Sunday, April 20, 2008

Once Upon A Time In Mexico City

When it comes down to the final twenty or so laps of a NASCAR race, it doesn't seem to matter if it is a road course race, or an oval. Nor does it seem to matter if it is a Sprint Cup Series race, or a Nationwide Series race. When it comes down to the closing laps of a race, the excitement, passion, emotion, and suspense levels all seem to max out. The situation may be stressful for the drivers, but that is what they live for, and it certainly makes for entertainment for the fans, as that is why we watch.
After a race that was beginning to seem too long, with five cautions and two red flag stoppages, the race began to get interesting after Marcos Ambrose hooked the rear of Boris Said's car in turn one, shortly after a restart. Said's car was wrecked beyond reasonable repair, and he was a very angry man as he exited the cockpit. For a moment, we thought we might get to see a helmet throw, but it was only a feint.
Boris Said, who is arguably the most popular and most talented of all of NASCAR's part time drivers, went to the infield care center. After he was released, his temper still hadn't cooled, and he stormed over to Ambrose's pit box and "apologized" in advance to Ambrose's crew chief for the car he was going to wreck as soon as he got the opportunity. While doing so, he used a few words that have sent Tony Stewart or Dale Earnhardt, Jr. to the NASCAR hauler. So we got enough drama to finally stop ESPN's repetitious and over-done recap of last year's altercation between Juan Pablo Montoya and Scott Pruett at Mexico City.
The on track drama began with 22 laps to go. The back to back cautions and restarts ended any speculation about fuel mileage, so it was all up to the racing.
With the exception of Colin Braun, whose car suffered a cut tire late in the race, the cream rose to the top in the final laps. Marcos Ambrose continued his charge to the front, for the second time in the race after having had to start in the back. Patrick Carpentier was also running toward the front, and there was never any doubt that he was a potential winner. Carl Edwards was also charging, and Kyle Busch, posting the fastest lap times, found himself on race leader Pruett's tail.
Busch showed that he does know something about road racing, as he tried to pass Pruett several times, only to be blocked aggressively by the race leader. "Rowdy" Busch wisely backed off, proving that he has somewhat matured since his run in with Mexico City's favorite son, Michael Jourdain, two years ago.
However he did get on the radio to his crew, expressing his, to put it nicely, frustration with Pruett's blocking. "He (Pruett) is going to lose," Busch declared, "I'm going to spin him."
But, the young hot shot managed to maintain some patience, and that threat never came to fruition, as, with nine laps to go, the handling of Pruett's car had deteriorated so much that he had no choice but to let Busch pass him.
With three laps to go, Marcos Ambrose, a man on a mission to prove himself and his underdog team, moved into second place, and seemed to be a threat to Busch, but Kyle kept the lead and took the checkers.
The best part of the victory was Kyle's "smoke trick," where he raises so much tire smoke with his burnout it seems solid, then moves to the top of the car to appear out of the smoke cloud. Awesome! And the cheers of the crowd in appreciation of this display confirmed that he had been forgiven for taking out their favorite two years prior.
To be honest, I took a nap during the first red flag period, and didn't wake up until the second, but it didn't matter because I didn't miss anything. Road course racing in NASCAR does have an advantage over the same in any open wheel series, because the heavier cars seem to be better able to compete for the lead, so the race isn't over after the first lap. But, still, especially with the spacer plates NASCAR uses on the Nationwide cars, theoretically to save the teams money on engines, the race could have done more to keep the spectator watching from the beginning of the race.
But though we may have slept through part of it, we caught the most important part of the race--the finish--and that was well worth it.

1 comment:

ZuDfunck said...

It did get good at the end

But there is just something 'bout a road race that annoys me

Now it's on to 'the Big One'
and lets wreck there!