Saturday, May 10, 2008

Darlington: "Live" on type delay

Only the third lap and already the race is eventful. Biffle took off from the drop of the green flag and takes the lead for the first lap, but Dale Jr takes the lead for the second. Going into turn one Stewart went too high and was collected by Elliott Saddler. A typical Darlington mistake on Stewart's part, trying to pass on the outside of turn one, but we can't help but to think of the uproar that would have been if Kyle Busch was on the inside and Earnhardt, Jr on the outside.
Sadler broke a part of the car's suspension, and Stewart's car is going to need a lot of work, but it is still early, and we hope Zippy and crew can get that car straightened out.
A lot of credit should be given to Elliott Sadler. He took the blame for running up into Tony, even though Stewart should have known better not to try enter the turn on the outside, according to DW. I wonder, though, since Stewart had the lead going into the turn, should it have been Sadler who did the giving? I guess it's a matter of perspective.
By lap twelve, there has already been at least seven cars hitting the wall, but "Darlington stripe" has been said only twice by the broadcast personalities, much to their credit.
Kyle Busch takes the lead from Dale Jr, without wrecking him, much to the dismay of Junior Nation. Kyle puts a healthy lead over the rest of the field, but runs into traffic, and the rest of the field catches him and Greg Biffle retakes the lead.
Green flag pit stops begin on lap 58, with Jeff Burton. Biffle pits on lap 60 while in the lead. Johnson has a bad pit stop. Jr pits on lap 61.
Love those retro paint schemes. The ones on the 21 and 28 are especially nostalgic for me.
Kenseth leads a lap or three before he comes into the pits. Then Carpentier (!) leads a lap, while Ryan Newman has to take a drive through penalty for a tire violation. Gilliland is the next to get his five bonus points during the green flag pit cycle, then Kyle Busch takes the lead, coming out ahead after the pit stops cycle through. My bet at this point is that Busch the younger will use up his car before it gets to the lap that counts, as his team is talking about brake problems. That's another problem with being too aggressive at Darlington.
Biffle is making a run for the lead again on lap 100. The drivers have settled down some, which is expected, and typical for Darlington. Three cars have been to the garage--Sam Hornish, Jr, Elliott Saddler, and Kyle Petty, and the 77 car of Hornish is the only one that is back on the track.
Kyle is still leading as the race coverage breaks to a commercial. But during that commercial, Biffle retakes the lead. Unusual for Darlington--100 caution free laps, and about to enter a second cycle of green flag pit stops. Burton again begins the cycle on lap 116.
Johnson has another long pit stop, but that doesn't mean anything dreadful for the 48 team at this point in the race.
It isn't going to help Stewart any to miss the pit road. Carpentier, on the other hand, is running a decent race, especially for his first time at Darlington.
Biffle has the lead after pit stops cycle through, but Kyle Busch passes him, without wrecking him.
As Busch is about to lap Kasey Kahne, there is a caution, perhaps saving what looked like might be a wreck.
Kyle Busch and Scott Riggs have to restart at the end of the longest line for loose/missing lug nuts, and Dale Jr takes the lead as the race restarts on lap 145.
Lap 149 Harvick gets lose and hits the wall hard coming out of turn 2. That brings out the fourth caution and pretty much takes Happy out of the race. His team will get that car back out on the track, but it won't be competitive. The streak without DNFs will remain intact.
Earnhardt maintains the lead on the lap 152 restart and is checking out on the field. By lap 158 here comes Da Biff again.
Biffle retakes the lead, Kyle Busch is moving up fast from the rear of the field. Earnhardt, now in third place slaps the wall.
On lap 194, Truex takes the lead, Biffle has a bad transmission. Bad luck for Da Biff.
Green flag pit cycle begins with 167 laps to go.
And after the pit stops cycle through, Biffle, who did not have a transmission problem after all, is in the lead.
Blaney is moving up fast, as well. Smoke is now two laps down.
Biffle's car is no good again. This time it looks like he's out. Caution, and Truex retakes the lead. Then Hamlin takes the lead after pit stops with 130 laps to go. It doesn't surprise me that a Gibbs car would be near the front at any time during the race, the way that team has been going. If one car doesn't make it, there are two more.
Vickers made a bad move into the pits during the last caution, hitting Newman's cars. That is not a good thing for me to see, because both of those drivers are drivers I like. Now, with 119 laps to go, Vickers hits the wall and brings out another caution. I'm thinking that Junior Nation already hates Brian for winning the Talladega race two years ago, and Newman Nation hates him now, so Brian Vickers should be more hated than Kyle Busch.
Jeff Gordon is in the lead when the race restarts with 116 to go. That should be no surprise, if there is a master of Darlington among active drivers, it's Jeff.
Kyle Busch has made it all the way to the front with 94 laps to go. He is still making that car move after all the abuse he has put it through. I still think it's too early to celebrate a victory yet, but that is an amazing comeback, whether you like the guy or not.
Caution with 88 laps to go.
More lug nut issues for the #18 team, Coach Joe is perplexed and calls a conference. . Restart with 83 to go and Jeff is in the lead. but now he is falling back, and Kyle Busch is back in the lead. 79 laps to go and Busch makes his car even thinner, by hitting the wall again.. Earnhardt, Jr is in second. Looks like a set up for another great scenario.
With 74 laps to go, it is easy to see that Darlington has taken her toll. The cars that aren't beat up are having mechanical problems, and the pace has slowed somewhat.
During the commercial, with 66 laps to go, Martin Truex, Jr and Denny Hamlin were racing for seventh, and Truex seemed to run over Hamlin. Hamlin spun, but Truex's car has more damage. Caution, lead cars pit, Tony Stewart is back to one lap down, after racing his way in front of the lead cars after the last restart.
The lead cars pit during the caution and Kyle Busch retains the lead. Carl Edwards is in second and Jeff Gordon is in third with 61 laps to go.
Truex did get out of the pits ahead of Hamlin. If Hamlin had as many fans as Jr, Truex would be the world's least popular driver.
It doesn't look like there will be a caution in time for Stewart to do anything if he gets back on the lead lap. Smoke has a very fast car right now, but it doesn't look like he can do any more than he has.
Eight laps to go and that 18 car is going faster. It is wrecked, and it looks like the Desparado* will get the win. This is unbelieveable! No matter what you may think of the Desparado, he did an incredible job to win the race the way he did. That car was wrecked, and he just kept going faster toward the end of the race. And, you have to admit, that smoke trick is a great victory celebration!
I never would have thought that, out of the three Gibbs drivers, Kyle would have been the one to win. His style is just too aggressive for Darlington, and even if there had been no other cars on the track, he shouldn't have been able to go 500 miles that way. But he did, and all I can say is "Wow!"

*Marc at Full Throttle coined the moniker "Desparado" for Kyle Busch. I think it will stick, after time.


Anonymous said...

Stewart did not try to pass on the outside. Sadler was the one on the outside. I refuse to read anymore after that if you can not even get that right. No telling what else is wrong in your "article" but I will not be finding out

Tim Zaegel said...

That's funny ... because my recollection of the race was that Stewart was indeed on the outside. As I remember it, though, I don't think he was necessarily trying to make a pass, I think they were just simply driving side-by-side, and as the by-product of a double-file start, was wrecked. Sadler bobbled and clipped the rear end of Smoke.

RevJim said...

Anonymous is silly. I did give my take on it in the next paragraph, but that reader decided he or she wanted to take issue with it.
Since Stewart entered the turn ahead of Sadler, it should have been Stewart's line, and Sadler should have been the one that was giving.
Tim, you're right, though. They were both running in a spot on the track where there is only room for one car.
I was trying to type and watch the race at the same time, and I was going by what DW was saying, but, in retruspect, and watching the replays, I have no idea what Waltrip was talking about.

Tim Zaegel said...

That's because Waltrip's an idiot ... and, I wouldn't sweat anything that "Anonymous" had to say. Looking at their comment, it didn't exactly strike me as the most mature of readers anyhow.