Saturday, February 09, 2008

And so it begins....

It was only a practice session, and it wasn't even practice for a points race. Before the first competition green flag for the 2008 NASCAR Sprint Cup session, we saw the "Big One" at Daytona and the first Busch/Stewart altercation of the season.

It only underscores the competition level in the Cup series when, while looking for the perfect setup with which to run Saturday night's Budweiser Shootout, the 23 contestants for that event began racing each other during the final practice session.

The kind of aggressive driving that caused an eight car accident could be justified by the fact that the Formula N car has yet to be raced at Daytona, and the teams were attempting to gather data on their set ups in every possible situation. Thus the drivers were only following orders when they were practicing bump drafting and three-wide passing.

The incident was so spectacular that I first thought that maybe I was watching highlights from a previous Bud Shootout.
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

"But," I ask, "what kind of useful information could a crew chief possibly get from having his driver block a car that is trying to pass him?"
I'm referring to the second incident, which caused a wreck between Tony Stewart and Kurt Busch.

Busch was riding the high groove when Stewart approached from behind and attempted to pass beneath him. For some reason, Busch moved down to block him. When Stewart moved back up the track, Dirty Kurty moved back up with him, and when he did, Stewart clipped him in the rear, and Busch's #2 car turned into the wall.

In my opinion, Kurt should not have moved down to block Tony when he was trying to pass beneath him, and there is no excuse for that, because there wasn't anyone in front of Busch to cause him to move down. When Tony went back up, and Kurt moved up again, there was no reason for that either, even if he says he moved up to let Tony by.

From the on board cameras in the 11, 9, and 96 cars, it really did look like Smoke hit the wall before he hit the 2 car, and may not have been in control at the time he made contact with Dirty Kurty. Denny Hamlin handled the incident very well, even though his car was caught up in the mess, saying it was just two cars going for the same real estate. Afterwards, several teams decided to call it quits for practice for fear that things had gotten out of hand.

But the on track incident isn't what bothered NASCAR, it was what happened on pit road. Stewart had already left the track and had entered the pit lane on his way to the garage. Busch raced his smoking car onto pit road and began running his car repeatedly into the side of the #20 car. Smoke stopped his car in the middle of the road, and prepared to deliver a Jimmy Spencer treatment to the clown in the #2 car, but Greg Zippadelli, Smoke's crew chief appeared near the car to calm him down and talk him into taking the car into the garage.
(AP Photo/Terry Renna)

Kurt Busch not only has a history of using his car as a weapon of retaliation on pit row, but he also has a reputation of carrying a grudge much farther than is practical or rational. You may remember the continuing altercations between Busch and Jimmy Spencer that carried over for twelve races during the 2002 and 2003 racing seasons.

Jim Hunter is quoted as saying that the drivers' histories would not be taken into consideration in taking action for the incident, but Busch was in meeting with the NASCAR officials much longer than Stewart was, which indicates that Dirty Kurty may be in much more trouble than Smoke. If Kurt Busch gets parked, I would not be surprised.
If nothing else, all the excitement during a mere practice session should guarantee an increased viewership of tonight's Bud Shootout. I know my adreniline level is up in anticipation of one heck of a race. The season has begun, and so far, it has not been disappointing.


dano said...

couldn't agree with ya more Rev!
I'm sorry but I just can't stand Dirty Kurty...And I vote park the idiot for the race..

Racedriven said...

Kurt Busch should have been parked for the Budweiser Shootout, however since NASCAR will not announce anything until at least Tuesday, that's not an option.

What does Busch have to do to get NASCAR to do something about in the form of parking him? I don't get it period.

Ryan Newman Fan said...

Dirty Kurty....forget what happened on the track.

Kirt needs a big long parking. He has some anger issues and seems to really only want to take them out on Tony.

I don't care for either one of them....but Kurt was completly wrong in this.

JMD said...

Rev, I love that name Dirty Kurty, I will have to remember it.

NASCAR should have suspended Dirty for a couple of races last year after the incident at Dover. If I would have been a pit crew member, I would have felt like NASCAR spit in my face after that whole incident.

I'm just afraid he will get some fine and no suspension.