Well that was a very fast race. 500 miles in 3 hours is no joke. Texas has never had less than 5 caution flags and Saturday only saw 2. Even more crazy was how windy it was and how much that affected some of the cars handling but turned out to cause no major accidents. Click through for more on what happened this weekend…
Recap: 234 laps of green to finish the race is certainly not the most exciting race. There is one thing to be thankful for and that is that it did not get as strung out as it could have. We still had some interesting pit stops with guys battling for position there and making costly mistakes. We still had a challenge near the end of the race. If you are a Carl Edwards fan, you have to feel pretty good about the way he battled to an 8th place finish all under green. While this may not be the race that you want to see in primetime on a Saturday Night, it told us a lot about the competitors this week. For example…
Biffle: What a great race start to finish he had. You could say this for nearly every race he has had this season so far. The difference is he got the result he wanted this week. This team has been trying hard and has owned the points lead since Phoenix but all everyone has done is talked about other drivers. Biffle is pretty quiet and doesn’t ruffle feathers in interviews much so I imagine this is going to stay the same. I just wonder if he is going to get legitimate championship talk now. I’m impressed so far at this team with their competitiveness at each track. Also that they have yet to truly have the bad luck of a mechanical failure or get caught up in an accident like some of the other big names.
Kyle Busch: I honestly don’t even remember seeing his car on the track or hearing his name mentioned the entire race. However, he finished 11th. I know Kyle is not happy about that but he should be after the way this year has gone. Two positives: He stayed on the lead lap the entire race and he’s up to 14th in points. He is within striking distance. They didn’t call the new wild card rule the “Kyle Busch” rule for nothing.
Kurt Busch: Kurt Busch had a quiet 13th place finish, one lap down, at Texas. While you would think this is something a small time team like Phoenix Racing would be excited about, they aren’t. In fact, owner James Finch had this to say when asked if they would be able to race the entire schedule: “Well, we’re trying. There’s a question. We’re off and running and trying. We’re talking to some people and going from there. We’re headed to Kansas this weekend and hopefully get in the top 10 there and then come back to Talladega and have a really good run.” Doesn’t sound good for the team and additional quotes from Finch seem to put the onus on the Crew Chief for the performance of the team.
Harvick: Happy seemed to turn on the afterburners much like Tony Stewart did back at California this year and drove right up to second place. However, his rear tire changer bobbled some lugnuts and then slipped on the way back to the left side of the car which cost him a lot of time in the pits. Harvick never recovered and floated between 7th and 13th the rest of the day before finishing 9th. At a track where he usually doesn’t have a shot to win this had to be disappointing to finish here after running well so early. One interesting thing happened though, when cleaning off the grill during one of the stops the crew found a $100 bill. Proof that the wind was really crazy out there.
Hendrick’s 200th: The team is still searching for win #200 in Sprint Cup and it will have to wait at least another week. These guys are pretty good at Kansas and that was the site of victory #199. Jimmie Johnson had another great run today but Biffle was just too much. Jimmie actually ran himself into the wall, possibly by over-driving the car, trying to get back to Biffle. While Jimmie was disappointed at 2nd place, Jeff Gordon should have been ecstatic to finish 4th after starting 34th. Gordon has been running well this year and the car has been fast. It just hasn’t lasted the entire race due to mechanical failure or a wreck. Gordon is now up to 17th in points.
Martin: The old man finished 3rd and was pretty much there the entire race. He looked good and raced hard. I picked him to win and I’m satisfied with him finishing 3rd. He is now 20th in points despite racing only 5 of 7 races. Would be fun to see him get a couple victories and qualify for the Chase on a limited schedule.
The Rock: Kasey Kahne won the first NASCAR event at Rockingham Speedway in 8 years. It was Kasey’s 4th truck win in only 5 starts. Rockingham was special for Kasey Kahne because he finished 2nd there in his 2nd Sprint Cup race on the final Sprint Cup event at the Rock. Attendance was said to be around 75% – 80% which I’d say is pretty solid for a truck event. Very cool for NASCAR to go back there and even cooler to give the Truck guys a stand alone event on a Sunday afternoon. Looking forward to another year of racing at the Rock in 2013.
Fuel Injection: Rumor has it that the problems that Brad Keselowski faced on Saturday night were again related to Fuel Injection. Tough break as he has now dropped to 15th in points despite having a fast car every time they take the track.
I’ll be back Friday with a look towards Kansas and let you know whether I think Rick Hendrick will finally get that 200th victory.