Will the real Carl Edwards please stand up. What's up with this? Did some mutant mind control virus, worm it's way into Carl's brain? I'd be happy to explain Carl's suddenly becoming a backmarker, but I don't have one. This is the guy that Ford stepped up for. To keep him in the Blue Oval camp.
No such help forthcoming for Matt, Ford's most recent Champion, & defending Daytona 500 winner. Bye Bye, Ford, & Roush's loss, is Toyota, & Gibb's gain. Give him a season to settle in, (he'll still make the Chase) & then watch out. Matt, & The Biff, both made the Chase, but neither really made much noise, despite Matt picking up a win. All in all, despite the Daytona bright spot, & winning the regular season points, (meaningless) this was a sub-par season, in the house Jack built.
Last time Kyle Bush missed the Chase, I thought that not having to care anymore about points would free the team up, & let then just concentrate on winning. I remember saying he'd be "like a pit bull on Red Bull". Didn't happen then, didn't happen this time either. Normally, Kyle has been a pretty good closer, but boy has that gotten away from them lately. The pattern recently has been when they've had a good car, is for the team to come out strong.
Lead the most laps, then seem to miss the setup on a late race pit stop, then watch someone else win. As a matter of fact, the entire Gibbs organization has seemed to be about half a bubble off this year. The strongest car since about mid season, has been the 20. Picking up Matt, could well be the key that was missing. Don't know what this season has done for Hamlin's head, but I don't think it could have much of a confidence builder, & he seems prone to getting down.
During the pre-season media tour Chip Ganassi , called his teams 2011 performance "pathetic." Correctly placed the blame on the cars, rather than his drivers. Then went over the personnel changes they'd made during the off season to right the ship. During my pre-season assessment of His teams, I said that "Jamie, in particular needed a much better season, if they wanted to hang on to his sponsor. Well the jury's in, & it's not pretty. During the Daytona 500 Juan Pablo Montoya, garnered way more attention than Matt Kenseth. All Matt did was win the race, while JPM, was able to turn a jet dryer into a giant fireball, fed by a full tank of jet fuel. Sadly, this was the high point of the season for EGR, W/Felix Sabates. After that it was pretty much all downhill.
Another bright spot, in this, (no pun intended) was Bad Brad using this incident to become an instant Twitter superstar, thus garnering massive amounts of interest for both himself, & NASCAR. & unlike the his Last tweets, these didn't even cost him any money. Let's be fair with NASCAR here, they weren't rely upset about his real time tweets, they just thought maybe he was calling up his fuel injection system. Hello, give me fuel miser setting, we're going for it.
Chip announced that he was ditching the Childress engines, in favor of Hendrick power next season. Here's hoping that helps, & that they can put together a sponsorship package for Jamie, & next year turns out to be more like they needed this year, because it was not pretty to watch.I'm from Missouri, & our state nickname is the Show Me State. I started the season off by taking some shots at my favorite punching bag. Michael Waltrip racing. Show me. they did. Well, I've already done my apologies, so that's out of the way.
I do think they probably even surprised themselves over there this year. Everyone wants' to talk about momentum, they've got that in spades. By putting both of their full time cars in the Chase they equaled Childress, & Gibbs, combined.
Having said that, let's talk about the 55 car. Least anyone think I've swung 180 degrees, & this is turning into a love fest think again. First off, I've always thought that Reutimann, got a very raw deal, being unceremoniously cut loose at the 11th hour, with absolutely, no chance of picking up another decent ride. I would have loved to have seen what David could have done with this ride, after the program turned around.
Speaking of the 55, with the high & mighty, Chase being the end all, be all, goal for every team, & sponsor.How much sense does it make to keep this Chase quality car, as a senior tour ride? Wouldn't it seem to make more sense from a marketing standpoint to put Vickers in the ride full time & let him try to put it in the Chase. If Michael still wants' to impersonate a Cup driver in the plate races they should have cars available without him jumping in the 55.
It's a shame that an ill timed,(for him) caution cost Martin Truex a victory. Winning these things are tough, hope he can pull it off next year.
Was happy to see Clint salvage second at Homestead, as he was realistically out of the Championship picture before getting mugged, taking second from Hendrick, was a pretty good consolation prize.
Petty, has been an also ran, as far back as the last years that the King drove. This was the year that they seemed to see a little light at the end of the tunnel. The way Brad was running with Dodge, I was pretty optimistic, when it looked like Petty, & Dodge stood a good chance to be reunited. Then it all went away. Did the people who make the decisions at Dodge really think that they had a better shot, with a startup team from Michael Andretti, than with the King? If so then it's easy to see why they decided to dump their NASCAR program. Talk of coming back is just posturing, & a little face saving. Don't hold your breath.
Then it sounds like Ford got their shorts in a twist because Richard tested the waters, & apparently decided to punish them. They finally resigned but I think, at a lesser level of support than previously. Yes we do need the manufacturers in the sport, & Ford has been, & are good for the sport, but I hate to see the tail wagging the dog. Even with all the distractions this season the two car Petty team significantly out performed Ganassi.
Another team that seemed to be racing under a black cloud was Childress. If what Chip said about their engine program was correct that would explain some of it. But it also raises other questions. Namely, why a supposedly championship caliber team wouldn't correct a problem that ought to be that obvious. The announcement that Harvick was leaving really came as no surprise to me. The only surprise was that it was a year out. This looks to me like a recipe for disaster. Harvick seems to be pretty much a pain in the ass, even when things are going good. I don't expect things to go good next year. Yes they did back into the Chase, & managed to snag a win, but it has to have been a tough year.
I really don't know why Jeff Burton keeps hanging around for. At this point it really shouldn't be about money. This team should have been sponsored by The Walking Dead, because that's the way they raced all season.
Paul Menard, is a very capable driver, & the team showed flashes of making some noise, but it just never came together. When an entire three car team has a season this uninspired, it's not the drivers.Everyone knows where RCR is headed. Looks like it's going to become a family team. The kids are showing lots of talent but a family team is pretty limiting over the long haul.
Last year, Tony backed into the Chase. Then seized control of it like a Bull Dog. Winning 5, to tie, then taking the crown on a tie breaker. All this with a Crew Chief, that he'd already fired.This year he came into the Chase, in good shape. Then promptly laid down, & rolled over like a puppy wanting it's belly rubbed. Wonder what he'll do for an encore this season?
Next year, Drama Queen Danica, is moving into Cup full time. In a rent-a-ride, no doubt drawing a big salary. While Ryan, drives under sponsored, & reportedly, driving for only a share of his prize money.I fully expect Danica to be a distraction for the team, as long as she's part of it.
NASCAR has announced a number of changes coming, & they're all good, but more are needed. I'd call all except the new car, (owners, start your wallets) tweaks, rather than changes.
Changes would have been shortening the schedule, shortening the races, making California speedway, into a short track. Admitting that the Chase has done more bad, than good, & going back to a Season Championship. Thus making all the races important, rather than just the last 10.
I mentioned The Biff winning the regular, (pre) season, & getting squat for it.I think the regular season winner should get a points bonus equal to 2 race wins. I also feel that winning a pole, ought to be worth at least a point. you beat everyone, you deserve at least as much as someone who stays out an extra lap under caution.This is always referred to as a performance business, these are two performances that ought to be rewarded.
One change, I particularly don't like. Going back to unlimited use of the Past Champions Provisional. This needs to go away. If a past Champion can't make the field on a regular basis, that should tell him something, & he needs to listen. This is just welfare for someone like Terry Labonte, (& maybe Bobby soon) to get a car into the good paying races, that really doesn't deserve to be there. Don't get me wrong, I enjoy seeing Terry, & Bill Elliott, make a start or two, but only if they earn it.
I mentioned the election didn't I? Win, or lose, have you had enough of it? Me too, but it doesn't seem to be going away. Seems like people have already started running for 2016. Sheese, give it a rest already! OK, I'm going to make my predictions. 2016 is going to be Hillary, vs. Chris Christy. If anyone really cares at this point.
2013 is going to come down to Bad Brad vs. Clint Bowyer.
If that turns out to be right, remember where you heard it first.
If not forgedaboutit!