Wednesday, March 14, 2012

NASCAR: Tony Stewart, Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were the headlines from the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas.

Last Sunday's Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, the third race of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wasn't much to write home about. However while the race didn't give us those moments for a highlight reel, there were three headlines or drivers' in this case that stood out to me during the course of this race.

1. Dale Earnhardt Jr.: Anyone surprised with that didn't watch the race. Dale Jr. lead basically from the drop of the green flag for a total of 70 laps on Sunday before a pit stop of four tires put him back in dirty air. For some reason or another, he just couldn't make his way up through the field to regain that top spot and ended up finishing in 10TH spot. Its another good run for Dale Jr.,

However it was the incident between Dale Jr. and Mark Martin during the race that have some screaming foul. Personally, its the exact same deal that happened to Dale Jr. back at Michigan when he and Mark Martin were teammates. Dale Jr. was running the high line and Mark Martin was trying to make the pass, but crowded him and one driver would end up in the wall. Dale Jr. was right to hold his line and in this case it was Martin who paid the price. Its unfortunate, but its something everyone is blowing up while these two just need to deal with themselves.

2. Jimmie Johnson: Despite the fact that the #48 Hendrick Motorsports team and Chad Knaus lost their first appeal yesterday in the fist round of the media circus, I don't think it's going to matter as Jimmie Johnson and the #48 team are showing why they are still the team to beat. Right now even with the 25 point penalty and finishing 42ND at Daytona, Johnson and his team have racked off a 4th place finish at Phoenix and a 2nd place finish last Sunday at Las Vegas. And now finds himself 23rd in points, -64 points behind leader Greg Biffle.

One writer asked, how many races before Jimmie Johnson is back in the top 10 in the point standings? My answer was before the Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway in last May. But I wouldn't be surprised if it was sooner.

Personally this is entertaining to watch.

3. Tony Stewart: As a Tony Stewart fan myself, normally at this time of the year, Smoke is still warming up for the summer time where he starts to win races, with the exception of 2011 where he wanted until the chase to gets his five wins on the season.

But not in 2012, Tony Stewart is picking up where he left off in 2011 after winning the Cup Title by winning at Las Vegas just 3 races into the season. This win was key for Smoke considering he finished 2ND in Las Vegas last year and has rebound this time around.

Its kind of fitting that he does it with his new crew chief Steve Addington. Of course his former crew chief Darin Grubb won last weekend at Phoenix with his new driver Denny Hamlin. I have to say its great to see both crew chiefs winning already in the season. This should be a cool rivalry (at least in the media's eyes) to watch play out for the rest of the 2012 NASCAR season.

Now that Las Vegas is behind us for yet another year, its off to Thunder Valley and the day race at Bristol Motor Speedway.Personally any race at Bristol Motor Speedway needs to be under the lights. I hate this race being in the daytime and so early in the year. It just doesn't pack the grandstands and add the same excitement that the August night race. But its still a short track race and it still should be good.

And Brian Vickers will be in the #55 Toyota at Bristol, does the words "oh brother" or "fireworks" come to mind? I'll leave it at that.