Shelbyville Daily Union
---- — The “Closer” wins, but Jimmie Johnson puts the Champagne on ice
Kevin Harvick won his fourth race of the season when Carl Edwards ran out of gas coming to the white flag in Phoenix last weekend.
But all eyes were on Jimmie Johnson who avoided a mid race scare to finish third on the afternoon and pad his championship lead. Johnson, who started on the pole made contact with Edwards mid race and fell to 24th. While this was going on, Matt Kenseth was having his own issues. Kenseth only broke into the top ten on restarts and finished 23rd, now 28 points out of the lead. Harvick is 34 points behind.
Kenseth, who has seven wins this season, won the first two Chase races and led the standings after the first five races of the Chase. Johnson took the lead after race No. 6, but Kenseth gained it back by outrunning him at Martinsville. Johnson regained the lead with a dominating performance last week at Texas and practically put Kenseth away at Phoenix.
Kasey Kahne finished second followed by Johnson, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and Kurt Busch. Edwards wound up coasting to a 21st place finish.
So what does “five time” need to do to become “six time”? A 23rd place finish seals the deal, Kick that up to 24th if he can lead a lap. That is assuming that Kenseth maxes out on points, wins the race and leads the most laps. Harvick? Well Johnson would have to finish 30th or worse for him to have any shot.
I actually like Harvick to win at Homestead this weekend and finish his career with Richard Childress Racing before moving to Stewart-Haas next season. Will it be enough…no…unless Johnson has an early race mishap, he will be driving 400 miles to his sixth title. I do think Harvick will edge Kenseth and finish in the runner-up spot. Also, watch Denny Hamlin this weekend. Hamlin has won a race in 7 straight seasons and will need to win for that streak to continue. Enjoy championship Sunday.
*** Bayne diagnosed with MS ***
Daytona 500 winner and Roush Fenway Racing driver Trevor Bayne has announced that he has been diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. Bayne is just 22 years old. He has undergone extensive testing at the Mayo Clinic and has been cleared by doctors and NASCAR to compete behind the wheel
*** Other News and Notes ***
Jeff Burton continues to keep it a secret where he is headed next season. Burton claims to have a deal in the works still. The latest rumor has him at Michael Waltrip Racing.
Mark Martin will not be driving a car next year, but does leave himself open for a possible fill in on certain tracks.
Bobby Labonte does not have a current deal after Sunday, but is talking about the possibility of joining the NASCAR truck series.