NASCAR at Texas After Thoughts: Hamlin Wins Chase Race #8

Denny Hamlin not only won Chase race #8 but also took a 33 point lead over Jimmie Johnson in the Chase for the 2010 Sprint Cup. If that was all that happened it would be a relatively ho-hum day for many, but Texas had a lot more than just a shift in who was leading in the points. It was a race and a day filled with drama, tempers and frustrations.

I have to admit, I didn’t think the top three would really be at the top of the scoring pylon, but I almost did get Jimmie Johnson’s finishing spot right; he did finish 9th on the day and lost a lot points to Hamlin. At first, it looked like I was going to be right because Hamlin and Harvick were not running all that well, but as the day wore on, they got better and better and the rest… well… it’s history (as they say).

Although I know everybody’s already heard about it, I can’t help but add my opinion to the mix about the “discussion” between the two Jeff’s, (uh, that would be Jeff Burton and Jeff Gordon, in case you missed it.) The reason I have to say something about it is because I really didn’t see it the way Jeff Burton first said it happened. I know there was more to it than just him putting Jeff Gordon in the wall, but it was amazing how Burton explained it.

If you get a chance to listen to it, do; I really don’t think you’ll believe your ears. Burton said he didn’t mean to do it, but it certainly doesn’t look that way in the videos I saw. He said Gordon pulled up in front of him, but in actuality, Burton pulled down behind Gordon, laid the bumper to him, started pushing him and ran him directly into the wall hard. Burton also said he didn’t know what happened; they must have gotten hooked together or Gordon hit him and messed up his tie rods or something.

From my view, as a fan, it certainly looked like Jeff Burton didn’t actually know the yellow was out or, maybe he did but didn’t want to admit it and was surprised when he pulled down behind Gordon and the #24 slowed down. As I say, this is just my opinion, but it did look like Burton intended to lay the bumper to Gordon to let him know he was upset about something, (although that something is unknown at the moment.) As it turned out, both of them finished way back in the finishing order, Burton was able to come back on the track many laps later and Gordon and his team packed it in.

There has been a lot of chatter since the race about the changing of the pit crew for the #48 of Jimmie Johnson. Although it isn’t the first time it has happened, it is absolutely not the norm. As close as the points race is and as many spots as the pit crew’s mistakes were costing Jimmie, something had to be done. Many think it is, (or should be), against the rules to change pit crews during a race. Some said they win as a team and they should lose as one and I understand that view point. Others just think it shouldn’t be allowed and that Jimmie should have no options but to let the pit crew’s performance destroy his day (and I understand that one, too.)

I say, hey, the #48 guys were struggling, (and Paul Menard didn’t help matters on the very first pit stop by leaving his pit stall and almost taking out a couple of Jimmie’s crewmen and knocking one of the #48’s tires into the infield. (Personally, I think that rattled them from the start.) If it had only been one pit stop or maybe two, maybe they should have left them in. As it was, there were a total of four stops they cost Johnson positions on the track; they just never seemed to be clicking on all cylinders at all. When Burton took Gordon out, opportunity knocked, crew chiefs Knaus and Letarte communicated and decided it was time to shake things up and they sure did.

Kyle Bush and NASCAR had a little disagreement that would have only cost him a lap. Since he decided to make an issue of it and let his emotions take over for just a few seconds, it put him down 3 laps and made it very difficult for him to recover. I’ve listened to a lot of viewpoints about the event, (which for those that missed it, included him “flipping off” a NASCAR official in his discontent), and I think many missed the point. It appears a majority think he was penalized for the “flip off” but I am of the opinion, (along with several others), it was because he was flagrant in his arrogance against the sanctioning body, which in this case is the same as if some player in another type sport did the same thing to a referee or umpire. In the latter instance, they would have been thrown out of the game. In Kyle’s case, he was allowed to stay in the game, they just made it seem like he was out of it.

It may be just this fan’s opinion, but, I’m thinking it was a good thing NASCAR did. I have grown a bit weary of people making the excuse for Kyle that it is just because he is so competitive. I’m not denying his talents and he has come a long way in controlling his emotions this season. He is going to win more races and some championships in the future, but he still has a bit more work to do to become that overall champion he and his fans want him to be…

See ya next time… Rusty

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© November 10, 2010 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman and

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