Monday, February 12, 2007

Shootout review, sort of

First things first--we must celebrate the Bud Shootout victory of Tony "Smoke" Stewart, my favorite driver. Saturday was his third victory in the event, and, counting his victories at Ft Lewis and the Chili Bowl Midget Nationals gives him a pre-season record of 3-1--his loss at the Rolex 24 hours was due to electrical problems which forced the car to not finish. Smoke, now a lean, mean racing machine is entering the 2007 season on a very positive note, which is a good thing for the #20 Home Depot team.

click here if the Youtube fireworks video does not appear.
It was a fun race, and it would have been exciting and enjoyable no matter who won. There were handling problems, blamed universally on the harder tire compound Goodyear is using this year for Daytona. This meant that we saw some excellent and valiant saves throughout the race, on the part of Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Matt Kenseth, Kasey Kahne, and several other drivers, who went sideways and still avoided wrecks. This is the kind of racing we like--and by "we," we mean "I"--to see the expertise and talent of the drivers avoid what looks like an inevitable wreck. It says a lot about the level and intensity of racing in NASCAR.
Kyle Busch also avoided spinning out when Smoke made a move on him to take the lead in the final laps of the race. There will be fans complaining that Stewart shouldn't have used the bump when he did to pass the Schrub, and Kyle himself did complain, but there are some indisputable facts about racing.
First, when a driver is in the lead, he will do what he must to keep the lead, which usually means he will try to block faster cars behind him by moving to cut off any route around him. The driver behind the leading driver is not in the race to lose. If there is a way in which he can gain the lead he will. If it takes getting the leading car loose, so it has to slow down and let the trailing driver pass, that will be the way the pass is made, it doesn't matter who the driver is.
This is part of what makes NASCAR racing exciting for us. There is no other form of racing that allows these kind of moves, for other types of racing machines can not take it like the stock cars can.
Kyle Busch cannot be blamed for being angry at the move, he lost the race, after all, but he should be lauded for maintaining enough control over the car to prevent a wreck. Tony Stewart complimented him on the save. Busch should also be commended for controlling his temper as well as he did his car, for it is almost a rule that a driver who feels robbed of victory, as he surely felt he was, exact revenge as quickly as possible. Kyle Busch exhibited maturity that many drivers don't, and took the loss as graciously as possible.
If the Bud Shootout was an indication of what is to come in 2007, we NASCAR fans are in for another great season.

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