Rain in Phoenix….seriously.
While it’s a great day for NASCAR’s most popular driver (who was in need of a break after Talladega), it’s a soggy end to title hopes for some or racing’s biggest stars. Still, NASCAR’s Final Four are now set for Homestead; here’s a breakdown of winners and loser from a wet weekend at Phoenix.
Win: The Little Guy
Martin Truex Jr. will race for a Sprint Cup. Can any NASCAR fan imagine typing that after the debacle at Richmond with Michael Waltrip Racing a few years ago?
Truex Jr. has played the Ryan Newman card to perfection, racing for points and putting himself in a position to make history. Granted, Team Truex has a collaborative parternship with Richard Childress Racing, but this is basically a solo team trying to win the Sprint Cup. It’s been more than two decades since Alan Kulwicki was able to pull something off like this.
In a sport that desperately needs more teams, a Truex title would be huge for the sport.
Lose: Roger Penske
Joey Logano had a chance to win, and it literally was washed away by rain in Phoenix. That’s a tough pill for anyone to swallow, especially when you consider where Logano has been over the last month. Coupled with a handful of races where Brad Keselowski had the best car but didn’t win, and Team Penske now heads to Homestead with nothing to do except race for pride and maybe wreck Matt Kenseth (kidding.)
Draw: Joe Gibbs
Joe Gibbs went from Gibbs vs. The Field to having one driver race for a title at Homestead. And it’s Kyle Busch of all people who made it. Busch winning the Sprint Cup after missing nearly 1/3 of the season would be tremendous comeback story. There’s also no reason to think Busch can’t win Sunday.
On the other hand, the Matt Kenseth situation remains ugly and Kenseth remains defiant. He’ll also be on the track with Logano and Keselwoski on Sunday, though NASCAR will probably offer stern warnings prior to the race if they haven’t already. Carl Edwards and Denny Hamlin each showed flashes but never put together a consistent showcase. If Busch wins Sunday, the year is a success. If not, Gibbs has to feel like he left some rubber on the tire, meat on the bone or some other random cliche.
It’s finally Championship Week! Enjoy the media blitz and headlines from Homestead. But first, insert a random catchphrase here.