Archive for Jimmie

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.

Same old song…

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on October 9, 2011 by Jordan Anders

Race 4 of the Chase at Kansas Speedway has come and gone, and the championship standings have taken even more of a shuffle than last week.  The key factors coming out of Kansas:

  • Honestly, you didn’t really think that Jimmie Johnson wasn’t going to step up and take this thing by the horns, did you? Granted, I didn’t expect him to dominate like he did today, but I’m not the least bit surprised. I said it last week, and I’ll say it again, it blows my mind how quickly people were writing that team off after two poor races to start the Chase. They’ve only responded by dominating the last two races and jumping from 10th to 3rd in the standings. Add to that the fact that the Cup series is headed to Charlotte next week, and there’s a very good chance that Johnson will be in complete control when the Chase reaches the halfway point. Looks like the 48 team winning a record sixth-consecutive Sprint Cup title isn’t as out-of-the-question as people were hoping.
  • Yet another rehash of something I said last week, but Carl Edwards and Kevin Harvick both continue to impress me. Both appeared to be headed towards finishes outside the top-15 at multiple points today. But both were able to rebound and, low and behold, they finished 5th and 6th respectively. I keep saying that these are the days that prove that both of these teams are championship material. It became the 48 team’s M.O. when they were driving to five-straight titles. Winning is great, but the way you win championships is to finish 5th with a 15th-place car, like Edwards did today, or 6th-with a 16th place car, a la Harvick today. Those two teams aren’t going anywhere.
  • A team that did go somewhere today was Jeff Gordon’s. The 24 team (who I picked to win this whole thing, mind you) is effectively done after his engine blew with three laps left today. That’s a shame, but that team looked great for a lot of this season. Gordon is rejuvenated with Alan Gustafson on the pit box for him, and with this first “learning” year out of the way, that team will come back solid in 2012 and compete for the championship again.

As much as I hate to say it, I would not be shocked by a repeat performance next Saturday night in Charlotte from Jimmie Johnson. He used to be the man to beat everytime he showed up there, and while the 48 team hasn’t dominated in recent years like they did in the past, you’d be hard pressed to find anyone carrying more momentum than that team. That’s going to make them hard to beat on Saturday night.