Who… gets my shoutout of the race?
There are a lot of candidates this week. Honorable mentions go to Jeff Burton, Tony Stewart and AJ Allmendinger, but the big shoutout goes to Kurt Busch, who finished third in what he said afterward was a 10th-place car. But what really impressed me was the way Busch raced Jimmie Johnson at the end, moving Johnson up the track in a textbook-perfect bump-and-run, which slid Johnson out of the way just enough for Busch to get by without wrecking the No. 48 in the process. There was a time when Busch would have not raced as cleanly, so kudos to him for doing it right. I hope every young driver in the field –and a few veterans as well, watches how Busch and Johnson handled the closing laps. THAT is what makes great racing and great finishes.
What… was THAT?
There were more people in the Nationwide Series Garage on Friday and Saturday than in the Sprint Cup area. Who were they? The mob following Danica Patrick. At one point, there had to be at least 100 people crowded around her hauler. I felt sorry for her and for the No. 28 team parked next door trying to work around the inconsiderate crowd. Dale Earnhardt Jr. could have strolled through the NNS garage naked and not gotten so much as a glance. But I don’t get the hype. To put it in perspective a bit, her IRL stats are pretty much on par with Casey Mears’s Cup stats. Now imagine if Mears hopped series to the IRL and got that much hype. Sounds ridiculous, right? It would still be just as ridiculous if Mears posed on the hood of his car wearing next to nothing-which seems to be part of the reason for Danicamania. It sure isn’t her driving.
Where… did the polesitter wind up?
Frustrated. And in a steaming heap. Juan Pablo Montoya slipped a bit from his top starting spot as the race wore on, but he was headed toward a top 10-15 finish when he took exception to being held up by the lapped car of Reed Sorenson while Montoya was racing for position on the lead lap. Montoya voiced his displeasure by reminding Sorenson that rubbing is racing, and Sorenson didn’t appreciate the memo. He turned right while Montoya was trying to turn left, sending Montoya into the wall and 34th place.
When… will I be loved?
This week it’s Sorenson who should be wondering where the love is, as he put Montoya in the wall in the closing laps, costing Montoya a finish and possibly Burton the race as he turned up the track into Montoya in what certainly looked like a deliberate move (see above). Between that and being outrun nearly all weekend by the guy he replaced, Sorenson might need a hug or something.
Why… the pajamas?
I observed an interesting new fashion trend, if it can be called fashion, around NHMS this season. The new look? Pajama pants in loud colors with driver numbers and sponsors all over them. The pants-wearers seemed to be an even split between men and women. I know fans love to support their drivers, but really, keep the jammies for the bedroom!
How… come nobody stepped up?
After multiple avoidable wrecks last week at Sonoma and the various veiled (and not as veiled) threats of retaliation that followed, it was a surprise to sit in the drivers’ meeting and hear not one word from NASCAR or one single competitor about respecting each other. A few years ago, if Mike Helton hadn’t have said it, a veteran driver would have. Now, not one person spoke up at a track where two drivers have been killed in crashes. Complacency is never a good thing. Complacency about this may be a reflection of the “me” attitude of society, but it’s not a pretty one.