Saturday, November 6, 2010
Sprint Cup 2010 Race 34: Tension in Texas
What happened in Texas? All of a sudden there are Fords all over the place in the top of the starting lineup led by Elliot Sadler whose team was threatened not to have been able to make the show just days ago. Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards line up second and third while David Ragan, practically an invisible man in 2010 takes the 5th spot. For good measure, A.J. Allmendinger took the 10th spot while the remainder of the Petty stable nailed down 12th (Paul Menard) and 13th (Aric Almirola). Matt Keseth completed the Roush picture in 20th. One additional Ford note, Traver Bayne instead of Bill Elliott will race the 21 car for the "legendary": Wood Brothers in their part-time effort. The Front Row team was nowhere to be found until the rock bottom.
The championship contenders make things interesting but favor the incumbent, Jimmie Johnson, who starts 17th. Kevin Harvick checks in spot 26 while Denny Hamlin starts in what could be a costly 30th position. For these challengers pit strategy and fuel mileage could be the key but given their place in the field, staying out of wrecks with over anxious competitors with nothing to lose could be a factor as well.
Five entries did not make the field none of which would be sponsored teams in any position to compete had they made the race.
The challenge is clear for drivers Johnson, Hamlin, and Harvick. Every race which does not narrow the gap if behind or increase the margin if ahead makes what remains that much more difficult in Phoenix and Homestead. No driver is well enough off where a bad race couldn't completely destroy the season.
Given the uncertainty surrounding other teams outside of the absolute elite where most rides are already nailed down for 2011, a huge field of drivers will seek every advantage to put in a good performance that could be the ticket to a seat in next year's competition.