Thursday, October 15, 2009

SYMT Tour- Chase Finale

Today, we take a trip with Mr. Peabody and Sherman via the Way Back Machine to November 20, 2005.
It's the final race of the 2005 NASCAR Sprint(then Nextel) season. The championship is still up for grabs with Tony Stewart holding a 52 point lead over Jimmie Johnson. Carl Edwards is still considered to be a contender at 87 points out, and Greg Biffle is an outside shot at 102 points back. Nevertheless, as the race telecast begins, everyone feels certain that it's a two man race between Stewart and Johnson and that by the end of the night, Smoke will have earned his second championship in three years. A finish of 18th or better will secure the trophy for the #20 irregardless of what the #48 team does, and Homestead is generally agreed to be one of Tony's better tracks.
As the race begins, the #20 team is already in the hole. Tony will start the race in the 20th position while Carl Edwards will start on the pole. Tony's lead over Edwards has been cut to a mere 10 points. Biffle will start 7th and Johnson 32nd. Despite Johnson's poor qualifying effort, everyone feels sure that it won't be long before Knaus and company are running up front.
All attention seems focused on Stewart and Johnson. Johnson is slowly moving up, and Stewart is struggling. The fact that Edwards is leading the race seems to be of no importance. As Stewart's difficulties continue, the commentators begin expressing doubts as to whether or not Tony will be able to seal the deal.
Meanwhile, following pit stops, Jimmie Johnson has been radioing back to his team that the car isn't right. It appears from those observing the race that Jimmie would like to return to the pits and have everything checked out. Crew chief Chad Knaus chalks this up to the pressure of the championship hunt and tries to reassure his driver that everything is fine. When the green flag waves again, Jimmie starts going backwards and in a hurry. Chad still believes that Jimmie is merely reacting to the pressure of the race. Jimmie had missed out on winning his first championship the year before by a scant 8 points, and neither he nor Knaus want a repeat. Knaus tells his driver to calm down and work it out. By lap 124, it is clear that, real or imagined, Johnson is in trouble. As race leader Jeff Gordon moves in to place his teammate one lap down, Jimmie' right rear tire finally lets go, and Johnson is sent spinning into the wall. Knaus is visibly upset; the pit road cameras catch him slamming his clipboard and telling the crew to pack everything up and head for home. There will be no attempt to get Johnson back out on the track.
Johnson's misfortune seems to ease the pressure on Stewart. While the #20 team is still struggling to get a handle on the car, Stewart is managing to hold his positiion, eventually crossing the finish line in 15th,winning his 2nd championship by 35 points over Greg Biffle and Carl Edwards. Biffle, the race winner, would finish 2nd in the standings by virtue of more wins than Edwards. Johnson would end up 5th in the standings.
One has to wonder what would have happened if Chad had told Jimmie to pit at the first sign of trouble. There were plenty of laps left to recover, and given Stewart's struggles, the #48 team just might have pulled it off. We'll never know. What was apparent, however, was the tension between Johnson and Knaus. Many both inside and outside the NASCAR garages thought that Knaus' tenure as crew chief of the #48 would come to an end. Team owner Rick Hendrick, sensing tension between the driver and crew chief, called the men into his office for a little heart to heart talk. Knaus and Johnson mended the rift, and would come back with a vengeance for the 2006 season, winning what would be the 1st of three straight championships.
In this humble beagle's opinion, Tony should have a piece of that tire next to the 2005 championship trophy. If Jimmie hadn't blown the tire, I don't think Tony would have won the championship. That's not to say that Jimmie would have won, but there was just something going on with the #2o team that didn't go away until Jimmie was out of the picture.


  1. It would be nice to see the Jimmie and Chad show have a little tension ( really a lot of tension)for the rest of the 2009 chase races.

    I am concerned if Jimmie wins this chase, the interest in NASCAR may head over to Indy or other race sanctions in 2010.

  2. I, too, am getting tired of the Jimmie and Chad show. Even when they step in the proverbial substance(poor pit stops, etc.), they still come out smelling like a rose. I think someone needs to steal all their lug nuts.

  3. Hey SB,
    I think you did a very fine job on this post.
    I guess it just goes to show you, somethings are meant to be.
    This has been a lot of fun and I appreciate everyone's kindness to Jack and I.

    Please take care everyone and thanks.

  4. Great Job!! We have seen Chad get it wrong a few times this year and maybe he his riding the superman cape too much on changes to the car. IRL had a great championship come down to the last race with 3 drivers. F-1 could if Benson has a bad race this weekend.

    You have given us a preview to next year SYMT season when everyone needs to pick a race from the past to post about.

    Thanks for hosting this race and good luck to all.

  5. Great job SB! It's just the way I remember it.

  6. How about a little Boris and Natasha!

    Can we get the way back machine to take us back to 1988 or so?

    Nice job, Katie.

  7. Aero, F2, and CR: Thanks for the kind words.

    moseby:(insert Russian accent here) Funny you should mention Boris and Natasha. I almost got to do voice over in commercial because I could impersonate Natasha. Unfortunately, restaurant commercial was for wasn't thrilled with concept. Right now, Natasha makes frequent appearances when playing Mafia Wars in Moscow.

  8. That was a great recap of the Homestead 2005 race. I was thrilled to no end when Chad and Jimmie were "feuding" over the radio that day. Gave me something else to think about instead of the woes the 20 team were experiencing that day.

    I think alot of the problems the 20 team were having that day, were because, Tony really wanted to win this championship for the team the right way. And they were wanting to win it the right way. And they just couldn't get things right until their closest competition was out.