For the first time in a long time, the only controversy at this weekends NASCAR race at Chicago was that there was no controversy. For the first time in a while there were no penalties, no arguments and not even any moaning. Pretty amazing!
Tony Stewart has been on a 20 race winless streak. He has led a bunch of races this year, and has been fast everywhere, backed up by his solid 6th in points, however so far this year the win has eluded him. Sunday at Chicago was to be his day however, with Tony running strongly flag to flag. For once the race was light on cautions, featuring long green runs, and each time the longer the run, the stronger Tony Stewart got. Tony is known for his great finishes to the championship, after running not so well in the first half of the championship, and maybe this year this is the opening of the floodgates. The next couple of weeks will tell if Tony is on a roll.
Matt Kenseth had a strong car all day, but towards the end of the race he got even stronger, and at one point he even managed to take the lead from Stewart, however Stewart then drove right past him to re-claim the lead. They battled for a few laps, but Tony Stewar’s car was just too strong and he pulled away to take a comfortable victory, climbing up the fence to the flagstand as he has done after many of his victories.
Casey Mears continued in his quest to make the 25 team a lot stronger. This time he took pole, ran strongly and ended up in 5th. A very strong run. Another notable performance came from Jaun Pablo Montoya, logging a 15th place finish, a much better than average oval finish for him. Jimmie Johnsons story this week was not so good. He did run strongly, but lost a tire, which pitched him into a spin and into the wall, after which he retired with a 37th place finish.
Another feel good story this week was that of Michael Waltrip. After the disappointment of last week at Daytona, Mchael this week put his car solidly into the field, and then ran all day for a 30th place finish. Some would say what is the big deal witha 30th place finish, but for that team right now that was almost like a win, especially after he 00 car went out early with what appeared to be a blown engine.
In other news from the weekend, Budweiser, Dale Jr and Rick Hendrick confirmed that Budweiser and Dale Jr will be parting ways at the end of the year, leaving he red army facing not only a possible number change (maybe he could use 6.5), but probably a color change too.
The disagreement between Tony Stewart and Denny Hamilton after their coming together at Daytona took another turn this weekend. In a smart move, Team Owner and Coach Joe Gibbs made a special trip to Chicago to sit down with Tony and Denny to try and work things out. Whether it was planned to get their attention, or schedules dictated it, the meeting went on while the rest of the field was on track practicing. If it was intentional, it was a great move by Coach Gibbs, as there is no batter way to get a drivers attention than stopping them from being on the track when everyone else is out there. Whatever happened in that meeting, a very different Tony and Denny emerged, even putting on a two person comedy show for the tv cameras. I’m sure for Coach Gibbs, used to dealing with a whole team of guys, dealing with two is a piece of cake, after all his job is as a motivator and problem solver. Better watch those Washington RedSkins…….