Archive for Gibbs

Smoke still rising

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 6, 2011 by Jordan Anders

At the beginning of the day Sunday, the talk of the Sprint Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway was NASCAR’s decision to park Kyle Busch as punishment for intentionally wrecking Ron Hornaday in Friday night’s Truck race.

By the end of the day, though, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver was all but forgotten, and a former JGR star had stolen the show with a dominant performance, part of a resurgence that could propel him to a third Cup title.

Tony Stewart spanked the field Sunday, leading over half the race on his was to his fourth win in eight Chase races. I have tried to find every excuse to not jump on the Smoke bandwagon, namely because he had not been able to show the consistency needed to capitalize whenever he had put up strong performances earlier this season.

Stewart won the first two races of the Chase, then followed up those performances with a dismal 25th-place showing at Dover in race 3. But Sunday was the first time since March that Stewart has been that strong over the course of an entire event.

He shaved five points off the lead of Carl Edwards, who finished right on Stewart’s heels at TMS is second spot. Edwards was strong at Texas, but never showed the strength that Stewart had as he raced off for his fourth win of the season.

These last two races could possibly rival last season’s ending, when three drivers battled it out to the end in Homestead. This year’s race will be a two-horse race (assuming nothing catastrophic happens at Phoenix next week) but promises to be just as exciting with both drivers performing at such high levels.

Phoenix will be pivotal for Stewart, who is heading into a race having won two straight for the second time in less than two months. But for him to have any chance of stealing the title from Edwards at Homestead, he’ll have to make sure not to repeat that Dover performance. That dreadful 25th-place run is the only thing that is keeping me from fully jumping on board Stewart’s team, as I still think it’s Edwards’ title to lose.

But Stewart’s performance Sunday at Texas was more of a statement than anything he’s done all year, given that it was Edwards’ best track and was seen as a chance for Edwards to gain some breathing room between he and the pack. Stewart not only saw to it that that didn’t happen, but he narrowed the gap heading to Phoenix, a major unknown given the repaving and reconfiguration that has happened there since the Cup race in April.

This is the ending of the year that NASCAR had to be clamoring for: a close race with a guarantee of a champion not named Jimmie Johnson. Edwards and Stewart are almost assuredly going to put on a great show for the next two week, and the 14 team’s performance at Texas, Edwards and his team better be on their A-game when they roll into the desert.


NASCAR Got This One Right

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2011 by Jordan Anders

Behind the wheel, Kyle Busch is perhaps the most talented driver in NASCAR today. There’s no questioning that. But for years now, Busch’s biggest obstacle between himself and real superstardom is his remarkable penchant for childish behavior whenever things don’t go his way.

Case in point was Friday night. There was nothing dirty or overtly wrong with what went down initially between Busch and Ron Hornaday. The two were side-by-side when they came up alongside a slower truck. When the two of them went to the outside, Hornaday’s truck got loose and got up into Busch, causing both to slide up into the fence. Unfortunate? Yes. Dirty? In no way.

But what Busch did in response was a microcosm of why he will never be able to ascend to the position of true ambassador for the sport like Carl Edwards or other guys like that. The way he drove into the corner behind Hornaday -under caution, mind you- and drove Hornaday head-on into the outside wall was not only childish and immature, it was unbelievably dangerous, and absolutely warranted the suspension that NASCAR handed down Saturday morning.

Busch was clearly thinking of no one but himself. He ruined Hornaday’s chances at contending for the Truck Series title. He put his sponsors and owner Joe Gibbs in a bind, as they now, once again, have to answer for Busch’s childish behavior. All of that thinking was plenty of ammo for NASCAR to sit him for the rest of the weekend, a decision which I applaud wholeheartedly.

The question now is what happens going forward. Team owner Gibbs and Mars Inc., who sponsors the 18 car, made it clear last year they weren’t going to accept any more bad publicity from their driver. I wouldn’t be shocked if Mars put pressure on Gibbs to yank Busch from the car for the final two races as well, a decision that I think may do the immature driver a world of good.

Busch has talent coming out of his ears, but simply has been unable to overcome his inability to cope when things don’t go his way. There’s a difference between being driven and being petulant, and Busch has yet to find that happy medium. He’s been full-time in the Sprint Cup Series since 2005, and one might think that if he were going to mature, it would have happened by now.

Whether or not this will be the tipping point for him to finally grow up and begin acting like an adult remains to be seen. But NASCAR did the right thing in sitting Busch this weekend and letting the gravity of what he did sink in.

I’m all for hating to lose, but what Busch did Friday night was borderline criminal. Kudos to NASCAR for seeing that and being able to draw the line.

They say that the worst feeling in NASCAR is seeing someone else drive your car. I say that this may be exactly what Busch needs to convince him that if he ever wants to be a champion and a true star in the Cup series, the time is now for him to grow up and learn to keep his emotions in check.