As several people decided to mourn this past weekend at Auto Club Speedway in Southern California as the Pepsi Max 400 was the final fall race at the speedway, I have to admit that I believe NASCAR made the right call in pulling one of California Speedway’s Cup dates. However I also will say that the date should have been either open or go to Canada or even Iowa Speedway and not to Kansas Speedway.
But it is what it is.
However even though there wasn’t a big crowd on hand for Sunday’s Cup Series race, the final fall race at California Speedway would go out in style as being an exciting race to watch. I especially loved the fact that California Speedway and NASCAR made this race a 400 mile, instead of 500 mile. Here are my top 5 things learned at California.
1. Kyle Busch vs. David Reutimann and Chase drivers vs. Non-chase drivers.
When it comes to Busch vs. Reutimann, I have to say that I agree that Reutimann had to strike back. Kyle Busch has to learn that he can’t keep running his mouth and and driving so aggressive or even dirty against his competitive, otherwise he will be on the receiving end of payback. And I will go on record and saying this wouldn’t be the last time we see a feud that includes payback. Another driver will payback Kyle Busch this season, most likely in Homestead especially if that driver is going for a championship right now.
As for Chase driver vs. Non-chase drivers. There is no free pass for a chase driver and all 36 races in 2010 are 43 drivers, not 12. All drivers on the racetrack are competing for the victory, a points position and should be respected.
2. Tony Stewart makes statement and wins Pepsi Max 400. On Sunday, Tony Stewart refused to quit when it comes to the championship hunt, but even more, Stewart is now on a hot streak after two bad chase races (New Hampshire and Dover) to continue his strong finishes. Stewart held off a hard charging Clint Bowyer and a fast Jimmie Johnson. Tony Stewart now finds himself 5th in the points standings and –107 points back.
3. Several chase drivers fall. Last week, I could honestly say that the top 10 drivers were still realistically in the hunt for the chase for the Sprint Cup Championship, but now its more of the top 7 drivers in the chase are contenders. Carl Edwards is right now on the bubble –162 back, I believe 162 is border line and is one race out. Anything more with 6 races to go, is a strength at best. But on Sunday, at least 9 chase drivers had issues in the race. Greg Biffle, Carl Edwards, Matt Kenseth, and Kyle Busch all had engine issues and finished in the back. Jeff Gordon had a speeding penalty just to name a few.
4. Mark Martin lead the most laps on Sunday. Mark Martin was the driver I picked before the Daytona 500 to win the Cup Series championship this season. However it wasn’t meant to be as this season has been anything but championship contending here in 2010. But its good to see that the #5 Mark Martin was running up front on Sunday and hopefully this good run will continue on into next weekend at Charlotte.
5. Jimmie Johnson despite not being the favorite to win is still leading the chase. As the 2010 Cup Season is in full swing with the chase, it has been anything but a normal season especially with NASCAR’s “Boy’s Have at it”. And that goes for Jimmie Johnson as well, he hasn’t had that impact season. However Johnson is still out front of the points standings with 36 points over second place Denny Hamlin and 54 points over 3rd place Kevin Harvick.
Now we look ahead to Charlotte Motor Speedway for this Saturday Night’s 500 miler. I would have to say that the favorites would have to be Jimmie Johnson and Kurt Busch.