Plenty of Whine and Cheese in Sonoma
by Matt Taliaferro
1. Carl Edwards Edwards and crew did what a championship-laden team is supposed to do as it continues to build steam: Stay above the fray and bring it home clean with a top-3 finish.
2. Kurt Busch Speaking of staying above the fray, Busch’s car and strategy at Infineon were so spot-on, he won by keeping the mayhem in his rearview mirror.
3. Kyle Busch Did Kyle Busch really get out of his car at Infineon, walk over to Kevin Harvick and shake his hand after the race?! Yep. The devil must be wearing a winter coat and shoveling snow.
4. Kevin Harvick The recipient of Busch’s gratitude admitted to being somewhat confused by the gesture, saying on Twitter that it was “bizarre.” He then went on to say the feud was not over.
5. Jimmie Johnson And then there is Johnson, quietly running seventh on the road and staying well within striking distance. His lone win this season came on a plate track, and that’s where they’re heading next.
6. Jeff Gordon Gordon and the 24 bunch are tough to figure. A win at Pocono was followed by a pedestrian 17th in Michigan. Then they ran second in Sonoma. Good luck pinning them down.
7. Matt Kenseth Overcame a couple on-track incidents at Infineon to finish 14th, which must feel like a win for Kenseth, who has never taken to the road courses.
8. Denny Hamlin Hamlin said he got “‘Dinger’d” at Infineon, which is NASCAR-speak for paying the price for racing too close to AJ Allmendinger.
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr. OK Dale, that’s two sub-par showings in a row that have dropped you to seventh in the standings ... let’s not give Junior Nation a reason to be suicidal.
10. Clint Bowyer Although he has no wins at Daytona, he leads everyone on the Sprint Cup circuit not named Trevor Bayne with a 13.2-place average finish on the 2.5-mile tri-oval.
11. Tony Stewart The king of NASCAR hypocrisy complained about drivers racing like idiots, then blatantly spun Brian Vickers in front of the field. Shades of Daytona '06.
12. Ryan Newman At this rate, Newman is a bump-draft-gone-wrong from losing 10th place in the point standings.
13. Greg Biffle The potential is there for the 16 team, the results — for some reason — are not.
14. Brad Keselowski Juan Pablo Montoya finally messed with the wrong man on Sunday ... and paid the price.
15. Paul Menard You heard it here first: Paul Menard could very well win the Coke Zero 400 this weekend.
Just off the lead pack: AJ Allmendinger, Kasey Kahne, Mark Martin, Juan Pablo Montoya, Martin Truex Jr.