Sunday, April 24, 2011

Back Off, Kyle

Kyle Busch draws more heat and hate with his every win in NASCAR's two lesser series. He has turned the Nationwide, and Camping World Truck, series into his personal showcases. NASCAR's most hated is not gaining any fans from all (73) of his minor league wins. Somehow, Busch thinks he can get to Richard Petty's 200 win level by counting his wins from all three of the NASCAR touring series.

Even though a lot of Petty's wins were against small fields, and were less than 100 miles long, they were all at NASCAR's top level at the time.... Grand National, or Winston Cup, series. Busch trying to count his NWS and CWTS victories towards Petty's record is the same as Alex Rodriguez going down to Double A baseball, and claiming all the homers he would hit there as counting towards his lifetime total in his march to unseat Barry Bonds as the MLB home run leader.

Sure winning 200 races, across the board, would be a grand achievement, but no one will consider it on par with Petty's 200 Cup wins. So why terrorize the smaller series? Should Busch just stop driving the two lower tiers? Leave the NW wins to the other dozen or so Cup drivers who invade that series every week?

Busch is viewed by many as a bully who preys on lesser teams in the lower series. The career leader in NWS wins, Mark Martin, was a Cup star when he won all those NW (Busch Series) races, but he gets a pass from most fans while Busch doesn't. Let's also remember that Martin never parlayed all those NW wins into a Cup championship either.

Some Busch fans claim that it's just his will to win that has him racing almost every race, in every series. How about if he only had one series to quench that burning desire for victory? If he only had one chance to win each week? You know, like the current five-time champion does.

Monday, April 18, 2011

View From The Flagstand: Jimmie Johnson's Bama Jama

Restrictor plate racing provided another great finish at Talladega on Sunday. In fact, it was probably the best finish ever. It tied the NASCAR record for closest margin of victory at .002 seconds, or about four inches.

Eighty-eight lead changes also tied another NASCAR record. No matter that about eighty of those lead changes were wave-bys, as the drivers choreographed the passes all day long. "Okay, is that it? Who hasn't led yet?"


After more than six months, Jimmie Johnson returned to victory lane. Two pairs of HMS cars, along with two RCR cars, and a pair of RFR racers all hit the stripe in a photo finish. Definitely sent all the fans home happy after watching three hours of Dancing with the Cars.


All of the usual Chase suspects were in that eight-car covey at the end. David Gilliland was ninth at the line, backing up his top-5 at Daytona. The (pleasant) surprise of the race was Dave Blaney racing his underfunded TBR Chevy up front all race long. Blaney led the second most laps, and was leading just five laps from the end. His fairy tale ended when Kurt Busch turned Blaney around with three to go.


It seemed as if all the wrecks were caused by the lead car, in a two car draft, either turning, or slowing without the trailing car being aware of it. Driving blind, staring at your partner's rear spoiler, at 195mph can lead to separation, or even divorce. In particular, Kurt Busch, after turning three different guys around, is getting blamed for things out of his control.


The Foxheads and their listeners, who think Ryan Newman made such a great save. Ask Juan Montoya how great it was. Some save when you bounce off an innocent bystander. If Newman's save was all that, so was Landon Cassill's. He did the same thing early in the race, ask Brian Vickers.


The whining over the start and parkers. Is there any chance that starting and parking earlier this year helped get Blaney the cash to run up front at Talladega on Sunday? Or, that it helped Joe Nemechek to a great run and third place spot on Saturday? The start and parkers have been around since day one in NASCAR. Everyone's favorite car owner, Richard Childress, did it a few times himself back when he was a sponsorless driver.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

View From The Flagstand: Kenseth Ends Streak

Some may think that Saturday night's NASCAR Cup race at Texas was boring. And, while no where near the excitement level of last fall's Chase race at TMS, it was watchable. It was not even the worst race of this young season. We see you, Fontana.

There was just enough drama with the green flag stops, Tony Stewart's foiled strategy, Kyle's stripped lug stud, blown tires, and one hard wreck to keep me awake. I wouldn't want it every week, but it won't be the worst race in April either.


Matt Kenseth's two year long winless streak ended in dominating fashion Saturday at TMS. He led 169 of the 334 laps in Samsung Mobile 500 while ending his personal 76 race losing streak. Kenseth seemed as if a weight had been lifted off his shoulders upon the win. It was nice to see that, even though it had been awhile, Kenseth still has that old school, I've been here before, way of soaking up the victory lane celebration.


Clint Bowyer led some laps and finished second. Bowyer's RCR teammates, Paul Menard (5th), and Jeff Burton (11th) had solid finishes. Carl Edwards (3rd), Greg Biffle (4th), and David Ragan (7th) rounded out the RFR takeover at TMS. Marcos Ambrose had a fast piece all night and brought it home in 6th.


NASCAR gets a long awaited "well done" for not throwing a game changing 'debris' caution at the end of the race. Kenseth had dominated all night and deserved a level playing field to win that race. Too many times the lead car is screwed by a bogus yellow at the end, and a lot of times it seems to be all about who is leading at the time.


Team Toyota seems as if their brake pedals are stuck. Other than Kyle Busch's win at Bristol and his second place point standing, the Toyotas have been ugly for the most part. JGR has had engine and pit road troubles in every race this year. The Red Bull boys have not been impressive at all. MWR seems to qualify okay with fast enough cars, then, come race time, they turn into SAFER barrier testers. They did learn from the best, though.


Mike Joy has finally turned into Ken Squier.... not HOF Squier in his prime.... early on-set Squier, far removed from his prime. Joy (or his director) now thinks that he should take five minutes to explain what he just said. Instead of clearing it up, he gets everyone even more confused. Mike, Kenseth won the race, NOT Carl Edwards. Also, Carl Edwards... Darlington is NOT the next race. Marty Reid.... It's Texas, NOT Charlotte.

Monday, April 4, 2011

View From The Flagstand

Plenty of questions were raised going into Sunday's 500 lapper at Martinsville. Among them, would the Goodyear tires hold up on the tight half mile track? They did alright. Would Denny Hamlin kick it up a notch? He was up front most of the day until a late pit stop cost him positions. Could Carl Edwards lead his first lap here? He led three, during green flag pit stops.


Kevin Harvick won his second in a row. Two wins in a row, while leading seven laps total in the two races. As long as he keeps leading the last ones it looks like he is the man to beat, for now.


Dale Earnhardt Jr took the lead late on Sunday, and it seemed like his 99 race winless run was about to end until Harvick regulated him to second place at the end. Kyle Busch took over the points lead and came home third after leading the most laps. Juan Montoya (3rd), Matt Kenseth (6th), Jamie McMurray (7th), and David Ragan (8th) all had great finishes. Clint Bowyer led 91 laps and was 9th.


A couple of times a year it seems like NASCAR's safety measures are put to the test. Sunday, Martin Truex Jr's stuck throttle showed how far those measures have advanced. While the car itself did its job, the wall and "kill switch" did not. The race was red flagged after the wall was damaged by Truex's impact, and his engine kill switch did not work as designed to cut the engine.


How can Bristol be only half full just a couple of weeks ago, yet two hours away, Martinsville is almost sold out?


Denny Hamlin's inner spoiled child reared his ugly head during the race. Hamlin sounded off about poor fuel mileage, bad pit stops, and team strategy in general. For his last couple of pit stops the #11 team used the #20 team's front tire changer.... while Joey Logano was still on the lead lap!