— Monster Mile (@MonsterMile) September 28, 2014
One round is down, and four drivers are out of the Chase for the Sprint Cup.
None of the names are a surprise; neither is the person who ended up in Victory Lane. Here’s a breakdown of the winners and losers from the Monster Mile, Bert Convy style.
Win: Jeff Gordon
It seems fitting on the weekend Derek Jeter played his final game that Gordon ends up in Victory Lane. Most great athletes don’t end their career hoisting a trophy above their heads. So it’s worth noting that 22 years after making his Sprint Cup debut, Gordon is among a short list of three or four drivers favored to win the Sprint Cup.
This is the equivalency of Derek Jeter or Kobe Bryant or The Undertaker winning an MVP this year. All are great athletes. All have seen better days on the field. Gordon doesn’t have to win the Sprint Cup for this to be one of his most admirable years. He still might win it anyway.
This was Nascar’s first elimination game of sorts in the new format. The promise was clawing and scratching for every inch of position. The reality was four or five cars had a chance to win. In spite of ESPN’s best efforts to showcase the points race (kudos by the way) there wasn’t that late last ditch drama that Sprint Cup fans saw from Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards at Homestead three years ago.
Maybe the next set of elimination races have more gusto. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe there were too many other sporting events on at the same time. It just felt a little flat.
Draw: Kurt Busch
On one hand, Busch won a race, garnered virtual unilateral praise for his Indi 500 run and got back on a team that can win a Sprint Cup.
On the other hand, the rest of Busch’s Sprint Cup season felt pedestrian. The win was the only thing that got Busch in the Chase, and he got bounced out after the first round.
In a strange 2014 Sprint Cup season, Busch’s ebbs and flows seem lost in the shuffle, kind of his his Sprint Cup title chances after Dover.
Four are down. Four more leave the party four races from now. Enjoy the action in Kansas, and insert a random catchphrase here.