Monday, October 10, 2011
Jimmie Johnson Wins At Kansas
KANSAS CITY, KANSAS – Jimmie Johnson ran an impressive race this weekend beating out a hard charging Kasey Kahne by a tad more than ½-second. Johnson dominated the race and at one point had a 12-second lead over second-place Tony Stewart until a caution on lap 205 bunched him back with the pack. Then, while running a 2-second lead on lap 265, of a scheduled 267-lap race, teammate/owner Jeff Gordon blew an engine resulting in the final caution of the day. With a green-white-checker flag restart, Johnson stepped on the gas early causing Kahne to spin as he tried to keep up. Kahne took on 4 tires to Johnson’s two, but the surprise was all Johnson needed to assure victory. When Kahne’s crew chief was asked if Kasey thought he had a chance to win he said, "I didn't. I thought if maybe something crazy happened on the restart, if we could get beside him on the restart going into the first corner. B ut behind, I didn't really think we had much of a chance. He was so dominant all day. Even when he was on two [tires] and everybody else was on four, he would just be a little bit better. It was a long shot."
Kahne has had a rocky couple of seasons. After a fall-out with Richard Petty Motorsports last year, he has been running with Red Bull Racing who recently announced their departure from Sprint Car. Kahne will be joining the Hendrick organization next year. His second place finish behind his future teammate may be a harbinger of good things to come.
Jeff Gordon had a bad day – no question. Needing a strong finish, he was running in the top-five for most of the race. His car was running strong and handling well. "I started seeing smoke inside the car," Gordon said. "We had a really bad restart there and got shuffled back. Our day was pretty much over anyway and we were going to finish maybe 15th or something. Right there I started what smelled like burning oil and I saw the oil temp start to come up and I felt like it was just a matter of time before it blew up. I've got to thank Quaker State (a shameless plug) because the thing lasted a lot longer than I thought it would." Due to the extra five laps, Gordon ended up 34th dropping to 10th in the Chase.
The Chase is anyone’s game at this point. Following the Kansas race, Carl Edwards is only one point ahead of Kevin Harvick. In fact, the first 5 positions are within 12 points of the leader. This was Johnson’s 2nd win this season and only 4 points behind Edwards, he is a contender for a 6th consecutive championship. "We're doing the right things," Johnson said. "You just don't know. Sure, this is a huge, huge step in the right direction, but in six races a lot can happen. So I don't want to get overly excited. We've got to go out there and race for this thing." And who could miss Jaime Little from ESPN in the pits.