All I can say is WOW. That was a race! Tony Stewart qualified for the race 11th…and finished the race 11th. It could have been better yes, but it could have been much much worse (just ask Jeff Gordon, Jeff Burton, and/or Kyle Busch- whom I will all talk about later in this post).
Via the team release Stewart said this about the team’s choice to come in for fresh tires during the late race caution that had the race going green with only two laps to go:
“Hindsight being 20-20, I probably should’ve stayed out, but we took a gamble and, really, what do we have to lose?” said Stewart, who now has 12 top-12 finishes in 18 career Sprint Cup appearances at the Texas track. “We really don’t have anything to lose. We’re eighth in points, so who cares? I’d rather take a chance on doing something to go forward than worry about losing spots and going backward.” — Team Release
However, I honestly think, the #14 Office Depot team had no option but to pit- having a majority of the field in front of him having fresher (more fresh?) tires from the pit stop before, where they elected to stay out. As it was Tony restarted 16th and worked his way up to 11th in 2 laps! So obviously the fresh rubber was working- he just ran out of time.
And while Greg Biffle seemed to rule most of the race at Texas Motor Speedway on Sunday, it would be Denny Hamlin edging out a hard charging Matt Kenseth for the win.
And now for the “DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA” portion of this post. WOW. How can people say this sport isn’t exciting?? All this drama and Tony wasn’t even involved believe it or not:
First drama one: Kyle Busch gets held for two laps additional laps (after being held one lap for a pit road speeding penalty) for giving a NASCAR official the finger. Now personally I think that the 2 laps was a bit excessive for flipping off an official. I mean, seriously? That totally put him out of contention for even coming close to winning the race. You can’t tell me that it wasn’t because he was caught doing this accidentally by ESPN, who flipped over to Busch’s in-car camera right as Kyle expressed his displeasure with the call, live as it was happening. Now I hear that NASCAR is considering even MORE penalties for Kyle’s heat-of-the-moment gesticulation! Really? Think about this, I flipped someone off this morning…and you know what granted while I do this sometimes in fun or jest sometimes I am really pissed off and it’s the only thing I can do to express myself. Kyle is right- it kind of is trampling on his freedom of speech or um…gesture. Yes, I have already debated this stand with my father who is of the feeling that it was incredibly unprofessional and immature for Kyle to do. While I do see that point- he was already punished for it by being held two laps in race so do we really need to trample on it further? Because if we do the consequences may backfire as drivers refuse to express themselves at all. And no one wants to see that. It is the drivers and their personalities that MAKE this sport!
Ok…now onto drama number two: The Jeff vs Jeff battle on the backstretch. For those that missed that little gem you can check out this video recap of the incident (you will also see dramas one and three mentioned as well). Unfortunately ESPN didn’t catch the whole on-track altercation as they were distracted by Martin Truex Jr, who was gracefully spinning through the grass causing his third caution of the day. From what I saw, it looked like Jeff Burton intentionally spun Jeff Gordon under the yellow. Gordon’s car hit the outside wall hard, pretty much destroying the car. It was a hard impact- you could see pieces of car and what looked like SAFER barrier flying after the impact. Burton’s car came to rest further down the track at the inside retaining wall. Gordon was pissed. You could tell by the video of him in his car that he was pissed. He then walked down the banking and towards Burton’s car which was parked against the inside wall. Next thing you know Gordon is shoving Burton and the two go fist-a-cuffs for a bit, with some NASCAR officials jumping in between the two of them. That was some EXCITEMENT right there! Now from what I have heard and seen of it I think that there was some sort of incident on track, possibly even before the yellow flew between Gordon and Burton and Burton took out Gordon in a fit of frustration. I hate to say this but I LIKE it when the drivers go toe-to-toe out of the car when they are pissed off. As I have mentioned before I do not advocate using (stock cars or otherwise) cars to retaliate- but get into a good, old-fashion shoving match there against the infield wall and I am all about that! It shows that this sport is intense when you have two respected drivers getting in each other’s face after an on-track incident. Good for Jeff Gordon for sticking up for what he believes was right, that Jeff Burton wrecked him and under caution no less. Bravo.
And for the final drama of the race- After the above mentioned wreck, it was decided to have Jeff Gordon’s pit crew pit Jimmie Johnson’s 48 car while the 48 pit crew packed up the 24 group’s pit box. Ouch. However, whomever made that call- made a wise one. Jimmie’s crew seemed to be falling apart at the seams all day, after repeated poor pit stops- including one four tire stop in the 16+ second mark. Yeah I am sure there are some majorly bruised egos on the 48 pit crew…but one bad pit stop I can see…but FOUR bad ones? Really? You are a four-time champion’s pit crew…your driver is contending for his record breaking fifth consecutive cup title. Yes I am sure you are all under immense pressure…but FOUR? Really?? Jeff’s over-the-wall crew stepped in under what I am assume was Chad’s call and they did not just step in…but they stepped UP and were able to pit Jimmie with decent times. That is what I call GOOD teamwork. Just this afternoon Hendrick Motorsports announced that the 24 pit crew will be going over-the-wall for Jimmie Johnson for the last two races of the season. This is good for Jimmie who I understand is in title contention- but wow- why punish Jeff because his pit crew is ON IT! I mean his pit crew has been in the running for the fastest pit crew for most of the year! It seems like they are punishing Jeff Gordon for having a good pit crew. Hopefully the 48 crew can figure out where the disconnect was and get it ironed out for the next two races for Jeff.
One final note about Texas- two fans were hurt during the race when a brake pad flew through the eighth story window of the Speedway club in the first turn. From what I was able to find out, it doesn’t seem like the injuries were life-threatening, thank goodness. I wish them a speedy recovery- no one wants to see anyone get hurt at a race!
Next race: Phoenix