Sunday, May 11, 2014
Big Daddy Brings It Home....and Danica
All right! After coming so close and leading in the points, Jeff Gordon finally hit the jackpot. He had a great car and no unfortunate issues, like wrecks or parts failure, occurred to take the win away from him. Arguably, Kevin Harvick had the strongest car all night but Jeff held him off in the end. You can't feel too bad for Harvick. Remember when one of the story lines was that he might not make the Chase, despite a win, if he didn't stay in the top 30 in points? ha!ha!
So, now Gordon's fans can relax while we concentrate on "is it time to panic over Jimmie and Kenseth being still winless after ten races?" The two drivers who fought it out for the championship last year and they haven't visited Victory Lane yet....oh, my God! What is wrong with them? Well, Kenseth is still second in the points. Jimmie is 7th. I think they'll both be just fine.
I noticed the criticism of Danica was more muted after the race than it usually is on the NASCAR sites. She qualified well, raced well and finished well. And nothing fluky happened to give her any undeserved spots. She legitimately stayed in the top ten all night and drove up to third at one point, passing cars like her boss, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr., in her way toward the front. There were still some naysayers but it was hard to take their Miss Sparkle Pony pejoratives seriously.
Once again, Kyle Larson drove like a pro and came in 12th. Watching for the Target 42 adds an extra element of fun to NASCAR races since he climbed into it. I know there are several young rookies but to me, Kyle is The Kid.
Speaking of kids, Ryan Blaney did a heck of a job in his first cup race.
I would think NASCAR fans would be thrilled with the way things are going this year. Obviously, the races are ultra-competitive. The top teams all have wins - Hendrick, Gibbs, Roush, Stewart-Haas, Penske, Michael Waltrip. The Petty Fords have had some excellent runs. A.J. Allmendinger has added some life to the 47 car. I'd like to see Martin Truex, Jr. bring Furniture Row a little closer to the front. I really like Martin and I think he's a good driver but good isn't great and Martin is no Kurt Busch.
In addition to all that, the rookie field is outstanding. Any of them would be considered talented in a normal year but this isn't a normal year. Larson and Dillon have the class A rides so you'd expect them to be at the top, which they are. But Justin Allgaier shows improvement every week and Alex Bowman has shown superior skill at times.
Before I go, one last comment about Junior at Talladega. He was smart enough in the ways of restrictor plate racing to read the environment and know a wreck was imminent. He predicted ten laps before the finish but he was off by two laps - it was 12 laps before the finish when the Big One hit. By the time the caution laps were over, it was too late to mount a charge since the track was clogged with other cars. So, Junior finished 26th, much to the dismay of much of NASCAR Nation who, we know, never hesitate to criticize about things they know absolutely nothing about. As far as I'm concerned, Junior did the right thing even though he apologized and promised not to do it again. Because next time, by God, we expect you to go charging into the hornet's nest and if what you get is another concussion, oh, freaking well, you owe it to your fans!