2008 Pepsi 500 Review

2008 Pepsi 500 Review
by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com

Last night, you would’ve thought that Kyle Busch was dominating again if you looked at the stats from the race. All but 7 laps led would lead me to the conclusion that Mr. Unbeatable was up to his old tricks. BUT, it seems as though Jimmie Johnson thought we were forgetting about him and the ability of Hendrick to dominate. Johnson led all but 7 laps. He pulled away to almost an 8.5 second lead at one point. His car was dialed in. End of story.

Last night’s race proved that Johnson and other drivers besides Kyle Busch still have the ability to win races and to dominate with their equipment instead of just Gibbs. The key to last night seemed to be getting the car to handle right. This is something that Jeff Gordon and many others couldn’t get quite right. Although a top 15 finish isn’t bad, it moved Gordon back to 10th in the points. Teammate Jr. struggled with handling as well, but scrounged up an 11th place finish.

Two guys that were very surprising last night were A.J. Allmendinger and Brian Vickers. The two Red Bull teammates had impressive runs, competing within the top 5 for most of the night. These guys have actually proven a lot over the last few weeks, consistently coming in with top 10’s and top 15 runs. Unfortunately, pit stops in the final 50 laps ended the hopes of these guys having impressive finishes. Vickers, after the race, explained that although his pit crew is made of some great guys, they are consistently making mistakes that lose them 10-15 spots on pit road week in and week out. To be a top team, these kinds of mistakes can’t happen. This is how championship dreams end. It’s really a perfect example of awesome drivers suffering because of other factors outside their control. Could you imagine the talent of Kyle Busch suffering every week because of his pit crew? I’m sure we’d see a change and fast.

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Some other notable points from last night are the fact that Clint Bowyer and Denny Hamlin maintained their position within the top 12, but David Ragan and Kasey Kahne are making up ground, with both being within 48 points of 12th place. This could prove to make next weekend’s race at Richmond very interesting. Additionally, something else worth considering is that this is Johnson’s first domination on a big track in a while. He’s had so much trouble just finishing the race at intermediate tracks, that last night’s race confirmed that additional testing has worked wonders for this team. It’s a good start to for Johnson getting back on track when it comes to the bigger tracks, and could be life-saving for him when the Chase is underway.

Let’s take a look at last night’s top 10 finishers:

1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Greg Biffle
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Kevin Harvick
5. Matt Kenseth
6. Carl Edwards
7. Kasey Kahne
8. Kyle Busch
9. David Reutimann
10. Clint Bowyer

It’s a pretty good looking top 10 and nothing really out of the ordinary to be honest. We saw 3 of the Roush guys with top 10 finishes, which was to be expected, and also most of the Chase contenders within the top 10 and 15.

Here’s how the top 12 is shaping up going into Richmond:

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

There are a lot of potential BIG losers in the final race of the regular season on Saturday night. Richmond is a place where dreams are either made or shattered. There’s nothing like some great short track racing to end a great regular season. Watch out as tempers are sure to fly as these guys run their hardest to get in and stay in those coveted top 12 positions.