Now’s the time for Jeff Gordon to make his run
NASCAR’s Chase for the Championship just got more interesting and it has nothing to do with racing or the standings. Last Saturday at Dover, Denny Hamlin and Kevin Harvick got into it pretty good following Hamlin’s ill-advised comments the day before regarding Clint Bowyer’s penalties and insinuated that the Childress drivers have been cheating all season.
When the two drivers hit the track for their first practice session of the day, Harvick sought out Hamlin like a hungry shark bumping Hamlin’s right rear a few times and then finishing off with a tap on the front fender. Each driver had damage and immediately came in for repairs and that’s when the fireworks started.
The two teams had stalls right next to each other in the garage area and were shouting and swearing at one another when the cars came in together. Hamlin jumped out and started yelling at the Harvick crew and Harvick jumped out and started yelling inches from Hamlin’s face. It was pandemonium and something rarely seen during a practice session.
But it was NASCAR justice being handled by the drivers as NASCAR said would be allowed at the beginning of the year in hopes of creating more rivalries and personalities. Harvick was completely justified in his actions because Hamlin should have just kept his mouth shut. There were only bad things that could have come out of him talking about the team who has a driver that has led the season in points the entire year.
To have two of the best drivers in NASCAR hating each other, who will battle for the title over the next eight races adds more spice and zip to NASCAR than any script writer could have dreamed of conjuring up. This is REAL Reality TV with a dramatic storyline being created weekly that you won’t want to miss.
While all that was going on, Jimmie Johnson went about his business Sunday and moved within 35 points of Hamlin for the points lead by winning for the sixth time this season and his sixth overall at Dover.
This week at Kansas we get to see the first of five races on similar types of tracks that include Fontana, Charlotte, Texas and Homestead. Doing well on these tracks is the key to doing well in the Chase. Of the five, Kansas is probably the most unique just because its banking is flatter, making the average speeds much less than the other four.
Drivers who have excelled at Kansas over the years are Greg Biffle, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Tony Stewart. Gordon won the first two Kansas races and has come with four other top-five finishes including runner-up last year. Stewart won last year’s race, his second at Kansas, but couldn’t have started the Chase off worse currently sitting in 10th.
When looking at past history, there are quite a few Chasers who don’t fare well at Kansas. The Busch brothers don’t a have top-five between them while Hamlin has an average finish of 19.0 at the track. Jeff Burton hasn’t been much better, neither has Harvick or Matt Kenseth.
This is the race I had penciled in where Jeff Gordon would make his move on all the others. He dropped four positions last week at Dover to eighth-place in the standings but still only remains 83 points out. Look for Gordon to get the win this week, fighting off Biffle and Johnson with non-chasers Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya doing well.