This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is deep in the heart of Texas, Texas Motor Speedway, for this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, served BBQ-style, with plenty of heaping helpings of beef brisket, complete with all the fixin's and washed down with the beverage of your choice. Remember, in Texas, EVERYTHING is bigger! Enjoy!
Tony Stewart: Smoke is becoming a regular in this spot, at least in the Chase. Once he took the lead, he was DOMINANT, and the only time he relinquished the lead was during green flag pit stops. The 14 crew hit on the setup again, and it didn't take long for Smoke to get to the front. He's become the man to beat. He is strong at each of the final two tracks: Phoenix and Homestead. The win was his fourth of the season, all in the Chase.
Carl Edwards: try as he might, he didn't have enough to catch Stewart. His points lead is cut to three now. He was stout early, faded midway, then rebounded to a second place finish.
Kasey Kahne: he is stout on the 1.5 mile tracks, and Texas is no exception. He looked the part, even getting a lucky break on a caution when he had just exited pit road when the caution came out. Because he was still on the lead lap at the time, he didn't have to pit, and he came away with the lead at that point. If he's that stout in the #4 Red Bull Toyota, he's gotta be licking his chops when he begins driving the #5 Farmers Insurance Chevrolet for Hendrick Motorsports next season.
Matt Kenseth: once again, a typical Kenseth performance--steady, not spectacular. He was strong early, and pretty much stayed in the top 5 throughout the race.
Honorable Mention: Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Clint Bowyer, Martin Truex Jr, and AJ Allmendinger.
J.J. Yeley: he drew the short stick at the start and parkers' meeting in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room. He ran a total of 10 laps before declaring himself done for the day. He hotfooted it out of town faster than he actually ran on the track.
Joe Gibbs Racing: without their top driver for the weekend (more on that later), they had no input on the changing track conditions. For all his faults, Kyle Busch is excellent on providing vital information to his team and his teammates as a whole on changing track conditions. He was not racing, and the other members looked lost. Michael McDowell was never a factor and finished three laps down. Joey Logano blew an engine and finished 37th. Even Denny Hamlin was a couple of laps down at one time. Hamlin rebounded to finish 20th.
Kevin Harvick: gotta put him here. He came into the race 21 points back in third place. He's still in third place, but 33 points behind points leader Edwards. He was never a factor, and even when he was running sixth at one time, he struggled to find the handling on the 29 car. He was also the victim of bad pit strategy late when he took two tires on his final pit stop and went backwards, all the way to 13th. I always had the sense the 29 team missed on the setup, anticipating a cloudy day and evening, and when the sun came out during the race, they were toast.
Kyle Busch: he was rightfully parked through the weekend for rough driving during the Craftsman Series Truck race when he put Truck Series contender Ron Hornaday into the wall DURING the caution on Lap 14. Hornaday got loose, made contact with Busch, and sent both of them into the wall. Busch was within his right to be displeased, but wrong for putting him into the wall like that. Further penalties are forthcoming. His JGR teammates missed his valuable input, as he is one of the best drivers out there when it comes to providing information about the changing track conditions. Hopefully Busch will look in the mirror, learn from this, and resolve to make himself a better man without changing his driving style too much.
The race itself: I considered it a snoozefest, as most 1.5 milers are. I found my mind wandering because of the sheer boredom. It's no fun when all four Roush drivers are in the top 5. And there's still another 1.5 miler to go! Sheesh.
Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours.