A "chicken and the egg" question comes out of what is happening in this Chase. Is Jimmie Johnson winning because he’s good at the Chase tracks, or is he winning on the Chase tracks, because they’re in the Chase? Think about it.
There’s a part of me thinks that if they put Chicagoland, Bristol, and Infineon in the Chase, Johnson would find a way to be good there. However you look at it, the real race is behind Johnson until a race comes along that changes that.
THE "FAB FIVE"
#5- Juan Pablo Montoya- (ranked 2nd last week)- From his 35th place finish at Lowe’s, we learn what precision machines those cars really are. Hard to believe that early in the race, JPM looked like a possible winner. In spite of the bad week, it’s hard to ding him too much over one race. He’s still a good driver, and his cars are still good.
#4- Tony Stewart- (ranked 4th last week)- As Randy Jackson says on American Idol, Stewart’s race was "Just eiyeet". 13th place isn’t anything to get revved up over, but it’s sure a lot better than where some of his competitors ended up. I expect Smoke will "bring the cheese" (as they say in baseball) to Martinsville.
#3- Mark Martin- (ranked 3rd last week)- An uneasy feeling had me thinking Martin might just have this kind of week at Lowe’s. He had some good runs early, but that dang double file re-start mess with Montoya sure screwed those two up.
#2- Jeff Gordon- (ranked 5th last week)- You know, we’d probably be talking "Drive for Five" right now were it not for the employee he trained all too well. Gordon’s 5.8 finish over his last five races is sheer racing genius….but then Jimmie’s 3.2 is just wicked.
#1- Jimmie Johnson- (ranked 1st week)- What can I say? I tremendously respect and admire what the guy is doing, even if I hate it. If you want to see something interesting, go to Jayski’s and check out the comparison between Johnson and other great drivers in the Modern Era. Johnson’s not the best, compared to the immortals, but he doesn’t suffer by that comparison either.
READY TO STRIKE
Kasey Kahne did his cause wonders with a nice third place run in Charlotte. He may be too far back to win it all, but the girls will be happy to see him in
New York Las Vegas…What a good run by Matt Kenseth Saturday. With the pressure of the Chase not on his back, this late season run could be a great tune-up for a fierce run by the 2003 champion next year. Kurt Busch manages to hang on. In a different, he’s running good enough to lay in the weeds. This year? It’s just too fierce. How ’bout that Clint Bowyer? The Richard Childress group looks like it might be a lot better next year.
Shout outs are due Joey Logano and Casey Mears for their top 10 finishes. Ditto for Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr.
PHOTO CREDITS- 48 and 5 racing at Lowe’s by John Harrelson/ Getty Images for NASCAR. Jimmie Johnson celebration by Rusty Jarrett/ Getty Images for NASCAR.