Monday, June 27, 2011

View From The Flagstand: Kurt Busch Best in Show

NASCAR made its annual trip to Northern California, as Kurt Busch won the Save Mart 350 at Infineon Raceway in dominating fashion. Usually when the winner leads close to seventy percent of a race, it can seem very boring. That was not the case Sunday, as this was an event that most fans, and drivers, will remember for some time.


Kurt Busch led 76 of the 110 laps. The few times that he was not on point were due to cautions, or pit strategy. The Penske Dodges have been extremely fast over the last six weeks, and at the same time, have been getting the best fuel mileage in the series. Busch has climbed to 4th in points, just one point behind third place.


Three drivers, who all earned top-ten spots, stand out because they are not thought of as 'road racers'. Clint Bowyer looked very racy and wound up 4th. Joey Logano won the pole and came home 6th. Hardluck Martin Truex battled all day to his 8th place run. Spinout shoutout to David Gilliland (12) and Regan Smith (16) both guys led some laps and may become future forces on road courses.


Earlier, during race week, Tony Stewart spoke of a lack of respect among drivers at the road courses. He was proven correct... several times on Sunday. It seems that a few drivers who consider themselves 'road race aces' would rather go through the competition, rather than around it. Juan Montoya, Robby Gordon, and Michael McDowell all deliberately wrecked cars that were in front, and, or, beside them. I have to believe that these drivers think, that on a road course, they won't have to see the car they just dumped for the remainder of the race.


Are raised due to Denny Hamlin and Dale Earnhardt Jr's mechanical issues at Sonoma. With ten races until the Chase, Hamlin fell out of the top-10 in points, but he is 11th, with a win.. so he would make the Chase. Dale Jr slid back to 7th in points, without a win. His Chase chances may hang in the balance this week at Daytona. Stewart dropped out of the points' top-10, and he also has no wins this year.


According to, shoot first/ask questions later, Robby Gordon, Goodyear is/was playing favorites with their tires on Sunday. Gordon claims that Goodyear brought two different "runs" of the same tire compound, and that the best matched sets of tires were only made available to the top teams. I have not heard of this happening in past events, but it would not surprise me if it's true. In fact, it would surprise me even more if it were not true.


  1. I thought Smoke was also one of the drivers going thru rather than around Gene...Didnt he punt Vickers and then receive the ass-up payback later?

    I'll have to poke around on that tire issue - Penske lent some of our fab and engine guys to the 7 & 77 this week...I know just who to ask!

    Hoping adrenaline keeps me going thru my long day at work today!

  2. Kris... Yes, Tony was one of the culprits. He kept pushing the 83 even though Vickers was standing on the brakes. Kyle P and Wally pointed out that BV was not blocking, as Smoke claimed, but, what if BV had been blocking him for several previous laps? Anyway, I like Tony's new way of handling blockers. It will be interesting to see if he uses it at Daytona.

    Late in the race, Robby was yelling because he had no more tires, and there was an allotment so he could not buy another set. Pretty sure that had a lot to do with his post race tirade.

    Congrats on being there for the win, it was a great race!

  3. After the last few weeks of boring races the road course was like a breath of fresh air! I'd like to see at least 2 more on the Cup calendar... With one like on the 7th race of the chase. Challenge these drivers and teams to prove they're the best race drivers in the world! Heck, they might even grow their fan base!

    Maybe if there were more road races drivers like Junior would get off their funk and actually learn to drive when turning both directions... When the 88 limped into the garage area I knew that rig was going to be parked. (Even if the mechanics could have got it back out on the track, Jr. wasn't going back out. He simply hates the road courses.)

    I like the Stewart attitude after he got paid back... I'm sure when he went back on the track late with a badly damaged ride he was looking for Vickers but he finally thought better of it. Montoya is another issue. Seems all he knows is driving through people.

    Big KUDOS to Kurt and the 22 crew! (You too Kristen!)

  4. RG started with black wheels, had yellow wheels, and had one set with black in front, yellow in rear. He must have bought/obtained mounted tires destined for or from another team for "some" reason.

    At best, he was able to get some tires other that or in addition to his designated tires.

  5. Dwindy... it seems as if the road races get better every time. They would be interesting in the Chase.... except for the pure luck involved in a lot of the finishing order. With 5 laps to go Sunday, JPM costs himself, Kyle, and Keselowski higher finishes. At the same time, he gave those spots to Truex and Harvick, etc. The Chase already has Talladega, which can have the same endings... a guy keeps his nose clean all day just to be taken out at the end by an idiot.

    I'm very sure that Jr would have returned, for points, if the car was drivable. He has ran up front, in NW series, on road courses before.

  6. Anon (CR?)... I may have misunderstood, but Gordon's crew chief told him, late in the race, that Goodyear would not sell them anymore tires. Robby told him to buy some from 'somewhere', and the CC told Robby there was an "allotment".

    I'd bet that a low budget team like Robby's has several different colors wheels on hand that they use every week. I doubt he paid to get 24 wheel painted orange this week, or pink a few races ago. His primary color this year has been black, so I think he probably has a lot of black wheels on hand.

    Did you notice other cars with mis-matched rims?

  7. Gene - I think Robby got Brad's extra tires - the yellow rim ones anyway. We were helping Robby and PJ with engine/fab this weekend.

  8. Add Menard to the "running thru, rather than around". He tried to dump Newman in turn 6, then accomplished his dirty deed in turn 11 on the same lap, with 2 laps to go.

    btw... Anom was not me. I hardly paid attention to Robby, even though his, and Ryan's pits were right in front of me.

  9. KLV... That makes sense. Was the "help" offered to Robby from Dodge, or from Penske as a pre-emptive (please don't wreck us) move? LOL

    CR.... Maybe Paulie was taking Tony's words to heart. "Blockers will be wrecked every time, even Ryan." LOL

  10. I have to agree with Dwindy about the road courses....of course, I know that the tradionalists wish there were 2 less on the schedule but, to be perfectly honest, they have provided the best racing with this new style car I reckon.

  11. Tez...I used to dislike the road courses, but, after most drivers started 'points racing' on the short tracks, the road races have become some of the most exciting events each year.