Monday, October 20, 2014

What Did We Learn From 'Dega?

So that's it. The Contender round is over. Talladega lived up to what it was advertised to be. A fight to the finish between 3 drivers vying, basically, for one spot. So what do we take away from this weekend? Well there's one obvious thing. These are the 8 drivers in the Eliminator round.

  1. Joey Logano
  2. Kevin Harvick
  3. Ryan Newman (more on him later)
  4. Denny Hamlin
  5. Matt Kenseth
  6. Carl Edwards
  7. Jeff Gordon
  8. Brad Keselowski
That would be the big news. Brad Keselowski wins his way into the next round while Jimmie Johnson and Dale Jr, along with Kasey Kahne and Kyle Busch, are left behind. Who among us would have predicted this? Hendrick Motorsports has 1 driver left in contention. And it's not Jimmie Johnson! It's Jeff Gordon, who has been having one of the seasons of his life. But really, who would have expected Jimmie Johnson to miss out on this round? Or Kyle Busch? How many of us thought for sure Dale Jr. was going to win his way in? That's a big thing we can take away from Dega.

Talladega doesn't care.

Whether you're Mr. Consistency, a 6 time champion who has dominated the sport this decade, or the restrictor plate track favorite and most popular driver, Talladega doesn't care at all. It'll jump out of nowhere and grab whomever it wants. We watched it happen to all 3 of these drivers. Kyle and Dale get caught up in crashes and Jimmie just gets left out to dry at just the right moment to ruin his chances. Meanwhile, Brad Keselowski finds the one person in the field who shouldn't want to be anywhere around him and gets him to push him to victory. Ah, we can call that another take away.

Talladega makes "friends."

Would we call Kenseth and Keselowski friends now? God, no. But the fact remains. The guy that ran in between the haulers to all but suplex Brad in Charlotte pushed the #2 car to victory and into the next round. Now everyone knows what Kenseth was thinking. "I'll push Brad and then pass him coming down the tri-oval." Everyone does it. It's a great move to see, especially when it works, but Kenseth got wiggly and had to fend off others for second. What kind of mayhem would have ensued had Brad not won? Kahne would be in and 3 drivers plenty of people had in their final four (me included) would've been on the outside looking in. Talladega proved to be crazy that's for sure. But hey, lets wrap this up here and catch up on some news before we get ready for Martinsville.

  1. Ryan Newman fails post race inspection.
    • Newman's car was found to be too low in the rear on both sides after the race and was sent back to be further reviewed in Charlotte. Currently he sits third in the Cup standings. If any penalties are issued it will probably be tomorrow before we know for sure. I'll update if there are.
  2. Kyle Busch, Dale Jr. and Jimmie Johnson fail to make the next round.
    • These 3 just had some bad luck. Jr and Busch both got caught up in accidents that were not their fault, and Johnson mistimed a move and was left hung out to dry. Does this mean we will see nothing out of them the rest of the season? By all means no! They have no pressure now. They can get out there and go for wins at all costs. I'd expect to see at least one of them back in victory lane before the season ends.
  3. Carl Edwards...
    • How many times was Carl's named called this week? Or for that matter the last 6 weeks? Carl has been very quietly making it through to each round. If he wants to keep making the cut though he's going to have to start making some noise. So far his calm and patient style is paying off. Watch for him to really come out swinging now. We all know he and Roush haven't had the best relationship this year but they both would love to end this season with a championship.
  4. Terry Labonte retires.
    • It was good to see Terry out on track again one final time. It was great to see him doing pretty well too until he was caught up in an incident. Terry Labonte is a legend and a fantastic guy who will one day be in the NASCAR Hall Of Fame. Great ride Terry, and thanks for the memories.
Before I end I'd like to say one more thing. Next week we go to Martinsville. This is a Hendrick dominated track. I wouldn't be surprised to see Jimmie or Jeff in victory lane at the end. It's short track racing and even though Martinville isn't one of my favorite tracks I feel this race is going to be a good one. There's sure to be plenty of beatin' and bangin' and some tempers flaring. Hold on tight race fans. The weekend's coming and it's going to be fun.

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