Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Another Bridesmaid's Bouquet
That was the most fun race of the year so far in my opinion. There were lead changes and passes and lots of hard racing back in the pack and a perfect slide job (Chase) and in the end, it was a gutty strategy call that won the race. Ryan Newman broke a 127-race losing streak when Luke Lambert kept him out on old tires. He got a good restart, held off his pursuers and brought it home for the checkered flag.
Ryan isn't one of my most favorite drivers but I always like to see someone who has struggled end up in Victory Lane. Same with Richard Childress Racing, who had gone almost as long. Even if Newman isn't one of my top drivers, I admire him as a person because of the farm he maintains to rescue animals. I know all the drivers have foundations but the Rescue Ranch is personal for Ryan. He puts his heart and soul and his own hands into it. So, good on you Ryan and your crew chief too for whom Phoenix was his first Cup win.
Once again, Kyle Larson came in second - for the third time in a row. I know he wants to win and I want him to but he has the points lead and that ain't too shabby. You can't get that many second place finishes without catching a break that results in a win soon.
I know I write about "the kids" every week but that's because they are doing such a terrific job - Kyle, Chase, Ryan and now lets add Erik Jones to that list too. (I think Suarez will be coming along as he gets a little more experience too.)
The hard feelings between Kyle B and Joey appear to be over, at least for now. Of course, they weren't close on the track during most of the race. I expect Coach might have had a little "come to Jesus" meeting with Kyle to settle him down but on the other hand, Joe understands temperamental athletes so it was probably a relatively low-key sermon.
Jimmie finally at least finished in the top ten. Junior's run of bad luck continued. Chase is definitely the star in the Hendrick stable right now. That probably won't last. I expect the others to join him but that's the way it is now.
So far, in 2017, the manufacturers are fairly close to parity. Ford leads with 146 points. Chevy is only two points behind with 144 and Toyota has 137, 9 points behind the leader. I like to see all the manufacturers being competitive. I worry that they'll get discourage and bail on NASCAR if they fall too far behind. Having said that, I wish Dodge would come back. I miss them. They have more of a muscle car image than any of the others, at least, for someone my age.