Texas Motor Speedway president Eddie Gossage hired a large woman Sunday. Her job was to stand above victory lane and sing.
As it turned out, she wasn?t needed.
And it seems maybe the guy they call Superman has found some kryptonite.
The drama came early Sunday in the Dickies 500. On lap 3, Sam Hornish Jr. was tapped by David Reutimann and spun up the track. Not much, but just enough to brush the No. 48 of Jimmie Johnson. For his part Johnson tried to save his machine, but failed and hit the outside wall, careened back across the track, was hit by Sam Hornish Jr., again and sent into the inside wall. Johnson limped to the garage, spent over an hour getting repaired before heading back out and finished 38th. He lost 111 points to Mark Martin and his lead is only 73 points with two races remaining.
In other words, the 2009 Chase for the championship isn?t over.
Many in the media had already given the title to Johnson. Fans we complaining about the dominance of Johnson and his team who seemed a lock for this years Cup. But that was Sunday morning. By Sunday afternoon, Johnson was no longer the dominating force he was the day before.
?There's not a lot we can do about it.? Johnson said. ?We were just in the wrong place at the wrong time. The guys did a great job to get this car back out on track to pick up some more spots. And we'll go to Phoenix and race.
"We've got two great race tracks for us (coming up, Phoenix and Homestead). We didn't want this by any means but we're still in a great position and we'll go to Phoenix and race."
For those Chasers behind Johnson, there is renewed hope. Those drivers in second to sixth still have a shot, and an even better shot with two races remaining then they had coming into Texas.
?It?s not over yet,? second place Mark Martin said. ?The top six?I?m still kind of baffled why everybody is so preoccupied with first and second. The top six spots are being raced for like a dogfight. I?ve got two past champions that knocked me out of championships breathing down my neck, so the race is still on for all of us.?
Martin was second to Jeff Gordon, who is currently third, in 1998 and second to Tony Stewart, currently fifth, in 2002.
For those drivers beyond sixth, nothing has changed. They are essentially out of the Chase.
Drivers like Greg Biffle, who saw his chances slip away with miserable finishes in the opening rounds. Biffle finished 8th Sunday and has been running better as of late. Unfortunately it will be too little too late.
?An eighth place finish is good.? Biffle said. ?We pretty much ran 10th to 15th all day and then at the end a few guys tried to make it and ran out of gas, so we got those spots.
We?re happy with it.?
In the end, perhaps because she had already been paid, the fat woman sang above victory lane, even though it was for naught. Below Kurt Busch celebrated his win, Jimmie Johnson licked his wounds, and the media sat down for a feast of crow.
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