Going into Sunday’s running of the AAA 400 from the Dover International Speedway, we had much expectation, and we would not be disappointed with the shakeup in the 2011 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series points standings.
Kurt Busch overcame the daunting task of holding back both Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards in the closing laps of the race. Something you don’t see too often, especially in the Chase.
“It was just a perfect execution today with pit stops and with making the car better during the race,” Busch said. “That’s been some of our troubles when the track rubbers in. To win a Sprint Cup race in the Chase, that’s what it’s all about. That’s the feeling of the playoffs.”
Busch couldn’t have had this win come at a better time for the No. 22 team, as they are pushing for their first championship together as a team.
Granted, Busch has won a NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship before, but I have a feeling this would be just a ‘tad’ bit more special having Steve Addington on the pit box.
However, as we all know, this win doesn’t mean Busch is a given to win the championship. Does it help? Absolutely. But I do caution you to not look too much into this win (as Stewart won the first two races of the Chase, and had a dismal performance in today’s ‘third leg’ of the playoffs).
“I feel like we’re right in the mix. We’ve just got to cover up those bad days.” said Busch.
One still has to be impressed with the showings of both Johnson and Edwards today, as they both were right there in the end to hopefully score their first victory of the Chase.
Johnson, whom many still believe has what it takes to win a sixth-straight title, just couldn’t catch up to the No. 22 in the closing laps of the race.
When asked what he thought about racing the No. 22, Johnson said, “I could close the gap in about 30-40 laps, but I just couldn’t catch him on the restarts. I had my hands full on the last restart, and that is what cost me the win.”
Top 10 finishers: Winner: Kurt Busch, 2nd: Jimmie Johnson, 3rd: Carl Edwards, 4th: Kasey Kahne, 5th: Matt Kenseth, 6th: Kyle Busch, 7th: AJ Allmendinger, 8th: Clint Bowyer, 9th: Marcos Ambrose, 10th: Kevin Harvick
Next week we head to Kansas Speedway, where Michael Waltrip Racing will hold a press-conference (as they are expected to announce the arrival of Clint Bowyer to the MWR camp).
Looking back at Dover, we are left with the impression that Stewart might not be ‘all that’, and it’s far too early to have a clear front-runner for this years Chase.
2011 Sprint Cup Driver Championship Chase Points Standings (After Dover):
1.) #29-Kevin Harvick [4 wins], 2122
2.) #99-Carl Edwards [1 win], 2122
3.) #14-Tony Stewart [2 wins], 2113, -9
4.) #22-Kurt Busch [2 wins], 2113, -9
5.) #48-Jimmie Johnson [1 win], 2109, -13
6.) #2-Brad Keselowski [3 wins], 2108, -14
7.) #17-Matt Kenseth [2 wins], 2108, -14
8.) #18-Kyle Busch [4 wins], 2107, -15
9.) #24-Jeff Gordon [3 wins], 2103, -19
10.) #88-Dale Earnhardt Jr. [0 wins], 2088, -34
11.) #39-Ryan Newman [1 win], 2081, -41
12.) #11-Denny Hamlin [1 win], 2054, -68