I think what we saw Sunday at Texas Motor Speedway just goes to show you what a fickle sport NASCAR can be.
It’s one of the few sports where no matter what’s happening you better not walk away or leave early because the outcome is never clear until the checkered flag falls. I say that because it was pretty evident to me that during Sunday’s race that the only driver who could beat Brad Keselowski would be Brad Keselowski.
I mean, what a dominant weekend that No. 2 Team Penske Ford had in everything. But it still didn’t get the win.
Brad won the pole. Brad was fastest in practice. Brad dominated the race, leading a track-record 312 of 334 laps — yet he finished second to Jimmie Johnson. You almost feel bad for him but after that last caution his car wasn’t as good as the No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet driven by Johnson. Obviously Brad needed the win to punch his ticket into the Championship 4 race at Homestead, but it just didn’t happen.
Johnson, crew chief Chad Knaus and the entire No. 48 bunch continue to prove they are the kings of Texas Motor Speedway. That marked their third consecutive win at Texas Motor Speedway and was his sixth win there overall. Actually, Johnson never was on the radar all day long but when it came time to shine, Jimmie and the gang rose to the occasion.
It’s hard to fathom but it had been five months, which is 20 races, since Jimmie had visited Victory Lane. He hadn’t won since Dover at the end of May.
I know one of the big stories Sunday were the tire issues. We had something like eight or 10 tire issues, which for a 500-mile race actually seems to be a bit much. But I don’t know that we can really point our finger at Goodyear on this one. I know that eight-to-10 issues seems like a lot, but I counter that with the list of drivers who didn’t have any issues, which leads me to believe there was something else going on.
It may have been a combination of things. I know the first one of Kevin Harvick’s tire issues was a puncture or cut. For the left-rear issues we saw, we know those teams dropped the air pressures fairly low so the conditions of the track surface combined with low air pressure could have damaged them.
Harvick had a miraculous recovery and continues to show why they are championship material because Kevin’s list of issues Sunday was as long as my arm. He had two tire issues, he had his car jumping out of fourth gear; throw in a couple rough pit stops and the guy still comes home in third position. He’s still a definite player to be a repeat NASCAR Sprint Cup champion.
On the flip side there is Joey Logano, who lost a left-rear tire on Lap 10 and he was unable to recover on Sunday. Now he’s in as deep a hole as he can possibly be heading to Phoenix. I heard a lot of drivers and crew chiefs tell me that while Texas obviously is not the same track as Homestead, they will take a lot of data from Sunday’s race and use it at Homestead.
So outside of the tire issues we had Sunday, if you look at the guys who performed well at Texas Motor Speedway, it’s probably going to be the same group leading the way at Homestead.
These Chase guys continue to show why they are Chase teams as we had seven of them finishing in the top nine on Sunday. My point is we saw yet again Sunday why they are and deserve to be in the Chase.