When you look at what teams are in the NASCAR Sprint Cup top 12 right now, I truly believe those are the 12 top race teams in our sport.
Sure, there are two races to go before the Chase for the Sprint Cup starts, and, naturally, a lot can happen, but I still think the top 12, as it stands today, will be the ones starting the Chase at Loudon, N.H., in September.
We all know that once the Chase starts, the main focus is going to be on those top 12 teams — and it should be. If you set them aside, there are still a lot of agendas for the other teams out there in those final 10 races. Let’s face it, 10 races is still a lot of races. It’s only two races shy of one-third of our season.
If you are outside the top 12, and heck, for that matter, one of six of the teams so far in the top 12, you want to win a race this year. Again, six teams in the current top 12 haven’t even won a race in 2010. You have drivers such as Carl Edwards and Matt Kenseth who are used to winning at least one race a year. You even have Tony Stewart, who is winless so far, and he has never gone a season without winning a race in his entire Cup career. There are others on that winless list, such as Mark Martin and Clint Bowyer.
You also will have the battle clear up to the checkered flag at Homestead-Miami Speedway concerning who will start the 2011 season in the top 35 in owners points and, therefore, locked into the field. That has a lot of bearing on who gets those guaranteed starting spots for the handful of early 2011 races.
Separate from that are the top 25 finishers. Teams that finish 25th or greater get an additional points fund check. If you finish 26th, you don’t get anything but probably a smile and a thank you note.
On top of all that, there are teams that are trying to straighten their programs out and move forward for 2011. Be it a driver, a crew chief, the pit crew or someone else, there are still a lot of agendas out there with these remaining 2010 races. So there are going to be a lot of story lines to continue to follow and I know there will be a lot of great racing.
Now I know the box score shows that only two cars dominated the entire race Saturday night at Bristol, but I was there and I am telling you the racing was awesome. The two- and three-wide racing we had was phenomenal.
The really cool thing was it went on all night long. I watched and cringed a couple times when they actually tried to go four wide. Think about that folks, four wide on a half-mile, high-banked racetrack. I mean c’mon here, two wide is tough to accomplish at Bristol, let alone four wide.
It was great to see Clint Bowyer and the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing bunch rise to the occasion and get themselves back into the top 12. It was also neat to see guys like Kasey Kahne and Carl Edwards fight back after pit-road penalties and have great runs.
I also know that everyone was excited to get back to short-track racing since it has been quite awhile since we have been to that type of track. I also loved the fact of how many fans attended the races at Bristol. Sure, there were a few empty seats Saturday night, but there were very few. I’m telling you that place was all but packed.
And what a race they saw. How amazing was it that Kyle Busch was able to win all three of NASCAR’s top touring series events in one race weekend, the first time that has been accomplished in the sport’s history? I honestly don’t think people realize how next to impossible that is to accomplish.
He did it with three different race teams. He did it with three different types of vehicles – a truck, a Nationwide car and a Sprint Cup car. Stop and think for a second the racetrack he completed this at. They don’t come any tougher than at Bristol Motor Speedway, and here Kyle was winning all three events there last week.
I don’t know if you can compare what Kyle did last week to anything anyone else has done in any other sport. Will we ever see it happen again? I sure don’t know. Probably the guy that will ever come close to doing it again will be Kyle himself. So again, I am just not sure we can put it into perspective what he accomplished last week.