Thursday, April 19, 2018

Short Trackin' at Bristol


Congratulations again to  Kyle Busch and his fans. He's not who I wanted to win but it's not because I dislike Kyle, I just don't want anyone to win multiple races. (Unless, it is Jimmie, of course.  I admit it - ha!ha! - I'm partisan!)

This was my favorite race so far this season, despite it being kind of a mixed up mess due to the weather. I like the intensity of Bristol. I enjoy races where drivers and crew chiefs have to take tire strategy into account. I appreciate a track that changes frequently so teams don't know what they will be facing from one lap to the next. I like bump-and-runs and slide-jobs when drivers get up-close and personal better than the aerodynamics of "taking the air off somebody's nose."

There were a lot of outstanding performances at Bristol. The kids finally seem to be catching up and I believe they make the racing more thrilling. Ryan Blaney dominated the Sunday portion of the race until he got wrecked. Kyle Larson looked like his old exciting self until Kyle Busch bumped him out of the way and beat him to the checkered flag. Still, he made a terrific save when he spun. His car pirouetted like a ballerina, then, without hitting anything, settled back pointed in the right direction.

Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. looked really good and Bubba Wallace Jr. was masterful, leading his first laps in the Cup series. (Incidentally, the first African American ever to do so.)

I felt better after the race because Jimmie and Alex Bowman both got top five finishes. Maybe Hendrick is finally getting a grip on the new Camaro.

And speaking of car bodies, Ford will be bringing the Mustang to Cup next year! Hurray! Camaro and Mustang are the two cars Chevrolet and Ford should run in a racing series. Now if only Dodge would bring back one of its muscle cars. I don't really have any feelings one way or the other about Toyota. Does Toyota even have a real sports car?

I have been voting for Chase Elliott for the All-Star Race, although, there are several I wouldn't mind to see get it. Nascar has an abundance of new young talent, making it hard to choose just one favorite. Maybe NASCAR should have a Primary All-Star Race and a Secondary All-Star Race for those who are good but didn't quite qualify in the first go-round.

As has become usual, we had a plethora of pit road penalties. Kevin Harvick, once again, got caught up in an air gun problem and he's pissed about it. These guns are now being handed out by NASCAR and according to Kevin, they are inferior to the ones the teams built themselves. No one else seems to be having as much trouble with them.

Bristol was a very satisfying race and I look for more of the same at a short track Saturday night at Richmond.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

Duel Between Two Masters of the Track


Congratulations to Kyle Busch on his first win of the season. That was an exciting ending between two of the most talented drivers in NASCAR chasing each other to the finish line. They certainly had different races. Kyle's journey to the checkered flag was relatively uneventful. He never put a tire wrong - just a solidly executed race.

Meanwhile, poor Kevin Harvick was plagued by trouble on pit road. He had to pass cars like a madman to get to second place but in the end, he just didn't have enough oomph to catch and pass Kyle.

It was fun to watch even though as usual none of my guys made it to the front at the end. I always cheer for Jimmie first, then any Hendrick driver (Byron did at least come in tenth), then Kyle Larson and Jamie McMurray. I rooted for Erik Jones and Bubba Wallace and Ryan Blaney and Aric Almirola and maybe a few more so it's not as if I didn't give fate plenty of options but one by one they went down.

I'm beginning to think the Racing Gods have put a hex on me and it is bleeding down to my drivers.

Jimmie has had such misfortune this year - poor qualifying and when he does get a halfway decent starting spot, they get sent to the back because of problems with inspection. He's not the only one, of course. It seems to be becoming more of a problem for teams as the season goes on. When the 48 is  moving along in the race, they either blow a tire or get wrecked.

Lots of wrecks in this race that pared down the competition. Besides Jimmie, there was Hamlin and Truex and Larson and Keselowski and Newman and Almirola and  more. None of them seemed to me to be caused by reckless driving. It's just the speed and level of difficulty of Texas.

After the race, Chase Elliott's team was penalized 20 owner points and 20 champion points and losing their crew chief for two weeks - something to do with a misconfiguration of the window. That seems like an especially harsh punishment but I often feel that way about NASCAR's rules.

Well, we know that the NASCAR Cup series will be the Monster Energy Series again next year but they said they'd be unlikely to stay on after that so NASCAR will once again be hunting for a series sponsor.

All the rules have been changed once again for the All Star Race. I didn't read them very closely because I knew I wouldn't understand them anyway. Aerodynamics is definitely not one of my areas of expertise! There will be restrictor plates for the first time at Charlotte. What difference that will make I don't know. Some experts have said the race will be more competitive.

But before that, it's Bristol, Baby!

Monday, April 2, 2018

Clint Throws Off King Kong!


Well, my NASCAR season hasn't started out so hot. I missed part of a race (can't remember which one - Kevin Harvick won) because I forgot to set my clock forward and by the time I tuned it was a third over.

I missed Sonoma entirely because Fox had a glitch. Ironic, because I hate Fox and wouldn't care if all their stations went defunct...except for NASCAR. But that was the one I couldn't get. Figures. I probably could have live-streamed it but since I fell and hurt my eye, it is even hard to distinguish individual cars and read the crawl on the large screen.

I had mixed emotions about Clint Bowyer winning in Martinsville. I always liked Clint until he was such a whiny brat the year he was with a lesser team. Instead of putting his heart into helping HScott Motorsports improve like Kurt Busch did at Furniture Row, he sulked and acted like he was too good for the team. And he knew he only had a year to wait before going to Stewart-Haas.

Still, how can you not be happy for someone who breaks a 190-race losing streak (third longest in NASCAR)? That wasn't just a monkey on his back but King Kong. And he did do a hell of a burn out.

This was supposed to be the year the newbies took on the older drivers. So far, experience is proving to be the more valuable quantity. Austen Dillon, who won the Daytona 500, can't really be considered a young'un anymore. Other than that, the wise old drivers have won them all. And of the teams, Stewart-Haas looks to be the most advanced.

I hope Hendrick and I, heck, the Chevrolets in general, can get off the dime together next week at Texas. 

I voted for my Hall of Fame nominees. You could vote for five but I only voted for two - Jeff Gordon and Alan Kulwicki. I haven't been around NASCAR long enough to be well versed on the careers of the older guys so I'll let people who have more knowledge make those choices.

I got into an argument with a friend of mine who works for Lowe's. I told him I guessed I'd start going to Menards after this year because Lowe's is leaving Jimmie and NASCAR. My friend tried to make excuses - "their financial situation isn't as flush as it used to be" - "it costs millions to field a championship quality car" - blah, blah, blah. I wasn't buying any of it. Lowe's made Jimmie and Jimmie made Lowe's. They should stick together to the end.

I wonder who his new sponsor will be?

I'm really looking forward to seeing the race on the Roval road course at Charlotte this year.

No matter how much I may gripe about this or that in NASCAR, I absolutely hate off-weekends!