Tuesday, May 12, 2015

A Bunch of Kudos

Image result for nascar spongebob squarepants 400  Lots of kudos to give out for the Kansas race.

I admit it - from the perception of my advanced age, I made a face when I first heard of the Spongebob Squarepants 400. Oh, geez, what did doofus cartoon characters have to do with stock car racing? I was wrong. The kids loved it. Young families loved it. Drivers loved it. And yes, even I loved the fun and energy that surrounded Spongebob and his pals. They took a million selfies with fans. They sold out of every piece of Spongebob merchandise. Maybe some of the kids who were there became NASCAR fans for life. And that's what the sport needs. They don't have to do anything to convince older devotees like me. So kudos to Nickelodeon and and the Kansas Speedway and NASCAR for a great event.

Of course, it would have been better if Mother Nature had been more cooperative, especially on Mother's Day weekend, but oh, well, it is her nature to be cantankerous sometimes. Four times so far this season. Come on, Mama!

Over all, I loved this race. I know he wouldn't appreciate hearing me say this but I rather enjoy it when Jimmie qualifies badly because I like seeing how long it takes him to make his way into the top ten, the stop five, the top three, as he almost always does. It is more exciting to watch drivers overcome challenges along the way than just to start at the front and stay there. Jimmie started 19th but early on, his car almost spun out. He performed an incredible save but meanwhile, he slid back to 31st and had to forge his way forward again, all the way to victory.

Because of pitfalls on pit road, Joey went to the back of the longest line twice and it was amazing to watch him charge back, passing cars like a madman, to finish fifth.

So kudos to those two drivers for their thrilling drives to the front.

Honestly, I was rooting for Martin Truex, Jr. Damn, I want to see him win a race before the Chase! Yes, he'll make it in on points but I want to see him, triumphantly, get there with a win. Martin gets kudos just generally for a terrific season over all.....another top ten to add to his collection.

Although his night turned out badly in the end, I think Erik Jones earned kudos for once again proving his potential for being a NASCAR superstar someday. Before his wreck, he was running with the big dogs and more than holding his own. He still has a learning curve but he's getting there. He dominated the truck race until he ran out of gas. Probably, a Brad Keselowski would have been able to save enough fuel to make it to the end but that's a technique that comes with experience.

And kudos to Kevin Harvick for another second place finish. Eight times this year, he's finished either first or second, leading over 1,000 laps along the way, an awesome record.

Right now, Kevin and Jimmie are the kings of the cookie-cutters, if you want to call them that. I don't because Atlanta is different than Las Vegas and Las Vegas is different than Kansas and Kansas is different than Kentucky.... They are different ages and have different peculiarities and require different driving styles.  The smart drivers know that if you want to win a championship, you must excel on these kinds of tracks and Jimmie and Kevin do.

Kudos to NASCAR for this format - "win and you're in". Jimmie and Chad were able to take a chance on staying out on the last pit stop while others stopped for fuel and tires because they had two wins in the bank. Otherwise, they would have been forced to protect their points position. So the current Chase format encourages being daring, making for a more suspenseful race, and that's a good thing for fans.

And that will be even more so next week when drivers in the All-Star race can forget points and let it all hang out for money and fun.