Friday, November 16, 2007

Plot twists welcome!

We all love a good plot twist. Movies such as The Usual Suspects, The Four Brothers, and The Illusionist keep us enthralled because of their intricate plot twists. And so, we were enthralled with the plot twist involved in Friday night's Ford 200 CTS race at Homestead.
The story started with us thinking that the Championship points leader, Mike Skinner, had a significant advantage over second place competitor Ron Hornaday. Skinner went into the race with just a small points lead over Hornaday, but he qualified forth. In fact four of the five top starting positions were held by Bill Davis Racing, Skinner's team mates. But, to thicken the plot a little, team mate and new "bad boy" Johnny Benson reminded us in a pre-race interview that, though the team was there to help Skinner win the championship, they were all out to win the race.
One thing we love about the drivers in the Craftsman Truck Series is that they are all "bad boys."
So, as the race started, Skinner quickly gained points on Hornaday, who had started further back in the field and had to deal with the three and sometimes four-wide traffic that is a familiar feature in NASCAR truck racing. Skinner increased his lead in points by taking the race lead. But then, the first plot twist--Skinner felt that he had a tire go down, and abrubtly slowed and pitted for a two tire change, putting him a lap down. Still, though Hornaday now had the points lead, Skinner could easily make up positions, and even race his way back to the lead lap.
But that wasn't to happen. Skinner's #5 team had changed the right side tires, and it was the left rear tire that fell off. Because of damage to the left rear hub, the truck had to go to the garage area for extensive repairs,
But, all was not lost. Even though he was eleven laps down, Skinner only had to be twelve place positions behind Hornaday in order to win the championship. If as few as five trucks behind Hornaday wrecked, or had mechanical failure, Skinner would be the 2007 CTS Champion. As the laps wound down, Hornaday's only team mate, Kevin Harvick, fell off the pace, due to a tire going down. That was one. We watched, with four laps left, to see if Hornaday could hang on to his spot, or if the big one would happen as expected.
And, with two laps to go, there was a spin and a caution.
But it was only one truck, and he did not wreck. Still, after the restart, for the Green/White/Checkered finish, the guys up front were racing three and four wide. If any of them had wrecked, however, it wouldn't have helped Skinner anyway, unless, of course, Hornaday got caught up in the wreck.
The wreck didn't happen. Kyle Busch and Johnny Benson raced hard for the win, and in the end it was Johnny Benson who found victory. So, though Bill Davis Racing didn't get the championship, they did get a win to finish the season. Ron Hornaday won the Championship, becoming the second driver after Jack Sprague, to win three CTS Championships. Another interesting plot: Jack Sprague will be Hornaday's team mate on Kevin Harvick Incorperated's team next year.
So, we give congratulations Ron Hornaday, Jr and KHI for winning the 2007 CTS championship, to Johnny Benson snagging his fourth victory of the year, and to all the drivers and teams in the CTS for bringing us yet another incredibly entertaining season.
So, now the stage is set for Sunday's grande finale for the NASCAR Nextel Cup Series. Jimmie "Ernie" Johnson, eighty nine points ahead of Jeff "Darth" Gordon, has the pole. It seems that Johnson's march to the championship is unstoppable. But, in spite of his admitted "joking around" waving of the white flag of surrender, Gordon has made it clear that he will do everything he can to take back the championsip. We have to believe him, considering the incredible performance he has had during the 2007 season, and we have to believe that he could still do it.
Personally, I don't care who wins the Championship. I'm picking Matt Kenseth to win the race--it will be his last race with Robby Reiser, the only crew chief he has ever known in his NASCAR career, and that emotional incentive will add to the drive, skill, and determination he has shown over the last few races.
When it comes down to it, I want to see a good race, and maybe a few good plot twists.

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