Note: The quotes in this article are fictional.
1. Jimmie Johnson
With a crafty four-tire pit stop during the race’s final caution, Johnson and the No. 48 Lowe’s team outsmarted the competition once again.
Johnson’s full set of fresh tires allowed him to catch and pass teammate Jeff Gordon, who opted for two tires. Johnson’s win in the Shelby American 427 moved him up seven spots to fifth in the points, and also made him NASCAR’s all-time wins leader at 1.5 mile tracks.
“How often can you say you ‘had no luck’ in Vegas,” Johnson said, “and still came out a winner? I called everyone’s two tires and raised them two more.”
“Now, I realize that my winning ways have made me somewhat of the bad guy to drivers and fans alike. If that’s the price for being the sport’s elite, then so be it. Besides, I don’t mind ‘wearing black’ in an ivory tower. Anyway, this is Las Vegas, so, at least for race day, they were calling it ‘Sin- ister City.’”
“The Lowe’s team goes into every race with the intention of winning. We always anticipate victory. Suffice it so say my wife isn’t the only one ‘expecting’ on this team.”
2. Kevin Harvick
For the second week in a row, Harvick finished runner-up to Jimmie Johnson, this time in Las Vegas in a race in which luck played no part in Johnson’s win. Although winless for the year, Harvick and the No. 29 Chevrolet team served notice to Johnson that they’ll be on Johnson’s tail all year.
“Everybody knows Kevin Harvick pulls no punches,” Harvick said. “Literally and figuratively. I like to speak as frankly as John Mayer tweets. On that note, in regards to Johnson, if you take the ‘lucky’ away from ‘lucky S.O.B,’ you still get ‘S.O.B.’”
“But the chatter is all in good fun. What’s wrong with taking a few shots at the champ? I’m like Muhammad Ali—I’ve got a good ‘jab.’”
3. Clint Bowyer
Bowyer opted to stay on the track while the leaders pitted during the final caution on lap 230 of the Shelby American 427. Crew chief Shane Wilson’s gamble paid off.
Bowyer led three laps after the restart, and the track position helped secure an eighth-place finish, Bowyer’s third top-10 result of the year. He trails Richard Childress teammate Kevin Harvick by 47 in the point standings.
“The No. 33 Cheerios/Hamburger Helper Chevy was again strong,” Bowyer said. “Prior to the race, Las Vegas bookies gave pretty good odds for us to win the race. You could say we were ‘handicapped,’ much like a four-fingered mascot.”
“And speaking of the Hamburger Helper mascot, I’ve got to ‘hand’ it to Shane for making such a gutsy call. He knows when to gamble; I know when to drive . Like Lady GaGa , he showed his ‘Poker Face,’ like Burt Reynolds, I drove like ‘Stroker Ace.’”
4. Mark Martin
After spending much of the day hovering around the top 15, Martin made a late charge to the front, finishing fourth at Las Vegas to put a decisive Hendrick Motorsports stamp on the Shelby American 427.
Teammates Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon finished first and third, respectively, and collectively led 237 of 267 laps. Martin jumped three spots in the point standings to third, and trails Kevin Harvick by 49.
“There was some concern about mechanical issues prior to the race,” Martin said, “mostly due to the wheel issues experienced by Jimmie Johnson and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. earlier in the year. Like Guns N’ Roses, we feared we might face some ‘Axl’ problems. But they never a-Rose .”
“Once we analyzed the track conditions and remedied the handling , the No. 5 GoDaddy .com Chevrolet was awesome towards the end. I’m proud of our consistency. Nationwide series fans may not be used to seeing it, but this GoDaddy .com car can finish in one piece.”
“But Danica Patrick is still learning, so we shouldn’t hold it against her. Just as importantly, we must resist the urge to hold her against it .
We all knew Danica would have to learn on the fly when she signed to race in the Nationwide series. I think if you asked any red-blooded American male before the season, he would have told you he’d have no problem bearing witness to Danica’s lady ‘lumps.’”
5. Matt Kenseth
Kenseth recovered from an early tire-vibration issues that forced an extra pit stop to finish fifth at Las Vegas, his third top-10 finish of the year. Kenseth and the No. 17 Royal Crown Ford benefited from a late caution that allowed the car to remain on the lead lap. Kenseth is now fourth in the points, 58 behind Kevin Harvick.
“Last year, Las Vegas was the beginning of the end for this team,” Kenseth said. “After two wins to start 2009, things went downhill starting in Vegas. Luckily, I wasn’t under Crown Royal sponsorship then. Otherwise, the season would have been known as a royal ‘flush.’”
“Congratulations to Carl Edwards on the birth of his daughter. He’s now got good reason to smoke a victory cigar.”
“And congratulations to Dale Earnhardt, Jr. He’s got yet another product, Amp Energy Juice, to bolster his endorsement empire. You can question his driving skill, but you can’t doubt his marketing acumen. Hey, you know what you get when you mix vodka and Amp Energy Juice? A shrewd driver.”
6. Greg Biffle
Always strong on Las Vegas’ 1.5 mile oval, Biffle again showed prowess with a solid 10th -place result that could have been much better if not for an unfortunate pit incident.
On lap 109, Biffle, running fourth , entered his pit box, but was blocked in when he tried to exit by A.J. Allmendinger’s No. 43 car. Biffle restarted in 25th , and spent the balance of the race making up ground, and handling issues prevented a top-5 run. Biffle fell three spots in the Sprint Cup point standings to sixth , and is 63 out of first.
“Not since Cale Yarborough and Donnie Allison wrestled at Daytona in 1979,” Biffle said, “have I seen anyone so intent on going for the ‘pin.’ NASCAR wants to take our wings? This is one time when I could really have used them.”
7. Carl Edwards
After welcoming a baby daughter, Anne, on Wednesday, Edwards hoped to ride the euphoria of fatherhood into victory lane at Las Vegas.
But after a loose No. 99 Aflac Ford Fusion put him a lap down early, focus shifted from winning the race to regaining that lost lap. Edwards returned to the lead lap on lap 230, and battled his way to a 12th -place finish.
“In light of the fact that I’m winless in Cup races since 2009,” Edwards said, “I think it’s totally appropriate to call me ‘Daddy- 0 . This role as a father will be something entirely new for me. Midnight feedings. Diaper changes. Bedtime stories.
"And giving Anne her pacifier for the first time will truly be a memorable moment, for me and for Matt Kenseth. Finally, Matt will have good reason to call me a ‘pacifist.’”
“Now, as you can tell by the number of Aflac commercials aired during race broadcasts, I often feel less like a driver and more like a vessel for duck-related advertisements. I’ve hustled more insurance than the Geico cavemen.
"But relief is on the way. Insiders tell me that Aflac’s new ad campaign will feature Australian rockers AC/DC and the duck-billed platypus, in which Angus Young and his mates will sing ‘For Those about to Quack, We Salute You.’
8. Jeff Burton
Burton fought back from a lap down to finish 11th at Las Vegas, just missing out on a top-10 result to match those of his Richard Childress racing teammates Kevin Harvick and Clint Bowyer. Burton now sits seventh in the point standings, 76 behind Harvick.
“RCR keeps piling up the top finishes, but we’ve yet to cash in with a victory. I predict that will change in Atlanta, where I will shock the world with an earth -moving win, appropriately in the No. 31 Caterpillar Chevy.”
“I was intrigued by the grand marshal pairing of Carroll Shelby and Kim Kardashian . I’m not sure who’s experienced more work under the hood, Shelby or Kardashian . I understand that before Kardashian met Shelby, she thought she was to be sharing grand marshal duties with a woman.
"Consequently, Shelby thought he was going to meet someone famous. In any case, engines were started all around.”
9. Joey Logano
Logano showed the patience and poise of a veteran with a sixth in the Shelby American 427, his second consecutive top-10 finish after his fifth last week in Fontana .
The 19-year-old prodigy again outraced his teammates, as fellow Joe Gibbs Racing drivers Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin finished 15th and 19th , respectively. Logano is now eighth in the Sprint Cup point standings, 93 out of first.
“The early consensus was that the veterans, Hamlin and Busch, would lead this team,” Logano said, “and I, the young guy, would follow. Now, everyone’s wondering when the members of this team are going to start ‘acting their age.’ Hamlin and Busch should be better than that. If I’m ‘Sliced Bread,’ then those two are loafing .”
“But I don’t doubt that Busch and Hamlin will find their way into the thick of things soon. Just like angry rivals, drama has a way of finding those two. For now though, this 19-year-old kid is the best bet for Gibbs to win another ‘Cup of Joe,’ while Busch and Hamlin will have to swallow their pride while playing second fiddle to me.
"If Gibbs Racing was a soap opera, it would be called ‘The Young and The Rest .’”
10. Jeff Gordon
Gordon, in the No. 24 Pepsi Max Chevrolet, dominated from the start in the Shelby American 427, leading the first 52 laps after qualifying second. He lost that edge, however, on the race’s final pit stop, when crew chief Steve Letarte elected for two tires while Hendrick teammate Jimmie Johnson took four.
Johnson easily tracked down the No. 24, leaving Gordon with a third-place finish and a load of disappointment.
“That’s one decision we’d like to have back,” Gordon said. “But we’ll build on the positives and forget that mistake. As they say, ‘What mis -happens in Vegas stays in Vegas.”
“Sure, we should have gone with four tires. And sure, hearing of Johnson’s greatness is grate -ing , and tire some. But give the man credit. He won in Las Vegas, earning a championship belt for his effort. And, until someone knocks the four-time champ off his pedestal, he, like a tire, will remain ‘still-belted.’”