By admin | July 28, 2008
By Richard Allen
After the 26th race of the season in Richmond all teams who do not make the Chase for the Championship leave with the bitter taste of disappointment in their mouths. This year that taste may be even more bitter if Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth or Brian Vickers fail to qualify for NASCAR’s playoff run.
Those three drivers were hurt the most by the debacle that was the AllState 400 at The Brickyard.
Harvick fell victim to a spin not of his own making early in the event. As drivers were easing around the 2.5 mile oval just trying to nurse their tires to the next competition caution Kurt Busch lost control of his Dodge and collected Harvick’s Chevrolet in the process. Busch accepted responsibility for the incident but it is likely the tire situation played at least some role in the crash.
Harvick fell four spots in the overall standings as a result of his 37th place finish. He now sits in 13th, two points outside the all important Top 12.
Obviously, he has plenty of time to make up such a small deficit but there is no recovering the points he might have scored. If he winds up outside the Top 12 after Richmond by a margin of 50 points or less he and his crew will no doubt point to this race, in which there were so many factors outside the control of the drivers and crews, as the race in which they lost their chance at a title.
After an uncharacteristically inconsistent start, Matt Kenseth had fallen as far as 22nd place in the standings following the race in Richmond on May 3, 2008. Since then, however, he had placed in the Top 10 eight times over the next nine races leading into the Indianapolis race. He had recovered up to the 8th position in the standings following the race in Chicago.
Unlike Harvick, Kenseth did manage to remain inside the Top 12 after Sunday’s race, but just barely. His 38th place finish, the result of a blown tire, dropped him to 11th overall and he clings to a scant six point cushion over Harvick in 13th.
Like Harvick, Kenseth and his crew will no doubt look back on this race as the determining factor for keeping them out of the Chase should they fail to hold their position.
Another bubble team took a hard hit at Indy as well. Team Red Bull’s Brian Vickers came into the event in 14th spot overall. He finished 42nd at ‘The Brickyard’. He now sits in 15th place but more importantly, he is 232 points out of the 12th. However, his troubles were the result of a blown engine. Although, with all the debris sent flying by the blown tires it is possible that could have had something to do with his problem.
While it may have seemed to be the same for everyone at Indy, it is not really fair to say that. The tires and the surface of the track were at fault and seemed to indiscriminately choose who would have misfortune and who would not.
Only 12 teams will make the Chase for the Championship this fall. It will be a shame if one of the teams to not make it will have fallen short because of the problems they suffered in this race.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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