So, what did we learn at Michigan?
Well, we learned why Kevin Harvick is so darned happy. He is first in the standings, the hottest driver in recent weeks, and the first to lock his way into the Chase. So, why not add his third win of the season to the mix? Those ten Chase bonus points for the victory has him only 20 behind Jimmie Johnson and Denny Hamlin when they re-set the points next month.
We learned it was not a good day to be a Hendrick driver. Johnson looked good early, but found himself slipping back in the second half of the event to finish a fortunate 12th. He was the best of the lot. Mark Martin creased the wall early, and his 28th place result was one behind Jeff Gordon, who had a tire go down at the three-quarter pole. As for Dale Earnhardt Jr, he was 19th on a day we noticed David Ragan a heck of a lot more.
We learned that those who led the first half of the event were not necessarily the guys we saw up there at the end. Harvick, Greg Biffle (4th) and Tony Stewart (6th) proved to be the exceptions. Denny Hamlin came from the outback at the start to be the runner-up, while emerging from somewhere in the twilight zone was Carl Edwards to earn third.
We learned that Ryan Newman was not happy with Joey Logano. We don’t know if their post-race argument, including a shove from the veteran, was about the racing deal that saw Newman go for a spin or if it resulted from Logano trying to criticize the Rocketman’s driving style. If he thought Newman drove aggressively, he now knows the man also argues the same way.
We learned it was a good day for Jack Roush to make his return after his latest plane crash. Biffle and Matt Kenseth finished right behind Edwards, while Ragan was 11th. With Roush now surviving two such accidents in just over eight years, I suggest he might wish to avoid future such landings and take up parachuting. Going up is fine, but he needs a new plan coming down.
We learned that Kurt Busch could have used a different engine. Maybe one that might last more than 60 miles before blowing up. Two DNF’s in his last three is not good, but even though he fell to tenth in the standings, he is in a Chase place by a good 200 points.
We learned that Clint Bowyer would regain the final invitation to the fall ball, though by just 35 points over Martin with three races to go before the deadline. Newman, Jamie McMurray, Kasey Kahne, and Junior are also close enough to grab it if all goes very well for them at Bristol. I suggest, however, that no one hold their breath on that happening.
One of the circuits marquee tracks is next on the schedule, a place Johnson claimed the prize in the spring and where Kyle Busch swept the pair in 2009. It is where legends visit Victory Lane, including three Hall of Famers and seventeen Cup champions since 1961. Bristol is indeed hallowed ground.