Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Rusty Reckons: Lowe's
Ugh, what a weekend at Talladega. First, that horse-toothed roid rager forgot that you can't bump-draft in the corners (it's actually against the rules, not to mention plain stupid). His stupidity not only wrecked his championship contending teammates of Biffle and Kenseth, but also took out a bunch of other guys including Dale Jr.
After the carnage was cleared up, we endured one of the most bizarre and controversial finishes this year. Tony Stewart was leading the field going through the tri-oval coming to the checkers. However, Regan Smith had a faster car at the moment. As he tried to pass Tony, he went below the yellow line which is out of bounds. He crossed the finish line first, but because of "passing below the yellow line", the victory was awarded to Smoke, and Smith was relegated to an 18th place finish (end of the lead lap due to a drive-thru penalty for the pass).
Now, usually Rusty's a purist and a traditionalist when it comes to sports, but I'm going to surprise you and agree with NASCAR on this one. I would have loved to see Regan get his first victory. I would have loved to see Tony's anger at coming in 2nd at 'Dega once again. I would have loved to see DEI win . . . okay, not really. The fact of the matter is that it's against the rules to do what Smith did, and they HAVE to be consistent with enforcing them. So, it sucks, but it was the right move. But enough about last week, let's talk about this week.
Lowe's Motor Speedway in Charlotte is considered the home track of NASCAR, as most shops are in and around the greater Charlotte metro area. As such, it's a fitting place for the only primetime under the lights race during the 10 week Chase.
Lowe's is a 1.5 mile tri-oval where a good set-up and an ability to take advantage of downforce are absolutely critical to a good finish. On top of that, with 2 more tracks coming up with similar configurations, Lowe's will be a good barometer of where we stand in the Championship race, and who are the real contenders.
Rusty's momma always said, never change horses in mid-stride. Well, apply that lesson here. Jimmie Johnson has been the class of the field lately and Lowe's is by far his best track. Go figure since he's got Lowe's on the hood of his car. Ole Jimmie's rattled off 4 wins and 7 top 5's since mid-summer. At Lowe's the numbers get even better. In 14 starts, he's got 5 wins and an average finish of 9.1. Y'all, Jimmie tears up Lowe's better than Rusty on a bucket of KFC.
But he ain't the only driver hot in the pine state. Pretty boy Kahne's also had a hot hand of late, winning 3 of the last 5 races at Lowe's, including the race back in May. Having not finished in the top 10 since California, he's been a little shaky lately elsewhere, but with an average finish of 14 at Charlotte, he's got a real shot to rebound this coming weekend.
Paul Menard is coming off his career best 2nd place finish at Talladega. And while he's not finished better than 14 in 3 career starts at Charlotte (in Cup), he's not a bad gamble among the other list of also-rans, I mean, "C list guys."
- J Johnson (48)
- K Kahne (9)
- P Menard (15)