You just never know what’s going to happen in NASCAR.
As a fan, I hold to that hopeful mantra on a week-to-week basis, praying for the unusual and quirky turns of our sport to draw my attention. Despite a promising start to the season with a little no-name called Trevor Bayne winning the Daytona 500, the ensuing weeks have been not much more than so many races with fairly exciting finishes.
I will admit that there have been nice stories, such as Jeff Gordon making it back to victory lane, Carl Edwards doing a backflip for us, Kyle Busch doing what he does so well. Perhaps not all nice stories. And even this week we were treated to a green-white-checker finish with (Did you rub your eyes?) Regan Smith driving away, brushing the wall and legitimately winning his first Cup race in the Southern 500.
But still, I wasn’t dumbfounded. This was believable. After all, that black No. 78 has been lurking in and out of the top 15 for a good portion of the last six months, or so.
Nonetheless, I sit here with my jaw still dangling, because it just ain’t everyday that you see an unmanned stock car get punted down pit road, slamming into pit wall as crew members scurry to avoid it. That was…unexpected, more or less.
I expected Kevin Harvick to hunt down Kyle Busch after the checkered flag dropped. After all, it was fairly obvious the No. 18 intentionally hooked the No. 29 on the track after some three-wide rubbing. I wasn’t terribly surprised when Busch tried to avoid a confrontation and swerved back onto the track after the race, or sit there waiting for the game of chicken to commence. I waited, with a bit of impatience, for Harvick to pull his helmet off and head over to the No. 18 to get his pound of flesh.
I just wasn’t expecting Kyle Busch to do a hit and run on pit road.
Neither were a small army of crew members and officials. Men jumped as the black No. 29 crumpled its nose against the wall. Heads turned. Arms waved. People yelled and pointed. This was certainly a surprise.
Crew members expect a certain amount of havoc when they sign on as part of an over the wall gang. With up to 43 cars pitting in a 30-second window, there will be a plethora of lugnuts scudding off the cement and into your shins, gasoline splashing over your firesuit, sparks flying, gas cans getting jammed in the filler, forgotten wrenches spinning across the road, tires bouncing every which way. It’s a minefield!
Heck, the front tire carrier for the No. 27 car, Eric Pringle, discovered this the hard way on Saturday night as Paul Menard started to pull out of his pits before Pringle was done pulling tape off the grill. Pringle was pushed a few feet down pit road on his back before the No. 27 came to a stop.
That kind of mayhem is what the hard card holding members of NASCAR signed on for. In the heat of the race, it is possible that parts of or possibly entire cars will make unexpected appearances in random portions of the track. Everyone wears helmets, gloves and tough uniforms designed to help protect the fragile crewman or official. Your head is on a swivel, not so much to watch the race, as to prepare for any incoming missiles. This is serious business.
What pit-road employees did not take out insurance on is two bullheaded idiots who decided that racing hard on the track wasn’t enough. Harvick was looking for a fight. Busch was intent on running away from it, if at all possible. Apparently neither of them paused long enough to let their overtaxed brain cells calculate what the results might be if they gave in to their inner animal.
As I said, my jaw is still dangling at the sheer stupidity of the moment.
You just never know what might happen next in NASCAR. You think they might bring out a boxing ring to take around to the tracks? It might just save a few innocent bystanders from the wrath of the intellectually challenged.
About the author
The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.
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