I am a NASCAR fan- but moreover I am a motorsports fan and there is no day quite as good for us motorsports fans as May 28th. It’s a day of solid motorsports- starting with Monaco in the wee (for a weekend day) morning and ended with NASCAR’s version of the endurance race, the Coca-Cola 600. And sandwiched in the middle was the ultimate event in all of motorsports- the Indy 500.
I will be the first to admit that as much as I love motorsports- I also love sleep- so I didn’t catch much of the F1 race in Monaco (remember I am on the West Coast). But I caught every lap of the Indy 500. There is just something about the race that makes it special- so special I will even sit there and watch the pre-race pomp and circumstance that surrounds it- and I will do it with glee in my motorsports loving heart. I agree with the people online who state that “Back Home Again” without Jim Nabors is just not the same. It totally isn’t. I am pretty sure I am the only native born Californian (who had never even been to Indiana) who knew the words to it in elementary school. It was because when I was a kid- I looked forward to the INDY 500 with great abandon. Bubble Day was my favorite qualifying day and I would sit there on the edge of my seat waiting to find out who would make the field and who would be bumped. It was my thing.
I found this year’s Indy 500 to be much more exciting than those of Indy 500′s in the recent past. There seemed to be more racing for position and less follow the leader train style. THAT is what I look for in a race to make it exciting for me. I like to see people passing each other…trying to pass each other. It was a good race with an exciting finish. What was NOT exciting was the Jay Howard/Scott Dixon crash- for many reasons. I was of course rooting for Jay Howard (and Pippa Mann) since he was the Team OneCure driver…but that withstanding that accident was horrifying. With all the safety measures taken across ALL forms of motorsports it’s easy as a fan to become complacent when it comes to the dangers associated with all forms of racing. And while it was wonderful to see that driver capsule hold strong around Scott Dixon- it was scary to see the car take flight like that and come crashing down nearly cockpit down on the retaining wall…only to then roll and indeed land cockpit down on the pavement before righting itself. I was sure we were going to see him removed on a stretcher. When he got out of the car and WALK to the ambulance. Wow.
After a walk of the dogs and doing some other chore like things in between I sat down ready to start the second half of my motorsports day and I was just as excited. This is NASCAR’s version of the endurance race- it’s 600 miles! That is THE longest race. And I know some people don’t like the long races- honestly most of the time I am one of them…but I still think there needs to be at least one 600 mile race. It’s a whole different skillset for the drivers. Just like I am a hearty believer in the road courses- I love road courses because they again require a whole other skillset of the drivers. Do I think the resin helped the 600? Yes I do. I saw lots of passing and racing for position. What didn’t help was the rain delay- but that happens. I am glad it wasn’t along delay as far as rain delays go. It rained and they were able to get the track dry and the race underway in an hour and forty minutes or something like that? That’s pretty quick for a weather related delay. I am thankful that the air titans where there to help with that and get the race back underway.
Now that I consider myself a fan without a driver I necessarily pull for- I find fuel mileage races more exciting I will admit that. It’s a part of racing- who figured out their fuel mileage the best. Who was able to each out that extra little dribble of fuel in their car? Congratulations go to Austin Dillon’s team for doing just that.
Now let’s talk about the post-race event that everyone seems to want to talk about- Kyle Busch’s short comment in post-race media. “Nothing surprises me any more. Congratulates. *mic drop*” As always there are people on both sides of the fence with Kyle’s comments. I can see and acknowledge both sides of it. I see he’s obviously disappointed. He’s probably hungry (I agree with Dale Jr) and tired. The last place he wants to be is answering questions about a race he REALLY wanted to win but didn’t. Yes it’s his job and he should meet all his media obligations as part of that job. Does it bother me? Not really. He was rude. People have bad days. He was in a bad mood. I am not going to defend his actions but I am not offended by them either. It is what it is and I take them at face value. Drivers say things in the heat of the moment and the face of defeat out of their passion for the sport- as a Tony Stewart fan this is something that I know and expect from drivers so it does not bother me. This behavior and passion for his sport is what makes Kyle Busch Kyle Busch and without a Kyle Busch the sport would be boring.
Now I want you to ready for this because I am probably going to blow some socks off here- because I am about to defend Brad Keselowski. After the media got a hold of Kyle’s words, Brad tweeted something to the effect of him not being sure that Kyle Busch’s behavior is the way to define “hating losing” and that he should probably just keep his mouth shut but he “was taught to hate losing by working harder next time, not by being disrespectful to others.” That is Brad’s opinion and it’s articulately voiced. Andy Graves, a Toyota Racing Development executive got involved and tweeted at Brad that “should have just kept his mouth shut.” That was totally uncalled for in my opinion. You either like Kyle or you don’t. You either like Brad or your don’t, but as an executive representing a manufacturer in the sport I think you should be held to a slightly higher standard in how you voice your opinions. (You can watch Kyle’s comments, read Brad Keselowski and Andy Grave’s tweets in one place here in this article on Fox Sports: NASCAR).
Indy 500 drivers that impressed: Fernando Alonso
Indy 500 drivers that disappointed: I am going with a manufacturer instead: Honda
Coca-Cola 600 drivers that impressed: Austin Dillon, Kurt Busch
Coca-Cola 600 drivers that disappointed: Jimmie Johnson (more Chad Knaus really for the fuel mileage fail), Ryan Blaney