Last weekend at Kansas Speedway, the new black surface was indicative of the black cloud that hung over most drivers’ heads as they loaded their beaten and battered racecars back into their haulers—including race winner Matt Kenseth. At least _someone_ was happy after that race, because no one else was.
I can’t say I was altogether surprised at first. I figured we’d have a few crazy things happen throughout the race—it was a Chase race after all and we have three or four guys who are either in it or who are trying desperately to get within range of the leaders. But a wreckfest? That sort of thing is more expected at places like Bristol or Martinsville. Kansas is considered one of the most boring tracks on the schedule—two dates or not—so there weren’t really high expectations going in.
Which brings us to our first question:
_Do you think Kansas will be a “wild card” race in the Chase from here on out?_
Um, let me think about this….NO! It was a new racetrack and no one seemed to quite know what to expect. Add in the fact that the Goodyear boulders, I mean tires, weren’t holding together very well on the right front and you had a recipe for disaster. It happens.
These guys are in the Sprint Cup Series for a reason, though. They’re the best of the best, and I don’t just mean the drivers. Next time around, the teams will have a notebook full of information and will have a pretty general idea of what to expect when they return to the track in the spring.
After a couple more rounds, Kansas will be back to being Kansas.
_Should Dale Earnhardt Jr. have sat out the rest of the season? It just seems like there would be a safety precaution when it comes to an injury like this._
Every single injury is different and this fact rings true especially true with concussions. You can’t just generalize a head injury like that. It’s astonishing that he even came forward, even though he admittedly did so after a scare at Talladega that could have made things so much worse.
Even if he is the most popular driver, I don’t think NASCAR would let him come back if they even suspected there might be a problem. They’d rather have him sit out a few races than possibly not coming back at all because of permanent brain damage.
Dr. Jerry Petty is the doctor who cleared Earnhardt to race and is a doctor that NASCAR trusts. Additionally, Earnhardt ran 123 laps at Gresham Motorsports Park with no issues on Monday. It sounds to me like he’s good to go. If NASCAR, Dr. Petty, and those around him say he’s good to go, I’d say don’t worry about his situation. He’ll be fine from here on out, and so will the other drivers.
I do think, however, that NASCAR needs to look at what happened in _both_ incidents—the Kansas test and Talladega—and see what they can do to prevent it in the future. That’s if they haven’t already. This was a wake-up call, I believe, for those who have become complacent about safety in this sport. Improvement is obviously still needed.
_Why would Finch stiff Regan Smith like that?! Does Allmendinger really deserve that ride? I don’t think so!_
Easy there. James Finch made the decision to keep A.J. Allmendinger because of the camaraderie that has developed with the team the last couple of weeks while Smith filled in for Dale Earnhardt Jr. That concussion really messed up the driver lineups for the rest of the year, and for now that leaves Smith the odd man out.
I wouldn’t worry too much about Smith, though. He’ll finish the last two races in the Sprint Cup Series for Phoenix Racing _and_ make his debut with Junior Motorsports in the Nationwide Series in the season finale at Homestead. He has a bright future ahead of him.
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