2008 Amp Energy 500 Review – Tony Stewart Wins

Amp Energy 500 Review
by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com

He came from the back of the field to the front within a matter of 25 laps. There’s no denying that Jr. had a car to win. He managed to stay away from the first ‘big one’, but then it happened. The second monster of a wreck tore his car apart, ending his day as he was charging to the front once again on the outside line.

This weekend’s race at Talladega changed the points outlook for sure for most drivers. In fact, few survived the carnage of the track as two major wrecks happened and tires blew throughout the day. The biggest problem seemed to be the tires. There were actually five cautions solely because of tires blowing. During one of the cautions, Goodyear brought out one of their analysts who really offered no explanation as to why the tires were blowing. If you remember, Jr. totaled his primary car during practice on Friday after suddenly blowing his tire. The truck race saw its share of blown tires as well. The analyst had no idea and said more would have to be done back at Goodyear headquarters, as even track conditions and tire pressures didn’t seem to be the culprit at the time.

Despite the tire issues, there were two major wrecks. The first ‘big one’ occurred because of a tire problem when Vickers’ blew in front of David Gilliland, Martin Truex Jr., Kasey Kahne, Mike Skinner, Jamie McMurray, Terry Labonte, Tony Raines and Aric Almirola. Kahne was also a contender, but unfortunately the ‘big one’ ruined his chances.

The great thing about yesterday’s race is that anyone could lead. We’re used to seeing 5 or 6 guys take the lead and run with it throughout the day, but yesterday we saw everyone from David Ragan to Travis Kvapil lead. There was definitely no clear cut leader.

The second ‘big one’ occurred on lap 174. This time, the Chase drivers were hit hard. Carl Edwards was pushing teammate Greg Biffle around the turn through the tri-oval and pushed too hard. He spun around Biffle, who took out Edwards in the process and also took out Dale Earnhardt Jr., Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch, Joe Nemechek, Reed Sorenson, Matt Kenseth, Travis Kvapil, Michael Waltrip, Dave Blaney and Juan Montoya. Surprisingly, no one had a temper issue and they all took it in stride as one of those Talladega ‘incidents’. Edwards apologized and owned up to his mistake and was genuinely apologetic for ruining so many guys’ days.

Needless to say, there weren’t a whole lot of cars left when they rest of the field returned to green with 11 laps to go. Tony Stewart managed to stick up front with Joe Nemecheck glued in a draft lock on his back bumper. Nemecheck ended up losing the draft and Elliot Salder actually went into a draft lock with Stewart but could not get around him. Regan Smith tried his luck with a green-white-checker finish. Smith dove under Stewart after Tony put the block on Smith. Unfortunately for Smith, the infamous yellow line rule came into play. At Talladega and Daytona, no driver is allowed to dive under the yellow line to advance their position. This is implemented for the safety of all drivers. Smith argued that he was forced there because of Stewart’s blocks. The problem is that Stewart did nothing illegal. His blocks were well-played and Smith just couldn’t get around. Although Smith crossed the line first, he was placed back in 18th after the race ended because of breaking the yellow line rule. Stewart got his first win of 2008.

For those wondering about Jeff Gordon, he was involved in a wreck trying to avoid David Reutimann, who blew a tire early. Gordon swerved to the oustide, trying to miss Reutimann, but managed to catch the outside wall hard. He went behind the wall for a while as his guys replaced his radiator. He eventually made it back out onto the track but ended up causing another late caution as his car began to leak fluid. His race ended early.

After all of this destruction, here are your top 10 finishers from Talladega:

1. Tony Stewart
2. Paul Menard
3. David Ragan
4. Jeff Burton
5. Clint Bowyer
6. Bobby LaBonte
7. Scott Riggs
8. Robby Gordon
9. Jimmie Johnson
10. Elliot Sadler

By staying out of trouble somehow, Jimmie Johnson managed to extend his points lead. Amazingly enough, we all thought Johnson would have a terrible finish after losing the draft early on and running 43rd for some time, eventually getting lapped. Despite early troubles, staying out of the wrecks was really all he needed to do. He managed a conservative 9th place and a good points day while the other guys can’t quite say so much.

Here are your current top 12 Chase drivers:

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Carl Edwards
3. Greg Biffle
4. Jeff Burton
5. Clint Bowyer
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Tony Stewart
8. Jeff Gordon
9. Matt Kenseth
10. Dale Earnhart Jr.
11. Kyle Busch
12. Denny Hamlin

Stewart gained 4 positions while Gordon, Jr., and Hamlin all lost 2. This weekend, we’re going to the only night race of the Chase. It’s Lowe’s Motor Speedway time. We’re going to Jimmie Johnson’s house now. That’s probably not what anyone wants to hear. If I had to guess, I’d say Johnson is set for 3 in a row for the Championship. I guess it’s wait and see from here, but just remember where we’re going next weekened!