This week, the Crappafoni Pictures crew is in the desert, the PHX, for this week's The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, southwestern-style, served with spicy BBQ beef and washed down with PLENTY of Red Bull. Enjoy!
Kasey Kahne: he gets this week's top spot as the race winner. With the win, Kahne breaks an 80+ winless streak. More importantly, he gains momentum going into next season with Hendrick Motorsports. Good job Kasey!
Carl Edwards: he's becoming a regular in this neck of the woods. He led 27 laps and was pretty much in the top 3 all day. The Aflac Ford was steady, consistently fast, and experienced very little dropoff in speed after a long run. He's in the driver's seat to be the new champion. All he has to do is finish higher than Stewart, or within 3 positions of Stewart, provided Stewart does not win the race.
Tony Stewart: Smoke led the most laps, 160 in all, and it looked like he had the car to beat for much of this race. But a bad pit stop fairly late in the race doomed his chances. It wasn't bad as far as time goes, but in terms of throwing the car's balance off. He remains 3 points behind Edwards. To win the title next week, the formula is simple: win the race and lead the most laps, or finish at least four positions higher than Edwards.
Jeff Burton: another very solid run by the 31 today. He took four tires during the competition caution while everyone else took two tires. That brought the 31 car to life and he gained numerous positions during that run. He was able to gain more positions through solid pit stops, good pit strategy, and passing cars. Unfortunately for Burton, Luke Lambert, his current crew chief, will be the crew chief for Austin Dillon in the #3 Nationwide car next season. Shane Wilson, Clint Bowyer's current crew chief, will be Burton's crew chief next season.
Ryan Newman: he had a "quiet" top 5 finish. He didn't have much face time, and I'M left scratching my head at that. But Phoenix has always been a good track for Newman: he got SHR's first win in April 2009 at Phoenix driving the Tornados paint scheme. Good job Ryan!
The Veterans: to all those who have served and are currently serving in the military, a hearty THANK YOU for your service. Thank you to all the brave men and women for fighting for our freedom.
Honorable Mention: Matt Kenseth, Kurt Busch, AJ Allmendinger, Marcos Ambrose, David Reutimann, Paul Menard, and Clint Bowyer.
Travis Kvapil: he ran a grand total of 20 laps before declaring himself done for the day. He drew the short stick at the start and parkers' meeting in the Todd Bodine Meeting Room before the race. He hotfooted it out of town with his earnings faster than he turned laps on the track.
Hendrick Motorsports: they were uncharacteristically bad today, with the exception of Mark Martin. Jeff Gordon had brake issues, and Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt Jr totally missed on the setups. Usually they are pretty stout at Phoenix, but not today.
ESPN's coverage: even by their standards, they were atrocious. Missed restarts. Missed cautions. Not adequate explanations as to WHY cautions came out.
Brian Vickers: WHY cannot he let Martinsville go? His dumping of Matt Kenseth was TOTALLY uncalled for. A Good to Kenseth for taking the high road. (He probably knows that Vickers won't be in a Cup ride next season.) He effectively eliminated Kenseth from running for the Cup title next week. NASCAR should have parked his butt, or at least penalized him five laps for rough driving. If you're going to penalize Kyle Busch for rough driving, then do the same for Vickers. A BAD goes to NASCAR for inconsistently enforcing penalties.
Those are my nominees for the race. Feel free to come in with yours.