Saturday, August 26, 2006

Buchwhacking Bristol

If you missed the Food City 250 at Bristol, Friday night, you missed one of the greatest pass moves in racing history. Near the end of the race, Busch Series points leader Kevin Harvick and Matt Kenseth were racing for the lead. Harvick was in front, protecting his lead by staying close to the bottom of the track, which, at Bristol, is a good strategy, the bottom being not only where the traction is, but also the shortest route around the turns. Kenseth went up on the high side, and drew up beside Harvick going into the turn. Normally, for Harvick, this would be no problem. Usually, the car on the outside would have to fall back at this point, having to slow for the turn and having a longer distance to traverse. This didn't happen. Kenseth held his line, exhibiting excellent car handling, and passed Harvick on the exit. A few laps later, which included several caution laps, Kenseth won the race. It was clean racing, no bumping or getting lose, and was the ideal pass in any race. But, at Bristol, clean racing is nearly impossible, which makes Kenseth's move extrordinary.

It wasn't as if Kenseth was passing a slower car. Harvick and the #21 team proved, as they often do, that they were the car to beat, as Harvick made his way from the rear of the field to the front not once, but twice--no mean feat, as the traffic between the rear and the front is absolutely terrible at Bristol, as was illustrated by the number of cars spinning and crashing.To get through the melee unscathed is quite an accomplishment.

To those of you who are perpetually complaining about the presence of large numbers of "Buschwhackers" in the races I ask, "When was the last time racing was this good?"
Think about the experience the development drivers are getting racing the top notch drivers. Think about the revenues the Busch series is getting from the increased exposure precipetated by the presence of these drivers. Because of this, Busch series regulars, both owners and drivers, will have better equipment to work with in the future. The level of competition raises the level of experience in the development drivers. The Busch series lifers, such as David Green, Stacy Compton, or Kevin LePage, get to hone their own skills while racing these guys, and the only result in the future is that the racing will be better and the prize and sponsorship money will be greater. Even the independent team owners who felt left out from the benefits of higher quality racing will profit from it in the future, because it makes the series more popular, which means more sponsors for everyone.
Now, I'm really looking forward to tonight's Cup race. It should be absolutely thrilling.

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