Sunday, April 06, 2008


I was wrong. I predicted that there would be some racing at TMS, which isn't even called TMS anymore, but the Great American Speedway. I predicted that the parity brought about by the Sprint Cup car would result in some good fender to fender competition, of which, in reality, we saw very little.
This is not to belittle Carl Edward's victory--the #99 Roush-Fenway Ford team had its act together--something not many of the other teams seemed to have. So it wasn't a case of "the wrong guy" won the race, but that, similar to Atlanta, it was a race of attrition, rather than one of drivers' and crew chiefs' skills.
Jeff Gordon fell off early, with a car that wasn't prepared for the track at all. He ended the race in position 43, for only the second time in his sixteen year NASCAR Cup career. Greg Biffle who had a promising start to the race, and looked good early, also had to drop out of competition, if not the race.
The problem this time wasn't the tires, but all the yet unknown qualities of the new car and how it reacts to differing track conditions. Testing on one intermediate track is not good for all, as there is really no such thing as "cookie cutter" tracks. Therefore, this blogger takes some solace in the fact that he was correct in his original surmise that the refusal of NASCAR to allow testing at Texas would result in actions detrimental to the fans' enjoyment of the race.
We discovered that the era of the phantom caution is not over after all. We saw at least one of those, and if the purpose was to tighten up the field, it was too late. By that time thirty-three of the forty-three cars were a lap or more down.
We expected some lapped cars, especially at GAS (no, I won't call it that, it is still TMS to me), where the high speeds often separate the men from the boys. In addition lapped cars make the restarts exciting and should run some interference for the leaders to allow the rest of the field to catch up. But lapped traffic was overdone at TMS this time, because there were only ten or so cars that came to the race with a competitive set-up.
Still, all this means is that the teams have much more work to do. The more the car is used, the more the engineers and crew chiefs can figure out what they need to make the car more competitive. So there is something positive to take from Texas. After all, the sold out crowd seemed to have a great time at the race--it is better to be there than to watch the race on television, especially with the mediocre race coverage we saw. The teams can take the positive route and put the Samsung 500 behind them as a learning experience. The racing can only get better from here.

Some questions to ponder. If TMS was a track owned by NASCAR's ISC, rather than Bruton Smith's organization, would NASCAR have allowed an extra testing session there?

If Kyle Busch was criticized for not sticking around last year after he wrecked his car, should Jeff Gordon be criticized for quitting when he had a car that didn't handle the way he wanted it to?

If the "core fan" yearn for racing the way it was in "the old days," shouldn't the Samsung 500 have been a reason to celebrate?

And finally, to Jimmy Spencer, who declared that Carl Edwards would have won four races if it hadn't been for mechanical failure at Atlanta, doesn't that mean it would still only be three if Tony Stewart hadn't cut a tire at Las Vegas?


David said...

Well said. You wonder if this year the field is gonna be spread quite wide while the teams figure out how to handle all the tracks. Sure was a lot of slipping and sliding going on Sunday. At times it seemed like the cars were not so much being driven as pointed.

nascartracktroll said...

Yeah, it was a pretty unsatisfactory race. It looked like a busy freeway. Of course, you have to take into consideration that it's a long track and pretty wide.

Cheyenne said...

Didn't I tell you the racing sucks and is boring? And we have a whole season to go of nothing but the same. At least Martinsville had some spunk to it. I am not used to this kind of racing. They may as well have walkers and canes for heavens' sake.

RevJim said...

Cheyenne, do you really think it will take the entire season to get a handle on the car? I hope not.
I think the engineers and crew chiefs are much smarter than that, and I think the only problems will come after the first time they go to the track with the new car. They should be able to work things out, if only by knowing what not to do.
You can't blame it all on the new car, because Nationwide Series uses the conventional car, and that was pretty boring as well.

Trixie said...

I was wondering if Phantom Debris was going to strike towards the end of the race. I mean a Roush car was ahead of an HMS car (current defending champion) and HMS has NOT won a race yet. Unfortunately the DEI Engine Shop showed up instead.

I have been to TMS and we always have a good time despite all that green flag racing.

Cheyenne said...

But they have tested at some of these tracks with the CoT car, and they have raced at some of these tracks at least once last year with the CoT car and I am getting tired of all the excuses. The majority of winners so far have either been fast when they are out in front or have just been at the right place at the right time. Nobody is winning by making great passes at the end of any given race venue. I am sorry, but I hope things change by the time the Chase rolls around, or NASCAR will have lost a lot more fans and viewers.

Tim Zaegel said...

This was by far the worst show that NASCAR's put on this year, and I'd have to say maybe even the worst in the last couple of years.

I believe I heard someone state that it may have been exciting if McDowell had waited to wreck until Sunday.