Checkers & Wreckers, Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Edition: AAA 400
By, Amanda Wright
Nestled within the country’s first state of Delaware lies a monster that only awakens when NASCAR is in town. Rumor has it that this monster is friendly with fans, but feasts on the sheet metal and Goodyear rubber from the racecars that runs on its track. Well, this isn’t just any old monster; it’s Miles the Monster from Dover International Speedway, where the Sprint Cup Series visited for Chase race number three in Sunday’s running of the AAA 400.
It seemed as if Miles had pigged out at the concession stands prior to the race, because his appetite for cars wasn’t what it usually was. With only five cautions in the race, three for debris, it was evident that the race was going to come down to the dreaded fuel mileage game.
For once, the gambling in the casino next to the track wasn’t as important as the gambling done on the track as the laps wound down. Who had enough fuel? Who needed to save gas, and who would be forced to pit with a handful of laps to go? Kyle Busch, who led an astounding 302 out of the 400 laps, had to come in for a splash of gas with only a few laps to go. The same went for teammate Denny Hamlin, who had his eye on a bigger trophy… the Sprint Cup. With only a handful of drivers on the lead lap he could come in for a quick gas-and-go and still salvage a top-ten, and his title hopes.
One driver whose gamble paid off was Brad Keselowski, who had enough fuel to make it to the finish, scoring him his second win of the Chase, and fifth of the 2012 season. Oh yeah, let’s not forget that this win also put him back in the championship lead, just five points ahead of Jimmie Johnson. Speaking of Jimmie, wasn’t he supposed to dominate and win this race? That’s what everyone was saying all week at least.
So… who befriended Miles, and who ended up on his dinner plate? Here is this week’s Checkers & Wreckers:
Brad Keselowski: Bad Brad has done it again. Two wins in three of the Chase races. Is he this year’s Tony Stewart? No. He is this year’s Brad Keselowski. I have no doubt in my mind that he can be in the title fight come Homestead. He is one of the most determined drivers that I have ever met, and if he wants something, he will go out and get it. This, my friends, is a very dangerous thing for the other 11 drivers vying for the Sprint Cup. He has come so far in such a short amount of time, and a championship won by him would be extremely good for the sport.
Jeff Gordon: Take away the stuck throttle response spring at Chicago, and he probably would be battling Keselowski right up there at the top of the standings. In the past six races, he has finished in the top three in all but one of them, obviously being that Chicago race. Granted he is still in 10th place in the points, but he has made up more points in less time before. I think he is still in it to win it. The man is hungry for his fifth championship.
Matt Kenseth: After breaking a rear track bar on lap 308 then coming back out and crashing to cause another caution on lap 317, I think he’s ready for the season to be over so he can head to his new team. I think his title hopes for 2012 are over. He currently sits in 12th place, 72 points back from leader Brad Keselowski, which I think is way too many points to make up in seven races. He might as well just go for wins at this point.
Greg Biffle: He had a solid run going until a mistake during a pit stop left a right front wheel loose, forcing him to make another pit stop under green. After a bit of a hissy-fit, he wasn’t quite able to recover, finishing three laps down in 16th. The “Regular Season Points Champ” lost two more spots in the standings as he finds himself sitting 51 points back in 11th. I think it is safe to say that his hopes of being the first driver to win all three major NASCAR championships will have to wait another year.
So take everything I said about these four drivers and throw them out the window, as the series heads to Talledega this week for perhaps the biggest “wild card” race of the Chase for the Sprint Cup. If there was any race that could shake things up, it will be this Sunday’s Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. What a fitting name for a race that will probably need a lot of wreckers and tow trucks.