CUP: Five Old Acquaintance Not Forgot

Article by Nick Bromberg,

The 2010 Sprint Cup season was far from the same-old, same-old even though Jimmie Johnson was crowned champion. We saw cars flying through the air – again – drivers having at it both on and off the race track, and that doesn’t even include what happened at Texas in November.

Here’s a list of the top five moments of the 2010 Sprint Cup season. However, everything from that epic Texas race is excluded because it’s entirely possible that we could create a top five list strictly from it:

5. That whole Carl EdwardsBrad Keselowski thing. Edwards sent Keselowski flying through the air at Atlanta in payback for what Keselowski did to him earlier in the race and then sent Keselowski into the wall at Gateway as the two were racing for the lead in the Nationwide race. As a standalone event, the Edwards-Keselowski Gateway feud would have been the most controversial finish since Dale Earnhardt dumped Terry Labonte at Bristol.

Instead, that Gateway crash was the conclusion to what might have been the most-hyped NASCAR rivalry of the 2000s. Edwards’ two consecutive uppercuts put him in a light that many never could have envisioned would ever shine on him, and it was Keselowski that ended up being the sympathetic figure. But as we head to 2011, the rivalry has simmered, with Kyle Busch taking up the fight on behalf of Edwards.

4. Jamie McMurray's resurgence. That Daytona win will always be marred by that dang pothole that appeared in turn two, but the first race of the 2010 season showed that McMurray was going to be a contender over the course of the season and that McMurray’s relationship with Jack Roush was simply a partnership that was misfit for both parties.

McMurray will be a Chase contender heading into 2011, but he’s going to have to be much more consistent if that’s to happen. With the wins at Daytona, Indianapolis and Charlotte and the close call at Talladega, 2010 may end up going down as a career year for McMurray. And if it does, that’s sure as hell not a bad career.

3. Dale Earnhardt Jr.. wins at Daytona. Sure, it wasn’t the Sprint Cup Series, but watching Earnhardt Jr. drive the Wrangler No. 3 Chevrolet to Victory Lane in the Nationwide race at Daytona was pretty sweet.

The obsession with Earnhardt Sr. may be setting the sport back with the main demographic that it’s losing, but that Friday night was one – maybe final – necessary dose of nostalgia.

Earnhardt Jr. got a win, and was able to successfully and willingly walk in his footsteps for an evening. The sport will be automatically healthier if Earnhardt Jr. can get a win in the Sprint Cup Series in 2011.

2. Kurt Busch calls Hendrick drivers “Pretty Boys.” The pre-race media gathering for Kurt Busch at Watkins Glen was flat out surreal. Busch was mad at Jimmie Johnson for what happened between the two at Pocono (Johnson got into the back bumper of Busch on the Long Pond Straight) and had already expressed his desire to knock Johnson off his pedestal after the two bumped fenders at New Hampshire.

But instead of strictly going after Johnson, Busch went after the whole Hendrick organization. He didn’t even spare 2012 addition Kasey Kahne.

“Well, I mean the guys at Hendrick are pretty boys and get People magazine covers and that’s their job,” Busch said. “My job is to go out and race cars and that’s what I focus on.”

And here’s the part where Kahne comes in:

“(Busch’s car owner Roger Penske) really helped me mature as a driver on and off the track, and, you know, if I even thought that I had a shot of jumping in that 5 car, a pretty boy named Kasey Kahne got picked over me, so that could answer your question as well.”

If you forgot, Busch’s contract extension and Kahne’s Hendrick announcement came nine days apart. Do with that what you will.

1. Joey Logano calls out Kevin Harvick. There’s no love lost between Logano and Harvick, and that was obvious after Harvick got together with Logano during the spring Nationwide race at Bristol. They were good until the final laps at Pocono, when Harvick got into Logano again in turn three.

Harvick said Logano wasn’t giving him enough room. Logano said that Harvick dumped him. Who cares about that. This is the money quote:

“I don’t know what his deal is with me,” Logano said. “It’s probably not his fault. His wife wears the firesuit in the family and tells him what to do. It’s probably not his fault.”

If you don’t think that’s the quote of the year in the Cup Series, then you’re insane.

Tom Logano, Joey’s father, muddled up the confrontation by encouraging Logano to go after Harvick. But NASCAR’s now a sport that’s fought primarily by a war of words instead of fists and Joey had already landed the TKO.