Monday, March 17, 2014

Shake'em up and Roll'em Out - Bristol


NASCAR fans are having their loyalty tested this season! First, Mother Nature (who has been a grouch all winter) forced lengthy rain delays for both Daytona and Bristol. And then this week, good old Fox changed channels in midstream, leaving many fans unable to come along when they went back to racing and screwing up those who'd set DVRs.

Still, the reward for those who hung in there was a heck of an exciting race, full of drama of various kinds. Clear up until Carl Edwards won, most of the usual suspects you expect to see at the front experienced misfortune. Joey Logano lost his power steering. Jimmie Johnson underwent The Case of the Unraveling Tire. Kyle Busch spun out. Kevin Harvick went up first, in smoke, and then, in flames. Matt Kenseth was wrecked, as were Jamie McMurray and Brad Keselowski.  Dale Junior's momentum came to a screeching halt. Kurt Busch had bad luck, as did Martin Truex and Clint Bowyer.

Lots of hard racing and trading paint under the threat of more rain. The groove widened out so there were cars all over the track, top and bottom and middle, three-wide. Hitting oil and crashing each other. Alex Bowman's lost battery spewing reams of paper on the track and in the fence. A weird caution light coming on for seemingly no reason (NASCAR later explained that someone inadvertently hit the button), followed by the hardest downpour of the night, effectively ending the race before the green/white/checker.

My driver, Jimmie Johnson, labored around the track three laps down after his tire became a rope. But I found pleasure in the race, nonetheless. I was happy to see a 1, 2, 3 finish by Ford. I like it when all the manufacturers are on par and Ford had seemed a crucial notch behind Chevy and Toyota. But not last night - Carl and Jack Roush won and Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. was at the top of his game - and hurray, both Richard Petty cars finished in the top five! We've watched that company struggle for the last few years but I think they are finally getting where they should be. And Tony Stewart came in fourth. That was good to see. SHR needs him to be the old Smoke. Despite a wreck here and there, Danica ran a good race. And both Kurt and Kevin were fast if the ornery Bristol imps hadn't got to them. Both the Ganassi cars were competitive. My pet rookie, Kyle Larson, finished tenth, after running in the top two or three much of the night -  with Austen Dillon only one spot behind the rookies did good. (Kyle Larson also came in second to Kyle Busch in the Nationwide race - for the second year in a row....damn, I so badly wanted him to win!) Jeff Gordon continues on his roll with four straight top tens so far this season. Hard to believe that in his illustrious career it's the first time he's pulled that off. Brian Vickers finished in the top ten.

So, Bristol mixed'em up. Put'em all in a box, shook it up and threw them out on the track. Fun to see.

Still, I hope everything is back to normal in California next week - sunny skies, dry track. I want Jimmie to get his Chase-ensuring win and a pole would be nice too.