|ESPN.com: 2008||[Print without images]|
Wreck each other, boys.
Don't get me wrong: I think what happened at Bristol last weekend was actually quite understandable from both sides of the issue. Edwards was frustrated that he could get to Busch's back bumper but couldn't pass, and so he chunked the No. 18 aside with a hard, nonwrecking jolt. Busch was frustrated that he got bumped, which happens all the time late in Bristol races but is frustrating, especially when you feel like a sitting duck. He was ticked off, as most racers would've been, and gave Edwards a few post-race door-slams to express his anger. It's also understandable why Edwards would come back at Busch and spin him out after those slams. I'm not sure why NASCAR felt it had to put both drivers on six-week notice for future bad behavior because worse stuff has happened this year. But whatever.
The larger point is that, while I don't believe for one instant there's this intense mano-a-mano thing between Edwards and Busch (it's more like: everyone against Kyle Busch, who acts like a jerk in about 95 percent of his public life), I find it pretty fun. I mean, otherwise, Sunday night's race would be kind of a snoozer. As has happened in each of the past two events, I expect Edwards and Busch to separate themselves from the field and chase one another deep into the night. One guy will lead a lot of laps; the other guy will spend the night improving his car and chasing. Normally: yawn, especially when it's the same two guys.
This time around, though, we do have the added attraction of what might happen when the chaser finally gets to the chasee's back bumper. Granted, Fontana is a huge, wide-open two-miler, compared to Bristol's tiny cramped corridors. Still, that'll be must-see TV."Given To Fly" (Featured Elite Drivers)
|David Ragan hasn't qualified well at Fontana, but has finished 16th or better in all three starts there.|
And yes, I'll also take Vickers again, though it might be just about the final time this season. Whereas Ragan has built his Chase contention out of consistent finishes almost everywhere, Vickers really has been mostly limited to the more massive tracks. After posting a fourth and a seventh at the two Michigan events in the Car of Tomorrow this season, and finishing 11th at Fontana in the COT back in February, Vickers looks like a real top-10 contender Sunday. I just won't count on him being all that near the front for most of the rest of the year."Not For You" (Beware Of This Driver)
"Nothing As It Seems" (Weekly Sleepers)
(Michigan Race: A.J. Allmendinger, 28th; Paul Menard, 24th)
Scott Riggs finished 21st the first time around at Fontana and was a strong 15th at the second Michigan race, so while he's not traditionally all that great at these big two-mile tracks, I'm going with the No. 66 to post a surprise top-20 Sunday night. We know that Riggs has some extra motivation coming from Tony Stewart's side of the ledger: Smoke is hoping against hope that Riggs can keep his ride in the top 35 in owner points for the rest of this year, which would mean that both Stewart and Ryan Newman would basically be guaranteed spots in next year's Daytona 500 while driving for Stewart Haas.
I'll also give a nod to David Gilliland, who finished 17th at the first Fontana race back in February. Say what you will about the fall of Yates Racing, but the fact that both Gilliland and Travis Kvapil are safely ensconced inside the top 25 in driver points is one of the season's underrated stories. Each guy is expected to return to his ride in 2009; if you'd have taken odds even on that proposition back in February, you'd be a wealthier individual today.Christopher Harris is a fantasy baseball, football and racing analyst for ESPN.com. He is a six-time Fantasy Sports Writing Association award winner across all three of those sports. You can e-mail him here.