NASCAR opened the drivers’ meeting to race fans at Las Vegas, and while it gave those fans a glimpse into what goes on behind the scenes, many drivers think NASCAR took this one one step too far. The intent of the meeting – to go over safety information or rules updates for the upcoming race, to give a few necessary warnings, and for teams to air any questions they have has become more of a media circus in recent years, where more time is spent on introducing celebrities in attendance than on making sure the teams understand their race procedures. Is it time to return to the days when only drivers and crew chiefs are privy to the meeting?
*Who… gets my shoutout of the race?*
Talk about being there at the end. We barely heard a whimper from *Denny Hamlin* all night long, but when it counted, there he was, finishing fifth. The run is made all the more impressive by the fact Hamlin lost two laps early on, involved in a Lap 10 wreck only to stay patient, work with a damaged engine and draft to perfection after earning Lucky Dogs to get those laps back. Now, it’s too early to say if new (and defending Cup champion) crew chief Darian Grubb is having that big of an impact or if Hamlin will regain the form that nearly carried him to the 2010 title himself. But if the 31-year-old can run like he did Saturday night – quietly staying out of trouble only to make some noise at the end – Hamlin could well roar back into championship contention this year. Sometimes. you don’t have to be overtly spectacular to turn heads; you just have to get it done right.
It was without a doubt an up and down season for Martin Truex Jr. and the No. 56 MWR team.
There was a lot of shuffling at the top on Sunday, but in the end, Martin Truex Jr. had what may be the quietest top 10 of all. Truex wasn’t a contender for the win, but he had a good, solid car, stayed out of trouble, and got a great eighth-place finish when it counted. Can’t argue with that, especially when the driver has scored three straight top-10 results for the first time in two years with Michael Waltrip Racing. Just how long has this drought been for Truex? Longer than you think. The last time he had three straight runs of 10th or better was during the final three season-ending races of 2007.
They don’t call Dover the Monster Mile for nothing. Even though most of the drivers were kind to each other on Sunday, the track wasn’t so gracious, and its walls took a bite off several cars, including those of Greg Biffle, JJ Yeley and Mike Bliss (twice). The track also had the last laugh in the race outcome, changing just enough late to keep the best team of the day out of Victory Lane. The same could be said for its impact on the Chase, relegating several contenders to mid-pack when they just couldn’t get a handle on the concrete surface. This monster is a mean one.
There are two sides to every story, and this week’s “huh?” actually goes to both sides of the same issue: pit road timing. After Jeff Gordon was beaten off pit road by Brad Keselowski on the final stop, he complained that Keselowski had taken advantage of a somewhat antiquated system of timing the cars’ average time between marked segments on pit road rather than by actual speed at any given point.
Cinderella was dressed as the Lady in Black in Darlington Saturday night as Regan Smith scored the first win of his Sprint Cup career..
By Richmond, Martin Truex Jr. has suffered through more bad luck in eight races than Jimmie Johnson does over an entire NASCAR season.
Two seasons diverged at Richmond and both roads ended up being followed by a number of teams in the Cup garage. Much was learned this Saturday night.
This week, here’s a sneak peek at what they all were thinking following the Aaron’s 499 at Talladega Superspeedway.