Jack Roush’s cars are often considered the favorites to win races at Michigan, but it was his truck that found victory lane this weekend. Former road-race star Colin Braun may not have been at Le Mans this week, but passing Kyle Busch in the closing laps to win his first Truck Series race was worth it. The win was Roush’s 50th career Truck victory and puts Braun on the same list as Martin, Carl Edwards, Greg Biffle and Kurt Busch among others as drivers to win for Roush’s truck program.
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.
Speaking of young guns, I’ve heard a couple of people blame Joey Logano for the late-race contact with Kyle Busch that essentially gave the win to the No. 88 team. I’ve been a Logano critic since the hype machine first fired up, but there is absolutely no validity to those thoughts that the contact was all on him. Busch was restarting with a tire going down and when he drove it off into turn 1, he had to get off the gas to not lose the car… forcing Logano to get into the back of him. That left the move as nothing more than a racing accident… it’s that simple.
iRacing has joined the ranks of NASCAR-sanctioned series… what? If you missed the memo, it came out this week that the racing simulator which pits fans against technologically savvy drivers like Dale Earnhardt Jr. will begin in 2010. Now, the NASCAR purist in me is wondering why the sanctioning body is even bothering getting involved with this project, but the “Playstation generation” and former Papyrus: NASCAR Racing 2003 online competitor in me thinks this is absolutely awesome. Since Papyrus disbanded years ago, NASCAR simulator fans everywhere have had no real unified place to race in cyberspace.
A solid run for Circle Bar Racing on paper in Friday’s 200-mile race at Lowe’s didn’t necessarily translate to harmony across the team after the race. Battling for the 11th position coming off turn 4 on the final lap, rookie James Buescher got into the door of teammate Rick Crawford and continued to shove him down the track, eventually knocking him into the grass at the stripe. Crawford was not happy with the phenom, offering a few choice words for the driver of the No. 10 who also participates in a monthly driver diary for Frontstretch.
In the same week that Manny Ramirez was suspended 50 games by Major League Baseball for violating the sport’s substance abuse policy, NASCAR one-upped the stick-and-ball sport by suspending former NASCAR race winner Jeremy Mayfield indefinitely for the same violation. Mayfield claims that the combination of prescribed medication and an over the counter drug triggered the negative result; but in today’s era of positive tests in other sports and half-hearted and often bogus excuses, you have to take his with a grain of salt.
On a magical night for NASCAR’s brightest young star, Kyle Busch blew out 24 candles and picked up a Sprint Cup trophy in the same day, becoming only the second driver to accomplish such a feat. The birthday win puts him in a league with only Cale Yarborough, but its significance is even greater when you look at the numbers. At exactly 24 years of age, the flamboyant Vegas native is now the youngest driver ever to record 15 Sprint Cup wins, and is at a total of 50 victories across the sport’s top-three series. Fans have grown accustomed of seeing the No. 18 in victory lane, but there comes a point you have to take a step and realize how magical of a ride Busch has been on over the past two years and throughout his young career.
Like every single person watching the FOX telecast or sitting in the stands at the 2.66-mile superspeedway that has produced some of the scariest incidents in NASCAR history, I too held my breath waiting for the window net to drop on the No. 99 car after Carl Edwards went sailing into the fence. But as soon as Edwards climbed out of his machine and sprinted to the stripe Ricky Bobby-style, my emotions quickly turned from relief to anger.
For all the talk of anti-climactic races this season, NASCAR was fortunate to have an exciting finish this weekend. Sure, there were long green-flag runs throughout the race, and clean air provided such an advantage that Dale Earnhardt Jr. couldn’t compete without it – but there were several moments that made this finish interesting.
How fitting is it that Jeff Gordon’s 47-race winless streak comes to an end at a track where he’s been winless for his entire career? Gordon was strong for much of the race, but it was a combination of a good pit stop by the No. 24 bunch and yet another poor stop by the No. 99 team that led to the coveted clean air needed for Gordon to pull away for the victory. The win may have been a long time coming, but it certainly wasn’t a surprise with the way the No. 24 team has been running this season.