So much for Jimmie Johnson being hindered by running in a back-up car. Speaking for myself, I’m watching for the “48” in any race he’s in. You could just see Johnson slicing his way through the field like a knife through hot butter, and then there was the call.
Like Sean Payton calling for the onside kick at the outset of the third quarter of the Super Bowl, Chad Knaus made a calculated gamble by leaving his driver out during the last caution. How would the tires hold up? It’s safe to say with another lap or two, Kevin Harvick and Company catches the champion, but the bottom line is….they didn’t.
Johnson inched by Happy with a .005-second margin of victory. Kyle Busch was in the mix, along with Clint Bowyer and Regan Smith. Michael Mc Dowell and Italian road ace Max Papis got in on speed. Michael Waltrip had to wait out race number two to see if he get in on the Sunday action. Once again, in a microcosm of what has been a challenging week for the two-time “500” winner, he spun out and hit the inner barrier.
Dale Earnhardt, Jr. led the parade to green in the second duel. If I’m a Junior fan, I am a little concerned. Nation, I don’t know what to tell you. His cars go well in short spurts then just go away.
You Blue Oval fans have to like what you’re seeing. Matt Kenseth had a solid run, as did Roush teammate Greg Biffle in the first race. A.J. Allmendinger and David Ragan represented well in race one, while Allmendinger’s RPM teammate put up a top ten in the second.
Scott Speed racing in opened a hole for Waltrip. While these two, Mike Bliss and Bobby Labonte get in, the list of go homers includes Casey Mears, David Gilliland, Dave Blaney, Reed Sorenson and rookie Terry Cook among others.
You had to wonder how these races would go. The way the practices have gone, it would be tempting to worry that we’d have a wreckfest on our hands. Far from it. There was a little bit of wall and bumper tag going on, but not very much.
Regardless of what I think NASCAR ought to do, at the end of the day, I’m a race fan. I like to see good racing. We got good racing. Whether it’s the bigger restrictor plates or what, I don’t know. What I do know is good racing is needed and good racing we got.
PHOTO CREDITS- Top photo by Jerry Markland/ Getty Images for NASCAR, Johnson and Harvick at the finish and Stewart and Kahne at the finish by Todd Warshaw/ Getty Images. Kasey Kahne celebration by Geoff Burke/ Getty Images for NASCAR.