Last weekend was a great weekend for the sport as Martin Truex Jr. snapped a 218-race winless streak that dated back to the Autism Speaks 400 at the Dover International Speedway in 2007. Truex’s first-career win was overshadowed partially due to the passing of Bill France Jr. earlier in the day. Truex and his #56 NAPA Toyota team have come so close to winning so many times since his then sole victory, but the team had just been unable to close the deal, until last Sunday. I don’t think there was a single writer out there that thought Truex was going to win the race. Truex will take this opportunity to put together some form of consistent run and hopefully more victories for Michael Waltrip Racing. It was good to see a genuine man and hard-working individual finally get the monkey off his back.
We have only run a total of 2 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series events here at the Kentucky Speedway, but thus far it appears that the drivers that drove here at the Nationwide Series level had an advantage over the cup regulars. For example, Kyle Busch has led the most laps in each of the two events. He led 125 in the inaugural on his way to the victory, and led 118 last season, but he wound up finishing 10th. Will Kyle Busch be a threat? I think he will, but the only thing that has derailed Kyle Busch from a Sprint Cup Series championship thus far is himself. Unfortunately, Kyle Busch is still not mature enough at this point to be a champion from my vantage point. His tweets last weekend clearly showed immaturity and a blurred focus. Kyle should be focused on making next weekend a better one after a disappointment. Team morale is very delicate. You mess up once in your career and you may never have the chance to regain that back. This is Busch’s last chance. He blew it with Hendrick Motorsports after leaving his team at the track following a wreck at Texas. While his crew was ready to get Busch back in the race car to earn some valuable points, Busch was already heading home. Dale Earnhardt Jr. then served as a relief driver and later would replace Kyle Busch at Hendrick Motorsports.
Many people will say that Hendrick made a mistake in taking Earnhardt Jr. over Busch if you compare their numbers since 2008, but there is no question who is easier to deal with, and that is Dale Earnhardt Jr. It’s like having a great player on a hockey team, but he is not a team player and he instead is causing conflict within the team. You’re out. That was what caused Busch to lose his ride with Hendrick Motorsports. I expect Kyle to lead a lot of laps tomorrow evening, but there are many other drivers who are hungry for a win.
Brad Keselowski is coming off a rain-shortened Nationwide Series victory on Friday evening, but has not been faring too well as of late on the Sprint Cup Series end. He started off with four consecutive top 10 finishes, including two top three’s, but he has struggled since. This will be a great opportunity for Keselowski to break out of his mini-slump and put the #2 Miller Lite boys back in championship contention and potentially a better seed when it comes down to the chase at Richmond. Keselowski will get a solid Top 10 finish.
I know we always cling to our belief that he will eventually break through, but Jeff Gordon is certainly due and hungry for a victory. He rallied to finish second after a penalty at Sonoma. That is vintage Jeff Gordon right there. He’s been strong in practice all weekend and as we saw in the Nationwide Series event this evening, we saw a lot of green racing out there. I believe Gordon has the long-run car to take the #24 into victory circle, but never leave out his driver, Jimmie Johnson. He hasn’t won here either and he is always hungry for a win especially after seeing his points lead lose considerable chunks the past few weekends. Who are you picking tomorrow?