Sadler makes move

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 19, 2006

I am not the biggest Kurt Busch fan in the world, but the guy got the shaft last week in Watkins Glen.

The no. 2 Miller Lite Dodge was clearly the car to beat for most of the day and would most likely have posted a solid top-ten, if not a top-five finish, if not for a questionable pit-road penalty half-way through the race.

Busch was about to pit when Joe Nemechek wrecked, bringing out the caution. At almost the exact moment that Busch was about to enter pit-road, the red light flashing indicating pit-road was closed.

Busch completed his pit-stop and received a one-lap penalty for entering while pit-road was closed. He got the shaft and finished 19th in the process.

Now he probably deserved some type of penalty for that heinous snow-angel stunt he pulled after winning the Busch series race the day before, but didn’t deserve the pit-road penalty.

The 19th finish for Busch put him in a tenuous position to make the chase. With four races remaining before the field is set, Busch is 172 points behind Dale Earnhardt, Jr. in the tenth and final position to qualify for the chase.

Kasey Kahne has dropped like a lead balloon and is 54 points behind Junior. The only other drivers outside the top-ten with any chance to become eligible for the chase is Greg Biffle, in 13th and 180 points out, and Carl Edwards, currently in 14th and 191 out of tenth.

With those guys trying to race into the top-ten, there are plenty of guys trying to race to remain in the top-10. Only 153 points separate Jeff Burton in fourth position and Junior in tenth. With at least 151 points separating a first place finish and a last place finish and with four races remaining, none of those drivers need to consider themselves safe.

The long awaited move involving Elliott Sadler, Jeremy Mayfield, and David Gilliland was made official this week.

Mayfield is out of the no. 19 Evernham Dodge, Sadler is in the no. 19 and out of the no. 38, and Gilliland is in the no. 38.

All of these moves are in effect for the race this week at Michigan. It appears that barring any one-race fill-in duty later in the season, Mayfield will be out of a job until he takes over the wheel of Bill Davis’ second Toyota ride next season.

In a cruel twist, Mayfield is the defending champion of this week’s race at Michigan International Speedway. Expect Sadler to put up a solid finish this week.

His new teammate won the race here in June and Dodge has won four of the last six races here. I think this move might finally allow Sadler to gather up some of that tremendous potential, and post some wins.

Remember, this team was chase-eligible the last two seasons, so Sadler is driving some second-rate car. I would have loved to have seen him drive a Chevrolet, but evidently, the deal with Evernham had been in the works for several weeks.

Michigan produces some of the best racing of the year. At two miles in length, Michigan offers wide, multi-groove racing and produces speeds approaching 200 mph, this is a racer’s track.

The guys sporting the bowties have had it tough here lately. A Chevrolet has not won here since Jeff Gordon won in the June race in 2001, a span of ten races. Look for Kasey Kahne to get back on the right track this week, same for Greg Biffle. In fact, I pick Biffle to win the race.