Sunday, July 11, 2010

Sprint Cup 2010: Race 19: Reutty-Teut-Teut

David Reutimann, a driver in need a huge boost to vault toward the chase, got just what he needed with a dominant victory in the 400. The race was also helpful for 2nd place finisher, Carl Edwards who moved to 10th in the standings having been on the verge of falling out of the top 12 when action begun. 4th place finisher, Clint Bowyer might be the second happiest guy on the track picking up two positions to put him in the all important 12th spot.

The key word for Dale Earnhardt Jr. this year has been the need for consistency. A strong finish in Daytona put him in the top 12. A 23rd finish in Chicago with a mishandling car near the end of the lead lap dropped him two positions in the standings, 15 points off the pace. This kind of performance is simply unacceptable for any hope to be part of the big show after Richmond. Fortune did not shine on team mate Mark Martin, whose 15th place finish dropped him to 12th

Kasey Kahne must be scratching his head. Consistent good finishes should be exactly what the team needs and generally finishing 6th at this stage of the season is a good thing, the result for the #9 Budweiser Ford was top drop one position in the standings with David Reutimann leapfrogging him two positions by 24 points.

Let’s look at the Chase Race as the big summer push begins in two weeks at the Brickyard.

The following drivers are in the top 12, but a little bad mojo could have them outside looking in after Richmond. Drivers are listed by position showing their cushion over 12th place.

6 – Kyle Busch (202)
7 – Jeff Burton (179)
8 – Matt Kenseth (160)
9 – Tony Stewart (103)
10 – Carl Edwards (59)
11 – Greg Biffle (6)
12 – Clint Bowyer (0)

Next are the drivers who are close to one race’s award to advancing to the chase. Their rank and how many points behind twelfth are shown.

13 – Dale Earnhardt, Jr. (-15)
14 – Mark Martin (-37)
15 – David Reutimann (-96)
16 – Ryan Newman (-99)
17 – Kasey Kahne (-120)
18 – Jaime McMurray (-181)
19 – Joey Logano (-183)

Surely, these fourteen teams will have very busy garages with an extra week to prepare for the mighty Brickyard.

Among the Chicago casualties, Jimmie Johnson fought disaster including a spinout despite being one of the leaders early in the race to pull in 25th. Points leader Kevin Harvick suffered mechanical problems yielding a horrible 34th finish with Greg Biffle, a blown engine in the next position only surpassing three rides that wrecked: David Stremme and Bill Elliott who hit the wall and was plowed into by Robby Gordon who could not maneuver around the “legendary” Wood Brothers car. Beneath them was only contempt, the infamous quitters who came to Chicagoland to qualify, get introduced, run a few laps and pack it in. Joe Nemechek took the concept to a lower low if it really matters, the fact that such a driver is allowed to start the race is sick enough, only completed 20 laps – must have wanted to get home and start that two week vacation before his next Sunday drive in Indy. Max Papis and Mike Bliss completed 40 laps during the first yellow. Nine laps later, Casey Mears pulled off. One has to wonder if Nemechek has lost his mind. His Nationwide series performance is competitive. Why not give up on Sprint Cup, put all effort in to Nationwide and maybe be a top ten guy?

The Sprint Cup guys can enjoy a week off. Some will show up at Gateway International Raceway where they can admire the bridges in Madison County just across the Big Muddy from St. Louis. Nationwide and Camping World Trucks will both be racing there next weekend.

Jimmie Johnson will be learning the art of changing diapers having joined the ranks of NASCAR’s new dads where perhaps he can take some clues from Carl Edwards and Elliot Sadler who’ve become dads in recent months.

For those who want to take a break from racing, next weekend promises the British Open at St. Andrews. Surely, the Yankees versus the Rays will get some national boob tube play too.

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