Saturday, September 15, 2007

I Meander

The writing bug has bit me today, and I am faced with a choice of either posting several subject-specific items, or just one that meanders all over the place. The regular reader of this blog expects me to meander, which I do whether it's subject specific or not. I'll just let my fingers figure out how to handle this.
I watched a race Saturday that had me raving and raging as much as any NASCAR Nextel Cup race does. It wasn't the CTS race--which was pretty much an all-Hornaday all the time affair--that had me all excited. It was the final race of the Rolex Grand-Am series, from Salt Lake City, that got me going.
This was a real championship chase, with four drivers all within three points of each other for the season championship in the Daytona Prototype (DP) class.
Scott Pruitt, Alex Gurney (the son of the legendary Dan Gurney), Max "The Ax" Angelelli, and Gurney's co-driver, Jon Fogerty all entered the final race of the season with the knowledge that the one who finished ahead of the others would be the Rolex DP champion. The race was on, for seven and a half hours, or 1000 kilometers, whichever came first.
And race, they did. All four of these drivers are well known for their aggressiveness on the track, and that aggressiveness manifested as they picked their way through the slower GT class traffic, and fought for position among the DP cars the entire time. Their teams performed with excellence, performing the pit stops flawlessly, and the driver changes smoothly. In between the driver changes, their co drivers expertly kept the cars in the running. Deep into the race, with 32 laps to go, the championship was still up for grabs.
Then the proverbial doo-doo hit the proverbial fan. On lap 115, the #99 car of Jon Fogarty hit the back of Pruitt's #01 Chip Ganassi Racing car, spinning Pruitt, and cutting tires on both cars. This literally gave the championship to Max The Ax, but, on lap 117 a fire broke out in Angelelli's car, putting him out of the race and the championship run. Weird, huh? Wait, there's more.
As much as Chip Ganassi wanted there to be a penalty against the #99 car, for avoidable contact, there wasn't. Fogarty and Pruitt both pitted to change tires and fuel up, and Gurney got back behind the wheel of the 99. Pruitt stayed in his car. Ganassi filed a protest, and the race continued.
Then, on lap 132, with only seven laps to go, a reversal of the lap 115 incident happened, and it was almost identical, except nobody left the track, there were no cut tires, and Pruitt was assessed the drive-through penalty. Sheesh! You have probably guessed that this gave Gurney/Fogarty the championship.
There has been no news of the Ganassi protest at this time, so the outcome is probably not yet official. Does it seem like the race was fixed? You bet, but I refuse to believe it. I think the Grand Am officials have the same problem as the NASCAR officials--arguing with their inner voices on when and how to exact a penalty, while having serious problems deciding if there even was a rules infraction.
Even after the DP's finished the race, there was still some incredible racing going on in the GT class. Paul Edwards and his co-driver, somebody named Collins, pretty much controlled the entire race in the GT class, but, as has happened so many times this season in that class, the Wow meter pegged out hard on the last lap. Edwards, in the #07 Pontiac GTO/R, was being hounded by the #85 Porsche, when they came upon the lapped #36 Pontiac GTO. Edwards floundered in the marbles while trying to pass, and the Porsche took the lead--for less than one second. The Porsche also hit the marbles, and ran into the 36, sending both cars spinning. Edwards had contact with the other two cars, but continued forward to finish, and win the GT class race. Now, that was a show!
All of this made me think, which is dangerous, sometimes. I have mentioned before that the broadcast team for the Rolex Grand Am Series should spend some more time covering the GT segment of the race. The same SpeedTV team covers the American LeMans Series (ALMS) and pays equal attention to all four classes in that series, but in the Grand Am broadcasts the GT class is pretty much ignored, except when it causes a hazard to the DP drivers. Perhaps, the reasoning is that, in Grand Am, the GT class is more like a developmental class for the Daytona Prototypes, and therefore not as newsworthy as the well funded DP's. I would like to see that change.
Now that I am in the realm of dangerous thinking, I have a proposal to NASCAR, inspired by the Grand Am series: With the Sponsorship TBA (Busch)Series being reinvented by the surrounding circumstances, why not have a non-points race at a road course, based on what Grand Am has? At VIR, Road Atlanta, or some other place at which NASCAR hasn't officially raced, run a race that is mixed Formula N (COT) car and TBA series car. Qualifying would be similar to that system used for the Mexico City race, and the top twenty-one cars from each division qualify. The Formula N cars race 300 laps, and with 200 laps to go, the TBA cars start.
That should be interesting.
We should turn our backs on Formula 1 racing, just as Echelstone and the FIA turned their backs on the United States. "Formula 1 does not need the United States," says the cantankerous, senile old fart, Bernie Echelstone.
Well we don't need F-1. Grand Am can have controversy every bit as good as Formula One, without costing anybody 100 million dollars. NASCAR has the rivalries that make the F-1 rivalries look like pillow fights, and has real racing to boot, rather than F-1's single file parade of expensive and pretty machinery. Let's make Grand Am and ALMS the new Formula One for America!
Whew! I must be nuts.
Back to the CTS--
I love to watch the truck racing, but Loudon isn't the venue where it runs the best. Ron Hornaday ran away with the race from the start. I like Hornaday, and I like the folks he drives for--Kevin Harvick Incorporated. I really liked him when he was driving the RCR #2 in the NBS. But my favorite in that series is Johnny Benson. Benson is having a great time in the CTS, making up for the hard time in the Cup Series. I love to see him win, but Saturday wasn't his day.
Well, I've come a full circle now, and this didn't meander as badly as I thought it would. We have more racing to come this weekend, so we will stay interested. Right?


Anonymous said...

Why would Jr. take Tony Jr.,, the man does not have Jr's best interest at heart. I was hoping for Alan G., Jr.s needs a complete change and that does not include T Jr. He's a plump little snake and he is not Junior's friend, actually he's not really a cousin.

Nascar and the Canadian Curmudgeon said...

I watched that race as well was quite exciting I am not a big fan of the series but the battle between Pruett,Gurney and Angelelli had me fixed to the tube good stuff....I find that another blog helps me to hold down the meandering because sometimes I get off if you want a little humour..try just started it up...

RevJim said...

Curmudgeon--thanks, I'll check it out. Actually, I like to meander, it's my style--sometimes, depending on mood.
Anonymous--Actually, Tony Eury Sr is the late Dale Earnhardt's cousin, so Tony Jr is Dale Jr's second cousin, and they are related.
Yeah, I bet Tony Jr is going to continue to sabotague Dale Jr's engines and spy on HMS for DEI, is that what you are thinkin'?
Seriously, I was hoping for Alan Gustafson, myself, but he's going to the 5 team with Casey Mears. I think Jr and Jr will do just fine with HMS power.
For more information on Dale Jr's relationship with "Stiffy" I suggest you read his autobiography, Driver #8.
You may remember that Dale Jr's season without the Eurys was more disasterous than this past season.