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Bowles-Eye View

Time For Joe Gibbs Racing To Fight — Not Fold — Through Its Dark Nightmare

Time For Joe Gibbs Racing To Fight — Not Fold — Through Its Dark Nightmare

“Adversity is a fact of life. It can’t be controlled. What we can control is how we react to it.” _Anonymous_ Things can change quickly in the landscape of professional sports, and no one knows that better than Hall of Fame football coach Joe Gibbs. His race team spent the first six months of 2008 threatening to rewrite the history books on several modern era NASCAR records; instead, they’ll be spending the next seven weeks dealing with the aftermath of a historic collapse. To say he’s got a lot of work ahead these next few days would be an understatement. Those words may be easy to write; but for this multi-car giant of an operation, it looks increasingly harder to accept. Read More »

Team Orders, Be Damned

Team Orders, Be Damned

So much bad press has come out this year surrounding the consolidation of power within Sprint Cup. The Big Four of Jack Roush, Richard Childress, Joe Gibbs, and Rick Hendrick own three cars apiece in this year’s Chase, the only ones capable of making noise at the top during a year in which the focus was supposed to be on leveling the playing field. Instead, the chances of two cars within the same organization battling tooth and nail for the title – ala Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon from ’07 – are higher than they’ve ever been. You don’t need me to list the concerns that type of scenario brings up; after all, we’ve been through it within the last 12 months. But on this fateful Sunday at Dover, it was nice to be reminded that no matter how much teamwork is preached off the race track, you still can’t stop a racer’s mentality on it heading to the checkered flag. Read More »

Another Playoff Opener, Another Chase Cinderella: Why We Should’ve Guessed Biffle

Another Playoff Opener, Another Chase Cinderella: Why We Should’ve Guessed Biffle

OK, altogether now. The winner of Sunday’s race at New Hampshire was … Carl Edwards? Nope. Kyle Busch? Heck no. Jimmie Johnson? Nah, he finished second. Jeff Burton? Clint Bowyer? Denny Hamlin? No. No. No! It’s Greg Biffle, guys. _Greg Biffle._ Just think about how many names most fans would have gone through if they didn’t see this race and had to guess the winner. Not only was Biffle far from the top of most peoples’ championship lists, to say he’s struggled at New Hampshire Motor Speedway would be an understatement. Coming into Sunday, he’d had only four Top 10 finishes in 12 career starts, with as many DNF’s as races led (2). Frankly, the Biff’s last four finishes up north read like the beginning of a random powerball ticket: runs of 14th, 31st, 13th, and 21st had you looking far beyond the No. 16 when it came to finding a Loudon race winner. We shouldn’t have known The Biff would come out of nowhere … right? Right? Read More »

And Then There Were 12: Richmond Unkind to Ragan and Kahne

And Then There Were 12: Richmond Unkind to Ragan and Kahne

After 26 races, over 7,000 laps and waiting out a Tropical Storm; Sunday's Chevy Rock & Roll 400 was the final chance for seven drivers to take their best shot at claiming one of the five remaing positions left in the 2008 Chase for the Championship. In the end, twelve drivers and teams can celebrate for an evening before the big test of battling for the Championship starts; while two drivers and their teams are left thinking about what might have been. In a race previously known as the Pontiac Excitement 400, the second go around at Richmond provided just that...excitement. At the drop of the green flag, Greg Biffle and Kevin Harvick solidified their positions in the Top 12 but there were still plenty of storylines that were left to be played out. Tony Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Jeff Gordon, Denny Hamlin, Clint Bowyer, David Ragan, and Kasey Kahne all had mathematical possibilities of getting into or falling out of the Chase. Read More »

Win Just More Proof That Johnson and Knaus Are the Definition of “Clutch”

Win Just More Proof That Johnson and Knaus Are the Definition of “Clutch”

Jimmie Johnson has run under the radar for most of the season. His usual mid-summer swoon that sees him squander a meaningless point lead as he approaches the Chase did not occur. Instead, the No. 48 team slumped from the beginning of 2008. Sans an early win at Phoenix, the two-time defending Sprint Cup Champion and his cohorts at Hendrick Motorsports did not have nearly the edge over other powerhouses, like Roush Fenway Racing and Joe Gibbs Racing, that they did in 2007. Kiss goodbye any chance of Johnson becoming the first three-time champion since Cale Yarborough, right? Hold your horses. Sunday night’s dominant win by Johnson at California sends a message to both Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards that they are not the only two horses (not a reference to Mr. Ed) in the championship hunt. Read More »

The Busch – Edwards Rivalry Gains Steam; But Do The Fans Love It?

The Busch – Edwards Rivalry Gains Steam; But Do The Fans Love It?

There were differing opinions on the quality of racing Saturday night; but if we learned anything from the new Bristol that everyone can agree on, it’s that the Kyle Busch – Carl Edwards battle is officially the sport’s newest rivalry. With one angry swipe on the cooldown lap – and one angry slam hit in retaliation – NASCAR’s two most successful drivers of 2008 also decided that they didn’t like each other all that much. But what the sport has yet to understand – and what they’ll be watching – is whether this is the battle fans in the stands are looking to see. Read More »

Edwards Had To Win Duel Against Busch — Now, The Real Showdown Lies Ahead

Edwards Had To Win Duel Against Busch — Now, The Real Showdown Lies Ahead

Carl Edwards was happy as could be in Victory Lane at Michigan; and why not? A weekend sweep at the track left him the toast of the Nationwide and Cup Series garages – at least until NASCAR hits Bristol’s high banks later this week. But once a reporter in the press room asked about his confidence, Edwards’ emotions took a surprising turn -- quickly jumping from his cool, collected self to a statement that was borderline out of character. With a few short sentences, happy-go-lucky Cousin Carl suddenly jumped straight out of the frying pan and into the ego that had just been padded with his 12th win in 144 career Cup starts. “My psyche and mentality is pretty much fixed on I’m the greatest race-car driver that ever lived,” he said, to the awe of friends and enemies alike. “David Pearson told me that if you don’t believe that, you don’t belong in a race car.” Read More »

Wanna Make This Year’s Chase? You Better Be Lucky

Wanna Make This Year’s Chase? You Better Be Lucky

Years from now, NASCAR historians will tell a Pocono tale of one rain delay, two races, and three drivers getting some very lucky prayers answered by Mother Nature – and by their fuel tanks. Is that what’s supposed to be the deciding factor in who plays for the series title and who doesn’t? That’s not an easy question to answer; but right now, all one can tell you is Lady Luck has taken full charge of this playoff race, and she shows no signs of turning back anytime soon. Indeed, the phrase “better to be lucky than good” was never more appropriate than on Sunday for several on the Chase bubble, with Richard Childress Racing lining up front and center to get a magical dose of much-needed good fortune. Read More »

Halfway Through And Nothing’s Changed : Kyle Busch Still A Man On A Mission

Halfway Through And Nothing’s Changed : Kyle Busch Still A Man On A Mission

So much has been written about Kyle Busch these last five months as he’s ascended to the top of the Sprint Cup circuit. But in the midst of all the criticism, the occasional contentiousness, and the challenges that have defined his season, there’s one thing for Busch that hasn’t changed: his success rate. Late on Saturday night, Busch was sipping the bubbly from Victory Lane for a season-high sixth time, capturing his first career win at NASCAR mecca Daytona International Speedway. Closing out the first half of 2008 in style, it was the latest accomplishment in a season that’s seen him dart out to a 182-point lead over the man who replaced him at Hendrick Motorsports, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., while coming into his own during his first season driving Joe Gibbs Racing’s famed No. 18 Toyota. Read More »

Mears Almost Had It All … But Almost Doesn’t Cut It

Mears Almost Had It All … But Almost Doesn’t Cut It

One third of the way through Sunday’s race, it looked like a little luck was shining Casey Mears’ way. Just days removed from a crushing blow to his career, he looked to follow up his pending release from Hendrick Motorsports with an upset trip to Victory Lane. He almost had it, too … with the keyword being almost. After a crucial decision by crew chief Alan Gustafson to gain track position by staying out during a lap 87 caution, Mears assumed the lead and wound up pacing the field for a total of 53 laps – 52 more than he’d led the entire 2008 season to date. As the laps clicked off and the No. 5 car held firm, it looked for an instant that Mears would pull the shock of the year. Read More »