View From the Couch: Bristol

So far 2009 looks a lot like 2008. Kyle Busch and Gibbs Racing appear in top form, Roush-Fenway has two wins and looks strong again and Hendrick, despite being winless, looks set for another superb season. Busch has two wins and led 517 laps and looks set to vie for another 8-10 wins. Here’s the problem with all of this: none of it matters until September. If you asked Busch he’d probably say the same thing. Wins and trophies are fun, but for Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards, Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson double-digit wins won’t mean as much if they don’t contribute to a championship in November. No one cares about the 2001 Seattle Mariners, the 2007 New England Patriots or the 1991 UNLV Runnin’ Rebels (although they were one of the most entertaining college basketball teams ever). The reason no one cares is because these teams were all record-setting in their regular seasons but lost in the playoffs. Admittedly NASCAR is different and any win is a feat, but considering Busch’s Chase history, critics will prevail until September.

While it’s fairly likely that Busch and Johnson will be in the hunt come Chase time, this year could have a different, yet familiar player. Jeff Gordon looks like the 2008 version and is racking up top 5’s like Rob Gordon from High Fidelity. If gordon maintains his pace and Carl Edwards finds his winning form, a four man scrap could ensue.

Notes and Thoughts

  • A tale of two Matty’s: In the four Bristol races prior to the CoT, Matt Kenseth had 2 wins, 3 top 5’s and led 50, 415, 127, and 117 laps. Since the CoT he has led zero laps in five races and hasn’t finished better than 9th.
  • Better Late than NeverDavid Reutimann spent the entire race inside the top 15, often in the top 5 before fading to 12th. Reutimann has now finished in the top 15 in four of five races this year including a top 5 at Las Vegas. Reutimann is something of a late bloomer on the Cup scene, an anti-Young Gun, but in his third Cup season he is hitting his stride at age 39.
  • Looking Out for No. 1 In the victory press conference Busch was asked about comparisons to historical drivers: I’m not out there to be No. 1. We all know who No. 1 is and forever will be. To me, I go out there to win races, to be No. 1 on the racetrack.It’s nice to see Busch appreciates NASCAR history and remembers who was number 1 when he was growing up. Head’s up Steve Park, Shrub’s gunnin’ for you.