WOW. The race was going to script for 160 of 200 laps until all hell broke loose. Jimmy Johnson (my pick) spun coming off of turn 2 with 40 laps to go. Dayum…… That was the beginning of a series of expected crashes and blown tires to come. NASCAR threw in the “suspect debris” yellow flag with 20+ laps to go because the field was too spread out coming into the home stretch (my hunch). That flag bunched everyone together and made for a shoot out with about 30 drivers having an influence on the outcome of the race. Back and forth banging and bumping was exciting to see.
Kyle Busch (darkhorse M&M No. 18) was the dominate car of the day leading 86 of 200 laps but I think that they employed the wrong strategy with almost every caution getting 4 new tires. The cautions where only spread out about 3 to 4 laps and new tires sacrificed good track position. Two tires would have just as good and less time the pits. He kept coming from 6th to 10th place on most restarts instead of just staying near the front. Anyway, with 8 or so laps to go, Clint Bowyer (Jack Daniels Car – DEI Racing) was suddenly in the lead. You hadn’t heard from him all day. He had a strong car but was spun out by Juan Pablo Montoya on the frontstretch going into Turn 1. That ruined his day.
On the restart, Jeff Burton (Cingular/AT&T Car –DEI Racing) takes the lead. Same scenario, you hadn’t heard his name all race and now with 5 laps to go, he is in the lead. Casey Mears (Car No. 5 ) was contending in third place heading into Turn 1 when he noticed the Tony Stewart (Home Depot Car) and Dale Earnhardt Jr. were hooked up and moving forward on the outside line. Everyone in racing knows that Tony and Dale Jr. are on the track and off the track homies. They pair up a lot during races because they trust each other. Therefore, whenever they are together you need to be aware of where they are. Casey saw them and I’m sure that his pit crew informed him of the duo teaming up. Coming into Turn 1 with 5 or 6 laps to go, Casey Mears hesitated and did not commit to go up the track to block early…. then decided to GO for the block…... TOO LATE……. He cuts across Tony Stewart’s front grill and hits the wall at about 185 mph. Dayum……
The race restarts with 3 laps to go and Jeff Burton is leading the race but he was moving to slow and got mauled by the sea of cars racing around him after the y crossed the start/finish line. Kyle Busch goes low and Tony Stewart goes high. Everyone of the 200,000 fans in the stands are standing and screaming for their favorite drivers because that melee caused about 10 cars to go about 3 cars wide going into Turn 1. Every driver has a chance now to win the race. Everyone was so focused on the Kyle and Tony (Joe Gibbs Racing) leading the race that sneaking into the fray was Team Penske. Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch had been making their way up front for the last 40 laps. Their cars didn’t have a scratch on it meaning that they were playing it very smart all race long in staying out of trouble. To everyone’s surprise the final lap had Tony Stewart out front with Ryan and Kurt right behind. Kyle was starting to come on strong on the low side of the track and Tony decided to go with Kyle, his teammate, on the bottom. That left the door wide open on the top side for Ryan Newman and Kurt Busch, in a classic display of teamwork and bump drafting, zooming past Tony Stewart on the high side. You couldn’t fit a slice of cheese between the two Penske teammates on the backstretch which created a vacuum effect for both cars to get past Tony Stewart going into Turn 3. The race was over then. All Ryan Newman had to do was hit the pedal to the metal and bring it home which he did. His teammate Kurt Busch finishes second with the Joe Gibbs Racing teammates finishing 3rd and 4th.
The race lived up to the hype and safety of the new Car of Tomorrow (COT). The spoiler that is new to NASCAR kept the cars very stable throughout the race and was a heavy factor in the reduced number of serious incidents that could have marred the race. Instead a thrilling last 40 laps had me on edge as cars were battling for position. Teammates screwing each other over to get better track position, cars slamming into each other, racers blocking each other momentum and in the end TEAMWORK prevails.
WHOA……. I need an Apple Smirnoff with some Beef Jerky, Creamy Ranch Dip and Lays Potato Chips to calm my nerve.
Thanks again to Gangsta D, for allowing me the opportunity to spit some racing game to you all. Holla.
Quote K-Dawg neva more……..