NASCAR Race Weekend Central

5 Points to Ponder: Nashville/Pocono 2009 Edition

Kyle Busch is about as “Rock ‘N Roll” as Clay Aiken

Add Saturday night’s guitar-smashing episode to the long list of reasons why a number of NASCAR fans absolutely hate Kyle Busch. The victory lane celebration left musicians everywhere cringing at the sight of a custom Gibson Les Paul being smashed into oblivion a la Pete Townshend and left NASCAR fans in awe at the sight of a driver smashing a trophy seconds after winning it. I was like the many fans who couldn’t wait to read what everybody was saying about this seemingly classless act the next morning, but after sleeping on it and reading Sam Bass’s (the artist who designed the guitar) comments I have since softened my stance. Sure, Busch could have thought of a less dramatic way to make sure his team all got a piece of the trophy, but that’s not Shrub’s style. In the end, I look at this way:

1) Busch’s intentions were to give a piece of his trophy to each of his team members – a nice gesture.

2) Sam Bass told reporters that as soon as the two got together, Busch told him that he meant no disrespect – an honest apology.

3) Bass was not upset with Busch after the two talked – if Bass has no problem with Busch, and he would be the one to have the problem, then I have no problem with him.

I’m not saying I agree with what Busch did, I don’t. There were 42 other drivers who would have done anything to hold that guitar. But, with that said, give the guy a break… there were no hurt feelings.

Double-file restarts a hit

It was one of those no-brainers. As soon as we got the official word that the Cup Series would feature “Shootout Style” double-file restarts, everyone realized that it would liven up the racing. Sure, the whole wave around for the lap down cars created some confusion, but all-in-all, every restart was exciting. There was side by side and three-wide racing for about 10 laps before the field would eventually string out over VERY long green-flag runs. It was cool to see the new rule go into effect at a track with a frontstretch as wide as Pocono’s, but the thought of doubling up cars at Martinsville or Bristol sounds even more entertaining.

TNT Takes Over

This week’s race saw the first of six races to be broadcast by TNT, after taking over from FOX, and based off of first impressions, I was pleasantly surprised. They showed a lot of side-by-side racing throughout the field and handled the entire late-race fuel mileage run perfectly, including telemetry on how eventual race winner Tony Stewart was saving gas. There were no furry creatures, only “RaceBuddy” which actually enhanced my raceday experience. More about the broadcast will be covered in Phil Allaway’s TV critique here on Frontstretch tomorrow, but based on immediate reactions, Frontstretch LIVE BLOG viewers voted unanimously (100%) that the TNT broadcast topped those done by FOX.

Kligerman’s wild day

For readers who frequent this column, you may have noticed that I have in the past mentioned developmental drivers who have caught my eye. As a guy who has not followed the ARCA Re/Max Series that closely this season, I’ll admit I’d never heard the name Parker Kligerman until this weekend’s race at Pocono. I wasn’t tuning in to see some phenom, he just simply caught my eye. The 18-year-old Penske Racing developmental driver went toe-to-toe with Joey Logano in the mid-part of the race and eventually got by and held off Logano before running into tire problems… this all happened on the same day as his prom. Kligerman is a former open-wheel standout who has already found success in ARCA with one win this season, and he currently sits second in points, although he’s buried on the Penske Racing developmental driver depth chart behind Justin Allgaier. He may be a few years away from competing regularly in NASCAR’s national touring series’, but from what I saw, he’s definitely got the talent.

Frontstretch LIVE BLOG comment of the race

Each week, I will further expand on some of the more interesting fan comments from our weekly Frontstretch LIVE Cup race blog. Here’s one of the more interesting comment’s from this week’s blog:

“Sorry, Hendrick – swapping crew chiefs can’t make your driver pit correctly.” – Stephen, on yet another Dale Earnhardt Jr. pit problem

I don’t know if he practices pit stops with the crew at the Hendrick headquarters during the week or not, but this is really getting out of hand. It seems every week that something goes wrong for the pilot of the No. 88 team on pit road. I know the crew chief change was a step in the right direction, but I believe there’s a direct correlation between Earnhardt’s pit-road miscues and lack of success on the track.

P.S.: Our live blog pops up again next Sunday as we break down the racing action from Michigan! Come join the fun!

Notes to Ponder

  • SHR’s quick success: I’m sure a lot of ink will be used this week on Stewart’s win, but Stewart-Haas Racing’s immediate success – even with Hendrick support – is remarkable.
  • Young guns at Nashville: Although Busch won the guitar and Carl Edwards finished third, they were the lone Cup drivers competing in this week’s Nationwide race at Nashville. Instead, we had guys like Stephen Leicht and Brad Coleman. This is why I wish the Nationwide series would run more standalone races.
  • Another Truex: Ryan Truex (brother of Martin Truex Jr.) won this week’s Camping World East race at Watkins Glen.
  • Continued solid runs: Shout-outs to David Reutimann, Marcos Ambrose and Sam Hornish Jr. for continuing solid seasons with top 10s this weekend.
  • No fourth team for Penske: Despite rumors that Penske Racing would start a fourth team for Allgaier, Roger Penske said this week he has no plans to do so.

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