Sunday, September 28, 2008

Live on Type Delay: Kansas

Before this race started, based on what we saw on Saturday's Nationwide race at Kansas, we thought this had the makings of a California style race. So far, it isn't like that at all.

Clint Bowyer, a contender or the championship got black-flagged at the start for the same reason Dale Earnhardt, Jr did earlier this year--passing before the starting line at the beginning of the race. This is just an example of how focused these drivers are. It is okay to pass on the outside during a restart, but not at the initial start of the race. A lapse of memory regarding that rule is an indication of concentration on trying to get to the front of the field as quickly as possible. Bowyer got off of the pit road after his drive-through penalty just ahead of Johnson, the leader, and stays on the lead lap.

Matt Kenseth takes the lead on lap 16. Kyle Busch is having engine problems again . This time it seems to be a fuel pressure problem. Three weeks in a row, the 18 team is having mechanical issues. Unbelievable.

A lot of fast cars started from the back. Tony Stewart has made up eighteen spots after starting forty-first. Juan Pablo Montoya had to start at the rear after his pole-winning time was disallowed due to NASCAR officials finding that his team had too much air pressure in the rear shocks, is moving up well, himself. Jeff Burton had to start at the rear due to an equipment change, after his tachometer failed before the start of the race, but he also has a fast car.

Martin Truex Jr takes the lead from Kenseth around lap 38. Green flag pit stops begin around lap 50. Carl Edwards has trouble in the pits again, as Brian Vickers has to cut in front of him to get out his pit. This is a spotters problem, and the 99 car will overcome any setback.

After the pit stops cycle through, Kenseth retains the lead, and there are 29 cars now on the lead lap. Truex is second, Johnson is third, but Johnson takes second around lap lap 63. Caution on lap 75 after Ryan Newman slides across the track and scrapes the wall.

It seems that Kyle Busch's car is fixing itself, and his car seems to be running normally now. All the leaders pit, and the order coming off of pit road is Kenseth, Mears, Truex, and Jeff Gordon. Kenseth has to reenter the pits due to a loose lug-nut. Carl Edwards is like a bull in a china shop on pit road, and has an incident with the 22 and 31 cars. It wasn't Carl's fault, though. At the restart, the top five are Mears, Truex, Gordon, Greg Biffle, and Jimmie Johnson. Johnson moves up fast after the restart, and passes Biffle, then, on lap 85, Jeff Gordon, and is threatening Truex for second. Easy Jeff Gordon follows Johnson into third. That 48 car looks fast again.

Jeff Gordon wasn't feeling well before the beginning of the race, but it seems that he will stay in his car for the race, not wanting to get out of a good car like the one he has today. There's the fire, guts, and determination we love to see in the top drivers.

Johnson and Mears are racing hard for the lead, with Mears following the line that made Johnson's move to the front so successful. That means Johnson no longer has that line, and we are seeing some good racing. The caution comes out on lap 92, and Mears maintains the lead. The caution came out as Kyle Petty spun out, and Scott Riggs lost his drive shaft. Mears stays out, but the cars behind him pit. Mark Martin comes off of pit road first, after a two tire stop. Kyle Busch gets the lucky dog pass.

It only takes a few laps for Johnson to pass the cars that took two tires on the last pit stop, and he has taken second by lap 106. He takes the lead from Mears on lap 107. Biffle is moving up as well, and it is shaping up to be another race between the 16 and the 48. Dale Earnhardt, Jr and Kevin Harvick have moved into the top ten. Tony Stewart is running fifteenth. Elliott Sadler's team is showing that they have something, as they are crashing the party in the seventh position. Further back, Kurt Busch is wrecking all the way around the track without hitting anything. That should be counted as a great save, but his car is not handling well at all.

Caution on lap 117 as Joey Logano loses traction and scrapes the wall. Patrick Carpentier is the lucky dog, after David Reutimann, who was the first car one lap down at the last restart, raced his way onto the lead lap.

Again, the leaders all pit. Truex is off first after a two tire stop, Johnson, Bowyer, Biffle and Jeff Gordon fill out the top five. Before the lap is over, the 17 and 5 cars make contact, and Kenseth does a great job of saving the car and keeping it from sliding up into traffic.

On lap 130, Johnson and Truex are having an exciting battle for the lead, then Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart tangle and Stewart spins into the infield. This is weird, because the 83 team pits just in front of the 20, and they have had issues in leaving the pits. The booth bunnies on TV are suggesting that this may be retaliation on the part of Vickers for the 20 team allegedly not giving the 83 team enough room in the pit stalls. I guess since Kyle Busch is having problems, it's Vickers' turn to have issues with everybody else on the track.

The restart is in the same order as it was, as Truex succeeded in holding off Johnson. Bowyer and Jeff Gordon are racing hard right from the restart for fourth position. Biffle is in third. Johnson takes the lead on lap 137. No surprise there.

Eight of the chasers are in the top ten on lap 154. Johnson is in first, Edwards is in third, Biffle fourth, Jeff Gordon fifth, Dale Jr is in sixth, Burton is seventh, Harvick eight, and Bowyer is running in ninth. Stewart back-marks the Chasers in thirty third.

Is Jeff Burton trying to become the new most hated driver? That would be strange. He gets into the back of Jr because he didn't give him enough room to move down from the top of the track, and almost causes Jr to spin.

With a few laps to go before green-flag pit stops, and with 93 laps to go, Edwards takes the lead from Johnson. Pit stops begin with 92 laps to go.

The 20 team has to repair or replace the front splitter on their car. We can't believe that bad luck Tony Stewart is having this year.

After the pit stops cycle through, Johnson is back in the lead, and Edwards is running second. With 79 laps to go Edwards is racing for the lead again. Kyle Busch has made it up to tenth place, but he hasn't pitted yet. Stewart takes a long pit stop for that aforementioned splitter replacement.

This is painful. They are still working on Stewart's car and he is now four laps down. He finally gets back on the track six laps down.

Travis Kvapil scrapes the wall with 50 to go and Carl Edwards leading. The caution is in perfect timing for the money stop, and Jimmie Johnson retakes the lead in the pits--more testimony to the excellence of the 48 team. Clint Bowyer gets penalized for too fast on pit road.

They restart with Johnson in first, Edwards second, and Jeff Gordon third. Matt Kenseth has made it all the way up to seventh after that earlier spin. Michael Waltrip spins and brings out another caution.

Johnson will restart in first, Edwards second, Jeff Gordon third, Jeff Burton fourth, and Greg Biffle is fifth. Biffle takes fourth before the lap is over. Matt Kenseth is sixth, and Kevin Harvick is in seventh. Martin Truex, Jr has to pit for mechanical problems. It's a broken gear shift lever. No, it turns out to be a broken gear box.

David Ragan is in eighth, and AJ Allmendinger, for whom this may be his last race of the season, has moved up to tenth.

The rest of the race is pretty much uneventful. Greg Biffle, with seven laps to go announces that his car has pretty much given its all, and he will not be able to catch Johnson and Edwards. The last lap is excellent. Edwards catches Johnson, letting him lead through turns one and two and then makes a move, driving hard into turn three. He passes Johnson at the entrance of turn three, then slides up against the wall, Kyle Busch style. He doesn't make it stick however, and Johnson noses past him in the center of the turn. Edwards chops down to the flat below the line to try to straight-line out of the turn, but cannot catch him and Johnson wins.

This race was just frustrating for me to watch for the most part. It did have plenty of action, and plenty of drama, but it was the wrong kind of drama. Joe Gibbs Racing seems to be imploding during the Chase, and this is very uncharacteristic of this organization. Did they get too comfortable being in the Chase. Maybe they can turn things around, but Johnson, Edwards, and Biffle seem to be hitting everything right while everything is going wrong for JGR.

Jeff Gordon brought a car home in the top five, even while he was feeling terrible, and the car kept bottoming out all around the track. Good show for the Gordon, and we do like to see him on top of his game. He looked like the old Gordon we used to love to hate. Matt Kenseth is also showing he can make the best of adversity, and he is still in contention. We shall see what happens next week at Talladega, always a game changer in the Chase for the Championship.


Amy said...

I have to know:

1. Do you think Vicker's gasman sat on tony's car or do you think tony rolled into the gas man?

2. Do you think the litte ontrack altercation between Stewart and Vickers was on purpose?

RevJim said...

1. I really don't know. It almost looked like he sat on Tony's car, and I think they were complaining that the 20 team was crowding their pit box. But Zippy said the 83 team wasn't even trying to work with them, and if the 20 car was outside the pit box, they would have been penalized, wouldn't they?
2. Vickers was having a bad day with everyone, and may have been taking out some frustration, Tony just happened to be at the wrong place at the wrong time.