View From the Couch: Atlanta II

If you saw Carl Edwards’ Victory Lane interview, he looked like a bank robber that had done everything right, taken the loot planned his escape and then gets caught after he got home. “Are you kidding me? Man, you’ve rained on my parade all day. I could have done without that one. The good news is Edwards won the race. The bad news came when ESPN’s Dave Byrnes relayed the fact that Jimmie Johnson cut through the top ten in the final eight laps to finish 2nd. One step forward for Edwards suddenly becomes one step back thanks to the #48’s last ditch pit stop for tires. Speaking of Johnson’s move, it resembled how getting a star on Super Mario Brothers allowed you to plow through everything for a short period ot time.

While Edwards’ mistake at Talladega and the #99 blunder at Lowe’s eliminated any realistic chance at the championship, it’s hard to ignore his spectacular 2008. He now has seven wins, 16 top 5’s and 24 top tens. Six of his wins have come on 1.5 or 2 mile tracks. Edwards was already a star, but he has elevated himself to one of the elite Cup drivers with his monster season.

If recent history holds up, he also can look forward to win number eight next week. Since 2005 the winner of the fall Atlanta race has won at Texas every year. The reason is simple: there’s no time to discover and incorporate any new setup tricks by next week. Edwards was the best today (140.0 driver rating), and he’ll likely be the best next week too.

  • Kurt Busch ran in the top five almost all day and held on for only his ninth top ten of the season. It’s hard to believe he is the same driver that last year won two races, led 885 laps and made the Chase and was a perennial contender. Actually, it’s even harder to believe Busch won a race this year (New Hampshire in June). What was that about?

  • Stop me if you’ve heard this one: Juan Pablo Montoya has a great run all day, running in the top five and then finds trouble. This time he got in a pit road wreck with Clint Bowyer that sheared the front of Montoya’s car off. Then the car was finished off when Montoya was one party of a multi-car crash. It’s been a trying season for Ganassi Racing and Montoya, but I keep imagining what Montoya would do in a car that could run up front every week instead of once every four races.

  • Something needs to be done about wrecked cars returning to the track. Michael Waltrip caused two cautions on Sunday because he was riding around in an already trashed car. This slows down the race and creates a hazard for other cars. Under the current rules Waltrip has to keep scrapping for every lap and position possible in order to grab needed owners points. It’s not just Waltrip, a lot of cars scramble to return to the race to pick up as many possible points as they can. How often do we see wrecked cars create more cautions from spinning out, cut tires or debris? NASCAR should do two things: Officials should hold cars in the pits or garage until sufficient repairs can be made. Two, NASCAR should award the same number of points from 33rd to 43rd. That way, cars not on the lead lap and destined to finish in the bottom ten will not go to the trouble of taping together cars in the name of three points. It’s one thing to cut the sheet metal away at Bristol or Martinsville, but a high speed track like Atlanta should be kept clear of potential road mines.

  • During Sunday’s race, ESPN ran a breaking news update on their ticker about Mark Martin possibly replacing Casey Mears in the #5 car for the final race at Homestead. If I knew Javascript I would have a ticker at the bottom of this post reading, “Who…Really…Cares…?