#18 M&M Ride Wins-
Q--What does a peanut M&M have in common with Kyle Busch's helmet???-
A--Both have a hard shell covering a real nut.
The trips to Sears Point and Watkins Glen are always an interesting diversion during the long Sprint Cup season. Some fans argue, "This ain't NASCAR racin'" and would eliminate these events. Many fans would cherish more NASCAR on the road. For live racing, these tracks aren't the best place to watch a race especially at Watkins Glen that doesn't have the advantage of elevation at Infineon Motor Speedway. Fans can only see a small segment of the race and if not near the start/finish line, it's pretty confusing. Still, many fans believe there should be a road race during the chase. There are some fine road courses that could house a Cup event.
This year's venture to Watkins Glen started off like gang busters as the big three from the Hendricks garage did everything they could do to contain Joe Gibbs' brat. Likewise, Tony Stewart was coming on like this race could finally make him the boss with the hot sauce at a track he has dominated in recent years. Early on, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Jimmy Johnson went roaring past the M&M's bag with Jeff Gordon making that Dupont logo look huge in the 18 car's rear view mirror.
What could have been Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s day, perhaps his first win at a road course went down the drain as some of his other failures this year have. Pit stops never benefited #88 all day, but late in the race where one additional pit stop would be required, a yellow flag stop would have burried Earnhardt deep in the field. ESPN's cameras showed crew chief, Tony Eury Jr. calling Dale Jr. to pit. He did not heed the call, the yellow flag fell, and Junior was buried deep in the field, finishing in 22nd position dropping him from 2nd in the points standing to 4th. While Dale Earnhardt Jr. is almost guaranteed a spot in the chase, championship hopes don't look as sharp when a contender stumbles into the chase.
Aside for #88 fans' hurt feelings, there was a much bigger disaster on the Upstate New York track. Drivers David Gilliland (#28) and Michael McDowell (#00) engaged in vicious automotive rough-housing leading to circumstances that got out of hand when the #00 rear ended the #28 causing on of the most vicious multi-car smash ups ever seen outside of Talladega or Daytona "big ones." The heavy, stable new cars were flying about like Frisbees as some actually leaped in the air. This lap 83 crash lead to a lengthy red flag to collect debris and repair barriers. Veteran good guy, Bobby Labonte riding in the King's #43, was rushed to a near by hospital for attention. While this accident ended the day for the drivers mentioned plus Dave Blaney, Sam Hornish Jr., Joe Nemechek, Ryan Newman, Max Papis, Reed Sorenson, and Michael Waltrip, ten cars in all. McDowell and Gilliland were summoned to the "Oval Office" for a frank exchange of views on road racing technique, when to engage the accelerator and brake pedals, and surely some anger management theory.
The Tasmanian devil appeared in a NASCAR sanctioned fire suit driving the #21 Wood Brothers Ford as Marcose Ambrose, the South Pacific sensation stated in the back of the field to finish a convincing third with only Tony Stewart (2nd) and Kyle Busch ahead of him.
Aside from the drivers collected in the wreck and possibly Little E's misfortune, the biggest loser of the day had to be Ryan Newman who faced numerous late race issues including a car that had trouble staying fired up even having to be pushed to the pits by teammate Sam Hornish. Clint Bowyer dropped a spot putting him one place beneath a chase seeding, 22 points below Kenseth. David Ragan remained in 14th but lost by increasing his points deficit, 89 points out of the Chase.
While Baby Busch and and Ambrose were the big winners of the day, Carl Edwards can celebrate ascending into 2nd place in the standings and Jimmie Johnson moves up to 3rd as a result of Junior's jinx. Tony Stewart gained two places in the standings up to #7 only ten points behind Jeff Gordon who had a miserable day but held his 5th spot.
Now it's on to Michigan, with Bristol and California ahead before the Chase shakedown at Richmond. How ironic, the guys race on two almost identical tracks, California's design copying Michigan two tracks based largely on fuel economy and pit strategy, but sandwiched in between is the ultimate change of scenery, short track madness at its best, the annual Saturday Night Slugfest in Thunder valley.
Has the picture of who gets in the chase gotten any clearer than it was last Monday?
CREW CHIEFS: Make sure your boys INFLATE YOUR TIRES!!