Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Rating the NASCAR Banking 500: 4 Stars ****

The final Saturday night race of the season was a big upgrade compared to the previous races in the Chase to this point. Yes, Jimmie Johnson won again, but the racing throughout was better and all 10 cautions were for a legitimate reason. Therefore, a 4 Star Rating is appropriate.

In the final race at Lowe’s Motor Speedway, Johnson and the #48 Lowe’s team wind up in victory lane. This may have actually been their most impressive weekend to date. All three practices showed Johnson at the top of the board, he won the pole, led the most laps, and won the race. A team cannot have a better weekend than that.

This is why coming into this weekend everyone was saying that the Chase was over. Many of the Chasers had issues, while Johnson stayed at the front of the field. Now, with the Chase halfway complete, Johnson has a 90 point lead over second place Mark Martin, the only driver within 100 points of the lead. This is the biggest lead any driver has had at this point in the season since the Chase was started in 2004. Sorry folks, it will take a semi-miracle for somebody to prevent Johnson from winning his fourth consecutive championship. However, as with Albert Pujols and Peyton Manning, we will all be able to tell stories to the younger generation that we saw these great players do incredible things the way people talk about Willie Mays and Joe Montana today. Jimmie Johnson is certainly in that category.

Racing at Charlotte will always be better than it is at Kansas and California just because of how the track is laid out, but there is something about the tracks in the Southeast that just make it feel like the team is in for a home stand, just coming back from a West Coast swing.

There was good racing throughout much of the race, and the fact that some non-Chasers scored top 10 finishes was very refreshing. This race was similar to the Atlanta Labor Day race except that the #48 team is on their game now. There is no reason to think that they won’t go out and dominate at Martinsville next week as well. They have actually had more recent success at that track than they have had at Charlotte.

Finally, and I hate to keep bringing this subject up, but at the end of the race Juan Pablo Montoya complained that there was debris on the track several times during the race and NASCAR didn’t throw a caution. First off, thank you NASCAR; the race was better for it. Also, there were no cars involved in a wreck that was caused because someone ran over a piece of debris. This is what I was saying last week; more cars would have been damaged if those cautions had been waved, rather than allowing the race to unfold itself, because wrecks would have happened on the restarts as they did last week in California.

So, we now understand why NASCAR was artificially messing with the races, because Chase drivers were going to have races like they did at Charlotte and the points would have been even more spread out than they are currently, but when a team is as dominant as the #48, nobody is going to slow them down. They are amazing. We also learned that even as much as the television networks tried to tell us the opposite, people were right when they said the Chase is over now that the #48 is on top. If Johnson doesn’t win the championship, something much different than what has happened in the first half of the Chase is going to have to happen in order to prevent a four-peat.


  1. I didn't think caution for Sam's spin was warranted since he was off the track...but I agree with the 4 star rating :)

  2. I will have to leave the rating of the race to you and tezgm I only watched an hour of the race and then I went to other things. Just could not stand to watch the 48 win once again at Charlotte.

  3. tezgm99 - Good point. I wish they had gotten the car fixed well enough that he could at least get around the track. He really chopped up the start of the race. Not a good night for that team. Thanks!

    Tsfanpc - Lol. The last month or so has been pretty predictable. There is no reason to think he won't do it again next week at Martinsville. Thanks!