DOVER, Del. – Thoughts, observations and a few questions following the Camping World RV 400, Round 2 of the 2008 Chase for the Sprint Cup:
• How many times did you catch yourself holding your breath during the final 20 laps of Sunday's race?
"That's Friday, Saturday night short-track racing where you came from," Greg Biffle said. "It's a lot of fun. That's just what we love to do."
"That was probably the best racing I've seen in a long time," Kenseth said.
And from Edwards:
"I blocked him (Kenseth) a little bit … and then he shot me into Turn 3 about five miles per hour faster than I wanted, and I thought, 'Alright, this is going to be good!' "
• Is the Biff for real? The last time Biffle was in the Chase in 2005, he finished the season second in points, just 35 behind champion Tony Stewart. During that final 10-race stretch, Biffle scored six top 10s and won just once – at the finale in Homestead. He's already won twice and the Chase heads to the 1.5-mile tracks where the Roush Fenway cars have done exceptionally well this season.
• Having won titles in the Craftsman Truck Series in 2000 and the Nationwide Series in 2002, it's not much of a stretch at this juncture to think that Biffle will be the first driver to win the championship in all three of NASCAR's top series.
• You can say what you want about that last pit stop, where Edwards took just two fresh tires, but when Edwards' crew chief Bob Osborne called for a similar action earlier in the race, it worked just fine. So much so, that after Edwards made reference to how well it did work over the team radio, Osborne scolded him for making it public. It made all the sense in the world for them to go back to the well. Unfortunately, the track changed and it didn't work the second time around.
• Following his third bad race in a row, dating back to Richmond, are we at all surprised to hear Kyle Busch proclaim he's out of the title hunt? His comments after dropping out early confirmed what most had suspected – that he'd fold under the pressure of the Chase.
• It wasn't the best of days for Toyota. The best Toyota in the field finished 10th – the Camry of Michael Waltrip. Yes … Michael Waltrip. It was the driver/owner's best showing this season since finishing second in the rain-shortened June race at New Hampshire.
Waltrip started 40th, too.
• It wasn't all bad for Toyota. Tony Stewart did finish 11th and Dave Blaney was 12th. Yes, that Dave Blaney.
• Rumors continued to swirl in the Cup garage this weekend about a possible buyout of Bill Davis' Toyota team by George Gillett. There appears to be more than just smoke here and the current U.S. financial market crunch may have resulted in a temporary snag in the deal.
• Dodge's Director of Motorsports Mike Delahanty insists that GEM has a Dodge contract and that all the talk of Dodge teams seeking out partnerships with Toyota teams is "nothing more than media hype."
• Another hot rumor is that Robbie Loomis is headed to Stewart-Haas Racing. After being asked about his future, Loomis responded with a very vague statement about being committed to getting the 43 car into victory lane. Some question whether or not Loomis is the right guy for the job. But, after Jay Frye passed on the opportunity, it left the Stewart-Haas folks with few options.
• Still more: Could AJ Allmendinger be just days away from completing a deal to drive the No. 41 Target-sponsored car for Chip Ganassi? And did Allmendinger drive his final race in the 84 Toyota?
• All signs point to Paul Menard moving to the Yates camp with an announcement coming as soon as next week.
• Speaking of Yates, after driver David Gilliland ran out of talent in Turn 1 on the second lap of the race and proceeded to take out a hapless Kurt Busch, I was reminded of when team owner Doug Yates introduced Gilliland in August 2006 as "the next Dale Earnhardt."
• Did Busch's team owner Roger Penske really agree to a deal to supply engines to the financially beleaguered Robby Gordon team, now that Gordon and GEM have "settled" their differences? Apparently so, starting next weekend at Kansas City. Gordon still hasn't secured a manufacturer deal for 2009 as Dodge's Delahanty says his deal with them runs out at the end of '08.
• There are still some lingering doubts surrounding the circumstances behind the apparent "settlement" between GEM and Gordon announced earlier in the week.
Was there some level of embarrassment on the part of Dodge to see its "factory" team involved in litigation with the sport's most litigious team owner?
• I don't think Jamie McMurray will be inviting Gordon over for dinner anytime soon, either. Gordon just plain took out McMurray, who was driving what Jack Roush described as "our best car."
• On some race days Chad Knaus looks like a genius and on others it's more of a "close but no cigar" scenario. On Sunday, it was the latter. His decision to keep Jimmie Johnson out when the race leaders came onto pit road early in the race could have paid off handsomely. If only there had been a longer run at the end of the race, Johnson and Knaus would have emerged smelling like roses.
Still, a fifth-place finish kept the defending series champion in the thick of things, just 10 points behind leader Edwards.
• He led just one lap, collected his five bonus points, kept under the radar screen all afternoon and collected a nice sixth-place finish. Who was that? Kevin Harvick, who vaulted five spots upward in driver points to fifth. The RCR driver was pleased with his performance but knows he's got to win a couple of Chase races if he expects to win the title. Unfortunately, he's got to deal with the fact that the RCR horsepower doesn't match up to others in the field, except for one place – Talladega.
• Heading in the opposite direction and dropping five spots was Dale Earnhardt Jr., who had another forgettable performance after his team missed the setup and wore out its Chevy's right rear tire, sending Junior into the wall. Just finishing the race was an accomplishment for this team.
• The "Performance of the Day" award goes to Mark Martin, whose fourth-place finish makes us all excited about next season and watching the veteran driver behind the wheel of the No. 5 Hendrick Chevy.
• Spotted in the garage Sunday morning was Team Penske Indy car driver Ryan Briscoe, who was there to cheer on teammates Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr. After the day both Busch and Hornish had, it just might be the last time Briscoe shows up at a NASCAR race.
Before the Chase began, I offered that it would end up being more than a three-man race between Busch, Edwards and Johnson, and that there would be a fourth driver in the mix.
I was right.
However, I thought it might be Kevin Harvick, not Greg Biffle. With Harvick very much in the mix of things, this might still be a four-man race – only the players have changed.
Take Busch out of the picture.
Next up, the first of the 1.5-milers and the first true test of which team will produce the 2008 Sprint Cup champion.
See you in Kansas!