Before we get into Team 14 and their run- we need to address the tire situation. I know that Goodyear claims that the teams were at fault for the tires but I have trouble with that. Why? Because multiple teams experienced issues across manufacturer platforms. Every 25 laps or so there were a rash of tire failures. To me that speaks of an issue with the tire compound. Yes I know that Goodyear brought the same compound as they brought last year and that there wasn’t a problem before- but the cars have a different rules package that affect down force this year. The engineers at Goodyear maybe should have thought of that and either brought a different compound or at the very least issued some sort of bulletin to the teams.
Let me tell you why I care about tire failures beyond the fact that they are dangerous: Auto Club is consistently ragged on for being a boring race- that it should have it’s race taken away and given to another track. This year, from my seat, the racing was GOOD! The cars were moving around and passing and it was just exciting. Many drivers were able to recover from problems and make it back up towards the front (I am looking at you Jeff Gordon and Tony Stewart) over the course of a race. To have that interrupted so much by cautions due to tire failures was FRUSTRATING for me as a fan. That is not fun- to watch your driver over come something like a wickedly handling car (Tony Stewart- which we will take about later) or a pit road speeding penalty (Jeff Gordon) and make it back towards the front.
Anyway- in the middle of my frustration at the situation while I was watching the race I tweeted out: Hi-I’m a Goodyear tire. 25 Laps? Boom Confetti. #NASCAR #BoomConfetti in the vain of this Jimmie Johnson/Lowes commercial. Well Kevin, our go-to graphics guy and occasionally contributor, took my tweet and made a funny:
LOVE that! Thanks Kevin!
Now that the tire issue is out of my system- let’s talk actual racing and Tony Stewart/Team 14′s run on Sunday! While I was impressed with the run the team had last weekend at Bristol- I have to say that I was even MORE impressed with them during this Auto Club race. This team is definitely starting to fire on all cylinders and coming together. What am I talking about? Well consider this: From the outset of the race driver of the #14 Rush Truck Centers Chevy was loose according to the driver/crew chief communications I was hearing. This went from bad to worse when suddenly Tony, who had worked himself into 15th or so at the time suddenly started falling back hard. I thought- oh no- is he nursing a failing tire now? He was a little quiet on the radio so I was like what is going on. The he comes on the radio and says he heard something that sounded kind of like a tire failure but it felt more like it did in Vegas- when he had the failure that they discovered. He was sure his tires were okay- but something was really wrong with the car because it went from loose to evil (my words not his). My heart sank- Vegas was not a great run for Tony. During a commercial break (of course it happened during a commercial break- most of the cautions did) he ended up losing it and spinning- but hit NOTHING and nursed the car into the pits. I heard Chad tell him before he got to the pits that they would look at it real good when he came in for more tires.
They pitted and ended up going a lap down and coming out of the pits one lap down in 43rd. Yes- you read that right- LAST place and A LAP down. Urg. BUT the team did not give up and neither did our driver. 10 laps later he was able to not only work his way up the field a bit but thanks to a tire failure caution get his lap back! It was only up from there as Tony kept relaying the issues with the car and Chad and the crew worked hard to get it to be where Tony wanted it and Tony climbed slowly back up the field. Yee haw! After a very late (as in 3 laps to go late) race caution due to Jimmie Johnson cutting a tire (Boom! Confetti!) Tony brought the car in- and Chad called for a two tire stop. That meant that Stewart came out of the pits and restarted the race in third place and was holding his own after the start of the green-white-checker. Let’s just say I jumped up off the couch just in case! With several hungry drivers out there- it was a crazy finish and Tony finished fifth- in the top five for the second week in a row. Tony is now 17th in the Sprint Cup Series standings! Woohoo!
Race winner was Kyle Busch, rookie Kyle Larson finished 2nd and Kyle’s brother and our Stewart-Haas teammate Kurt Busch finished 3rd!
Notes About Auto Club:
1. Wow Aric Armirola had some not so nice words about Brian Scott after they got together and caused a spin. I am sure that was just emotion- it didn’t look like anything intentional.
2. How about that Kyle Larsen? That kid has it (egads that makes me sound like a geezer). Won the nationwide race- and got a top five in the cup race! As I said before the season started- Kyle’s my choice for Rookie of the Year…come on Kyle let’s go!
3. So I am doing a couple of NASCAR fantasy teams this year (I know- I got out of it for awhile) and my luck has not changed. I am in the bottom in each of my teams. Sigh. One of these days.
Gratuitous Tony Stewart Pictures (it’s a two-fer today):
#14in14 #GoTonyGo #StandWithSmoke
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