for error is gone.
Stewart is the only driver to win a title both in the Chase era and before the Chase era, and that's due to his standing as one of the most talented drivers in the field. If he gets on a roll, the competition better watch out.
Finally, a great Fontana race
After so many stinkers in the past, the race Sunday at Fontana was a great one, featuring 4-wide Daytona style action and some great door-to-door racing, even between teammates. Kevin Harvick at one point got annoyed with his Jeff Burton, and Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon had some pretty intense battles.
It's too bad there weren't more races like this in the past, or the track might have kept its second date. The drop from 500 to 400 miles should have happened a long time ago.
An animated take on NASCAR
Comedy Central's "South Park" took a shot at NASCAR this week with its "Poor and Stupid" episode, and while it wasn't the funniest episode of the show that I've seen, it had some good moments. There was Cartman calling Jimmie Johnson "dumber than spit", cartoon Danica getting run over, a car sponsored by feminine hygiene products and other hijinks. Check it out if you get a chance, but be aware it isn't exactly a family show.
For another take on the episode, and the reaction from drivers to it, check out
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