Rubbin’s Racing with Clint Spencer
*By Kevin Hastings
Mr. Spencer had the week off from watching racing last weekend after a long year educating the fine students of Lincolnton High School. Have a great vacation Clint!
Last week Clint’s article was about how unstoppable Denny Hamlin is becoming. Hamlin has won five races this season and sits 4th in the standings but would be in first if the season ended today because he has the most wins.
If I remember correctly the last time I wrote an article for Clint it was about how Jimmie Johnson is the most underappreciated NASCAR driver and champion in history. All you Jimmie bashers out there keep forgetting that #48 is pretty darn good. This weekend at Sonoma, Johnson roped his first win on a road course in his storied career moving him up to 2nd place in the standings. Johnson led the most laps on Sunday after 12 lead changes and seven caution flags. The last caution flag would be the most influential as race leader Marcus Ambrose stalled on one of the hills trying to save fuel for the rest of the race.
Even though Johnson had led most of the laps he was having trouble passing Ambrose for the lead at the end of the race. He was sitting in 2nd at the time of Ambrose’s engine stall and took quick advantage sliding past him during the caution along with five other cars leaving Ambrose in 6th.
But Kevin, how can you get passed on a caution lap? Well the rule clearly state that “a driver must maintain a reasonable speed.” When Ambrose stopped he had no speed allowing other drivers to get around him before he could fire his car again. The gaffe cost Ambrose his first career NASCAR victory giving Johnson his 51st. He’s now in sole possession of 10th on the all-time NASCAR wins list.
With Johnson struggling the past few weeks some were saying that this is the year he finally loses and we crown a new champ in NASCAR. Hopefully Dale Jr., right Clint? Well Dale ain’t winning this thing and just maybe no one else is for the forseeable future as long as Johnson and Knaus are teamed up with that #48 team.
Kevin Harvick is in the lead for now and has the best chance to overtake Johnson. Harvick’s only problem is that once The Chase starts, he’ll be starting 4th instead of 1st because of his lack of wins. So to Harvick, Hamlin, Gordon, the Busch brothers and all the Jimmie Haters out there. Don’t count your chickens before they hatch. NASCAR has a long season and the 4-time defending champion will not bow out easily.
*Side note about some Dale Earnhardt Jr. info. This past Wednesday Shaq faced off against Junior on his TV show “Shaq Vs.” According to reports it takes Shaq 25 minutes getting in and out of the car and he’s requested a “no bumping” rule. My prediction: If Shaq can find his pit he has a chance to win but Dale Jr. will finally get his first win on the track in two seasons. At least he had better win because if he can’t beat Shaq driving a race car, who can he beat? I’m sure Rick Hendrick’s will love having Shaq beat his poster boy at his own game.