Tuesday, June 24, 2014
If Ifs and Buts were Beer and Nuts
First to get THE question out of the way - yes, NASCAR should definitely have a road course in the Chase, even if that means adding another to the regular schedule as well. It is a completely different style of driving that a championship driver needs to master. Turning right, shifting, braking, maneuvering elevation changes, discovering that sometimes two tires on the track are better than four. Not to mention that they are fun to watch, causing as much bumping and blocking and anger among drivers as short tracks.
Second, let's do away with the phrase "road course ringer". Maybe there was such a thing at one time but there is no more. Great thanks to people like Boris Said and Ron Fellows for teaching our regular drivers to be road course aces but you did your jobs so well, we don't need you any more. On the other hand, no one has dominated the road courses either, even Marcos Ambrose - ten different winners in ten races at Sonoma. So it isn't just the "same old, same old" in Victory Lane.
Okay, now if I'm Matt Kenseth, I'm starting to get stressed. He's far from out of it but a win would sure makes things a whole lot more relaxing. In fact, I'd think the whole JGR shop would be getting stressed at not performing up to the level of previous years. You have to wonder if the rumors about Carl Edwards coming over in a fourth car aren't stirring the emotional pot at Gibbs. I see Carl Edwards as a divisive figure. He was divisive at Roush and I think he'll be divisive at JGR. It was bad enough when you can piss off a low-key guy like Matt Kenseth but super egos like Kyle and Denny? Seems like trouble ahead to me. Of course, I worried about that at Stewart-Haas too and they seem to be doing all right.
Speaking of Stewart-Haas, Tony has always been somewhat short-tempered but he seems to be turning into a crabby old man. Is it a combination of the responsibilities of ownership, driving a car that often seems to be under-par, still recovering from a terrible injury or just getting older and less patient. Or maybe all of the above.
Once again, Kevin Harvick looked to have one of the best cars on the track, only to be un-done by pit road problems....again. Also, Kyle Larson was having a great run until he lost his power steering...definitely not good on a road course. A. J. Allmendinger might have been a contender if not for his run-in with Dale, Jr. But that's the thing about racing, isn't it? You can't say "so-and-so would have won if not for"..... Yeah, and if ifs and buts were beer and nuts, we'd have a hell of a party. Although I plead guilty at doing this myself sometimes - "Jimmie would have won that race if not for that blown tire!" Well, maybe.
Shout-out to Paul Menard and the 27 team....the class of the RCR field this year. Paul's reputation is for doing well early in the season before fading later. Hopefully, that won't happen in 2014.
It was a Hendrick Motorsports day, even though they didn't win - all four cars in the top seven is quite a achievement, as unpredictable as road courses can be.
I was actually hoping for another first time winner at Sonoma but I'm not surprised that didn't happen. I expected to start seeing more repeat winners about midway through the regular season. I'm okay with Carl though. I'd truly like to see the Roush organization regain their prominence among the best performing teams. I prefer to see all the teams and manufacturers having a kind of rough parity. I think it's better for the sport when that's the case - although, of course, I may root against them in individual races.