DATE: Saturday, August 23, 2008
TIME: 7:00 pm
PLACE: Bristol Motor Speedway
We've been lamenting the sad fate of the Wood Brothers in our recent NASCAR columns but just when your stick in the fork and get ready to twist, they show some real tread left on their tires. First, Marcose Ambrose turned in an all-star performance finishing 3rd at Watkins Glen. Now, Bill Elliot snuck the #21 Motorcraft Ford in 5th starting position for the Sharpie 500. So much for needing the Ex-Champ's provisional. Carl Edwards, suddenly the hottest guy on the track, takes the pole. (He's also in 4th position for tonight's Nationwide fender-bender.) with David Ruetimann adding a little sunshine to a rather cloudy season at Michael Waltrip racing on the outside pole. Jeff Gordon needed a shot of energy granted by his #3 starting position. Little guy at DEI, Regan Smith starts 4th. Kevin Harvick looking to secure his chase big starts 6th. Now here's another big happy surprise, Ken Schrader joyously returns to the "Bigs" with a starting spot of seven driving the Hall of Fame Toyota. Trying to lock in the top 35, A.J. Allmendinger secures 8th in the Red Bull Toyota. Not to be out of the spotlight, Mr. Popularity, himself, Kyle Busch rides in 9th. Rounding out the top 10 for a team needing a little glory right now is Elliot Sadler.
Now for the ugly. 2008 joining, Hendricks, a team with proven championship ability, this was to be Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s "no excuses" season. Though breaking his winless drought in Michigan's June race and cruising up to 2nd in the points standings, recent weeks have been a comedy of errors, bad luck, and conspicuous blunders for the #88 team. Now having to take a provisional start way down in 40th position, this increases the tension in the Junior camp as this is the time for the team to be pulling all pieces together for a championship run. It's looking more like last year all over again. Jimmie Johnson is not looking in championship form starting way down in 34th. Matt Kenseth (25th spot) and Tony Stewart (28th spot) are in mediocre positions as they seek to secure their spots in the Chase. Also in the ugly league is Roush racer, Jamie McMurray, a provisional in 40th position. The sharks keep getting closer to Mikey, whose Michael Waltrip/NAPA Auto Parts Toyota starts 42nd. Finally, it's sad to see Patrick Carpentier not make the field in his #10 Dodge. The Gillett-Evernham team has been learning the rules of the road in NASCAR's top division. He'll be watching from the sidelines along with Jeff Green and Johnny Sauter who were probably long shots to begin with.
Wham-bam, thank you, ma'am. Can't wait to see this battle begin.