Editor’s Note: As we speak, I am vacationing with family in sunny Spokane, Washington. Took in a great American Legion World Series game today between the Dr. Stewart’s of our old home town, Roseburg, Oregon, versus a team from Moline, Illinois (for the record, the Docs won 9-7 on a 3-run homer. I digress).
I also experienced a Cup race on radio for the first time. As a football and hoops play-by-play guy, I’ve wondered how you would handle play-by-play for motorsports. I give props to the broadcasters as I thought the MRN boys did a whale of a job.
Putting on his reporter’s hat is John “Dawg” Chapman. Thank you for covering the race react piece for me. By the way, great piece coming up tomorrow from Jeremy T. Sellers on the greatest stock car driver who ever lived.
Take it away, Dawg…..
I was busy Saturday, so I missed qualifying. I got my first surprise of the weekend when I checked the starting order. Michigan was a track that Bill
Elliott owned in the 80’s, so it was no surprise to see him turn in a solid qualifying time. It was nice to see both he and Bobby Labonte time their way
Clint Bowyer is in his own race to qualify for the Chase. He helped his cause with a solid third place start. The real surprise was Landon Cassil
being the fastest of the “go or go home” teams with a solid 15th spot in James Finch’s “09.”
Speaking of “go or go home” teams, I was also surprised to see Scott Riggs back with an attempt in the “66″- the quintessential “start and park” ride- after leaving the “36″ last season when that team became a start and park team. I would have thought he’d have been better served by going back to Nationwide or Trucks, but maybe that door never opened for him.
Then we had Jeff qualifying one spot below Robby in the “07,” at 36th. He did manage to out qualify Junior, (a dubious distinction) who came in at 38th. As I said, I missed it. Did NASCAR make these two qualify like that motor oil ad, dragging the anchor, or what?
Michigan is another track like California. I expect every time Roger Penske drives in the gate he has to smile about selling it to the Frances. The early part of the race featured a race within a race. As the start and park cars were ducking in and out of the garage.
Michigan is a big wide track, and drivers have lots of options. The restarts seemed to resemble the World of Outlaws four wide salute to the fans.
Once the restart craziness settles down, the cars get strung out- and I’ve been there- you don’t see many fans sitting on the edge of their
seats. Passes do seem to be easier because of the separation between cars.
With few cautions, we get to see more green flag pit stops. Time for the crews to shine, or the drivers to whine. We saw some of both. It still seems like the most exciting racing is the race off pit road.
Note to Mark Martin: any slide job that involves the wall needs some work. Clint faded a little, late and slipped to a 13th place finish, but still moved into 12th place. It’s a little sad, when the big story of the race, is who’s going to be “Tail End Charley” in the Chase.
Bad Brad’s splitter was a quitter. That’s not good. Did Junior run this race? I never noticed.
Ryan in the Tornado car, with a little help from a friend, became a twister. Joey is upset that Ryan is hard to pass. Hello, that’s what he gets his
paycheck for. I really HATE to hear drivers whining about being raced hard. NASCAR needs more hard racing, not less.
One big surprise for me was the ninth place finish by Elliott Sadler. Those finishes have been hard to come by. I also liked the old school look of the car with the number patch on the door, and the racing stripe. Yet again, Jeff Burton started strong, and couldn’t seal the deal.
Word is, NASCAR is going to take numerous engines to the Tech Center. Henny Youngman said “Take my wife…..Please.” Kurt Busch says, “Take my
engine……..Please”. Being interviewed after falling out, Question, “Did you have any indication of engine problems earlier in the week?” Kurt’s answer, “Nothing like this”. Yeah Kurt, I believe you. If it had blown a hole in the side of the block, and caught on fire, someone would have noticed!
Speaking of interviews, Cousin Carl being interviewed on Sports Center was talking about cooperation between team mates. They showed a clip
of The Biff pushing him past, I think it was Tony, to put him into third. To further illustrate this point, they showed a second clip of Matt Kenseth
pushing Juan past…….David Regan. Strange choice.
I only have one thing to say about Danica, if she really wants to race stock cars, then it’s painfully obvious that she belongs in ARCA to learn how to do it.
Congratulations to Tim Shaffer on his Knoxville Nationals win. Erin Crocker made the main, no small feat with over a hundred of the best contesting for
a spot in the 25 car main. Well done to both of them.
Another piece of news became official this week. Paul Menard is joining RCR. This came as no surprise, it was a good move, and one I’ve expected
for a long time. Now we should be able to see what Paul is really capable of. This move will put a lot more pressure on him than he’s had previously.
Personally, I expect him to do well, and be a very good fit over there.
Speaking as a pilot, I’m very happy to see Jack back at the track. I’ve landed at Oshkosh during the EAA fly in. There’s good reason they refer to it as the world’s busiest airport- for one week of the year. I know that the vision loss will cost him his license, but come on. After surviving two serious crashes, it’s time to quit tempting fate anyway.
Before the season, most everyone had Richard and Harvick headed to divorce court. How things have changed. Kevin picked up another
10 bonus points, and a ton of momentum heading into the chase. He has had no DNF’s this season. This reminds me of the cars that Dale won most of his Championships in. They weren’t always the fastest, but they never broke. When you get a car that’s both fast, and bullet proof, that’s a hard combination to beat.
I’m not saying that JJ won’t win his fifth, but if he does, I think he’ll know he’s been in a race.
To sum things up, this was pretty much a typical Michigan race, but it did have one big thing going for it. It didn’t turn into a fuel mileage
race, and if you have to have a rain delay, this was the kind to have.
I’m looking forward to Bristol, how about you?