The much hyped battle of the superhero’s didn’t quite pan out Sunday during the NASCAR Sprint Cup series Auto Club 400 at Auto Club Speedway. Jimmie Johnson, assuming the role of Superman, was able to overcome the Kryptonite being wielded by Kevin Harvick and score his 77th career win and proving that he may well indeed be able to leap tall buildings in a single bound, or at least leap one Kevin Harvick in a single lap.
Dale Earnhardt Jr., in the role of Batman, didn’t fare as well. What might have been an epic battle on the track between he and Johnson, aka Superman, would have been a marketers, (or in this case Warner Brothers) dream. However, the two were never really close; which had to give the marketing folks at the WB fits, despite the fact that every trailer they have released for the Superman vs. Batman movie has already shown us what will happen in the actual movie.
The only driver Earnhardt was close with Sunday was Kurt Busch; in fact too close at one point. Dale Jr., uh, Batman, made contact with Busch on the seventh lap damaging both cars. Now, if you think about it and in the right light, the elder of the Busch brothers does look a little like the Penguin, so there’s that. But that was about as close to a superhero battle there was.
“I thought we had a good car yesterday in practice,” Earnhardt who finished 11th said. “I was kind of looking forward to the race and then when we started we were real tight. The No. 41 came in front of me off of (Turn) 4 and I just couldn’t do anything. He was clear, but I couldn’t stop. I had so much momentum and that hurt the left-front real bad and bent the splitter. So, we fought that all day long.”
Now if we could have only gotten Junior to talk in a low hoarse Batman type voice all weekend. That would have been something.
A real superhero did appear on lap 47 Sunday. That’s when Kyle Larson lost a tire exiting turn 2. His Chevy careened off the backstretch wall then rocketed towards the inside wall hitting nearly head on and getting airborne before sliding to a stop. It took a moment but Larson was able to climb from his car, thanks in large part to the SAFER barriers. Given his diminutive stature and the superhero theme of the day, we shall now call Larson, Mighty Mouse.
Then we have Wonder Woman in the form of Danica Patrick. Patrick and Kasey Kahne got together exiting turn 4 on lap 120 with Patrick ending up with the worst of it. Her Chevy spun into the outside wall and also went airborne sliding to a stop at the bottom. She was certainly angry but we have to “Wonder” why that “Woman” walked back up the track to gesture at Kahne, a move which could land her in hot water with NASCAR.
Speaking of superheroes, young Chase Elliott made a great showing. He ran as high was third and finished sixth. That’s how he earned the title of Robin the Boy Wonder. He is after all teammate to Batman, and he did show the Caped Crusader up.
At the end of the day though, it was Superman donning his cape and leaping into the arms of his crew.
“I’m glad I backed it up,” Johnson said. “I talked a lot of trash this weekend. I’m glad I backed it up (smiling). More than anything, I just wanted to beat the 88 so I had bragging rights over Junior all week. Then we won the race. So I think I got the upper hand on him for a little bit.
I don’t expect it to last for long. I feel like the relationship we have with Warner Brothers and other opportunities that might come along, there will be another rivalry coming along. Junior will not lie down.”
So until next time, citizens of Gotham, or Metropolis, whichever side you are on, be vigilant and be safe. NASCAR is off for a week and somewhere we might hear Dale Jr. yell to Chase Elliott “Quick Robin, to the Batmobile!”