Denny Hamlin admittedly still classifies himself as a bonafide master of the short tracks following his first career restrictor plate victory last Sunday at Talladega. Anytime you can add another dimension to you already impressive repertoire that’s something worth celebrating. Once Denny can truly shake the cobwebs from his recent health issues, he’s going to be a serious threat to win a championship.
Michael Waltrip Racing is coming off a pretty solid week on and off the track. Both Clint Bowyer & Brian Vickers both placed inside the top five at Talladega, while the boss Michael Waltrip finished 25th. Meanwhile off the track Clint Bowyer & sponsor Five Hour Energy signed a three-year extension to remain with MWR through the 2017 season.
Now that Clint Bowyer has officially wrapped up his future plans, Greg Biffle remains the most lucrative free agent left on the free agent market. Regardless of where the Biff ends up he’s building positive momentum heading into the summer months following a solid runner-up finish at Talladega. Certainly the next three-month period could be the most crucial of the Biff’s twelve year NSCS career.
Kasey Kahne probably would be the first to tell you his 2014 season has been a complete letdown through the first ten races. Predicted by many to be a proverbial title contender, Kahne’s spent most of the 2014 looking up to his teammates in the standings. Fresh off a top ten run at Talladega Kasey finds himself inside the top twenty in the standings. Something he can surely build upon going forward.
AJ Allmendinger has simply dazzled behind the wheel of the #47 JTG Daugherty machine since leaving Fontana with an 8th place finish. He’s finished inside the top twenty in five of the last six races, three of those finishes were top ten runs. It’s hard not to be impressed with the progress both the Dinger and this team have made in less than a year together. You can bet bigger things are on the horizon for the California native, and this underdog organization.
Fizzlers – Drivers listed below are falling fast, or are for lack of a better term ice-cold as of late.
Brad Keselowski exited Talladega with more than a beaten down race car, he may have left Alabama with hurt feelings to boot. Keselowski’s fellow competitors made no qualms about placing lap 138’s catastrophic accident that ruined point leader Jeff Gordon’s chances of claiming a 7th Talladega victory square on his shoulders. Ouch!
Are the days of Tony Stewart as a contender really over? Although I’m not quite convinced enough to close the casket on the three-time Sprint Cup series champion’s career just yet, others are more than ready to write him off.
Front Row Motorsports enjoyed its position as the toast of the town following last spring’s Talladega race. This year Talladega would turn out to be a great deal harsher to everybody’s favorite underdog organization. David Gilliland’s race succumbed to engine failure at lap 152 while last year’s upset winner David Ragan got caught up in the wreckage on lap 176.
It’s hard to believe Trevor Bayne celebrated his 50th career NSCS start at Talladega on Sunday. A considerably high number for a driver who’s never had an opportunity to compete for rookie of the year honors. Bayne’s day also ended abruptly on the lap 138 wreckage caused by one Brad Keselowski. I hate to be a pessimist but as the years go by Bayne’s once promising career in the NSCS looks to be all but over.
Each time Michael McDowell races at Daytona or Talladega there’s added emphasis on ending the day with a solid finish. That’s the life of a driver who competes for an underfunded team in the extremely competitive world of NSCS racing. Word of advice Michael. If you want to make headlines, make them by running up front, even potentially stealing a victory from the clutches of the deep pocket multi car giants would make waves. Michael please don’t make headlines by holding up the sport’s most popular driver on a track where the fans love to see him run towards the front of the pack. I guess this is where Michael would respond by saying my bad.
Photo courtesy of USA TODAY Sports MEDIA