Horseshoe Replaced

Jul 1 2010 - 5:18pm

Jimmie Johnson had been really quiet for the month of May and most of June.

As with kids, silence is not necessarily a good thing, and the fact that JJ won for the first time on a road course is not a good thing if you're driving one of the other 42 cars in the field every week.

Of course, Marcos Ambrose sort of handed him the victory by not being able to get the car fired on a late-race restart, giving up the lead to the 48 and falling back to seventh. Horseshoes, the ones that are amusingly depicted as being part of the 48 team's internal workings, bring luck, and this was luck in its purest form.

Of course, Johnson could have passed Ambrose in the remaining laps-Marcos has been known to goof in the late laps on road courses before (see Montreal last season)-but I don't think it would have happened.

Of course, Johnson could have passed Ambrose in the remaining laps-Marcos has been known to goof in the late laps on road courses before (see Montreal last season)-but I don't think it would have happened.

The usual suspects were at it, and so were some that are not particularly known to be devotees of the chrome horn. Juan Montoya dumped Joey Logano-no word on whether Tom Logano was on-site (chuckle)-and Jeff Gordon dumped some people too. Matias Ekstrom got punted out of the top 10 while subbing in the No. 83 Red Bull Toyota, too.

It was a scrum, a melee and a free-for-all all rolled into one. That just goes to prove that you can feed the boys raised on shotguns a bunch of wine and cheese, but in the end they'll still get what they can get, however they can get it.

This weekend at New Hampshire marks the beginning of the Race to the Chase, the 10-race series leading up to the setting of the field for the Chase for the NASCAR Sprint Cup. There, got all the NASCAR-approved buzz words in and spelled correctly!

What we've got in the points right now is a cluster of drivers that can be separated into have and have-not, as in victories.

The top six in points have won 14 of the 16 races so far. The bottom six in the top 12 have won, collectively, zero races so far. Denny Hamlin has 5, Johnson 4, the Busch brothers have two each and Kevin Harvick has one.

That counts for seeding in the Chase. Matt Kenseth, Jeff Burton, Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart, Mark Martin and Carl Edwards are all 0-for-16. The other race winners, Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray, are 15th and 16th in the points, respectively, and are 82 and 144 points out at the moment.

Manufacturer-wise, Toyota has won seven, Chevrolet five and Dodge two...with Ford still on the schneid. That's amazing to me. RFR, RPM...zero for 16 times 8.

Good to see Robby Gordon run well at Sonoma. He was wicked fast all weekend and played a big role in the outcome. He won at Sonoma in 2003, driving the 31 for RCR, and has been competitive on the road courses for the past several years. If only he could find a deep pocket or two...

Sad news last week, as Raymond Parks passed away at the age of 96. The last link to the historic meeting in Daytona back in 1947, Parks had been in failing health the past few months.

"Raymond Parks was a true pioneer of NASCAR," said NASCAR Hall of Fame historian Buz McKim. "He chose to stay in the background as he supplied the sport with its first championship team. The sport owes him a huge debt of gratitude for what he brought to NASCAR. Few realize he was not only a hero of racing but also an American hero. He spent more than 100 days in a foxhole during the Battle of the Bulge in World War II. It is hard to imagine all he witnessed in his 96 years."

I got to meet Mr. Parks on a tour of Daytona's historic sites a couple years back. Glad I did, and he will be missed. We're losing the heroes, folks. Pretty soon, we'll have only the memories as a legacy of their efforts and contributions. We need more of them.

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