Who… gets my shoutout of the race?
Do you think Team Red Bull is sorry yet? While Scott Speed tangled with Kyle Busch at Martinsville and finished 39th, the man he replaced, AJ Allmendinger, had another impressive finish for Richard Petty Motorsports, bringing the No. 44 home in ninth place. Someone needs to step up and sponsor this guy. It may have taken him a while to get the hang of stock cars, but now that he has, top-10 finishes won’t surprise people for much longer.
What… could be better than a good short-track race?
I know that many fans prefer the action at Bristol, but I prefer the grind at Martinsville. It reminds me a lot more of my local short tracks, White Mountain Motorsports Park back home and Hickory Motor Speedway here in North Carolina. Martinsville, like those venues, is more intimate than Thunder Valley seems to be. Whichever track is your preference, though, they are tracks of a type that NASCAR needs to have more of, especially in the Nationwide Series. It wasn’t too long ago that tracks like South Boston and Myrtle Beach were staples of that series. Everyone loves the short tracks, yet NASCAR adds dates to the big 1.5-milers that have no character and no excitement. How sad.
Where… did the defending race winner wind up?
After what just might have been the best finish of the year, Denny Hamlin came up just short of a repeat, finishing second to Jimmie Johnson. Hamlin and Johnson battled for the last 60 laps for the grandfather clock. And people wonder why fans want more short tracks on the schedule?
When… will I be loved?
Once again, it was Goodyear humming the tune as tire failures accounted for several spins and issues all day long, relegating drivers like Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch to finishes lower in the pecking order than they anticipated. While conserving tires and a good strategy should always be part of a race, tire issues shouldn’t mar a good one. Goodyear still has plenty of homework to do.
Why… can’t I decide if the pit penalty on Kenseth was a good call or ridiculously over the line?
Sometimes I think NASCAR steps way over the line. But I can’t decide if this was one of them or not. On one hand, the escaped tire in question never left the pit-box area, crossing the back line into the previous pit, where it was stopped by one of Johnson’s crewmen. The intent of the rule was to keep the tires off pit road. On the other hand, Kenseth’s crewman did roll the tire back instead of carrying it, and technically did not have control of it, which is what the rule (one I generally agree with) states. It could have been a safety issue if Johnson had been pitting at the same time, but Kenseth was all alone at the time. Tough call.
How… come we need to see the Chase cutoff in March?
Is it just me, or is this a tad overdone? I popped over to NASCAR.com for the post-race standings, and it struck me that they have been hyping the Chase standings since Daytona. They wanted a stick-and-ball playoff system, but have you ever seen the NBA or NFL announce, after the first game of the season, who would be in the playoffs if the season ended today? Of course not, because nobody cares. Does anyone honestly think that David Reutimann will make the Chase? And it’s March, why do they think anyone cares?