A Voice for the Fans ~ Insert Clever Title Here
I bid you welcome gentle readers, and of course that includes our assigned reader of all things NASCAR on this sunny, warm day in Georgia. It’s almost 1:00 on Tuesday as I pull up to the keyboard and start to type. Racing sites are strangely quiet, save for a few stalwarts. Summer is upon us. Kids down here are already out of school. My youngest Angel Baby graduated from high school and will be off to Eckerd in St. Petersburg in August to study Marine Biology. Congratulations Belle! You’ll succeed in anything you put your mind to.
This time of the racing season has always been the doldrums, when vacations to shore, mountains or resorts and other sundry warm-weather activities eat into racing time… and more so now that the last ten races are set apart as a “Fun with Numbers” game for Brian Z. France. Many racing pundits are already predicting who will be the “Final Four” at Homestead. This one doesn’t care! I watch each race strictly on its own merit and really lose interest once the point standings have been tampered with. Anything beyond that point becomes meaningless except as an individual race… in my considered opinion.
We’ve become a sport of clichés, to be sure. We have “Playoffs” just like the stick and ball kids; we have “Overtime” just like the NFL and we have a “Final Four” just like the NBA. The onset of our “Playoffs” is the “Sweet Sixteen” and we manipulate the finishes while trying to create a “Game 7 Moment” in every race. Could it get any phonier? Before the Chase thing was wished on NASCAR, we were the #2 sport in America and we got along just fine with the NFL. Then we tried to BE them, and just look where we are today!
The past weekend, the racing was at what used to be my Home Track, Pocono. It only took me 30 years to get my husband Don to a race track. Once he’d seen one live race, he wanted more, more, and more. Wish I could have gotten him there a lot sooner. This year, the Xfinity gang once again used the high downforce set-up with restrictor plates and huge spoiler. The result was Kyle Busch stealing the babies’ candy in stage one and three, with pit strategy letting Paul Menard do a bit of stealing in stage two. Busch took the checkers almost on a different straightaway from the rest of the pack. So much for that set-up creating good, close racing.
All I see that doing is affecting (managing?) the outcome of the Xfinity Championship. The way it works (or doesn’t) now is that NASCAR just pretends that the ineligible Cup intruders are not there. Well… sort of. They still get the money for the win and second place (Elliott) finishes, but when it comes to points, the third-place finisher, Daniel Hemric, gets only third-place points. Points for first and second magically disappear into the stratosphere. Likewise, the stage points are mishandled in the same fashion. If the Cup guys weren’t in the race, they would have gone to Christopher Bell and Cole Custer, two deserving young racers. As it is done now, they disappear like the win points. Times that over an entire season and we’re talking a really substantial number of points going to no one. Tell me that can’t change how things stand at the end of the year!
Then, as a perfect ending to a less than perfect race, Busch’s Toyota failed post-race inspection big-time! L-1 penalty for something in the front end too high. Penalties have yet to be announced, but I already have an opinion, and it’s a reasonable one. Kyle has more money that he’ll ever need, so larger fines would not be a deterrent. He’s not racing for points in the Xfinity series, so there is no point fund to be diminished. This scribe feels this should be a crossover penalty. Take the points away from his Cup team! The team whose pit crew he uses when he drops down to steal candy from the babies. Park his Cup Car Chief for X-amount of races. Precedent? Oh yes! When this same driver was in a truck race, he took offense at something Ron Hornaday Jr. did and drove him right into the wall… UNDER CAUTION! NASCAR parked his car in the CUP series. Likewise, Kevin Harvick once did something they really didn’t like in the truck series… I think that was a rough driving call, and similarly parked his Cup car for a race.
It can be done; it has been done and it should be done in this instance. NASCAR set the value of penalties and L-1 is top of the list! How badly does one want to beat second tier kids to cheat that much to do it? And now we wait. When the penalties are announced, I will chronicle NASCAR’s decision here, but what I’ve written here will remain.
Penalties were announced near suppertime on Tuesday. Kyle’s Xfinity crew chief gets a week off and a $10,000 fine, which JGR will pay out of petty cash and JGR is docked 10 points in Xfinity.
Let’s just let that hang there. Strange thing was, the Cup race was pretty darn good on Sunday. It might have turned into another runaway for Kevin Harvick, but Martin Truex Jr. had other ideas. Only a couple of late-race cautions… one for actual debris and another while Erik Jones made some more debris… kept Truex within sight of the others. Fairy-dust stage points went to Truex and Harvick.
With Pocono in the rear view, it’s on to the Irish Hills of Michigan, aka Larson Land. The young driver of #42 for Chip Ganassi Racing has won the last three races in a row there. I think he’s got that place figured out and I am so glad there will be no restrictor plates at MIS, at least on this trip.
Time now for our Classic Country Closeout and this week we’ll be visiting with Teddy and Doyle, The Wilburn Brothers and some wonderful guests including the incomparable Don Helms and his oh-so-beautiful steel guitar.
Be well gentle readers, and remember to keep smiling.
It looks so good on you!