The Final Word – Winning Talladega is fine, but I guess just not wrecking has its own rewards

The south has a reputation of being somewhat conservative, and after the weekend’s action in Talladega, Alabama, one Carl Edwards might fit in just nicely. After riding around at the back of the pack most of the day, Cousin Carl settled for just outside the Top Ten, and that suited him just fine.

[media-credit name=”CIA Stock Photo” align=”alignright” width=”256″][/media-credit]You see, as long as you improve the gap between you and the next guy, especially with just four races left in the season and a championship in the balance, 11th place can work for you. Kevin Harvick started the day just five points back, but when he and Kyle Busch both got a good piece of A.J. Allmendinger’s spin they ended up outside the Top Thirty. Another Chaser, Kurt Busch, nailed the spinning Bobby Labonte to end his day with a bang. Ryan Newman was sailing along until his boss sent him sailing into the infield to tear up the front end. All finished back in Nemechek country, which is fine as long as winning is not a consideration.

Only three Chasers finished ahead of Edwards. Brad Keselowski was fourth, and is now third in the standings 18 points back. Matt Kenseth did not do well, as his 18th place finish leaves him 14 in arrears. Tony Stewart had a Top Ten, and is 19 away, as did Denny Hamlin but the damage to his hopes coming into Talladega had him already in next year country. He joins Newman and Jeff Gordon more than 80 out.
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Dale Earnhardt Jr was pushing Jimmie Johnson, but in the end they discovered they had nothing for the big boys on the day, both more than twenty spots behind at the line. While Harvick is “just” 26 out of the hunt, the rest are done. If you are Kurt Busch and you see that you are next, 40 back, you are not working on that acceptance speech, at least barring some pretty bad things happening to at least one guy, maybe three or more.

Clint Bowyer is off to be part of Michael Waltrip’s group next year. However, he did manage to slip by team mate Jeff Burton at the line to give Richard Childress his 100th victory as a team owner in this, the 100th year since race car driver Louis Chevrolet started pushing his autos out the door. NASCAR tried to mess with the cars to make two-by-two driving a tougher thing to do on the superspeedway. They failed.

Junior and Jimmie were a team, but the once dominant Earnhardt only led two laps at Talladega, Johnson one as the five-time defending champ now sits 50 points out. The fat lady is now on the stage and the opening bars of her song are being played. Johnson needs more than just Edwards to falter, and it is doubtful to expect that much bad can be expected to come to that many people on the tracks at Martinsville, Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead.

We stay in the south another weekend, as they move on to Virginia. Harvick won there in the spring, Kenseth was 6th, and Edwards was 18th. That would work. Keselowski hopes to improve, as he saw Edwards finish just ahead of him at Martinsville in April. Edwards has never won on this track, was third once three years ago and had a pair of eights in 2010. It could be a track someone might make up some ground, but my conservative estimate is that time is running out for someone to show me they can make a move on the man from Missouri.

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