Monday, February 20, 2017
Enjoyed The Appetizer, Now For The Entree
Well, that was fun! Actually, restrictor plate racing is my least favorite kind but after this long dry spell, I'll happily take anything I can get that puts cars on the track. The Clash didn't turn out so well for Jimmie - two spinouts - in one he took out Kurt Busch and in the other, he took out himself. Both spins took place at the same place on the track and they seemed to happen without any help. Oh, well, there only one direction to go from there.
It didn't turn out so great for Jimmie but Alex Bowman, Chase Elliott, Daniel Suarez and Chris Buescher all finished in the top ten so the kids are looking good. I was glad to see Danica come in fourth. I would so love to see 2017 be a good year for her. My other one for whom I'm rooting a little bit extra is Kyle Larson. I really like that kid.
It looks like Stewart Haas is going to be just fine despite all the changes they had to cope with during the off-season. They came out of the box fast. I notice Clint Bowyer is back to being his usual jovial self since he feels like he's in a competitive car again.
Once again, the Gibbs cars were heavily into teamwork and it looked like it was going to pay off for them until Joey Logano busted up their party. In the end, it turned out that the JGR car who was least tied to his team ended up ahead of the rest of them. I understand why they do it (they aren't the only ones) and it can be a positive strategy but I prefer the every-man-for-himself style of racing. At least, the points to be given after each section this year will probably put an end to hanging out in the back for the majority of the race.
So that was the Clash. Then we had qualifying for the front row and it will be Hendrick cars in one and two. Chase Elliott on the pole. He went to the top fairly early on and his time held up all the way through. Junior was right behind him. It had to feel good to perform so well after seven months of being out of the car.
I read that Junior said he and Mr. Hendrick are going to hold off talking contract for a couple of months until Junior feels confident he's 100 percent. After seeing the kind of inconvenience it causes the entire company when the main driver is absent from the team, he doesn't want to put HMS through that again. So they'll take their time making a firm decision until they are sure about his health. Smart thinking.
A lot of fans huffed and puffed about Richard Petty saying he wished Junior had just let racing go but I didn't sense any ill will in that whatsoever, just concern. The King remembers how many drivers sacrificed their health to stay behind the wheel. Back then they had to. They couldn't afford to retire. That's not a problem with any of today's drivers. But I think Junior is approaching the whole situation with caution and commonsense.
I thought Junior and Jeff made a great pair in the broadcast booth so I imagine if Dale wants to go into television whenever he retires, there will be a place for him.
Thursday, the Duels and then next Sunday, the Great American Race. The Clash is really just a tease, an appetizer before the full meal deal. In the Dayton 500, we'll have enough time to see who really got their stuff together over the off-season. Someone will get a head start on points. I expect it will mostly be the usual suspects but you never know when someone will pop out of the box and perform above expectations.