Saturday, November 10, 2007

Not playing nice

After watching the Craftsman Truck Series race at Phoenix last night, I realized that the Cup guys will not race like that. The CTS is unique among the major leagues of NASCAR in that these guys do not worry about how many points their team mate has.
Johnny Benson, who was in sixth place in the points, going into the race, and his team mate, points leader Mike Skinner, presented an excellent scenario emphasizing this point. At the end of the race, restarted with seven laps to go after a debris caution, there were several battles going on around the track. Kyle Busch was holding off Mike Bliss, who was doing some incredibly hard racing with Ron Hornaday without displaying his knack for poor sportsmanship, while back in the field Skinner and Benson were running seventh and eighth, respectively. Shortly after the very aggressive Hornaday passed and cleared the very aggressive Mike Bliss, Benson made the unbelievable move of passing his team mate. "What the h---," Skinner probably thought, My team mate is stealing four points from me!?!"
My thought is, why not? Because Kyle Busch was kind enough not to play favorites, and won the race himself, Hornaday would not get the winner's bonus points and Skinner would maintain his 29 point lead. What difference would four points make? Benson could find better use for them, those four points would move him up a notch in the points standings. This is CTS racing, boys, and it's every man for himself. There are, as Skinner lamented post-race, no team mates when every driver is out to get what he needs.

“I guess we’re not a team,” Skinner said. “I’m not in too good of mood right now. It’s better than being 29 points behind.
“We’re just one team, the No. 5 team. I don’t know how many teams we’re going to have to race against in Homestead.”

The CTS is the closest of the major leagues of NASCAR to the Saturday night circle burners that are still a passion of mine. All that was needed was a bar across the street from the track, where a spirited fist fight between the two "team mates" would have taken place.
Now, for Sunday, I was going to pick Jeff Gordon to win. His experience and history at Phoenix provide him what he needs to overcome Chad Knaus' genius. But then I saw this headline at That's Racin'.com:
Hendrick aiming for 1-2-3 sweep of season standings
By JENNA FRYER - The Associated Press
AVONDALE, Ariz. – With 17 wins by its four drivers, Hendrick Motorsports has clearly been the most dominant team in NASCAR this season.
Now, if Kyle Busch can close the year with two strong runs, he could give the organization a clean sweep of the Nextel Cup standings.

Now, because HMS teams do follow team orders--witness how two weeks in a row, Kyle dutifully followed the advice passed to him by both his crew chief and his boss, not to race Jimmie or Jeff, even though he couldn't be fired because he already has been--this means that Kyle Busch has to win at Phoenix. And, because he is 158 points ahead of Busch, Clint Bowyer has to have problems, which could happen, but not likely with the way his Chase has been going. But, without making any accusations, which I sincerely feel would be unwarrented, Hendrick Motorsports seems to get what it wants during the Chase, and it would be no surprise if Kyle Busch were to win at PIR, while Jimmie and Jeff stay far enough back to keep Bowyer from gaining much ground, if any, on Kyle.
And this plan leaves little room for my favorite driver.


TSRFan said...

The beauty of the CTS is that it is, every man for himself. Sure, they may be teammates but there's a reason they call it racing.

As far as Skinner whining, was he going to pay Benson the difference the difference in purse money between 8th and 9th AND the difference season ending bonus between 5th and 6th. Shut up and race.

vroom said...

The CTS has a nice purity about it!

RevJim said...

Purity is the best way to describe it. I'm glad that SpeedTV covers it full time. I just wish the people who seem to be disenchanted with Cup and NNS would discover it. Hopefully, as it becomes more popular, CTS will retain that purity!