Through the gears
FIRST GEAR: This is one of those crazy catch-up weeks for the NASCAR Cup Series as it tries to sync up its schedule to end the regular season at Daytona International Speedway on Aug. 29. Three days after racing at Kentucky, the stock car circus heads to Bristol Motor Speedway for Wednesday’s All-Star Race, then pushes on to Texas Motor Speedway for a make-up race. The All-Star Race should be interesting because NASCAR has abandoned its traditional race venue (Charlotte) and opted for the short-track madness of Bristol Motor Speedway. This race will have a different look. The car numbers will be pushed to the rear quarter panel and the cars will carry glow lights under the body. The race winner earns $1 million.
SECOND GEAR: Jimmie Johnson was in the thick of the battle for the win at Kentucky but was punted off the track by Brad Keselowski as both pushed for the checkered flag with six laps left in the race. Johnson, who had to miss the race at Indianapolis after testing positive for COVID-19, has not won a race since 2017. He says this will be his last year as a full-time Cup Series
driver, so his at-bats are dwindling. Keselowski said he had a run on Johnson on a restart and Johnson tried to block him and there was contact. “There was kind of unavoidable contact at that time,” Keselowski said. “I hate that it ruined his day.” Johnson indicated he will look for Keselowski’s rear bumper during the All-Star Race.
THIRD GEAR: Texas Motor Speedway is inviting race fans to come watch its race Sunday. Spectator attendance varies from state to state. The races at Indy and Kentucky had no fans. Talladega let a limited number into the property. The All-Star Race at Bristol upped the fan ante to 30,000. According to the TMS website, there is no spectator cap in place for the race.
FOURTH GEAR: Rookie Cole Custer shocked the world when he emerged from a last-lap scrum to win at Kentucky. He became the ninth winner in 17 races staged to date. And he threw a wrench into the standings. Custer is 20th in points, but the win guarantees him a playoff berth, leaving only seven slots available. Jimmie Johnson, who is 15th in points, now sits on the points bubble. – Godwin Kelly
Cole Custer celebrates his first NASCAR Cup Series race win Sunday that clinched a playoff spot.