Volume III, Issue 10, Page 19
With John Carollo

I’m one of you. Long before my first article or big name interview and for as long as I can remember, I’ve been a stock car fan. So for that reason, my name doesn’t matter and neither does my photo. It’s more like we’re just sitting here in the grandstand before the race, talking about Chevys and NASCAR. Hey, you want a cold one? --JC

Chevy? Which Chevy?

It don’t take a tent meetin’ to get the word out the Chevy Boys are having some Big Fun in this year’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Chase. At Talladega, TWO BIG ‘UNs tore up a couple of million dollars worth of race cars. I know they’re Fords and all but I kinda feel sad for anyone taking themselves out of a race like that. ‘Sides, I’d sure feel like a hammered cow pie if that was some Chevys up there crashing. Anyway, Jimmie Johnson come outta there with his point lead intact.

Then came Lowes Motor Speedway where JJ has been known to decimate the field with, oddly enough, his Lowes Chevy. But the Chase giveth and the Chase taketh away. Giveth came when one of the coolest guys in the garage, Jeff Burton, hunkered down and won that puppy. It’s good to see Burton win, cuz that means Richard Childress Racing is up there kicking and screaming, too. Back at the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Media Tour hosted by Lowes Motor Speedway, Burton and Harvick were talking trash. “We’re at least gonna be a pain in the ass,” said Harvick. Burton said, ‘We’re not coming this year to take an ass whipping.” Well, it ain’t really trash talk if’n you back it up… and they are. What made that win so interestin’ was the gas-and-go call from crew chief Scott Miller. “That’s what won the race for us,” said Burton.

But it wasn’t all the finely choreographed run that it looked like. Burton had his doubts and said, “Hell, I was questioning it. I was thinking, I don't know if this will work or not. But it did. You know, it was a great call.”

Miller revealed his thinkin’, “Well, it wasn't without a lot of research. That has actually worked at this race for some other teams, most notably the one that finished second. So if we hadn't have done it, they would likely have pulled off that same thing again.”

But what about the fuel? Was there enough if they had to go green, white checker? Miller, manned up on that one, “"I probably jumped the gun a little bit on saying I was worried. The numbers said we had enough, I wouldn't have had enough for a green-white-checkered.” But a good crew chief knows his driver as much as his car. After the stop all Miller had to do was sit back and watch his boy go. “That was quite a display those final laps. He got up on the wheel and did the deal. We were good at the right time tonight."

The win also pushed Burton’s AT&T  #31 into second place in points behind JJ. And that’s a fact not lost on Johnson, who obviously done some scouting on Burton, “He's always been on my radar screen,” said Johnson. “I think in '06 he led most of the Chase. He's been doing this a long time. He knows the tracks. He's revitalized RCR over the years. I think we can all give him a lot of credit for the turnaround RCR has had. On track he's smart. He knows how to race hard. He's been out there a long time. He knows how to race and get points.” Sounds like JJ knows it’ll be a race.

JJ ended up sixth, watching the cars go by him. After, he said, “…Right now I'm pissed about tonight. But, you know, tomorrow, Tuesday, whatever it is, (I’ll) be ready for Martinsville.”

So should Burton fans get the bubbly ready? Burton is staying in the now and says, “We’re halfway. It’s way too early to be handing anyone the trophy. It’s our job to put ourselves in position to go to Homestead (the last race) with a chance to win.”

Now don’t get all puffy about this, those Furds are there lurking in third and fourth place and can capitalize on Chevy’s bad times. But it is nice to see more than one Chevy on the point. We still can’t say the 48 car won’t win the oh-so-cool three titles in a row so we’ll all watch and see what happens.

The taketh away part of Lowes Motor Speedway hit Dale Jr. when he cut a tire and ate the Turn 2 wall. He finished 36th, 45 laps down and said, “No warning -- it just popped. I was running about 90 percent really, not running hard at all. The car was handling pretty good, just popped a tire up there … might have run over something. It is pretty disappointing, because I was just taking it pretty easy. We ran real, real hard here in the spring and worked our car too hard. I was just going to take care of the racecar; that was what I was trying to do. We just got some bad luck there.” Worse than having the problem well before the halfway point of the race is that it pretty much scraped Jr. off the list of guys that can win this thing.

In other news, Paul Menard has given the folks at DEI notice that he’s outta there. Unfortunately, he’s gonna go to the Dark Side and race one of them brand F cars next year. And, once again, we gotta ask, ‘just what the heck is going on over there at DEI?’ They lost Mark Martin. Then they lost the Army as a corporate partner. Both will be gone end of this season. By my sorry math count, they have four drivers, oops, three, now that Paul sez he’s splittin’, with only one sponsor. But we’ll give ‘em the benefit of doubt cuz they been in tough places before. And they did look mighty sporty at Talladega so I guess there’s still plenty of fight left in that dog. Still, that’s a bad place to be in, especially with the economy being asleep at the wheel. We’re gonna watch DEI and keep y’all posted.  

 

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