Subway Fresh Fit 500 Review
by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com
This weekend, Chad Knaus proved why he is NASCARs reigning champion crew chief. When it came down to it, Knaus knew to take the gamble if it would give him a win. The way that he calculated things, he wouldnt have a win any other way BUT to take a risk and do what everyone else wasnt going to do. This served him and his driver Jimmie Johnson well as Johnsons car was pushed into victory lane late on Saturday night.
Fuel mileage turned out to be the name of the game for the drivers on Saturday. Because of the weird sequencing of pit stops that was happening throughout the night, few drivers thought that they had enough fuel to make it to the end. Johnson and Knaus figured it was worth the risk. With a total of zero wins this year, Johnson has not lived up to the hype of last years championship and his ten wins to go along with it. Over the past three weeks, though, Johnson has managed to pull himself and his team together to pull out some pretty strong finishes. This weekend was the ultimate and gave him his first win of 2008. This could be the start of another sweep of wins for Johnson should he be able to maintain his consistency, but only time will tell.
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Ryan Newman ran strong and led 37 laps, but again, did not even manage to finish the race. Newman blew an engine on lap 134 and his companion on the front row, Elliot Sadler, also blew an engine on lap 161. When Newmans engine blew, there were several drivers involved in a chain-reaction incident as oil and power steering fluid drenched the track. Reed Sorenson saw some of the most damage out of that crash.
If you were able to listen to the radio transmission between Chad Knaus and Jimmie Johnson, you got a treat. It was so entertaining to listen to Knaus feverishly tell Johnson to conserve his fuel and to slow down his pace by so many seconds a lap. In doing so, Johnsons final lap was close to 32 seconds and still 7 seconds ahead of second place finisher Clint Bowyer. Johnson was excited and Knaus was sweating it, but it all worked out for the best. Quite frankly, I do not think that anyone else gets credit except for Knaus expert calls and Johnsons ability to so efficiently conserve his fuel where he needed to. Luck had little to do with this one in my opinion. Knaus knew what he was dealing with and made a great call. The other guys were just too scared of the consequences of running out. But, if you think about it, the winner has to do something different than everyone else to win the race. First place is really all that matters when the checkers are flying.
As far as points are concerned this week, there was movement within the top twelve, but no movement in or out of it. Jeff Gordon moved one spot up to 13th after having a car that just wasnt close to where he wanted it to be. It makes you wonder what is so different this year compared to every other year, most of which he was competing for the championship. That missing element still hasnt been found and were getting a little too far into the season to be this inconsistent and have a chance at the championship.
Either way, this race was one with some of the fewest leaders in history. There were only four leaders the entire race. Jr. led a big part of the race, but just started falling backwards. He drifted back to about 6th or 7th and pretty much stayed put for the rest of the night, never again competing for the lead. Mark Martin had a chance to win but did not gamble on the fuel, leaving him with a top five.
The top ten finishers for Saturday nights race are:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Clint Bowyer
3. Denny Hamlin
4. Carl Edwards
5. Mark Martin
6. Jeff Burton
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
8. Martin Truex Jr.
9. Greg Biffle
10. Kyle Busch
The current top twelve in points are:
1. Jeff Burton
2. Kyle Busch
3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
4. Jimmie Johnson
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Denny Hamlin
7. Tony Stewart
8. Clint Bowyer
9. Carl Edwards
10. Greg Biffle
11. Kasey Kahne
12. Ryan Newman
Just as a note, Carl Edwards, who I picked for the winner, had problems in his pits early in the race. Unfortunately, this doomed him as far as position was concerned. He came back from 32nd after the pit road incident to a 4th place finish. He had a shot at the win if his team didnt make that mistake. Jeff Burton also made a good showing coming from his thirty-sixth starting position back up to 6th place.
This week, were taking a break until we hit another super speedway. Stay tuned for details on the Talladega race coming soon. Its about time for another super speedway!