Monday, October 30, 2006

Goblins and Gremlins

It's near Halloween, and, at Atlanta, the goblins and/or gremlins showed up for the occasion. Kyle Busch literally ran into trouble early, and finished several laps down. Kasey Kahne, the race favorite, put himself out of championship contention, when he forgot that David Stremme's car was to his right, and ran right into him. And, much to the dismay of us sentimentalists, goblins got in the way of Mark Martin, and he wrecked in the closing laps of the race. Kevin Harvick had gremlins in his car the entire race, and he finished two laps down. Matt Kenseth also seemed to have continuing problems with the "Miss Setup" goblin, but still pulled off a very exciting fourth place finish. This is something Matt can always seem to do--take a twentieth place car to a top five finish. This is why I have picked him to win the championship this year.
Gremlins also continued to plague Jeff Burton, as a cut tire relegated him to a thirteenth place finish. But the other Jeff in the Chase, Jeff Gordon, managed to overcome Halloween Demons and finish sixth. As did Denny Hamlin, who was a lap down for much of the race, and finished in eighth.
While the Halloween creepies were bothering all those guys, they left the others alone. Dale Earnhardt, Jr took a gamble on older tires at the end of the race, and still managed to pull off third place, in the aforementioned exciting race with Matt Kenseth. Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson raced valiantly and cleanly for much of the final eighty laps of the race. And Smoke won, his ability and experience guiding him around the track to find the groove where his car ran best, under the changing track conditions.
The beautiful carved bear trophy awarded to Tony for winning the Bass Pro500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway was only the capping off of a wonderful weekend for him. Saturday, he finished the final race of the Crown Royal International Race of Champions series in third place, which was enough to win him that championship. His name on the IROC trophy is added to such racing greats as Mark Donahue, AJ Foyt, Mario Andretti, and Al Unser. I was counting all of Tony's championships in go-carts and quarter midgets when I counted 19 career championships for him. Officially, only his USAC, IRL and NASCAR championships count, and now, with the IROC trophy, it makes 11 official national championships for him.
After Atlanta, Mark Martin, Kasey Kahne, and Kyle Busch have fallen out of contention for the championship. With only three races to go, it was the wrong time for things to go wrong. Jeff Gordon, 144 points out of the lead, still has a chance, if everything goes right for him and goes wrong for the six drivers ahead of him in points. Kevin Harvick is 121 points out of the lead, and can take inspiration from Jimmie Johnson, who made up 130 points in three races to get to where he is, in third place. Jeff Burton is tied in fourth/fifth place with Dale Earnhardt, Jr., 84 points out of the lead, and either one of them could still race his way to the championship. For the top three drivers, Matt Kenseth, Jimmie Johnson, and Denny Hamlin, there are only 66 points separating first from third, and any one of them could leave next week's race at Texas Motor Speedway in the points lead. Here's to another great race in a great season.

JPM Update
Juan Pablo Montoya finished his first NASCAR Busch Series race, the Sam's Town 250, at Memphis, in eleventh place. Not bad for someone who has only driven stock cars for a little over a month.

1 comment:

Babs said...

And it's a full moon this weekend! Who knows what might happen.