Well…it seems with Texas just days away it is time to face reality and finally accept that the 4/1/12 Martinsville race was no April Fool’s joke, despite the number of fools that crowded the race stage in the final laps. What could have been Hendrick Motorsports 200th Sprint Cup win, either from the race lap leader and dominant 24 car, or by 5-time Champ, Jimmie Johnson, turned into madness and disaster for the HMS team when a caution was called for Fool of the Day, Reutimann, who had been circling the track for several laps seemingly without rhyme or reason. I won’t bother to recap the rest, it is done and over and as much as I had hoped that NASCAR was playing a grand practical joke, sadly for Jeff Gordon and his fans that was not the case.
Author Archives: Misty
After an abysmal start to the season that includes a mechanical DNF at Daytona, a team mate spurred DNF (don’t even get me started) at Bristol and a couple of mediocre finishes in Phoenix and Vegas, it was AMAZING to see Jeff Gordon’s terrific run at AutoClub Speedway this weekend. After qualifying 21st for Sunday’s race, he quickly moved up the leader board finding himself firmly in the top 5 by the time the race reached its half-way mark. The Drive to End Hunger Chevrolet was strong and Jeff was able to take positions seemingly at will. It truly was AMAZING…amazing right up until it got messy!
With rain imminent and only green flag laps, cars were reaching their fuel window and had to pit. Jeff stayed out on track the longest leading a few laps before coming down pit road for his scheduled stop. This is where it got MESSY (to say the least). After receiving the GO signal from his crew, Jeff pulled away dragging the gas man and the still engaged gas can out of the stall with him, resulting in a pass through penalty that left him a lap down in P19. Even so, his car was fast and strong; he quickly passed some lap down cars and moved up to 16th. His lap times were equal to and at some times quicker than the dominant leader, Stewart. In fact, it looked as if Jeff had a decent shot of racing his way back to the lead lap until Mother Nature intervened and opened her skies over Turn 3, bringing out the Yellow.
Now had the 24 stayed on track and taken the wave around the bleeding could have at least stopped there, but oh no! A poor decision to pit under caution (did the team not have access to the same report we in the stands had? Once the rain started it wasn’t going to let up until Monday, so there was absolutely no chance the race would go back GREEN).
Another pit stop resulted in another penalty when the tire changer lost control of the front tire and went bouncing across pit road. I sat in the stands watching in horror! I could not believe this kind of epic fail from a team of this caliber.
Sure enough within a few laps the race went Red and was shortly called due to the torrential down pour, which everyone knew was coming! Jeff finished P26, and slid two more positions in the points to 25th! I hate to be Debbie Downer, but unless this team gets it together and quick they are not likely to recover from this atrocious start to the season and may just miss the Chase and that is more than enough reason for me to mess my unmentionables!
Far and away the most amazing thing about Race 3 in Las Vegas was Jimmie Johnson’s runner-up finish after crashing in Happy Hour Saturday and having to start from the rear of the field in a backup car. Within minutes of Jimmie losing control and hitting the wall Saturday afternoon, Chad and the 48 team were unloading the backup car. Amy and I had the privilege of witnessing much of the hardwork that went into getting the car race ready – I am sure it was a long night for the 48 team, but it paid off with that awesome finish.
Now, the messy moment of the race for me probably didn’t even make it into the TV coverage, but it was a moment that brought out my potty mouth and made me bite my nails literally. I think I may even have embarrassed Amy by my exclamation! About 80 laps in, my driver was racing mid pack for P15 (I think) and a certain driver that I have had issues with before decided to go three wide into turn 1, causing my far more sensible driver to fall back a few places, where he then seemed to struggle the remainder of the day! I wish that someone would pass out my “space bubble memo” at the next Driver’s Meeting, so that my driver can maintain a safe space bubble in which he can freely race however he wants and the heck with the other 42 cars.
The Subway Fresh Fit 500 was a welcome change from the season kickoff at Daytona earlier in the week- it wasn’t rained out and red flags didn’t keep us chained to our couches for hours on end, but at the same time after the drama of Daytona this race seemed ever so ho-hum. I would have to say that I really don’t even consider the season to really be in swing until race 2 – Daytona is such a wild card and the results of that race really don’t say much about the direction the season will go.
I didn’t find any truly amazing or messy moments in this race, but there were a few things that caught my attention that I will pay attention to as the season unfolds:
* Darian Grubb bringing Denny Hamlin to Victory Lane. This pairing could be one to watch out for.
* EFI troubles for Stewart- Let’s hope this issue doesn’t become a reoccuring problem
* Jimmie/ Chad trying to rebound from a dismal Daytona and potential pts deficit (pending appeal to NASCAR).
Daytona was so crazy, Phoenix didn’t really stand much of a chance of living up to that craziness, and this fan, for one, thinks it was just the tame race she needed to regroup and pull my belts tight for the rest of the ride this season.
Pushing limits to be the best in any other field is called innovation and leads to better competition and tremendous advancements, but not in NASCAR. NASCAR says how much and how far and if the teams don’t heed there is hell to pay, or at least there is this time for the 48 team. Somehow throughout the years NASCAR has tightened its “rulebook” and standards to a point that no longer leaves room for anyone or any team to “push” the limits.
But, even worse that that, NASCAR does not seem to have consistent or predictable fines or penalties for infractions. The 48′s supposed rule violation before the Daytona 500 resulted in a dramatic penalty for the team that if not reversed through appeal by Hendrick Motorsports will make it virtually impossible for Jimmie Johnson to win a 6th championship in 2012.
Knaus’ last major violation was 5 years ago, so why issue such a steep penalty? Perhaps because of his comment last season to Jimmie at Talladega hinting at something? Well that car was inspected post race and passed. Perhaps past violations from Knaus? Did he not already serve his punishment for these? I say today’s extreme penalties were overkill by NASCAR. The car did not race – the problem with the c-post was found during pre-race inspection. Isn’t that what pre-race inspection is for?
So what should NASCAR have done? A probation for Knaus and Malec- sure, maybe even all season. Suspension for crew chief and car chief, too much for the first offense of season. Monetary fine- OK, heck double it even. Points penalty for driver and owner? Too much! Jimmie will go into Phoenix negative 23 points. As good as he can be, and like him or not, he can be good, that is a deep hole to dig out from especially without Knaus and Malec for six races.
Too often it seems NASCAR selects certain teams and incidents to use as “examples” and yet others skate by with hardly a slap.
I will say this for NASCAR’s decision, it has got some press and brought some attention to the sport (Chad Knaus was a trending topic on twitter today). So perhaps the only good that will come out of penalizing Five Time so steeply is some added attention to the sport from those that otherwise wouldn’t pay any attention at all.
Since the Shootout I had been dreading the 500. The truck race and the NW race did little to curb the knot in my tummy. The rain delay only served to further my anxiety levels and when the race finally commenced at 4 pm Pacific on Monday, I found myself at work. Now, I am blessed to work in a friendly family office that is not only cool with me watching the race but actually accommodates us by having flat screens in each office. I turn on the race and didn’t have to wait long for the inevitable to happen. Sure enough at lap 2 a big wreck erupted. Forgetting where I was, I leapt up and screeched- searching the field to see if my driver was caught up in the mayhem and then I had to go apologize and explain to my co-worker that should he hear any screams or cursing to ignore them as it was just me watching the 500. While this was just the start of the crashes and calamities that made up the Daytona 500, it was the moment when my pent up dread burst out and after that initial wreck, I was actually able to settle in and watch the race without as much trepidation.
I am glad the tandem draft is over and the “pack is back” at the super speedways – I think, but I have a feeling I am not going to get much sleep the night before the Dega races or the next Daytona race this season.
Hands down the most amazing moment of the much anticipated and long delayed (thank you very much Mother Nature) Daytona 500 was the explosive collision between Juan Pablo Montoya and the jet dryer. While certainly not an amazingly good moment- it is a moment that will go down in NASCAR history and will forever make the replay reels. From the collision, to the fire, to the massive cleanup to get the last 40 laps in, this was a truly captivating moment of the 500, but the most amazing thing is that everyone involved was able to walk away.
Personally I was secretly hoping that the race would not conclude and Blaney would have been deemed the winner- that would almost match last year’s stunning win by Bayne, but amazingly the track surface survived and Kenseth took the checkers. Despite the delays, this is a 500 to remember.
No surprise here- Jeff Gordon’s crash late in the Shootout nearly gave me a nervous breakdown. I am quite sure I didn’t breathe from the time he started rolling til he was out and standing. Even then, I was left wondering if I would have the stomach to sit through 500 miles next weekend. To paraphrase Jeff Gordon’s tweet the morning after, “Thankful for 4 safe race cars.”
These kind of moments serve to remind us all exactly what kind of risk all the drivers take each time they strap in and let’s all pray for a safe and fun season.
And on a final gratuitous fan note: Here’s to all the craziness getting out of the way for the 24 and to a winning, safe champion season!