Sunday, August 17, 2008

Michigan Motor Madness

Carl Edwards Dominates Field at Michigan as Jack Roush Boys Finish 1, 3, 4, 5 and 10; "The Shrub" Finishes Second While Chase for the Chase Gets Even Crazier

Did someone say something about “getting back to normal” at Michigan this week? To the extent that there were none of the controversies or peculiarities of the last three races, the action for the 3M Performance 400 Presented by Bondo was devoid of gripes about the track, tires, and other “X” factors. The conditions were darned close to perfect, bright sunshine, moderate temperatures, and a relatively predictable racing surface. If normal means a typical Michigan kind of race, forget it!!!

First it was difficult day for the Hendricks racers as Jeff Gordon once again was having mechanical problems then suffered a race ending wreck. This dropped him from sixth in the point standings down to ninth only 82 points ahead of 13th place putting him right in the thick of those chasing for the Chase with now three races to go before everything gets settled after Rock n Roll hits the racetrack at Richmond on Saturday, September 6. Finishing 23rd, a lap down, did nothing to help right the ship for Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the #88 team while Jimmie Johnson finished in 17th at the tail end of the lead lap not advancing his prospects either. Things did not go well for chaser, Denny Hamlin who blew an engine and his temper after the race dropping 3 spots down to 12th in the Chase standings. Kasey Kahne also had bad day at the office, likewise dropping three positions, down to 11th exploding his Dodge engine.

The happy fellows were Greg Biffle and “Happy” Harvick both gaining three positions while Matt Kenseth was outside looking in two weeks ago now sits in 10th gaining two spots in the standings. Feeding off the calamity of others in the Chase chase, a 12th place finish was good enough to elevate Tony Stewart one rank in the standings.

The competition in spots 13 and 14 remain exceptionally close. Clint Bowyer and David Ragan are tied just 26 points behind 12th place the infuriated unhappy Hamlin.

Here’s the full race data from NASCAR.COM.
Unofficial race results:
Unofficial standings:

As a sad footnote to the results, Marcos Ambrose, a road racing specialist who dazzled the field last week at Watkins Glen finished in dead last for the #21 Wood Brothers, Little Debbie entry. For NASCAR history buffs the obliteration of the once legendary team that has fallen even deeper into obscurity this season. In the era of the super multicar teams with wealthy investors, this single car, family owned business is not even on life support when they don’t have Bill Elliot’s past champion provisionals available to gain a spot in the starting lineup. Though young Jon Wood is supposed to be the team’s future, it’s hard not to imagine the only other link besides the Petty’s to NASCAR’s early days isn’t soon headed down the path of Bud Moore and others who are now just legends in Motorsports museums. Without big investors, more technology, and a second team, the Wood Brothers unable to secure a spot in the top 35, their days are numbered.

Next Saturday night, it’s off to the Moonshine Mountains of northeastern Tennessee and southwestern Virginia, destination Bristol, “Thunder Valley,” Bristol Motor Speedway, the .533 mile oval with banking up to 30 degrees in the curves and a hard concrete surface with over 160,000 raving race fans looking on in what almost looks like a large college football stadium some have likened the action to being like watching jet fighters flying around inside a gymnasium. The formula is to take 43 bright shiny race cars, line ‘em up in qualifying order, toss them in a blender, set the switch for high, push the “on” button and stand back!!! Sheet metal crumbles, fiberglass flies, tempers erupt, and yellow flags fly like swing flags in a marching band. When the evening is over, NASCAR officials might be standing in the way of opposing drivers and crew members ready to show a little “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting” action in. The drivers competing for the Chase could find the standings totally frapped. Post race reporters should receive hazardous duty pay from PRN, ESPN, and SPEED-TV. All is well. It’s just another end of August race in Sprint Cup racing.

What a show, however, this year the scramble in the standings after Michigan played out much like a Bristol race. Confusing? Nope, that’s racing, folks.

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