Matt Kenseth slapped on two fresh tires, came out the leader with 49 laps left and became the de facto winner in an event where there were exactly two on-track, green-flag passes for the lead over the course of 400 miles – lap 1 and during a mid-race wreck.
The news this week that Dale Earnhardt Jr. was sitting out the Bank of America 500 at Charlotte came as a total shock to those in the sport and fans alike. Despite being in the midst of a title fight, and heading to what is essentially his home track, Junior pulled the plug and opted …
Brad Keselowski ran out of gas, down the backstretch with 58 laps left, allowing Clint Bowyer to breeze by. That left the No. 15 team virtually unencumbered as they turned on the fuel mileage jets, put a Rip Van Winkle spell over the stands, and advanced to a shocking intermediate oval victory at Charlotte.
It’s time for the Chase! Aren’t you thrilled? Oh. Well, actually neither am I. The fact is the haze of summer has given way to September blue skies and the children have returned to class. Life takes on a calmer pace and I look forward to quiet afternoons devoid of screaming children and angry parents. …
It was a tough night for pit crews on Saturday. Several misjudged a rain forecast or the importance of fresh tires and left their drivers out under the last caution, while others pitted and hoped they could stretch their fuel to the end, which proved not to be the case for many. Chad Knaus did call his driver in, but unfortunately for Jimmie Johnson, Knaus was on the wrong radio channel and he didn’t get the message in time to get to pit road. But no pit strategy stung more than a costly pit-stop error by Kyle Busch’s team. A loose lugnut on a green-flag pit stop was most likely the deciding factor that kept Busch from the Chase as Jeff Gordon beat Busch by a slim three-point margin for the final Chase slot.
Jimmie Johnson had the dominant car once Mark Martin was speared by the pit wall opening in a scary, mid-race crash. But as J.J. was strolling to what would have been his series-leading fourth victory, a valve spring failed with less than 15 miles left to run. That handed Greg Biffle Christmas in August, gift-wrapping him a second victory after a green-white-checkered finish and a pesky push from Michigan native Brad Keselowski.
Jimmie Johnson, who had dominated the race, had his car get out from under him on the final restart and collected second-place Matt Kenseth. From there, it was on.
In an era where many drivers don’t know how to turn a wrench, it was a refreshing change to see Dale Earnhardt Jr. taking the bull by the horns and helping his crew when the No. 88 suffered a transmission failure. By the time his crew got to the garage from pit road, Earnhardt had the car up on jackstands on the left side and was working on the right. Although handling the jack might not seem like a big deal, it is on a couple of levels. One that a lot of drivers, including some championship-caliber ones, wouldn’t have thought to do that.
It was very nearly the end of the world… or so we thought. Actually, it was only Dale Earnhardt Jr. divesting himself of his adored No. 8.
Did You Notice? How the US Army’s departure from NASCAR puts the focus on the No. 88 car manned by the sport’s Most Popular Driver?
Was Tony Stewart’s victory-lane vitriol worth a few first-place votes? Or did Matt Kenseth’s dominant run impress our writers? Keep reading to find out.
Did Brad Keselowski’s win propel him atop our Power Rankings? Did Kyle Busch get any sympathy votes for his string of bad luck? Keep reading to find out.