Camping World RV 400 by Coleman Review
by Virginia Vroom of Predictem.com
So, I have no idea if this weekend’s race is a result of the new Chase format, but if it is, count me in as a fan! This was one of the best finishes that I’ve seen in a long time. Add that on top of last weekend’s three-way race for the win in Dover and we’re talking about one heck of a great playoff season in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.
If you were watching, it came down to the last turn of the last lap before we figured out our winner. Carl Edwards and Jimmie Johnson both had insanely good cars all day long. Few could run with them or even pass them, although Johnson’s teammate Jeff Gordon and Edwards’ teammate Greg Biffle gave it all they had. Edwards led for a good while as did Jimmie Johnson, but Johnson grabbed the lead and maintained it through the last pit stop. He drove away with over a second lead over Edwards, but Edwards seemed to be slowly catching him. With about three laps to go, Edwards really started to dig in the corners. You could see just how hard he was pushing his car. He was trying to stick it to the bottom, using even the apron to coast his car ahead of Johnson.
Johnson wasn’t having it though. As a very clean driver, Johnson legitimately blocked Edwards’ attempts at passing, so Edwards tried one more maneuver. He pulled out a move that we typically see from the veterans and actually a move we haven’t seen executed correctly in a long time. I’m talking about the sling-shot maneuver. Edwards laid back for a second, got a good run on the bottom, and planned to swing under Johnson and shoot up in front of him, basically taking advantage of Johnson’s air. The problem is that veterans racing veterans always means a good race. Johnson knew exactly what Edwards was doing. Watching the replays, it’s easy to see once Edwards dips low and slides underneath Johnson, Jimmie actually laid back himself for a minute, making Edwards pull too far forward.
Edwards actually came up and skirted the wall, which was his plan, but he didn’t realize how much it would slow his momentum. Because of that and the fact the Johnson caught on, Edwards was unable to follow through and couldn’t quite make up the distance, although he fought back hard, maintaining control of his car and getting back to the apron for a drag race to the end. Johnson came out victorious, but it’s always refreshing seeing two such incredibly talented drivers have a good, clean, and respectful race and then having so much fun regardless of winning or coming in second.
Some other notables are Greg Biffle, who hung onto a not so great car to come away with a third place finish, and Jeff Gordon, who said he has never felt so bad getting into a race car before. Despite his illness, Gordon came away with a great effort for fourth after being passed by Biffle on the last lap. Gordon was unable to give an interview due to his sickness, but crew chief Steve Letarte seemed pleased with the effort of the team.
One other note: pit road was where the real troubles happened for most drivers. In fact, Edwards should be counting his blessings to come away with a second place after two separate incidents on pit road should’ve put him a lot farther back in the field. Tony Stewart also had his fair share of troubles, with Brian Vickers’ team giving him no room coming in and out of the box. Vickers’ team didn’t seem to see the problem, although maybe Tony did, driving up the track and ‘accidentally’ getting into Vickers. Actually, I thought it was pretty funny, really. The old Tony cracks me up. He just added to the excitement as usual.
Also, before we get to the points, Kyle Busch is seeing his Chase dreams completely wash away after more mechanical failure this weekend. For the third race in a row, Busch suffered problems not within his control. Crew members thought it was a piece of paper covering the cowl intake, but it’s still up in the air what exactly it was that caused Kyle to drop yet again farther from the top of the pack. Needless to say, Busch may as well kiss his championship hopes goodbye for this year. His team is crumbling at the worst possible time. Who knew?
Here’s the top ten from yesterday’s race. Not surprisingly, the majority of the drivers are Chase contenders.
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Carl Edwards
3. Greg Biffle
4. Jeff Gordon
5. Matt Kenseth
6. Kevin Harvick
7. Jeff Burton
8. David Ragan
9. A.J. Allmendinger
10. Elliot Sadler
The irony with A.J. Allmendinger is that he just lost his rideand he has the car in the top 35 in owner’s points and has been having consistent top 15 finishes. When you figure out the logic behind that one, let me know.
That being said, here are the current top 12 in the points:
1. Jimmie Johnson
2. Carl Edwards
3. Greg Biffle
4. Jeff Burton
5. Kevin Harvick
6. Jeff Gordon
7. Clint Bowyer
8. Dale Earnhardt Jr.
9. Matt Kenseth
10. Denny Hamlin
11. Tony Stewart
12. Kyle Busch
With so many of these guys finishing in the top 10 week in and week out, it’s keeping the points battle tight. There’s only 30 points between third and first. Really, anyone from 7th on has a chance at this thing. I think we’re going to see a change in that this weekend though. We’re going to Talladega where it’s always unpredictable and always an awesome race. The super speedways really change things up. This is where we’re going to separate the champions from the rest.