Monday, May 30, 2011

View From The Flagstand: Dale Jr's Coke 600 Fizzles

It was a global game of oneupmanship Sunday as we witnessed three spectacular finishes that won't soon be forgotten. The day began with a Grand Slam breakfast at the Monaco Grand Prix as we saw Sebastian Vettel hold on to win after a late race red flag allowed him to get new tires. The hundredth anniversary of the Indianapolis 500 was the lunchtime BBQ with Dan Wheldon winning in the last few hundred yards.

Finally, the shadows lengthened and the temperature dropped into the low 90s, and it was time for the 600 mile, 6 course dinner. The Coca Cola 600 found Kevin Harvick celebrating his win after passing, an out of fuel, Dale Earnhardt Jr a few hundred yards from the checkered flag.


Harvick gets yet another win after coming from out of nowhere. Happy now has three wins this season, and has led less than a dozen laps in those three races. The Closer is living proof that the only lap that matters is the last one.


Dale Jr only led two laps Sunday night, but he was in position to win on the final restart. It was heartbreaking for his fans as he ran out of gas going into turn three on the last lap. He wound up in 7th place as Harvick led a parade by him coming off turn four. Gas strategy also payed off for David Ragan (2nd), Joey Logano (3rd), and Reagan Smith (8th). Ricky Stenhouse Jr finished 11th in his first Cup start.


Or, lack of. Three debris cautions were thrown during the 402 laps, including at least one for a "beverage" can on the track apron. Yet, on the green, white, checkered attempt, a 3,500 pound stock car on the apron does not warrant a yellow? I'm sure the fact that Dale Jr was out front and low on gas had nothing to do with that decision.


Super teams, HMS and JGR had their share of ills at Charlotte. For the second race in a row, Earnhardt was HMS's highest finisher. No, that's not a good thing for them. Mark Martin triggered a wreck, Jeff Gordon was a lap down, and Jimmie Johnson's blown engine (causing the G,W,C finish) may have cost Jr a win. JGR's best finisher was Logano, also not a good thing. Kyle Busch spun out twice, and Denny Hamlin's car had a carburetor transplant, mid-race.


The red flags here at VFF usually fly for things that need to be stopped, but, for the first time ever, I saw nothing Sunday that disappointed me. Those three races, at least the endings, will always be remembered as perhaps the greatest day of racing I've ever seen.


  1. The air turbulence caused by a car passing the beverage can could cause the can to move back on to the racing surface. Doubtful it would move the race car.

  2. Good point, Speedy.

    Is that the same air turbulence that pulls hot dog wrappers off the car's grilles? lol

  3. It was quite a day of racing! I can't believe both the 500 and 600 ended on not only last-lap passes, but last-corner passes. Unbelievable.

    The debris cautions have been better most of this year, but a beverage can? Are you kidding me? Hope that's not a sign of things to come with several relatively boring tracks up next on the schedule.

  4. I'm not entirely sure a tin can can defy physics and roll back up the banking :/

    I did notice that in the Rolex race, a brake hose was laying on the track and they didn't go yellow, lol

  5. ask Ryan Newman though....everyone seems to take his word as gospel on anything Engineering-related because, you know, he's used his degree sooooo much since getting it.

  6. JM... This race definitely had some debris cautions. The restarts at CMS are so great that I didn't really mind them. It didn't make sense having the debris flags after the green flag stops, instead of before them.

  7. Tez... I saw that brake duct too. NASCAR may have had a red flag for that much debris. lol

    Ryan is a genius. When Kyle read his apology for speeding, Ryan thought it was his business to tell everyone that Kyle probably didn't write it himself. NO KIDDING, Ryan. So many athletes write their own public statements I could have sworn Kyle would write his own. Thanks, for the 411 Ryan!

  8. don't get me wrong, I like Ryan, and the fact that he's a fellow Engineer....but you wouldn't ask me for advice on designing your house just because I'm a Civil Engineer when I haven't done any structural design, right?

  9. The only black flag I can think of is the broadcasting - but why beat a dead horse eh?

    Guess Ryan's PR person doesn't work too hard with him writing all his own stuff!

    Alas, if only cars ran on screaming fans....

  10. How about a black flag for the stupid comment of the week- Dario Franchitti on double file restarts at Indy: "This track isn't suited to double file restarts." Gee, Dario, the NASCAR boys don't seem to have a problem with it.

  11. Kris... yes, I've bashed Fox enough. lol. Their season is almost over. The broadcasters on F-1 are amazing... calling a race live, in real time... with no race control feed! The Indy team is great also.

    SB... the double file NASCAR restarts at the Brickyard are the only excitement during the whole race.

  12. The greatest racing weekend you've ever seen Gene? That's saying something coming from a racing aficionado such as yourself!

    Harvick is having quite a year so far and if he keeps it up we'll still be calling JJ "Five Time" next season!

    Bruton Smith is nothing short of a showman in the same ilk as the Ringling Brothers... I couldn't believe that huge big screen at CMS. It seemed to me like the Fox people made it their mission not to show too much of it.

    The only thing Indy has going for it is longevity... Other than that you can throw the track in with the cookie cutter tracks we're about to be submitted to concerning excitement... Chicago, Michigan, Kansas...

    Thanks Gene!

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