Tag: Martinsville Speedway

Biffle Won’t Be Cutting Johnson Any Slack

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Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson won’t be exchanging Christmas gifts anytime soon after their run in at Martinsville in Sunday’s Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500. Biffle was positioned in the top-10 when contact from Johnson sent him spinning.

While there was minimal damage to Biffle’s car, the real damage was having to go to the back of the line after pitting. He did have a strong enough car to work his way back to a ninth place finish, but it could have been a lot better had that not happened.

After the race Biffle got to Johnson to explain his frustration. “Hey, you tore my rear bumper off, you (expletive),” said Biffle. Johnson contended he was next to Biffle, but Biffle warned him he’d “better watch it.”  In the end it was a case of agreeing to disagree over the incident.

With three races to go and Johnson neck and neck for the title, it’ll be interesting to see if Biffle cuts him any slack in the coming weeks.  Drivers tend to have very long memories and if it’s not this season, it could go into next.

Gordon’s Win Shows A Few Things

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Based on the burnout celebration done by Jeff Gordon, after he won the Goody’s Headache Relief Shot 500 Sunday at the Martinsville Speedway, there are two things to draw from that. The first is that his desire to win and compete has never been higher. The second is it is hard to win races in the currently Sprint Cup Series environment.

Many, me included, have question to whether the best years are behind the 42-year old four time champion. His last good championship bid was a second place finish in 2007 and with spotty success the past few years you couldn’t help but think this. This year, while it hasn’t been all smiles for Gordon and his team, they have kept digging. That tenacity got them into the Chase (with NASCAR’s help) and is keeping them in the fight with only three races to go.

“This meant so much.  I feel like we’ve worked so hard, and many weekends we’ve left the racetrack looking at one another going, what do we have to do?  We’ve had race cars, we’ve had pit stops, we’ve had strategy.  I feel like I’ve had days where I’ve done my part but just couldn’t get it all lined up.  Today    I mean, we come into this race with a lot of confidence.  This is a great track for us, the 24 team, for me personally, and these guys, Alan especially, they gave me a great race car all weekend long,” Gordon told media members after his win.

It’s amazing that when Gordon was coming into his own between 1995 and 2001, there was probably only about 10 teams that could win any given weekend. Now with how close the competition is, you’re looking at about 20 teams that could win. Gordon only having X wins the past few years shows that. The fact that Carl Edwards, a driver who is on a top team and has won, could go X races between wins last season underscores that.

I don’t believe it’s a matter of Gordon losing a step, it’s a matter of the competition just getting that much better. If you’re not perfect, you don’t win, and very seldom is everyone perfect.

He sits 27 points out of the lead and has to go out and collect more wins to really contend, but if anyone could do it, Jeff Gordon would be the driver who could.

Harvick’s Perception The Indicator Of Why He’s Leaving

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One day after having a dust up with his boss’ grandson, Kevin Harvick apologized for comments made after Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race. He chalked it up to emotions getting the best of him in the heat of battle.

“There was just a lot of emotion involved,” Harvick told FOX Sports 1 before the Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday. “I hate it for everybody at RCR. You go back and look at the things that happened, and sometimes you regret the things that you say for sure. Yesterday was definitely one of them. I hate it for my guys, and everybody working on the cars. Obviously, when those emotional situations come about, you say things that you really don’t want to say. I just want to apologize to all of those guys, work hard today and try and do everything we can to win the race.”

While he backed away from the comments, there has to be some sort  of truth in Harvick’s original comments. At least the perception of what he believed the situation was at Richard Childress Racing and exactly why he will step away after this season.

Obviously apologizing is the correct course of action considering he’s still got three (at the time four) more races to run and a championship to try and win. You don’t want the team to sabotage his efforts out of spite, which you’d think they’re above that, but you never know.

To Austin and Ty Dillon’s credit they’ve worked hard and won while moving up the NASCAR ladder. It’s not like they are buried in the low 20s and are getting moved along because of who their grandfather is. Austin has won the Truck title and is on his way to a Nationwide title this season. Ty has a couple of wins, but wasn’t consistent enough this year to contend for the Truck title.

This is NASCAR in 2013, it’s more about who you know than your driving talent. I just believe the Dillons have shown enough talent to warrant what they’ve been given so far. It’s just the perception their being handed everything gets under the skin of certain people, like Harvick, who perceive they’ve had to work hard for what they have gotten.

Cooler heads will prevail at Richard Childress Racing, it’s just another example of why it is time for Harvick and the team to go down separate paths after this year.

Dodging The Talladega Bullet

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Everyone had this race circled on their calendar as the race that would shake up the Chase standings. As it played out, for the most part everything stayed the same. Positions changed, such as Jimmie Johnson taking the points lead, but it was nothing like the jumps predicated.

The main reason is everyone thought there would be a big wreck that would take out most of the field. That’s a normal occurrence on the restrictor plate tracks of Talladega and Daytona. One year ago such a wreck happened on the final lap and ruined a few drivers’ championship bids.

This year the wreck never happened to the magnitude that is normally expected. For 187 laps the drivers actually drove with respect, allowing for some give and take. It wasn’t until the final lap did Austin Dillon get loose and was run into by Casey Mears. A wreck at a plate track with only two cars involved? That’s nearly unheard of. “I’m OK, but that was strange being in the infield care center with only myself usually there’s about ten of us in there together,” commented Mears after being released from the infield care center.

The chaos that ensued, because drivers where just starting to make their moves forward, allowed Johnson to get by Kenseth by virtue of his 13th place finish versus Kenseth’s 20th place finish.

Without a big Talladega shake up, things have narrowed down to Johnson and Kenseth for the title. There might still be hope for those on the outside looking in, because the tight half mile Martinsville Speedway is next. It could be a place where someone takes out revenge for something that has happened during the season, and knock them out of title contention.

The great part is we don’t know until we get there. The Goody’s Headache Relief 500 gets underway at 1:30 PM EST and can be seen on ESPN.