The Strange Case of the AAA Texas 500

So much for those boring, cookie cutter tracks.  You know the ones like Charlotte, Chicago, and Texas.  They’re supposed to induce sleeping in the afternoon, but not this week.  For some reason, tempers flared, drivers were pushing and shoving each other outside their cars and one notable finger was given.  So while Greg Biffle threatened to put us to sleep, Jeff, Jeff, Kyle, Chad, and Denny woke us up and made us wonder if there really was a full moon.

In case you were on Mars yesterday or were glued to the Not Football League, something got into Jeff Burton and he wrecked Jeff Gordon under caution.  These two mild mannered drivers met on the track and did something resembling a…pushing match.  The crowd loved it until they say the numerous slow motion replays and saw it wasn’t a fight.

Kyle Busch had some bad luck and left the pits too quickly.  He didn’t much care for the call and gave the NASCAR official the finger on television in front of God and everyone watching (the ESPN guys called it an obscene gesture).  It cost him two laps and filled the air (of those with scanners) with new words to look up.
American Muscle

Then there was Chad Knaus and the entire Hendrick Motorsports Empire.  They proved to the world that team is a non-term at the sport’s leading team.  Apparently all that matters is a fifth straight championship.  In the middle of the race, no less, the greedy bunch decided that the No. 48 pit crew, which had been a little off that day, needed to be demoted to cleaning up the mess from the No. 24’s crash and burn act while the No, 24’s team was promoted to pitting the four-time champ, something that’s not allowed in the other two major NASCAR series.  So much for team morale.

Then, The Biff lost second gear, Matt Kenseth found himself in a car capable of winning, and Denny Hamlin, who was nowhere near the lead for most of the day, ran like a scalded dog to the front, held off Kenseth, and took the points lead.  I thought last week was Halloween.

So, there was plenty to talk about on NASCAR radio today.  Mixed in with the usual, “I think this is the week that Junior’s gonna do it this week,” and “we’re seeing history and we should be proud to have experienced it,” was a serious discussion about how NASCAR really wasn’t so much a team sport as it was all about winning the championship.  Tell that to the Jimmie Johnson pit crew.

So, what did we learn this week?  Let’s start with the fact that Denny Hamlin is on a roll.  Whether he can keep it up for two more races remains to be seen, but his run Sunday was incredible.  Jimmie Johnson’s team will either be demoralized or show new strength.  Kevin Harvick will continue to move forward with determination.  And whether it was noticed or not, a new star was born.   Trevor Bayne drove the Wood Brother’s Ford to a 17th place finish.  It’s notable because pretty much no one has mentioned it.  Watch this kid.  He’s going to be in the headlines soon enough.  It’s too bad that these days, we pay more attention to a ten race run than really exemplary performances.  But that’s the way it is.

So we head to Phoenix, a place that is Jimmie’s house, so all bets are off.  It will be interesting to see if Hamlin can continue this tremendous run.  It will also be interesting to see if Harvick can continue to be strong and steady, and if one of the Fords will be the spoiler.  It’s much better than the last four years.  Johnson will have to work for this championship, but I would have liked to hear more about the Wood Brothers and Trevor Bayne.  Silly me.

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