Remember that 1990s hit ABC show, Home Improvement? Tim “The Tool Man” Taylor (played by Tim Allen) had his own local Detroit-area home improvement television show, making him sort of a Bob Vila-type, if you will. Of course assistant, Al, was the brains of Taylor’s show and Taylor didn’t seem to know what he was doing, but still, Taylor saw himself as a rival of Vila’s.
Wondering why I’m bringing this gem of a show up, here? After all, what did Home Improvement have to do with racing? Actually, nothing, unless you count Allen’s love of fast cars, but it came to mind when I considered that the two drivers still in this close and heated battle for the 2013 NASCAR Sprint Cup represent two of the largest home improvement warehouses in the US, with five-time champion Jimmie Johnson being sponsored by Lowe’s and Matt Kenseth having The Home Depot as a primary sponsor.
This NASCAR home improvement rivalry isn’t quite like the fictional one of Taylor vs. Vila, as I would consider both Johnson and Kenseth as more Vila-like, as in they both have a clue as to what they’re doing. Also, whenever Vila made a gues appearance, playing himself, on Home Improvement, he always got the best of Allen’s Taylor character.
This NASCAR championship battle, though, is going down to the wire. There are only two races remaining, beginning with Sunday’s race at Phoenix International Raceway and concluding the following week with the season-finale at Homestead-Miami Speedway, and these two guys are separated by a scant seven points. For those unfamiliar with the still-relatively-new NASCAR points system, that’s basically seven positions on the race track over the span of two races — bonus points for winning and laps led not included. I don’t remember those Taylor/Vila battles ever being that close, despite Taylor’s desparate grunt-filled attempts at “more power.”
While there are a handful of drivers who haven’t exactly been mathimatically eliminated from this championship battle, for all intensive purposes, this one’s coming down to a two-man race between Johnson and Kenseth, and it looks like it’s going to go right down to the wire at Homestead.
The two drivers are running neck-and-neck, so to speak, from a statistical standpoint. Kenseth has seven wins on the season to Johnson’s sixth. On the season, Johnson has an average finish of 11.0, while Kenseth’s average race finish on the year, so far, is 12.1.
But when you look at Phoenix-specific stats, Johnson comes out ahead, with four wins to Kenseth’s one and an average finish of 6.5 to Kenseth’s 17.2. But then there’s Homestead. It’s a mile-and-a-half, and Kenseth has excelled on mile-and-a-half tracks this year. He hasn’t garnered the new nickname of “Mile-and-a-Half Matt” for nothing, and until last weekend’s race at Texas Motor Speedway, Johnson had yet to post a 2013 win on NASCAR’s most prevalent track layout.
As I mentioned before, this one’s going to go down to the wire, and it’s going to be a lot more serious than those Tim Taylor/Bob Vila showdowns we were entertained by a couple of decades ago. Has it really been that long? Oh, I must be getting old.
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