Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Roll Dem Bones


Sunday's race was not my favorite kind. Restarts are fun on a track like Auto Club Speedway where the cars can spread out, even down on the apron, going three and four and even five wide, but once things leveled off, it was pretty predictable in that the cars that we expected to be the best were the best - and that was Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch.

I guess I'm unlike many NASCAR fans because I don't find it boring to see the fastest car finish in front. I think that's the way it is supposed to be. May the be best man/car/team combination win. If one driver dominates, so be it. In the case of the California race, there were two, seemingly evenly matched team mates, so the contest was in seeing which of them would prevail. There were others who ran decently but all things being equal, it was the Kevin and Kurt show.

Until the green/white/checker, that is, which turned everything on its head and allowed Brad Keselowski to slick to the front with his four fresher tires. I know, I know....you can tell me that pit strategy is part of it and Paul Wolfe gambled and won. I know that. I just don't like the kinds of endings that replace a 400-mile superior performance win with a last minute roll of the dice.

There are already enough opportunities for luck to rear its ugly head in NASCAR races - part failure, being bumped by another car, paper on the grille, etc. without G/W/C's making it even more a game of chance. I actually would have preferred to see it end as a fuel mileage race. Those are at least based on a calculated willingness on the part of crew chiefs to take a risk.

And its not that I'm questioning NASCAR about the call itself as so many people did afterwards. They have umpty cameras directed at the track from every angle and I have one 52-inch television screen so I think they have better resources on which to base a decision than I do.

The finish makes you wonder if Kevin Harvick questioned himself since Rodney Childers had called for a four tire stop, like Keselowski, but Kevin himself aborted that decision and left the pits after only two had been changed.

Other thoughts about the week:

- Your heart has to go out to Brian Vickers. The last couple of years has placed him in a series up gut-wrenching scenarios. He's up and then he's down, up and then down. And he's handled his situation with so much upbeat grace. I hope he gets to come back to racing but it may not be in the cards with his condition.

- I haven't written much about the Xfinity series so far this season. That's because, though I turn the race on, I only halfway watch as long as a Sprint Cup driver is leading. Eric Jones, Bubba Wallace, Chris Buescher and Chase Elliott all looked good in this week's race but the fact is, Kevin Harvick led 100 of 150 laps and therein, lies the tale of the Xfinity series.

- The drivers seem to have their pit stops under control as speeding penalties are down but the pit crews sure are having lots of problems controlling their tires. Are they doing something different than they used to or are they simply trying too hard?

- I am really looking forward to seeing Chase Elliott in his first Cup start next week at Martinsville.