Wednesday, August 5, 2015
A Cluster....in the Best Sense of the Word.
Pocono was a cluster****..... And I mean that in the best possible sense! Chocolate Myers, on Sirius Radio, often says that what he wants in a race is drama and that doesn't necessarily mean the racing itself is the best. It's more about excitement, both on and off the track. Pocono had drama in spades on many different levels.
It started with the Camping World truck race going 22 1/2 miles beyond the scheduled distance thanks to three attempts at a green/white/checker. Oh, yeah, Kyle Busch won and Tyler Reddick took over the championship points lead. Matt Crafton was pissed when it was over and accused Keselowski of trying to help Reddick by wrecking Crafton.
Then it was on to the Xfinity series race in Iowa. No Cup drivers meant the regular guys could show their stuff and Ryan Blaney did exactly that. If you think a race in which one car dominates the field is not a good race, then you wouldn't have liked this one. But if you get off on seeing a young driver get to shine out from under the Sprint Cup shadow, then you were well satisfied.
In the end Blaney actually led more laps than the race was scheduled for (252) thanks to a flurry of late race cautions and two green/white/checkers.
The Xfinity race also resulted in hot tempers. Ryan Reed and Ross Chastain had a confrontation afterwards and there were hard feelings between teammates, Bubba Wallace and Chris Buescher...again.
The Cup drama began with a coincidence when Kasey Kahne spun into the pit wall, sending helmets flying and crewmen running. It was practically a mirror image of Jeb Burton's spin the day before. It was a situation that had never happened before and then it happened twice in 24 hours.
Kevin Harvick lost an engine early on. Good-bye, Kevin.
Next, Brad Keselowski missed his pit box and sent his over-the-wall guys tumbling like bowling pins. Thankfully, no one was hurt.
The were some other minor incidents but toward the end, it looked like it was going to be Joey Logano and Kyle Busch cruising to the checkered flag far ahead of everyone else until, unexpectedly, it turned into a fuel mileage race, which seemed to catch many of the teams by surprise. After all the cautions in the first half of the race, I guess no one thought it would end with a long green flag run.
No one knew who was exactly where on gas. Would Joey make it? Nope, he was about a lap short. So, then would Kyle make it? Nope, he was less than a lap short. (Thus, bringing his streak to an end but he's only 13 points out of 30th so I still believe he'll make it into the Chase). Martin Truex, Jr also ran out and fell back. Jimmie slowed down to try to eke out his gas to the finish and lost a few spots, ending up with a sixth place finish which wasn't so bad, considering.
So, the names we saw at the top of the leaderboard were ones we hadn't seen in the front all race long. Matt Kenseth won? Huh? He doesn't win fuel mileage races, especially at Pocono. Then it was Brad, Jeff, Junior and Biffle. Where did they come from?
All in all, a most satisfying weekend in every series.
What else did we learn. Well, we know Rob Kaufman is buying an interest in Chip Ganassi Racing with Felix Sabates but we have no clue how that will all shake out. The rumor is that he's taking Clint Boyer with him but where does that leave Michael Waltrip and David Ragan. We'll have to wait and see.
And it appears that Stewart-Haas is going to have the same line up in 2016 as this year with both Kurt Busch and Danica re-upping (re-ing up?)
Junior says Hendrick is slightly behind Gibbs and and Trevor Bayne says Jack Roush is years behind, well, almost everybody. When JGR was behind, it seemed that Toyota and TRD moved heaven and earth to get them up to speed. Why isn't Ford doing the same for Roush? Are they content to have only one two-car team in the top tier?
You almost have to hope that it rains a little in Watkins Glen this week since this would be the first time Cup ran in the rain. It might be sort of fun to see how teams adjust but I suspect the novelty would wear off quickly and we'd be ready to get back to the aggressive racing Watkins Glen usually provides.
Oh, and farewell and best wishes to Kenny Wallace. He is a fun part of NASCAR. I hope he still makes appearances on television even though he's retiring from racing.