Las Vegas Sun

January 21, 2018

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Does Gordon or Stewart have the momentum heading to California?

It’s foolish to bet against Tony Stewart. During the past two weeks, it was beginning to look like the wheels were coming off the No. 14 team’s championship bid. But the team rallied back to win at Kansas and in the process secured the manufacturer’s championship for Chevrolet. Throughout his career, adversity has always seemed to be the octane that boosts Stewart toward victory.

A recent Bloggity poll asked who would win the 2009 Cup championship. Stewart received 65 percent of the vote.

As impressive as Stewart’s win was on Sunday, the battle the No. 24 team waged against an uncooperative racecar was equally impressive. The team won that battle as Jeff Gordon was able to manage a second-place finish out of a car that earlier had lacked grip. The never-say-die attitude and the ability to adapt during a race are the most crucial elements to winning a championship. And that attitude is essential when the points spread between Gordon’s seventh position and first position is only 103 points.

Will this finish provide an extra lift to Gordon’s team as it heads to California? Gordon and Johnson have the most wins at Auto Club Speedway with three wins each. Johnson’s wins are more recent with a win in 2007 and 2008.

Come on. Admit it. You know it’s true. Even if your favorite driver isn’t Mark Martin, I bet there’s a small part of you that is secretly, or maybe not so secretly, rooting for Martin to win the championship. That’s due to the respect he has earned by competing with dignity and class throughout his career.

Martin is never quick to point fingers, whine or become snarky when the TV microphones are shoved in his face. How refreshing. And although he’s been known to be pessimistic at times, his attitude while driving for Hendrick Motorsports has shown none of that. More importantly, he also seems to be having more fun than at anytime in his career.

Do you think Greg Biffle will listen to his crew chief the next time he calls for two tires instead of four? On the final caution, Biffle chose four tires instead of two and that might have cost him the race. But he was worried that his car would be too loose on only two fresh tires and he figured that because of the double-file restarts, starting a few positions back wouldn’t be much of a hindrance. That initially looked like it would be the case as he quickly moved into the second spot on the restart. But Stewart, who only took two tires, had the clean air and, as a result, was untouchable.

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