[media-credit name=”Barry Albert” align=”alignright” width=”233″][/media-credit]These southern belles have attitude. Next week, the Lady in Black will get her turn in Darlington, not allowing the boys much time to recover after dancing with that gal in Richmond. Last Saturday night, she had a shine for the Gibbs boys, as Kyle Busch won his 21st Cup race to give himself an early 26th birthday present. If it wasn’t him, then team mate Denny Hamlin would have claimed the prize. The pair pretty much dominated this thing from start to finish.
Every four or five years, somebody not considered one of NASCAR’s stars actually wins at Richmond. That sure didn’t happen this time out, as Busch won his third straight spring race there. However, for a time in the latter stages there was some cause for doubt.
At the start, the FOX crew was telling us not to expect too many cautions. I guess they didn’t turn the page to read how this script would turn out at the end. We had wrecks, we had pit strategy, and we had folks coming and going. Then some of them simply were gone.
Jeff Gordon thought he had favored status as well, and for quite some time he did. However, it appears the object of his desires turned fickle on him, and the California boy found himself smacked against the inside wall of the Virginia track in the late going. It was Richmond’s version of the big one that caught Gordon with a hundred laps to go. At least the others involved came back to limp around, but Gordon was done and finished 39th.
If the track didn’t get them, there were always boys being boys. Ryan Newman’s little tap send Juan Pablo Montoya into the fence and tore up his hind quarters to ruin his day. Later, the Columbian had Newman say hello to his little friend to manage a little payback. Montoya finished 29th while Newman flirted with salvaging a good day before his need for fuel left him in 20th.
Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson came in leading the way, and after Top Tens Saturday night they continue to do so. Kasey Kahne, David Ragan, and Brian Vickers needed to do well, and did. Along with Gordon, David Reutimann and Paul Menard found themselves outside the Top 30 and picking up mere chump change to add to their point totals.
Still, there are 17 races to go before the Chase invitations are handed out, so lots of time yet for good and bad things to happen. Darlington has a reputation of being down right ornery to some, but she has had her favorites over the years. She might be the track too tough to tame, but she has no shortage of five time winners. Among them are Bill Elliott, Bobby Allison, Cale Yarborough, Dale Earnhardt (9 times), Darrell Waltrip, David Pearson (10 victories) and Jeff Gordon, who will be seeking his eighth trip to Victory Lane. Hey, if Richmond wasn’t going to give ole Jeff a little sugar, maybe Darlington might. After last week, he could use a little loving this Saturday evening.
Denny Hamlin has one Darlington win, claiming the Southern 500 a year ago. As close as he came last week, he sure could use another one about now.