View From the Couch: Kansas

“That last lap, I just figured, hell with it, I don’t want to finish second here, I want to win this race more than anything in the world, so I kind of bonsaied it in there. I wanted to make sure I cleared Jimmie. I went probably just a little too far and hit the wall harder than I planned on hitting it, he got back by me.
It was fun. Always wanted to kind of try to do that. Now I know it doesn’t work quite the same as video games. But it was fun.

No matter how you feel about Carl Edwards, at least everyone can agree that he’s not point racing.

With the outside blocked on the final lap his only shot to get past Jimmie Johnson was to hurtle himself into turn 3, pass Johnson and hope the car would stick. The car didn’t stick and not only did he end up in the wall, but the wall scrubbed too much speed to hold off Johnson and Edwards settled for second.

Maybe it was because no other car was close enough to matter, but I’d like to think Edwards decided to make his Checkers or Wreckers decision based purely on his desire to win at Kansas and ignore the big picture.

While the top three drivers in the points filled the top three spots at Kansas, they each had drastically different days.

  • Jimmie Johnson started on the pole, led 124 laps, spent basically the whole day in the top 3 and (barely) won the race.
  • Carl Edwards qualified 34th, made contact on pit road twice and still battled back for second place.
  • Greg Biffle spent the majority of the day inside the top ten but struggled most of the day with the handling, didn’t lead a lap before passing Jeff Gordon at the line for third.

Three totally different races but in the end the top three drivers so far have all finished in the top five in each race.
Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson side by side at Kansas
Now they head to Talladega where all three are capable of running in the top five, but none could be considered favorites to finish there.

Other Notes

  • The #48 team has run this same chassis three times this year with dominant results each time: Indianapolis (147.3 driver rating), California (150.0) and Kansas (145.6). It’s a safe bet we’ll see this car again.
  • With the win at Kansas, Johnson has now won at 16 of the 23 Cup tracks. He also passed Bobby Isaac for 16th on the All-time win list (or 10th on the modern day post-1972 list) with 38.
  • Kyle Busch is now officially toast.
  • DEI had a promising weekend with three cars qualifying in the top six. Martin Truex stayed in the top five for the majority of the day and led 27 laps, but Mark Martin and Paul Menard dropped out of the top ten as quickly as Truex’s ascent to the lead. Unfortunately even Truex’s good day was spoled by a bad transmission. None of the cars finished on the lead lap and Truex came home last.
  • If the old NASCAR adage, “If you ain’t cheating you ain’t trying” is true, then at least Chip Ganassi Racing has resumed trying.
  • What in the world has happened to Joe Gibbs Racing in the last three weeks? Not only is Kyle Busch in the middle of a nightmare, but Denny Hamlin has experienced mechanical problems the last two races and Tony Stewart-well that team hasn’t been right for most of the season.
  • A minor nitpick, but I thought Biffle’s paint scheme at Kansas was a little bit ugly. You would think a Sherwin Williams sponsored car would have an amazing paint scheme.
  • Kansas was an important test for the rest of the Chase because it would show the teams that were ready for the other four 1.5 mile tracks. Aside from Kyle Busch’s troubles, nothing new was learned. Roush and Hendrick didn’t disappoint, although Jeff Gordon popping up in the top five was a mild surprise. And the RCR cars were all solidly in the top ten, but never near the front.