NASCAR at Atlanta After Thoughts: Stewart Wins, Ten Are In and There’s One To Go

Tony Stewart won the Emory Healthcare 500 at AMS, ten of the top twelve are locked into the Chase and the last two of the top twelve would have to have an absolute   disastrous race in Richmond to miss it. Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer aren’t locked in, but they might as well be with what it would take for them to miss out on a chance to make a run for the Sprint Cup Championship.

That is exactly what Ryan Newman is hoping for next Saturday night; a totally unexpected happening that takes one or both of them out and giving him an opportunity to make it in. The chances of Ryan making it are astronomical, at least from this fan’s view, but it will add at least the slightest bit of drama to a points race that is pretty much already decided. Yeah, many are still pulling for Ryan to make it in, but not many expect it.

Basically, Jamie McMurray is out (barring the absolute disasters mentioned above) but he has had a year of highs and lows. He’s won the big ones (Daytona and Indy) but Atlanta was crunch time for the #1 Earnhardt/Ganassi team and they just didn’t have it. Jamie had a good year but as a team, they need to work on being more consistent.

The thing I noticed from my view was watching many of the Cup cars with over 800 horsepower dirt-trackin’ the asphalt for the whole night. For some, it was as slippery as a clay track in the Midwest on a Saturday night after a heavy rain. (Maybe I should mention why I say that… I grew up around the dirt tracks in the Midwest and remember some of those Saturday nights.) One thing is certain, no matter how many horses you have under the hood, if you’re not hooking ‘em up you sure aren’t going anywhere fast. The tire Goodyear brought to Atlanta was plenty durable but many of the teams had trouble hookin’ them up to the track. I don’t think we can put the blame on Goodyear (even though I’m sure many would like to.) Part of the blame definitely has to go the racing surface at the Atlanta Motor Speedway… it is losing it’s grip and has become more and more abrasive.

I really expected the Roush Fords to make a better showing than they did although Carl Edwards did finish second. From this fan’s view (and looking at performance over the last several weeks), it does look like the strongest teams going into the Chase will be RCR Chevys and, quite possibly, the Roush/Fenway Fords. I know things can do a 180 when the Chase starts, but they have been showing more consistent runs than the other teams for the last several weeks.

Atlanta Motor Speedway is not a good place to judge over-all performance and it seems from this fan’s view that it has become a track that many teams experience either feast or famine. Case in point would be Kurt Bush; he basically had the field covered in the spring and struggled most of the night with a car they could not get to hook up. I’m not sure whether it was the diligence of crew chief Steve Addington or Kasey Kahne slamming into him later in the race that helped them run better, but he did finish sixth on a night it looked as though he would finish 25th or worse.

Although I know Steve Addington was busting his hump to make it better all night, it seems to me they did much better after the 3400 pound “full body slam” of Kahne… (Hey, I’m just sayin’…)

I don’t expect much to change as far as the top twelve points positions are concerned even though the NASCAR Spring Cup series heads to Richmond this coming weekend, but, this has been a year of many unexpected happenings and I guess anything (even the next to impossible) can happen.

Like I said, I don’t expect it will happen… but… that doesn’t mean I wouldn’t like to see it happen. Hey, it’s nothing against Clint Bowyer, Greg Biffle or Richard Childress but it would definitely add something called drama to the racing for the weekend if both Greg Biffle and Clint Bowyer blew engines during the first lap or two… don’t ya think?

See ya next time… Rusty

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© September 8, 2010 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman and

(All audio productions by and PCNProduction