That being said, I have finally been able to collect my thoughts from last Saturday’s fine race at Richmond. It is always interesting to take a back seat and watch the fall-out from such a ‘controversial’ race, before commenting. Here are some thoughts:
There will always be a ‘Villain’Kyle Busch is playing the leading role as the ‘villain’. Now all that is missing is a Russian accent or a cheesy mustache. The ‘Junior Nation’ (actually much of the Nascar Nation) has turned the late race contact into grounds for an execution. On the track, it was simply two race car drivers fighting for the same 18 or so inches of race track. I saw no intent what so ever on either part. I did see two drivers wanting and fighting tooth and nail to win a race. (I wish ‘my driver’ would be in position to do that someday) BOTH had changed their racing lines in order to make it more difficult for the other, that’s called ‘racing’.
One doesn’t have to like little Busch at all, but the Junior Nation’s memory grows shorter with each passing race. How soon they forget when Junior ‘turned’ Kyle when Kyle was in the CHASE at Kansas last year. Not that two wrongs make it right, but the point is that ‘their driver’ is not immune from causing other driver’s grief. (BTW, JR went on to a top ten finish that day while Kyle finished in the high 30s)
But their has always been a villain. If you look back through the eras of Nascar they can be easy to spot. From Little Busch, to Tony Stewart, to Jimmy Spencer, to Dale Earnhardt SR, to Darrell Waltrip, to even someone as gracious as Morgan Shepherd (waiting for lightning strike). All these race drivers at one time in their young careers were not the most ‘favorite’ when it came to the mainstream race fan. And yes, the BOO BIRDS could be heard during driver intros. One thing for sure nowadays though, is that there is more of a microscope on the ‘villain’ today, than in previous eras and Kyle will have to deal with that off the track.
Like the ‘magic towel’ in Soccer:Ever watched a World Cup Soccer game and see a player get taken down and the player rolls in pain holding his knee? Well, what the player is doing is trying to ‘sell’ his ‘injury’ in order to get the official (referee) to call a penalty. Whether a penalty is called or not, what happens next is almost comical. A trainer comes to the player who is still flopping in pain and applies the ‘magic towel’ for a few moments. Then all of the sudden said player jumps to his feet as if nothing had happened. This is how I equate the stunt that Denny Hamlin attempted to pull. Should Nascar have taking the action that they did? Of course, and the reason was that precedent had been set numerous times in the past few years. Honestly, two laps may not have been enough, but on the other hand, Hamlin doesn’t have a history of actions like this. So he does warrant some leniency.
Just Brakes!!!!!Another promising qualifying effort slips away to a not so thrilling finish for the 19. but it could have been worse. Elliott Sadler pointed the finger at ‘changing the brakes’ from last year, and that very well could be the case but I have a few concerns. Sadler did have a history of ‘using up the brakes’ (his words, not mine) when he was with RYR from time to time, so maybe the problems might be more driver induced and not an equipment flaw. Had the 9 or 10 cars also had brake issues it may have supported Sadler’s claim a bit, but neither car reported that. The 9 car did however have some rear brake issues at Phoenix earlier this year, but from the sounds of the explanations, these two were not related. (The 9 car was not over heating, but that the rears were not disengaging when the brake peddle was lifted) And isn’t it odd that there were no complaints from Sadler about these brakes at Phoenix? One would think that if this were really a problem, it would have been mentioned before.
‘Over heating’ brakes is a product of racing at shorter track and is not uncommon. I think that more times than not, it is caused more by ‘driver abuse’ than a part failing. Should Sadler blame the brakes? Nope. Should Sadler blame himself? Nope. It is just one of those things that happen, and frankly, Sadler made the best out of a bad situation. He stayed out of trouble. He and his spotter (Brett Griffin) were able to maneuver out of harm’s way of the ‘big one’ this time, and through attrition of others, was able to take home a top 20.
Not what the 19 team wanted, but it could have been much worse. Especially at a track that could be considered one of Sadler’s Achilles Heal. On to the Old Lady in Black, and a track that should bring some optimism for Sadler fans.