Monday, September 25, 2006

Another Classic

First things first; congratulations to Clint Bowyer on his first Busch series win. While he had some handling issues in traffic, he raced ace Matt Kenseth hard and clean in a very exciting and exhilarating battle for the lead in the closing laps of the two hundred mile NBS race at Dover. Saturday. Kenseth was giving it everything he had, driving as if he was on dirt with a car that was somewhat loose in the turns. There was no contact, and it was classic wheel-to-wheel racing with the cars moving up and down the track in a terrific show of talent and strategy. Once Bowyer got his car in front, it was gone. That was one fast car in clean air.
Also, it is good to hear Benny Parsons in the booth. We have, in the past, been critical of the expert commentators in broadcasting, and of the media in general, vindicated by the Bob Dilner/RCR fiasco last week Benny is a racing icon, and though he may sometimes sound like he doesn't know what he's talking about, he certainly adds color to the race broadcast, as we have noticed when he isn't there. I continue to wish BP the best in his battle with cancer.
Moving on to the Cup race, I am more and more convinced that I may be jinxing some drivers. I spoke very highly of Kasey Kahne's ability to negotiate tracks like Dover, and of his driving style and his ability to bring a bad car to a good finish. It was evident in the early going of the race that that wasn't going to happen.
I also had great anticipation of The Gordon and Smoke Stewart having an exciting race, and that wasn't going to happen, either.
What did happen was Tony spun out on his own, and Kahne, with nowhere to go, ran into him. Very disappointing for both drivers, and also very disappointing for me. But even when some of our favorites are out of the race, we still have to watch, and this year, especially, there is plenty to watch.
But once again we got to see some spectacular racing. For a while, Jr and Kurt Busch had a good battle going for seventh and sixth place, but eventually Jr--who had been having tire issues the entire race--had to make an unscheduled pit stop for a flat tire.
Kyle Busch lost an engine, and having already had one bad luck day a week ago, this non-finish diminished his chances to win the Championship to nearly zero.
Denny Hamlin had a poor start and a great finish. He had mentioned in a pre-race interview that he could not get the car to where he was feeling comfortable. For most of the race, he ran in the mid twenties in position. But Mike Ford and the #11 crew worked on the car whenever they could, and Hamlin pulled off a ninth place finish.
We should also mention that Bobby Labonte brought the much maligned #43 Richard Petty car to a sixth place finish. Bobby Labonte is a championship caliber driver, but hasn't really had the equipment he needs to make him competitive. It is good to see that he is yet another veteran driver who will never give up. It is a driver like Bobby Labonte who shows the fans what a hero is make of.
The good stuff was great, as we saw in the final 23 or so laps of the race. Matt Kenseth, who can drive a wreck to victory, and Jeff Burton, who had a great year without a victory, battled it out for the lead. Working hard and racing clean, the two drivers tried different lines, inside and outside, to try to gain advantage over the other. This really is the good stuff--the two fastest cars in the race going for broke, in first and second place. Burton came close to taking the lead several times, only to have to let off on the throttle for running out of track. Burton and Kenseth both got loose several times, even coming very close to the wall. but they did not crash, and they did not let up in the battle. Finally, with five laps to go, Jeff Burton took the lead. Kenseth continued to race him, until the very last lap, when he ran out of fuel.
It had been 175 races since the last time Jeff Burton had seen Victory Lane. Even though, in my list of favorites I favor Kenseth over Burton, Burton's victory was something to celebrate. As he took his reverse victory lap, I had tears in my eyes, out of happiness for a great driver who had run a race that is certainly an instant classic. Our heartfelt congratulations go to Jeff Burton.

1 comment:

Babs said...

That was a great win for Burton. If Matt is going to be beat by someone, then Burton would have been my 1st choice.
I did still root for Matty of course!
Quit jinxing people! LOL!