Allen Lessels on Motor Sports: It'll be a Sprint to the finish
"I wouldn't be putting anybody's name on the trophy yet," Stewart said. "It's way, way, way too early for that."
He's right, of course.
The 2103 Sprint Cup race just looks a little like it's over with Jimmie Johnson putting a licking on the rest of the field and doing a decent job of dominating the first half of the season.
Johnson's car was the second fastest to pole sitter Brad Keselowski in qualifying on Friday afternoon, but his time was disallowed when the front end of the Lowe's Chevrolet measured too low during post-qualifying inspection.
But the car still has plenty of speed and chances are Johnson, as long as he can avoid trouble around him, will roar through the pack and be a factor before the day is done.
Johnson won his record fifth straight Cup championship in 2010 and has gone two years watching first Stewart and then Keselowski last year, win titles. He's itching to get back on top and win a sixth crown overall.
Johnson's lead - he's up 49 points on Clint Bowyer - is such that he could wake up this morning and decide to take Sunday afternoon off from work and spend it cruising Lake Winnipesaukee in a speedboat and still leave town with the points lead tonight.
There's much less time to go before the Chase for the Sprint Cup begins and that creates the race within the race today.
There are, though, limited slots and lots of contenders.
Coming up with the consistency to reel off those top 10s is the problem.
Keselowski is in 13th, two points behind Kahne, and Jeff Gordon is just one point behind him. Joey Logano is in 15th, four points behind Gordon. Ryan Newman is one point behind Logano.
"I think there's a big difference between the two," Keselowski said. "If we do our part, we don't need any help. We don't even need any luck. ... We're eager to get going. We feel like we can do it, but I don't feel a sense of panic. There are still two months of racing to get in the Chase."
He had a string of six straight finishes of 11th or better snapped last week at Daytona after his right front tire blew. He crashed and ended up finishing 40th in the race.
"The big thing is, we can't let that kill the momentum of what we had going on," Logano said. "I don't feel like we're in panic mode now. No, we've got to make this Chase. ... We're not in panic mode yet."Stress the yet.
READER COMMENTS: 0
- Johnson poised to win sixth Sprint Cup crown - 0
- Hamlin on pole for Sunday's Goody's 500 at Martinsville - 0
- Truck Series will return to Loudon Sept. 20 - 0
- McMurray winsat Talladega.; Jimmie Johnson takes Chase lead - 0
- Tom Herzig's Trackside: Ford Fall Brawl has plenty of big names - 0
- NHMS gets Sprint Cup schedule; trucks returning - 2
- Brad Keselowski outduels Kasey Kahne to return to victory lane - 0
- Harvick takes Kansas; Kenseth’s Nascar Sprint Cup lead dented - 0
- Pines Speedway Reunion set in Groveland, Mass. - 0
READER COMMENTS: 0
- Glitches resolved in new managed-care Medicaid system - 0
- Two sent to the hospital after Barrington crash - 0
- Two armed robberies overnight in Manchester - 0
- Windsor man seriously injured in Bennington crash with logging truck - 0
- Job applicant charged with helping himself to a couple of bottles of champagne - 2
- Bow man robbed after leaving Manchester YMCA - 0
- Police say Keene robbery victim was targeted through online dating site - 0
- Keene police investigating attempted robbery at grocery store - 0
- Nashua teacher contract ratified - 0
Exeter drug sweep nets four
Shea-Porter: GOP ad about ACA in NH is false
Where is Benghazi? Kuster's refusal to stand