Auto Club Speedway has become Jimmie Johnson’s house. He came into ACS winning the last three races at the track and looking for four in a row. Sunday he quickly made his way to the front and led a total of 22 laps. Johnson didn’t have the car though on Sunday to really dominate the race like he has in the past. Johnson and his team ran top 10 all day long and brought home a third place finish. Team struggled a bit on pit road but Johnson overcame the slower stop on the track. His solid run at ACS padded his points lead as we head to another track that is Johnson’s house.
The day for Denny Hamlin didn’t look very good for Hamlin when he qualified 34th but then went to the rear for a transmission change. Hamlin and his team struggled with finding speed in the car on Sunday. The handling was balanced but the team made changes and as the lap wound down Hamlin found his way to the top 10. He didn’t have a winning car on Sunday but his eighth place finish keeps him in striking distance of Johnson.
Points: – 36
Once again Kevin Harvick did everything he had to do to keep his name in the title hunt. It wasn’t easy for them on Sunday after a speeding penalty on pit road forced them on lap 101 at the tail end of longest line. It meant Harvick would have to rally and rally he did. He drove through the field and finished seventh when the checkered flag waved. Harvick is quietly lurking behind Johnson and Hamlin waiting to for them to stumble.
For the second time in three weeks pit road has cost Jeff Gordon a sure top five finish .At ACS, Gordon had a fast car. It looked like he would gain some much needed points on the competition. During a caution flag pit stop on lap 156, Gordon was caught speeding on pit road. He would restart tail end and go nowhere on the restart. It was the final two cautions of the race that Gordon went from 24th to ninth. It was a huge rebound for this team that keeps them in the title picture. Gordon’s run through the field in final 20 laps of the race was old school Gordon but it saved his title hopes.
Just imagine had Tony Stewart not run out of fuel at Loudon? He would very well be leading the standings but instead he sits fifth now. Stewart had a fast car all day and after starting mid pack in 22nd, Stewart finally got track position. When he did Stewart was able to drive his way to the lead and his pit crew got it done on pit road on the final stop, giving him the lead for good. Stewart win and second of the Chase has brought him right back into the title picture. It’s a five man battle now and Stewart can’t afford any mistakes.
Kurt Busch knew he didn’t have the car to win on Sunday after a dismal starting position of 38th. Busch and his team worked their way to the top 20. As other Chasers were making mistakes or struggling Busch was looking like a top 10 finish was in the cards. That was until David Ragan got loose and took Kurt Busch into the wall on lap 194. Busch’s good day turned quickly as he finished 21st and lost ground to the Johnson and the rest of the Chasers. Busch is on the cusp of being out of the title hunt and needs a top 10 or better yet a win.
Carl Edwards was sitting fourth in the points. He was looking like he had a dog in this fight until a distributor failure sent him to the garage and ended all but ended his hope of a title. Edwards started 20th and quietly worked his way into the top 10. On lap 58 on the restart following Marcos Ambrose’s spin, Edwards couldn’t get the car to re-fire. The crew went to the garage and 14 laps later Edwards was back on track. He finished 34th on Sunday and now has a long uphill battle to climb.
Well Jeff Burton on Sunday continued his streak of starting the race off fast and then losing the handling of the car and posting a dismal finish. Burton started off looking like he would contend for the win. He started 15th and was able to run in the top 10. They made an adjustment on the car though during one of their green flag stops and the car never handled the same again. Burton finish 23rd and dropped in the standings. He is going to need a miracle; a big one.
Kyle Busch was within striking distance of the points lead at halfway through the race on Sunday. They were struggling with the handling of his car but Busch was running up front and even led laps at ACS. It wasn’t meant to be for Busch on Sunday as his engine blew up on lap 155 sending him to garage and home with a 35th place finish. His engine woes on Sunday all but ended his title hopes for 2010. Now the team will focus on winning races and 2011.
After winning at Kansas and jumping back into the title picture, Greg Biffle ha high hopes coming to ACS. Those high hopes went up in smoke early in the race. Biffle was the first of the RFR drivers to suffer mechanical failure. Biffle started seventh on Sunday and was running in the top 15 when his engine blew on lap 40.Not the day he expected after his win at Kansas. Biffle was looking for more instead his 41st place finish all but put an end to his title hopes in 2010.
In recent week’s Matt Kenseth has run better in fact if it weren’t for his mistake on pit road at Dover, Kenseth had been a contender. Sunday was no different for Kenseth as he ran in the top 10 and top five for most of the day. As his teammates Biffle and Edwards suffered mechanical failures, Kenseth was looking like he could bring home a top five. No such luck though as Kenseth hearing a miss in the engine and slowly he fell off the pace. He finished 30th and now his title hopes are over with only six races left.
Clint Bowyer is on a mission. His mission is to quiet the apparent whispers that his win at Loudon was not legit. Bowyer started the race 13th but worked his way into the top 10 early. Bowyer was sitting in the lead when on lap 183; NASCAR slowed the field for debris in turn three. Bowyer was furious, on his radio he told the team that had been sitting there the whole run. Bowyer lost the lead on pit road and would restart third behind Johnson and Stewart. Bowyer was only able to get by Johnson for second, his best finish since Loudon. His title hopes are long over but Bowyer’s mantra is “us against them” and on Sunday it nearly worked.