It's all about the Racing, we hope
Given that it is difficult, to say the least, to pass at New Hampshire, first is a great place to start. The rest of the top ten looks like the Chase, while Clint Bowyer, the cause of Michael Waltrip Racing's punishment, and Dale Earnhardt Jr., disgusted with his car, start the furthest back, in 16th and 17th respectively. The fallout from team orders at MWR have been far reaching. This week NAPA announced that they would not continue as sponsor on the 56 car next year, punishing the innocent Martin Truex Jr., yet again. Truex Jr may not have a ride next year, if no sponsor is found. I don't agree with NAPA's decision, as Michael Waltrip and MWR have done more for NAPA than any other advertising campaign. Opinions are that NAPA will find a way to stay with Martin, but with another team. However, today is about the racing, so I'll shut up.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. suffered a devastating engine failure last weekend at Chicagoland, and sits at 13th in the standings, 53 points out of first. That's a full race worth of points. It seems almost insurmountable for Jr., and starting so far back in the pack, it seems unlikely he will be a factor in today's race. It seems Jr. has been plagued with the same type of performance that Jeff Gordon experienced with Steve Letarte as his crew chief. He has an abillity to run up front, to lead laps and get good finishes, but winning just doesn't happen.
Jeff, on the other hand, was awarded a place in the Chase when "As the Wheel Turns" played out in Richmond. He had a great finish last week, and starts third today. His teammate, Kasey Kahne, starts second, with Jimmie Johnson starting 11th. Kurt Busch, finishing out the season with Furniture Row Racing before a move to Stewart Haas Racing, starts 4th. Kurt jumped four spots in the standings after Chicagoland.
But what can we expect today? As I've said, it is difficult to pass at Loudon. Rain passed through the area earlier, but has now passed, leaving officials and teams to continue race preparations. The Sylvania 300 gets underway shortly, with two of the top five drivers in the stats starting in the top ten. Who would those two be? Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson sit second and third on the best finishes list, but it is non-Chase driver, Denny Hamlin who leads that list. Tony Stewart, out for the season, sits fourth, while his replacement driver, Mark Martin, is fifth. Who do you think will get the win?
i'm thinking Matt Kenseth is still the guy to watch. Let's go racing!!