Monday, September 22, 2014

Mayhem at Loudon

First things first. I gotta' say it: I hate New Hampshire's trophy. I tend to think of any creature that has managed to survive the vicissitudes of life on this planet for close to a century, whether on land or underwater, as something rather noble, even a lobster. So the ugliness of using a living thing as the trophy for a race, its claws taped shut, with humans parading it about and taking its picture, until it is finally eaten or mounted or whatever happens to it, strikes me as rather awful. I love NASCAR as much as any fan but a race is still just a freakin' race....and nothing should have to die for it. Call me a liberal bleeding heart, I don't care. It's how I feel.

So, both the Penske teams have won their way into the Chase. The Penske boys are definitely at the top of their game. On the other hand, just to calm things down a bit, regarding future expectations, wasn't it just a couple of years ago that Matt Kenseth won the first two races in the Chase. As I recall, that did not result in a championship. It's the end of the Chase and not the beginning that matters. Still yet, I'd definitely rather have won one of the first two than not. Team Penske has the advantage right now.

Loudon was like the tale of two races and it shook the standings up quite a bit. The first part was rather mundane and then all hell broke loose. Chase driver after Chase driver suffered setbacks. Poor Denny Hamlin was the first and the worst. He was looking good until his fuel intake unit suffered a malfunction. The team more or less worked through that and then he was wrecked. Blow outs, pit stops and crashes wreaked havoc on Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Dale Earnhardt, Jr., Jeff Gordon, Kasey Kahne, Kurt Busch.... Meanwhile, Aric Almirola and A. J. Allmendinger had solid runs, bringing them closer to the others. The Roush cars were under-achievers and so was Ryan Newman.

Drivers are now bunched up down at the bottom of the Chase field more than they were before which should make Dover an especially exciting race with all those guys clawing to be in the top twelve. Jimmie never really contended for the win but at least, his race was uneventful and he had a top five finish. Ditto, Kevin Harvick.

Two non-Chasers crashed the Loudon party and both were from Ganassi. Another shout-out to Kyle Larson (this is becoming a weekly occurrence!), who was second and also to Jamie McMurray (4th).

So we forge on to Dover....and then there will be twelve.

Congratulations to Cole Custer, who won the Camping World Truck series race - the youngest winner ever! Wow, NASCAR has an abundance of riches when it comes to talented kids!

And to Brendan Gaughn for winning in Nationwide.

Miscellaneous comments - I agree with Brad Keselowski - sending the Tony Stewart case to the grand jury is a Cover Your Ass move if I ever saw one. A district attorney is a politician first and foremost and this D.A. is in a precarious position. If he files charges against Tony, he will instantly be hated by legions of NASCAR/Stewart fans. On the opposite side, if he doesn't file charges, his constituents who live in the area where Kevin Ward was born and raised will be furious and accuse him of letting a rich, famous NASCAR driver buy his way out of trouble. Naturally, he'd rather pass the buck to a grand jury and let them make the call.

I think it is likely that this will result in Tony getting screwed. The people on the grand jury likely have their own biases in favor of the Ward family. They probably know little or nothing about Sprint car racing, all of which could lead to them justifying the filing of charges.

And, of course, we hear that there is another video with a different view of events. If this video makes it appear that Tony's actions were deliberate or not, it could be the deciding factor.