Race: AAA 400
Winner: Kurt Busch
What happened: Kurt Busch had the fast car when it counted at the end beating Jimmie Johnson to the line by 0.908 seconds.
History: This is Kurt Busch’s 24th career win and second in 2011.
Points: The points battle tightened up after this race with Kevin Harvick and Carl Edwards tied for first place and hold a nine point advantage over Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch.
This Penske Racing team has been digging all year coming over a lot of adversity. It wasn’t a few years ago that the Penske organization was nothing more than one good car and two mid pack cars on good days. Now they’re down to two cars and have five wins between them this year. This is the most wins since Ryan Newman won eight races in 2003 (note Rusty Wallace chipped in with zero wins that year) and 2008 was the last time more than one driver won a race (Newman and Busch each had one that year). Factor in them accounting for two of the three full time Dodge rides out there and makes this even more impressive.
Another team doing good not only this race, but this year, is Richard Petty Motorsports. A.J. Allmendinger came home seventh and Marcos Ambrose motored home in ninth place. This is such a turnaround from last year with about this time you didn’t know if they’d be coming to the track or not. It’s a case of less is more, instead of having paper thin budgets for four cars, they trimmed it to two cars and the results are coming. It sucks that so many crew members lost jobs in the shuffle, but there’s no point in spread yourself too thin just because you can.
That will be a great segue to talk about Richard Childress Racing. Sure they’ll be losing Clint Bowyer next year but this could be a good thing for the organization. The 31 car of Jeff Burton is struggling and while they don’t need that fourth team, why not pool your talents to improve that ride. Then you re-build in the Nationwide Series for a year or two with Austin Dillon, and then bring back the fourth Sprint Cup car. That would make the most sense rather than sticking someone in there with flimsy sponsorship just to keep the ride going.
I don’t know why the media picks random things to harp on the week after a race. Case in point is the disagreement between Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson at New Hampshire. If they could have, the media would have made it a TMZ like headline. “Knaus cheating on Johnson, tempers flare at Hendrick Motorsports!” could have been the headline. A driver and crew chief got frustrated with each other during the race, big deal! That happens once a race, or five times a race if your driver is Kurt Busch. And then they pile on that Johnson and company are washed up, this isn’t their year, etc. That’s just crazy, until they reach Denny Hamlin levels of sucking this time of year, Johnson is not out of it. Even if he’s mathematically eliminated before the last race, I’m still not going to be convinced he won’t somehow pull out the championship. Settle down everyone!
Good to see Martin Truex, Jr. win the pole for the race. Not good to see him struggle and finish 30th. That team has a long way to go still to get back on track. Lucky for them they’re not doing anything foolish like adding a third team, because you know less is more. Oh, wait, never mind.
Denny Hamlin, Brad Keselowski, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., and Tony Stewart used up their one mulligan for the Chase. Runs like this will not fly, especially as the races tick down. You need to be back up front or just hope that everyone falters as well.
Picks to win:
Jimmie Johnson – 2md
Carl Edwards – 3rd
Jeff Gordon – 12th
Tony Stewart – 25th
Greg Biffle – 27th
Reality set back in on my picks, although Johnson came close out there. And had this been a 500 mile race like the olden days, Edwards would have probably won. Gordon was a factor until late. Stewart missed the boat and reverted back to his pre-Chicagoland ways. Then Biffle crashed, but was running in the top ten. I’m going to say, not bad considering I just sort of winged it out there, but I might be biased.
Start ‘N’ Park Trophy:
Pick: Michael McDowell – 37th
Winner: Travis Kvapil, 12 laps, out because of “ignition”
Second week in a row Kvapil snuck in there and ruined my pick for the Start ‘N’ Park Trophy. He is becoming a strong player in the parking game while taking a break from his normal ride in the #38 car. I wonder if he feels like a cheated on wife, his car is out there running full races and he’s parking after a handful of laps and going home. Maybe he shouldn’t have bet on making it a full year in the Camping World Truck Series this year for points and he’d not be in this position.
|2||6||48||Jimmie Johnson||Lowe’s / Kobalt Tools||Chevrolet||400||$220,786||Running||157||44|
|4||9||4||Kasey Kahne||Red Bull||Toyota||400||$142,158||Running||0||40|
|5||18||17||Matt Kenseth||Crown Royal||Ford||400||$148,311||Running||3||40|
|6||5||18||Kyle Busch||Interstate Batteries||Toyota||400||$142,266||Running||1||39|
|7||7||43||AJ Allmendinger||Best Buy||Ford||400||$127,836||Running||8||38|
|8||27||33||Clint Bowyer||Cheerios / Hamburger Helper||Chevrolet||400||$140,558||Running||0||36|
|10||22||29||Kevin Harvick||Rheem Chasing The Cure||Chevrolet||400||$129,861||Running||10||35|
|12||34||24||Jeff Gordon||Drive To End Hunger||Chevrolet||400||$116,786||Running||0||32|
|13||14||00||David Reutimann||Aaron’s Dream Machine||Toyota||400||$107,058||Running||0||31|
|14||30||83||Brian Vickers||Red Bull||Toyota||400||$103,964||Running||0||30|
|16||3||27||Paul Menard||Pittsburgh Paints / Menards||Chevrolet||400||$83,250||Running||0||28|
|17||16||78||Regan Smith||Furniture Row||Chevrolet||400||$101,195||Running||0||27|
|18||11||11||Denny Hamlin||FedEx Office||Toyota||400||$118,950||Running||0||26|
|20||15||2||Brad Keselowski||Miller Lite||Dodge||400||$98,808||Running||2||25|
|22||24||42||Juan Pablo Montoya||Target||Chevrolet||398||$111,258||Running||0||22|
|23||20||39||Ryan Newman||U.S. Army ROTC||Chevrolet||398||$113,100||Running||0||21|
|24||21||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr||National Guard/Amp Energy||Chevrolet||398||$81,225||Running||0||20|
|25||28||14||Tony Stewart||Office Depot / Mobil 1||Chevrolet||398||$115,683||Running||0||19|
|27||10||16||Greg Biffle||3M / CUBITRON||Ford||397||$87,800||Running||0||17|
|29||33||20||Joey Logano||The Home Depot||Toyota||397||$80,150||Running||0||15|
|30||1||56||Martin Truex Jr||NAPA Auto Parts||Toyota||396||$93,100||Running||2||15|
|31||25||51||Landon Cassill||Phoenix Construction / “Thank A Teacher Today”||Chevrolet||395||$83,983||Running||0||0|
|32||41||36||Dave Blaney||Golden Corral||Chevrolet||395||$78,172||Running||0||12|
|33||37||71||Andy Lally||Interstate Moving Services||Ford||394||$78,925||Running||0||11|
|34||43||38||J.J. Yeley||Drive Sober, Arrive Alive||Ford||390||$68,300||Running||0||10|
|36||40||32||Mike Bliss||Street King||Ford||346||$67,925||Accident||1||0|
|37||26||37||Josh Wise||Max Q Motorsports||Ford||56||$67,800||Brakes||0||0|
|38||38||7||Reed Sorenson||SPEED Energy/MAPEI/Menards||Dodge||52||$67,650||Electrical||1||0|
|39||42||87||Joe Nemechek||NEMCO Motorsports||Toyota||49||$67,500||Clutch||0||0|
|40||35||66||Michael McDowell||HP Racing LLC||Toyota||44||$67,325||Fuel Pump||1||5|
|41||31||30||David Stremme||Inception Motorsports||Chevrolet||31||$67,125||Vibration||0||3|
|42||29||46||Scott Speed||Red Line Oil / International||Ford||24||$66,995||Brakes||0||0|