Race Rewind: Looking back at the AdvoCare 500
Monday, Sep. 02, 2013
• Every time it seems a driver is emerging as a favorite to win this seasons Sprint Cup Series championship, another race alters the dynamic. There have been times when it seemed all but certain Jimmie Johnson would win his sixth series championship this year.
Now, hes finished 28th or worse the past three races. Matt Kenseth has the most wins five but just when it seems like his team is capable of putting together championship-like consistency, it stumbles. Next up is Kyle Busch, who now has four wins this season and looks like he has the speed, experience and team that can put together a title run. The narrative is likely to change again next weekend at Richmond, Va. Perhaps thats why this season has been so interesting thus far.
• Its interesting to see how big a role restarts are playing, particularly in the Cups series. Since the advent of double-file restarts, they have become more exciting and can produce opportunities for passing. Lately, however, even what lane a driver restarts in seems to have become an important indicator in how much ground they can make up or whether they have an easier time holding off competitors. NASCAR officials also seem to be growing more impatient with drivers who dont adhere strictly to stated rules on how to restart races.
• In case anyone needed a reminder of how worthless the points as they run statistic is, ESPN viewers were inundated Sunday night with speculation about Jimmie Johnson losing his series points lead after an early accident. Later, Clint Bowyer who entered the race second in points blew his engine while leading. Johnson still holds a 28-point lead over Bowyer.
Truex fights through pain : Sunday night was Martin Truex Jr.s first driving with a cast on his left wrist. Truex ended up finishing third in the race but his cast didnt fare near as well.
The cast just inside my hand got all soft its kind of broke (near) my thumb, Truex said. Well see what we can do with it. It hurts when youre in there just steering the car.
Truex heads next week to Richmond as one of 10 drivers competing for the final five spots in the Chase. He currently holds one of two wild-card spots based on wins.
Seven drivers locked into the Chase: Following the race at Atlanta, seven drivers are locked into this years Chase with just one race remaining before the 12-driver field is set.
Jimmie Johnson, Clint Bowyer, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards and Kasey Kahne will make up seven of the 12 spots when the Chase gets underway Sept. 15 at Chicagoland Speedway.
Its nice going to Richmond without having to worry about the Chase, said Edwards. I thought we had the fastest car on the long run in the spring. I thought we had the fastest car in the fall last year and almost won it. So, we want to go get another win.
Two of the drivers Edwards and Busch failed to make the Chase last season.
New tire passes test : Goodyear debuted its first multi-zone tread tire in NASCAR competition at Atlanta this weekend and it appeared to get good reviews.
The tire was designed with a firmer, heat resistant compound on the inner part of the tire and a more tractive compound on the outer part. Goodyear also plans to use the tire this fall at Kansas.
In the Cup race, we saw several full fuel runs with great performance and lap times faster than what weve run here in the recent past, said Greg Stucker, Goodyears director of racing.
Johnsons slide continues : Cup series points leader Jimmie Johnson continued his recent slide of poor finishes at Atlanta, ending up 28th after getting involved in an early accident.
Johnson has now finished 40th, 36th and 28th in his past three races. He remains the series points leader, however, with a 28-point advantage over Clint Bowyer.
Unofficial results and points standings