Well, no more. As I wrote
Right now, the 2010 championship battle sure looks like it will come down to three drivers: Johnson, Busch, and
With 36 laps to go on Sunday, Johnson entered pit road in first place for a green-flag pit stop. This was likely going to be the last stop of the day, and Busch was right behind Johnson. When Johnson pulled out of his stall, he mashed the gas -- a little too hard. He was busted for speeding on pit road. Just like that, he was assessed a drive-through penalty on the next lap, fell a lap down, and wasn't a factor the rest of the way. He finished 16th.
Here's the thing about that penalty: It was totally unnecessary. He clearly had the fastest car all day (he led a race-high 225 laps) and even if he would have left pit road behind Busch, he still had plenty of time to pass him. Bottom line: It was another uncharacteristic race for the four-time defending champ.
How are they doing one year later? Well, on Sunday, Earnhardt was lapped by Johnson less than a quarter of the way through the race, struggled with his handling all day, and came in 30th. He fell from 12th to 16th in the points, so, if the Chase started today, he wouldn't make it.
But it's far too early to write off this team. Yes, it only has three top-10 finishes in 12 starts in 2010, but Junior has spent more time running with the leaders this season than at any point in the previous two. But he needs to turn it on in the next month and have solid runs at Charlotte on May 30, Pocono on June 6 and Michigan on June 13. Because if he's on the Chase bubble in the last weeks of the regular season, the pressure will be as intense for this team as any in the sport, which is something team owner
It doesn't appear that Vickers will be back behind the wheel of the No. 83 Camry anytime soon. Doctors still don't' know what caused the clots and he could be on blood thinners for as long as six months, according to several doctors who have commented on Vickers' symptoms. Vickers likely would not be allowed to drive while he's on blood-thinners, so this means his season could very well be over.
So what should he do over the next few weeks? Go hard for victories and try to earn bonus points for the Chase. Because as of right now, you can pencil Harvick into the playoff.