The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly--Geico 500
After a few weeks off due to technical issues, The GBU Crew is back for the Dixie edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, served with ribs and all the fixin's. Enjoy!
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.: as the race winner, he gets first billing. He had a strong car all day, then pounced on an opening late in the race to take the lead and eventually hold off Kyle Busch and the rest of the field. The win is the first of Stenhouse's career, and punches his ducat into the Chase, provided he finishes within the top 30 in points after Richmond. The win was also the first for Jack Roush since Carl Edwards won at Sonoma in 2014. Great job Ricky!
Jamie McMurray: he made a very gutsy move on the final lap, finding a hole in the middle and splitting the difference. That move enabled him to finish second. He was strong all day and is one of the better restrictor plate drivers on the circuit.
Aric Almirola: he was established as a 50-1 long shot to win the race. He very nearly pulled it off. I bet the guys that were holding Almirola tickets and seeing him run that well had dreams of cashing in their winning ducat and throwing wild parties in Almirola's honor afterwards.
Kasey Kahne: this was his best run in awhile. He was fortunate to escape The Big One that caused AJ Allmendinger to end up on his roof. (More on The Big One later.) He had a tremendous run coming off the final turn of the race and ends up with a p5 finish.
Kyle Busch: it looked like he had the race in the bag, especially considering the fact he was stout on restarts. He was a little too stout on the final restart, as he opened up too large of a lead for a plate race. That allowed Stenhouse to make a run and overtake Busch. Alas, the fruity patriotic Skittles party wasn't meant to be.
Honorable Mentions: Cole Whitt and Jimmie Johnson. Whitt, the Tri-Star Motorsports driver, managed to escape The Big One with only cosmetic damage to his RTIC Coolers Chevrolet. He has run well all season, considering that team is a one-car team. He and Johnson were the biggest movers of the race, each finishing 22 positions above where they first started. (Johnson started 30th, and finished 8th; Whitt started 38th, and finished 16th.) Both drivers were solid all day.
The Big One: this one happened on Lap 169 when Allmendinger made contact with Chase Elliott, who had got loose coming off Turn 2 and was checking up. The resulting mayhem collected 18 cars and took out 9 of them. The race was red-flagged for 30 minutes, as safety and wrecker crews righted Allmendinger's car. Fortunately, he was okay, none the worse for wear.
Also, big shout-outs to Gray Gaulding and Joey Gase for career best finishes! (Gaulding gets his first top-20 finish of his career, finishing 20th, and Gase finishes 21st.) And to Elliott Sadler as well for escaping The Big One and finishing a solid 17th in the Tommy Baldwin #7 Chevrolet.
That's a wrap! See you next week for the Mother's Day version of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly!