Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”227″][/media-credit]1. Kyle Busch: Busch took the lead at Michigan with 12 laps to go, then fought off Jimmie Johnson during a green-white-checkered finish to win the Pure Michigan 400. It was Busch’s series-best fourth win of the year, and he took sole possession of the points lead, and now leads Johnson by ten.
“I clinched a spot in the Chase For The Cup,” Busch said. “That makes me the first to do so this year. That fact supports my motto to ‘Stay one step ahead of the competition, and an arm’s length away from Kevin Harvick and Richard Childress.
“Many are calling this the ‘new’ Kyle Busch. I’d prefer the previous version not return. Of course, if I start the Chase as the favorite and a points lead and fail to win the Sprint Cup, then I guess the ‘old’ Kyle will have returned.”
2. Jimmie Johnson: Johnson finished second at Michigan, coming up short in a late battle with Kyle Busch for the win. It was Johnson’s third straight top-10 finish, and he moved up to second in the Sprint Cup point standings, ten behind Busch.
“Everyone is calling Busch the favorite to win the Sprint Cup championship,” Johnson said. “But I think it’s wide open. There are eight to ten drivers who could win the Cup. But only one who will.
“It remains to be seen whether Kyle can hang with the five-time champ in the Chase. There’s a not-so-fine line between being ‘No. 1’ and ‘no one.’ The way I see it, until you’re the former, you’re the latter.”
3. Carl Edwards: Edwards tumbled from the Sprint Cup points lead after early electrical problems sent the No. 99 Aflac Ford to the garage. After losing 28 laps for repairs, Edwards eventually finished 36th, and fell to fourth in the standings, 39 behind Kyle Busch.
“What can electrical problems do to a points lead?” Edwards asks. “Make it not current. Carl Edwards not in the points lead? That’s a shocker. Luckily, my tumble down the points standings is made more tolerable by knowing I just signed a fat, new contract. Surprisingly, cold, hard cash makes for a soft landing.
“You may have heard my animated character appeared on the Disney cartoon ‘Kick Buttowski.’ Jack Roush’s character appeared as well, representing a car owner who goes to extreme lengths to keep his driver happy. He’s called ‘Kiss Buttowski.’”
4. Matt Kenseth: Kenseth led the way for Roush Fenway Racing at Michigan, finishing tenth as David Ragan took 12th and Greg Biffle finished 20th. Carl Edwards was slowed by electrical problems and finished 38th, falling out of the points lead.
“It was an up-and-down day for RFR,” Kenseth said. “I finished tenth, but Biffle finished a middle-of-the-pack 20th despite leading 86 of 203 laps, while Edwards suffered major electrical issues in finishing 36th. Is Boris Said still looking for Biffle’s address? Here’s a clue: the street name is not Victory Lane. As for Edwards, he’s gone downhill since signing his contract extension. He’s down to No. 4 in the points standings after leading the way for most of the year. I guess we should start calling him ‘Fourth Cousin Carl.’
“Did you notice my No. 17 with the Kroger paint scheme? That may have been the first time anything associated with Matt Kenseth has been described as colorful. It sure would have been funny had Clint Bowyer’s No. 33 car, sponsored by Cheerios and Hamburger Helper, would have ‘got into’ my Kroger car.”
5. Jeff Gordon: Gordon led 50 laps at Michigan, second to Greg Biffle’s 86, and finished sixth, his 11th top-10 result of the year. He moved up one spot to sixth in the point standings and trails Kyle Busch by 60.
“The car was at its best while leading,” Gordon said. “By the way, in addition to my Sprint Cup titles, I’m a four-time champ at stating the obvious.”
6. Kevin Harvick: Harvick finished a mediocre 22nd in the Pure Michigan 400, his fifth result outside the top 10 in the last six races. He is third in the Sprint Cup point standings, 39 behind rival Kyle Busch.
“The No. 29 Budweiser car has not been impressive lately,” Harvick said. “I’ve told my crew in so many words that ‘This Bud’s Forgettable.’
“What this team needs in a complete turnaround. One provided by me, while in the car, and not one issued by Kyle Busch, while I’m not in the car.”
7. Kurt Busch: Busch finished 34th at Michigan, suffering a tire pressure problem that sent him into the wall on lap 197. Busch’s two worst finishes have come in the last two weeks, and he dropped two places to eighth in the point standings.
“That’s two DNF’s this year,” Busch said. “Three if you count my feud with Jimmie Johnson.
“Now, my brother Kyle’s ascension to the points lead will make for an interesting Busch family dynamic in the Chase. There will be Kyle, everyone’s favorite, and me, no one’s favorite.”
8. Brad Keselowski: Keselowski remained NASCAR’s hottest driver, finishing third at Michigan to validate August 7th’s win at Pocono and last week’s runner-up finish at Watkins Glen. He improved two spots to 12th in the Sprint Cup point standings, and solidified his wildcard standing for the Chase.
“It looks like I’ll be joining Tony Stewart and Denny Hamlin,” Keselowski said, “when we all three limp into the Chase.”
9. Ryan Newman: Newman posted his eighth top-8 finish of the year, coming home fifth in the Pure Michigan. Newman jumped one place in the point standings to seventh, 74 out of first.
“I hear Steven Wallace raised the ire of Patrick Carpentier’s team at Montreal on Saturday,” Newman said. “So much that Carpentier’s crew chief Jerry Baxter reached inside Wallace’s car and grabbed a handful of hair to voice his displeasure. I can certainly relate to the reaction of Baxter. I’ve pulled hair out on account of a Wallace before. That would be Rusty Wallace, and that would be my own hair.”
10. Tony Stewart: Stewart finished ninth in the Pure Michigan 400, a solid finish, yet one he was not pleased with. Although he sits 10th in the point standings, Stewart said he be ‘wasting one of those top-12 spots” the way he’s running right now.
“Just to clarify,” Stewart commented, “I said ‘What a waste,’ not ‘What a waist.’
“I once had a pet monkey named ‘Mojo. He’s missing, but I’ve replaced him with one I like to call ‘Chase Bubbles.”