Follow me on

Twitter Feed Facebook Feed RSS Feed Linked In Youtube

So go on and give Jimmie Johnson that fourth NASCAR title trophy...but these drivers really want NASCAR to solve this Talladega riddle

  Jimmie Johnson -- a record-breaking four-time NASCAR championship looming (Photo: Getty Images for NASCAR)

   By Mike Mulhern

   So it's Jimmie Johnson, with a fourth straight NASCAR championship. That's all but assured now. He's got three more races, Texas, Phoenix and Homestead, and it may be hard for him to squander that 184-point lead over Mark Martin and 192-point lead over Jeff Gordon.
   Johnson came up with a bag of miracles in the closing miles of Sunday's Talladega 500. After running around in 30th for most of the 3-1/2 race, Johnson wound an amazing sixth, as rivals at the end either ran out of gas and/or crashed.
   In fact, instead of finish last among the 12 title chasers, Johnson had only two rivals ahead of him at the finish, Kasey Kahne and Greg Biffle, both men long out of the championship hunt.
   Johnson seemed almost stunned with how things turned out.
   "I am good with that, that is a good number," he said of the 180-plus edge.
    But Johnson wasn't happy with some rivals still racing for positions after the yellow came out. That's a no-no, but NASCAR made no calls. That would be the third time in recent weeks that some drivers have continued to race after the yellow comes out, which is against the rules.
   "Some guys at the end were trying to make up some spots when the yellow was out, which wasn't cool," Johnson said.
   Johnson said a late-race fuel top-off was the key call for him. It gave him enough fuel to finish, while rivals ran dry. And it gave him different track position.  "I really have to give Chad (Knaus, his crew chief) credit for putting fuel in the car. That's what set us up for this great finish.
    "And we were far enough ahead on the race track that I wasn't caught up in that big wreck.
    "But I was really concerned under the red flag for Ryan Newman's crash -- what do I do? How do I get to the front?
     "Chad said these guys might run out of gas….but I didn't want to believe too much in that because we're running 25th and I don't want to hope for some of that.
   "But they started running out of gas. There's one car, then there's Jeff Gordon, then Mark Martin hits pit road (for fuel). And I'm like 'Man, this isn't Halloween; this is an early Christmas present.'
   "With that green-white-checker restart I thought we were 20th at the best, and we came home with a top-10."
    Gordon himself was upset and surprised at running out of gas, but he was also disturbed about the rules the teams had to race under.
    The rules made the racing flat boring, even drivers said. "Well, yeah, but the only way it's not going to be is for it not to be 500 miles," Gordon said. "I mean we know what we're up against. Why go out there and beat and bang and turn one another sideways in the first 100 or 200 miles?
    "If you want to make this a really exciting race for the whole race, make it 200 miles.
    "That's why the Truck races and other races here are so exciting.
    "To me, our sport (Cup racing) is about strategy, it's about longevity, it's about pacing yourself.
    "I thought it was a great race.
     "But unfortunately the rules that we have are going to play out.
    "The cars suck up too much (in the draft)…And they need to change that for this track or it's just going to happen every single time.
     "My recommendation to them (NASCAR) a long time ago -- and still is -- we're just punching too big of a hole and we've got too much power to go along with that.
    "We've got to get the air turned back down to catch the cars a little bit more.
     "I don't know what the solution is -- if it's a wicker or if it's something else. I'm not an aero guy.
    "I just know that we shouldn't be able to just get into that pocket and close up.
    "There are two things -- one, the car has so much drag that when you clear somebody it's just like putting the brakes on. And the other is when you get close up to them, you just close right up on them. And when you take 40 cars, or 20 cars, and pack them, it's just bumper cars at 190 mph.
    "Talladega, in a green-white-checkered, is always going to be pretty hairy and crazy.
     "But I don't think we had as much of that when the cars didn't close up as much.
     "But then again we didn't have the ability to pass as much.
     "So I don't know what the solution is.
      "I look forward to the day when I can watch this on TV instead of being inside of it.
      "It's fun, exciting, and just so crazy at the same time. And you know what the outcome is going to be -- and that takes away a lot from the desire to want to race at Talladega."

   For the second time in three weeks Denny Hamlin was sidelined by an engine problem, and, his title hopes all but over after that California crash, Hamlin was dejected at leaving Sunday's Talladega 500 early, particularly since he had perhaps the strongest car in the field.
    But for Hamlin the season is all over, and it's already 2010.
   "We take one step forward then two back, it seems," Hamlin said dejectedly. 
    "But we had a great car, that's for sure.  Our car was as strong as anyone's, if not stronger. But just couldn't keep it together.
     "It's a different issue than we had at Charlotte; this one looks to be the bottom-end, where it was the top-end at Charlotte.
    "Hopefully it will make our engine department stronger and our team stronger…and when we set up ourselves for a championship next year, we won't have mechanical issues, and then we'll be able to fight them at the end."
    Without Hamlin, and with NASCAR throwing a wrench in everyone's game plans with its surprising 'no-bumping' rule, the 500 turned strange.
    And drivers complained.
   "Where is the middle ground between the new NASCAR rule and racing?" Hamlin asked rhetorically. "Let us race. 
    "They gave us a car to race; now let the drivers handle it. 
    "That's the way I see it.
    "The one thing I noticed that was different was that some were hitting each other harder on the straight-aways. It's because we can't push each other. 
    "They say you can hit each other (on the straights), and that's what you have to do on the straightaway…but you can't push (another car) all the way around the track. 
     "Pushing each other in the corners and all the way around, that is the safest driving you can possibly do, because that's eight tires. 
    "You'll see when the big one happens, it will be someone just hitting someone down the straightaways, because they were put in a box that said that was how they had to race."
   And Hamlin was right.
   So for Talladega next spring?  "If you want to make a rule, then say that we can't all line up," Hamlin replied. "That's the only rule we should have -- is we can't line up, and we have to race. 
    "We're not necessarily thinking about what the fans want to see…it's just a tough spot because we want to put on a good show, we really do, and I'm more in favor of us going all out. But if you want us to go all out, then you need to make this a 50-lap race."

Congrats to Jamie McMurray

Congrats to Jamie McMurray and yep, even he road around for a while in the back to stay safe. Well deserved win in any event.

This track has got to go but "It's too big to fail." Where have I heard that before. Lots of seats, huge track and NASCAR makes the cars go slow???? Is it me or is there a logic problem there. Either flatten the track or make it a series of heat races to allow these guys to race. You have one of the greatest drivers in recent history with great car control riding around in 30th all day because he CAN and it is good strategy unless you wait too long to make your move. I'd rather see a race at Bristol or even a road race than this NASCrap.

It's you, COTisIROC. The

It's you, COTisIROC. The logic problem is people who don't want to understand that the speeds have to be restricted. What you saw at Talladega was 58 lead changes among 25 drivers. Never mind that Johnson stroked it - his strategy didn't work. Talladega is superior in every way to other tracks, and flattening it won't make the cars safer - the way it is now is what is safer.

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <em> <strong> <cite> <code> <ul> <ol> <li> <dl> <dt> <dd>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
Enter the characters shown in the image.

© 2010-2011 www.mikemulhern.net All rights reserved.
Web site by www.webdesigncarolinas.com