Watching NASCAR: Fight to the Finish in Miami

A change at the top with a week to go means good news for somebody, in this case Brad Keselowski, and bad news for someone, obviously Jimmie Johnson. Johnson’s drive for a sixth NASCAR Sprint Cup title hit a wall last weekend.

Wrecks abounded, some accidental and some intentional, and the result was that Johnson had a blown tire on the track forcing him into the pits at a moment when his top rival, Keselowski had just moved to the front of the pack. Keselowski could not maintain the top position, Kevin Harvick won the race in nice fashion after a pair of late restarts, but the sixth place finish was good enough for a move to the top spot and a 20 point lead. If he manages to finish 15th or above this week the title is his.

Following Harvick across the finish line was Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, then Kasey Kahne in forth followed by Ryan Newman. Johnson finished 32. There was some bad driving, questionable decisions on NASCARs part and the settling of past grievances all of which made for a day of interesting, if ugly racing.

You knew that tempers would be on edge last week but the fight between Jeff Gordon and Clint Boyer was amazing. Or rather between their pit crews. This came after Gordon intentionally hit Clint Boyer’s car late in the race last week, a move that cost Gordon 25 points and $100,000 and a rest of season probation (really?). It also eliminated any chance that Boyer could contend for the title. Not really clear how Gordon avoided a suspension, but he did.

With Boyer saying that he might retaliate this week, I am sure NASCAR will be keeping a close eye on him and this could turn out to be like hitting someone in the NFL, the second guy always seems to get the big fine. As an oddity to the race Keselowski was fined $25,000 for having an on-board computer in his car. You know, a cell phone.

This Week: Ford EcoBoost 400
All of the chickens will come home to roost this week at the Ford EcoBoost 400 at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Drivers are still looking for bragging rights, enhance standing with existing or future teams and let’s not forget prize money. Also I would not be surprised if a few grudges are settled early in the race. Or late for that matter.

Broadcast: Nov. 18 at 2 pm ET on ESPN


Sprint Cup Standings

1) Brad Keselowski
2) Jimmie Jonson -20
3) Kasey Kahne -50
4) Clint Boyer -52
5) Denny Hamlin -62
6) Matt Kenseth -74
7) Greg Biffle -78
8 ) Kevin Harvick -86
9) Tony Stewart -87
10) Martin Truex Jr. -111
11) Jeff Gordon -115
12) Dale Earnhardt Jr. -160

Joey Logano once again proved that he is the man in Nationwide racing, winning last week to give him nine wins this season, Points leader Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is probably burning a candle in thanks that Logano did not get a full season in.

Stenhouse moved from a tie for the lead with Elliott Sadler to a commanding 20 point lead after a strong finish in the race and only needs a 16th place or better finish to repeat as the Nationwide champ. He finish third in the race with Brian Vickers finishing just in front of him and was followed by Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne.

Sadler continued his run of misfortunes late in Nationwide races, this time causing a three car accident very late in the race that greatly harmed his chance to win the title this week. The accident sent him to the pits, from which he never returned.

This Week: ForEcoBoost 300
Broadcast: Nov. 17 4 pm ESPN 2

Nationwide Standings
1) Ricky Stenhouse Jr.
2) Elliott Sadler -20
3) Austin Dillon -25
4) Sam Hornish Jr. -107
5) Michael Annett -162

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