Is it just me, or are the rest of you beginning to notice a pattern forming here? Let’s see, Jeff Gordon dominated the race at Las Vegas and Jimmie Johnson won. Kurt Bush dominated the race at Bristol and… Jimmie Johnson again makes the trip to Victory Lane.
I don’t know about you, but it appears that leading the most laps and just generally outperforming the rest of the teams on any given day doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll go home the victor. In fact, as long as Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team are still on the track and within striking distance there is no guarantee that you won’t be racing them to the checkers.
Yes, it’s true, once again, Jimmie Johnson is being blamed for the lack of interest in the viewing audiences of NASCAR. I have to say that it is beginning to get tiring to listen to all the complaints about a team and driver that is performing so much further ahead and above the rest. Yes, I have my own favorite driver and team and, yes, I would like to see them win; but until they can beat Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the rest of the 48 team, I just can’t expect them to be in victory lane.
I find it interesting that we are only five races into the new season and many people are already saying the season is over and the race for the Chase is for second place. In fact, I have already heard people saying, “Go ahead an award Jimmie Johnson The Cup for 2010. He’s already got the season locked up anyway.”
I find that to be premature and for lack of better words, it’s just plain stupid. I still say that Jimmie Johnson, Chad Knaus and the No. 48 team are forcing the issue and causing the rest of the team’s to work all the harder to put them in the rearview mirror. They have set the bar very high and until the other teams can consistently outperform them, we are just going have to sit by and wait for those other teams to catch up and begin outperforming them on a regular basis.
In all honesty, some teams are getting very close to doing that. It is pretty obvious that Kurt Bush, along with crew chief, Steve Addington and the No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge are showing strength everywhere they go. Add to that the Richard Childress teams of Kevin Harvick, Clint Bowyer and Jeff Burton and it looks like the competition will begin to heat up even more in the coming weeks.
So, what was the racing like at Bristol? Actually, it was a very interesting race and full of unknowns. Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski managed to stay away from each other’s bumpers and quarter panels and, I have to be honest once again, it appears that Brad Keselowski learned something from the incident in Atlanta. Now this is just this fans observation, but even though he was still driving aggressively, he wasn’t knocking people out of the way even in the Nationwide race on Saturday. Actually, if my observation is true, then he can begin to show us what he is really made of as far as driving ability and talent. Now I know there will be those that disagree with me and say that this was just short track racing and the opportunity wasn’t there to lay the bumper to those he was trying to pass. I say, and this is just my observation, Brad was driving differently around everyone than in past weeks. There was just a different look to his racing to me. He was still able to pass people and move aggressively forward through the field without all the rough stuff that people have been upset with him about in the recent past. Frankly, I am glad to see that. We already knew he had talent in now it appears he is gaining some maturity, especially since the “flying” incident at Atlanta.
Taking a final look at the outcome of last weekend’s race at Bristol, there was no one more disappointed than Kurt Bush and Steve Addington. They dominated all day long, led the most laps and Kurt led the most laps he’s led in a single Sprint Cup race. Unfortunately, because of the race in Bristol, it appears he has already conceded the race in Martinsville this weekend to the No. 48 team. Maybe he’s just trying to keep from getting his hopes too high until they unload off the truck on Friday, or maybe he just doesn’t have a lot of confidence in his ability to do well at Martinsville. It is true that Jimmie Johnson has won five out of the last seven races at Martinsville so it goes without saying, that his chances are pretty good.
At any rate, this weekend in Martinsville will be the first weekend of the return of the spoiler to the Cup cars. I am anxious to see what difference that may make in the competition of those that used to run good with the old car as opposed to the COT. Who knows, it is entirely possible in the weeks ahead that we could see some of the ones that were running strong before they went to the winged COT’s, return to running in front of the pack instead of in the middle or the back… (or, maybe not. It could just be business as usual…)
See ya next time… Rusty
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© March 23, 2010 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and NascarFansView.com