Monday, March 28, 2011

View From The Flagstand

Auto Club Speedway proves, yet again, that it is the most boring racetrack in NASCAR. Cutting the race by 100 miles, and moving the date back a month did not help at all. After braving the cold, dark, damp, weather all weekend, the fans in attendance had to suffer through a 180 lap parade to get to the 20 lap shootout. Certainly not the best return on investment in NASCAR.


Kevin Harvick led one lap on Sunday, and it was the right one as he became the fifth different winner in the five races this year. Harvick made a daring pass on the high side coming through turn four to beat Jimmie Johnson to the finish line. Of Harvick's last five wins, three have come about through last lap passes for the lead.


Leading three quarters of the laps, in a backup car, was not enough as Kyle Busch coughed up the lead to Johnson with just three laps to go, and eventually ended up third. Busch won Saturday's NW race to run his string of NASCAR victories to four in a row. Matt Kenseth earned his second consecutive fourth place finish. Ryan Newman finished fifth for the third time this year. Three of the four RFR cars finished in the top 11, while all four RCR cars were in the top 16.


After just five races this year, all three of the Joe Gibbs Racing entries have experienced engine woes during at least one race. They have been very strong, but they better get a handle on this issue soon. Every point counts and Denny Hamlin now sits 21st in the standings after engine problems on Sunday. In the five races this season, JGR has had five engine malfunctions.


NASCAR's arbitrary judgement calls. There is a rule that a driver can not pass on a restart before he gets to the start/finish line. On Sunday Dale Earnhardt Jr missed a shift (or something that kept him from going) Joey Logano pulled around him.... instead of ramming his bumper. NASCAR penalized Logano with a drive through which regulated him to being the last car on the lead lap, late in the race. This judgement is as bad as when a car is forced below the line at a plate track... and is penalized.... for NOT causing the big one.


Jennifer Jo Cobb threw a fit last week at Bristol. Something about being a racer, not a start and parker. So, after somehow getting another ride in the NWS, what did she do on Saturday at ACS? She had an early spin, and got the free pass soon thereafter. Immediately after receiving the lucky dog, she parked her car. The official reason for her parking, after 38 laps, was "handling".


  1. Well Gene... IMHO... I'm looking at Fontana and Bristol as both being symptoms to what's wrong with NASCAR... They changed the points system but it's now obvious they didn't put nearly enough of a premium on winning the race. For two weeks running JJ has backed off racing for the win so that he can take a second (in Fontana) and a third (in Bristol) just to gather up the points and head for the next scenario where points mean more than the outright win... Winners are winners and should be rewarded at a much higher level than second or third or (fill in the blank)... By not properly rewarding the winner, we as fans are not being served up what used to be the norm in NASCAR... Driving for the win, not the points...

    Thanks a lot JJ. You remind me of a wink, wink and smile politician playing the system for all its worth and NASCAR is letting it happen. Both deserve Black Flags...

    No wonder people are finding other things to do with their time and money...

    Harvick's manhandling of JJ should open all the other driver's eyes concerning JJ. He's gutless if rattled... You're done JJ. They've got your number! There won't be a 6 time...

    There, I feel better. Thanks Gene!

  2. No pain no gain is JGR philosophy I bet - they are working on something new in those engines and will get it right. I also heard the new fuel mix could be causing problems but don't entirely understand why because as my hubby points out, I really don't know anything about cars! LOL

    JJC has lost all credibility...

    Dwindy, Dwindy, Dwindy - you are totally underestimating 5x. He is not rattled but he might be points racing...but I think he was out to win it on Sunday. Nothing you can do when you have someone on your bumper pushing you faster into the corner than you can go and hold your line - Harvick played a brilliant move there forcing JJ up or off the trottle. Either way Harvick passes. How can you fault a driver for playing the system they've been given? This is very reason why Kyle wont win a champ - he is wreckers or checkers still too much. Agreed NASCAR should reward winning more but if they don't can't blame a team for racing smart!

  3. Kristen... Some may think I'm being too harsh in my assessment but the fact remains Kevin had to be driving into that turn at the same speed as JJ or he couldn't have been bumping the 48. Then he had to stay on the throttle to make the pass entering the turn while JJ backed off.

    The system continues to reward mediocrity...

    BTW, did I miss the post-race interview with JJ? I don't recall seeing him give his explanation about what happened. I had to go but I did see Kevin's... If he did do an interview, was he smiling? (and winking?) LOL!

    Hmmm... Racing smart!

  4. Dwindy.... I ran across this idea for the NASCAR points system....

    1) ALL races pay one million dollars to win.
    2) No points system during the 1st 26 races.
    3) Only way to make the Chase is by winning a race.
    4) In the Chase, only the top 10 finishing positions score points.. 10 for winning, down to 1 for 10th.

    That system should lead to more drivers trying to win.

    JJ is no pushover, you'll see this weekend in Martinsville. Harvick had a much faster car at the end in Fontana than JJ did. That had more to Harvick winning than JJ settling. Sometimes the fastest car doesn't win the race, but most of the time it does.

  5. KLV... I hope JGR is experimenting and will get the motors right very soon.

    You're right, the 48 team plays the game... to win championships. If the rules are changed, they will adapt better than anyone else.

    The biggest surprise to me is that no other teams use the 48's model of success....
    First, make the Chase, the regular season doesn't matter (except as a test session for Chase tracks).
    Second, dominate for 10 races, at season's end.
    Third, pick up checks and hardware first week of December.

  6. it's odd why as well....back in the CART days with that Hanford device, Fontana was one of the most eagerly awaited races to watch, lol

  7. Tez.. it's strange. I've always thought that the Indy cars have a much better show at Texas and Michigan than NASCAR does. On the other hand, The open wheelers are less exciting at Richmond and Iowa.

  8. So far NASCAR han't been too exciting except for the Cinderella story at Daytona and Harvick's move on JJ. Perhaps shortening more races might bring more excitement to the races.

    Who knows.

  9. Dwindy, I agree that Harvick rattled JJ's cage pretty good. Now he's going to have lingering doubts when he sees the 29 behind him. Perhaps Harvick broke the aura of invincibility surrounding JJ.