Sunday, May 25, 2008

"Live" on type delay: The Coca-Cola 600

The opening ceremonies were fitting for Memorial day salute, including "The Lord's Prayer," "Amazing Grace," The Pledge of Allegiance, and Taps, as well as the National Anthem and the flyover. It was inspiring, humbling, and very respectful of those who have sacrificed much for our country. God Bless the troops, and Hold those who have given their lives for our country. Amen.

Kyle Busch holds the pole position, and immediately gains five car lengths on the field. That has come to be expected.

Lap three is early for racing in a 600 mile race, but already Greg Biffle, Brian Vickers, and Dale Jr are racing for position. We have to wonder if these cars going all out this early in the race will make it 400 laps.

By lap nine, Tony Stewart, who started thirty first has moved up to twentieth. That too, can be expected, as Smoke ran second fastest at final practice, and we know his car has something for this race.

Lap 25, and everybody has settled down, so it looks like the opening laps of a 600 mile race. By lap 34, Brian Vickers has caught Kyle Busch, but Busch is reporting ignition or engine problems. Still, Vickers has to make a very daring move to get in front of Kyle, and, though Kyle soon drops back to third place, he has changed the ignition box and seems to be holding that position. Then it seems he hasn't after all, and has dropped back to sixth, being passed by Jimmie Johnson, Kurt Busch, Dale Jr, and Jeff Burton

We have some racing going on on lap 48 as Number 48 driven by Jimmie Johnson, takes the lead, closely followed by Kurt Busch. Green flag pit stop cycle begins on lap 49. The pit stops cycle through to lap 54, and Johnson prevails as the leader. Now, it is still early to predict the outcome, but the 48 team seems like it is once again at home at Lowe's.

There may be some fans who have already given this up as too boring. There have been no cautions, no-one has wrecked, and the leaders have already passed several cars. But this is a long race, and this is a point in the race where this is expected. Besides, Dale Jr is in second, and Brian Vickers is in third, so the potential for a race is there. Robby Gordon hits the wall on lap 62 or 63, and the caution comes out for the first time in the race.

This commercial makes me feel proud. It is Budweiser's "Thank You" commercial we have seen on the internet, making its debut on television for Memorial Day. Military men and women are given a standing ovation as they come home through the airport. I love it.

After another round of pit stops during cautions, Johnson leads, and Kurt Busch is in second. Kurt takes the lead on lap 67, shortly after the restart. On lap 68, Dale Jr and Kyle Busch both pass Johnson, and now Jr is in second and Kyle Busch in third.

Lap 75 and there is a battle for second between Kyle Busch and Dale Jr, This is what the fans want to see. "Come on Jr, the fans yell, give him what he deserves!" But Jr is not a dummy, and he gives Kyle the outside and lets him take second. Maybe Kurt and Kyle will tangle again, because on lap 80. Kyle is catching his brother, and they will soon battle for the lead. What a great time for a commercial. During the commercial, Dale Jr regains third place from Kyle, because Brian Vickers has taken second. We really miss our PRN radio play by play here. It would have been fun to see that race, or, at least, hear about it. Now, during the next commercial, Jr has retaken second. Jr does have a good car, as he is about to catch the leader. There was a caution on lap 83, by the way, from Robby Gordon hitting the wall by himself.

Green flag pit stops begin on lap 108, and it looks like Carl Edwards is moving toward the front. It seems that in the past ten minutes we have had six minutes of commercials. Here comes another one. Oh well, Fox Sports does expect a return on their investment. I have to get coffee. The commercials are about to put me to sleep.

Green flag pit stops continue as we return to the action, and on lap 119 Jr pits and has problems. His team can't get the lug nuts off of the right front, and the 88 team loses ten seconds.There is some excitement on pit road as Kurt Busch starts a fire as he leaves his pit. No biggie, the fire is quickly extinguished. Everybody seems to take four tires again, and Greg Biffle leads a lap to get his five bonus points. After the pit stops cycle through, Brian Vickers is in first, and Kurt Busch is in second, I think, but I can't tell you because it is time for another commercial.

During the commercial, on lap 129, Kurt Busch has retaken the lead. Jimmie Johnson is in third, Kyle Busch is in fourth. By lap 136, Jr has regained fifth place, and Kyle Busch is in third place. Brian Vickers is racing Kurt Busch for the lead. It is a fairly hard fought battle, and Vickers prevails. What a comeback for Jr though!

Lap 150 and Kyle Busch has to pit out of third place, saying he feels he has a tire down. The news has come out on lap 156 tells us that Kyle's problem is more than a soft tire. The handling on the #18 car has gone away.

The good news is that my local AM radio station that carries PRN is coming in good, the bad news is that they have commercials the same time as the television broadcast.

During the commercials, Kurt Busch has cut a tire and has to pit. That also brings out a caution. He gets into the pits without too much damage to his car. Brian Vickers restarts the race on lap 166. Almost immediately, Juan Pablo Montoya who has been giving Tony Stewart a lot of grief, and visa versa, spins out after contact with Patrick Carpentier, bringing out another caution. Montoya said it felt like he had a tire going down. so he was already out of control at the time of contact. Mark Martin gets the free pass.

Okay, so I missed "radio remix" and Jeff Hammond on the television broadcast. I much prefer the PRN radio broadcast. The restart will see Brian Vickers in first and Jimmie Johnson in second. Tony Stewart has moved up to thirteenth, in spite of earlier handling problems, and Mark Martin is the last car on the lead lap in twentieth. Dale Jr is in third, Kasey Kahne in fourth, and Carl Edwards is in fifth. David Gilliland and Sam Hornish Jr are battling for the lead spot one lap down, and give the lead cars a little interference.

Jimmie Johnson passes Vickers on lap 184, while Kasey Kahne and Dale Jr battle for third, and both pass Vickers. Jr is about to engage Johnson for the lead while Robby Gordon's car blows up. Still no caution as Vickers loses his right rear tire, while at the same time, David Gilliland loses a wheel as well. Both cars wreck, not with each other, and the fourth caution comes out.

Dale Jr takes gas only on the pit stops, and leaves pit lane in first. Jeff Burton, Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne also take fuel only. Matt Kenseth's terrible bad luck continues as he is penalized for too fast entering pit road, and has to come back in.

Jr is first, Kasey Kahne is second, Jeff Burton is in third, and Kyle Busch is in fourth. Dave Blaney is in fifth. There are eighteen cars on the lead lap. Tony Stewart has made it up to tenth place. Again, almost immediately after the restart, Michael Mcdowell, at the rear of the field, spins and brings out the fifth caution. Wow. Bobby Labonte gets the free pass.

I suppose the rash of accidents can be due to the fact that the sun has set in Charlotte, and the track conditions are changing. The restart is on lap 196, and Earnhardt, Jr is able to gain an impressive lead right away, as Jeff Gordon fights to maintain his position as the first car one lap down. Dale Earnhardt leads the field by .8 seconds as the race passes the half-way mark. On lap 204, David Reutimann comes out of nowhere and takes fifth from Dave Blaney. Lap 206, Kahne has entered a very exciting battle for the lead. Isn't this ironic: Kahne drives the car that is sponsored by the same sponsor who sponsored Jr's car for seven years. Kahne takes the lead after a fight that looked like it belongs at the end of the race.

Now Tony Stewart has been picking off drivers on his way to the top five. We knew that car would come into its own as the track cooled, and Smoke worked hard to keep the car on the lead lap earlier, to let the handling come to him. Just before the commercials begin, he passes Carl Edwards for seventh.

Lap 220, and Jr is about to catch Kahne again. Jr is almost a second behind Kahne, and two seconds ahead of Kyle Busch. Then, on lap 224, the much anticipated caution for debris comes out, and Jeff Gordon gets the free pass.

How about that stop for the #19 team? Elliott Sadler gains twelve positions by taking fuel only, and takes the lead after pit stops. Dale Earnhardt, Jr is second. Stewart dropped back to tenth, but I think they have done the necessary work on his car, and we will see more of him. Kasey Kahne is third, Jeff Burton in fourth, and David Regan is fifth as the green waves on lap 228. Jr passes Sadler in turn four. David Regan and Kyle Busch are stuck behind lapped traffic, and Jr has a huge lead. Twenty-five car lengths to be exact. but there is still plenty of action going on in the field, and Jeff Burton takes third from Kahne.

Meanwhile, further back, Kyle Busch and David Regan are being held up by Kevin Harvick and JJ Yeley, as those two are still trying to fight for a lucky dog position. Earnhardt now has a three second lead over Burton, who has passed Sadler, and there are commercials on both TV and radio. Yeley brushes the wall on turn 2 of lap 244 and brings out another caution. This puts Kevin Harvick on the lead lap. All the leaders pit. Ryan Newman comes out of the pits first, Kyle Busch is second, Jeff Burton third, and Tony Stewart fourth. Newman did a gas and go to gain twelve positions. Jr comes out in sixth, and, I think, Jimmie Johnson, who also did a gas and go, came out fifth. 154 laps left, and I think things are going to get exciting.

Oops, it turns out that Newman missed his pit and had to give up the lead to pit on the next lap.

Did you see Jr almost wreck Tony? The man has some fire. Kyle Busch is in first and Tony Stewart is in second on lap 252. Jr is now trying to retake second place from Stewart. This is really exciting, much better than we would have thought after the All Star race.

145 to go and Earnhardt, Jr is back in second place, and gaining on Kyle Busch. Here we go! Lap 259 and Jr takes the lead. That was some great racing there; Jr seemed to be less than an inch from the wall as he passed the leader. See, radio is great, we missed this on television.

With 137 laps to go, Stewart is catching up to Kyle Busch who is two seconds behind Jr. As we go into commercials, Kahne is in fourth, and Jeff Burton is in fifth. The commercials give me a chance to give Jr a rave.

Say what you will about him, this Jr guy knows his car, knows the track, and knows how the two will interact. He can make that car do anything he wants it to at this point. I would hate to be the guy who beats Jr tonight, if, in fact, he does get beat. As it stands now, Jr is the class of the field.

Speaking of which, Tony Stewart has taken second place with 119 to go. 118 to go and Jr has a three second lead. This is a nerve wracking time for both Jr and Stewart fans, hoping that nothing goes wrong now. Please, Smoke, when you get there, please race clean. Jr, when Tony gets there, please race clean. Remember, you guys are buddies, right now.

111 laps to go, and Stewart is 2.7 seconds behind Jr, as Jr is lapping more lapped traffic, Kasey Kahne takes third from Kyle Busch. This is the calm before the storm, we feel. 108 laps to go and now Jr is 3.5 seconds ahead of Smoke.

Kyle Busch is going to have to change a battery. He has been going this entire race with electrical troubles, and now his engine is misfiring, due to those problems. He hasn't gone to the pits yet, but changing the batteries takes time that the 18 team can't afford at this time. Now, Jr is about to lap Gordon again. Ohhhh Noooooo!!! Jr hits the wall, Yeley, who is moving up to the outside does not have time to react, and runs into Jr, then spins out. Honestly, I really feel bad for the Dale Earnhardt, Jr fans. I really thought Jr would win tonight. I was really hoping that he would win, just to end that drought. Jr said on the radio, just before the accident that he cut a tire. Wow, again.

At the same time I really feel very, very bad for the Jr fans, I am somewhat nervous because Stewart is now in the lead. Why am I nervous? Stewart has been my favorite driver since the last part of 2001, and I have seen this before. Anything can happen. Especially since all the work that has been going on for the 88 team has been done while keeping Jr on the lead lap, so Jr is still a contender. But then Jr still has to pit again, and does lose a lap. Still bad news for the Jr fans. Then, good news, as the speeding penalty is waived, and Jr gets his lap back. Good luck for Jr fans. This is crazy. I love it!

Kasey Kahne is in second, Jeff Burton third, as Smoke takes the green flag with 95 laps to go. And there is a wreck back in the field as Sorenson and Hamlin have trouble as the cars try to restart. It seems that a slow restart on Stewart's part caused a huge accordion effect. There was no reason for Stewart to brake check the field, as they are saying on the radio, and I really don't think it happened on purpose. Stewart does not restart that way, he is more likely to jump the start than balk the start. Something happened we don't know about.

When they showed the replay of the restart, it looked like Tony just didn't go, and Kasey Kahne forgot that it is the lead car that restarts the race, not the second place car.

Shortly after the restart, Kahne takes the lead, but Stewart doesn't give up the fight, and Jeff Burton enters the battle. Kahne solidly gains the lead as Stewart and Burton race side by side, and Stewart retains second place. With 80 laps to go David Regan has taken third place, and Kasey Kahne has moved over two seconds ahead of Stewart.

With 76 laps to go, Kyle Busch has re-entered the top ten, after changing the battery on his car earlier. Now it seems we have hit another calm before the storm period. Carpentier spins out and brings another caution during the commercial. This happened while the crew on MRN was doing a recap of the season so far--that is how calm things really were, when the accident happened. We will see pit stops. It looks like this will once again be a fuel mileage race, as there are sixty nine laps to go as the teams pit. Johnson and Stewart get fuel only, and Johnson exits the pit line first, with Stewart, who insists his car is coming to him, is second. Kasey Kahne is third, and Elliott Sadler is fourth. Kyle Busch takes two tires and comes off fifth.

Oh noooo again-- the 88 team gets a penalty for stopping outside the pit box.

Good restart. Then caution for metal debris on the front stretch. Johnson was taking off, because AJ Allmendinger cut off Tony Stewart as he was trying to go with Johnson. Allmendinger's aggression pays off so he gets the lucky dog pass.

I will have to go back to television soon, as the radio station cuts power in twenty minutes. The restart should happen with 63 laps to go, so fuel mileage is still an issue. I am on my feet, and that makes it hard to type. An-n-n-n-d there went the radio station. That was fifteen minutes early. I could probably try to get KOMA, but that doesn't come in much better, and the whistling drives me nuts.

56 laps to go and Kyle Busch has taken second, and is about to catch Johnson. Here they go, Bush fakes low, then goes high and takes the lead. Kahne is third, and Stewart is fourth. I'm thinking Stewart is conserving fuel, but I don't see where that will help at this point.

What has kept this race exciting is that nobody has been able to keep the lead long, but now the 48 team has bad luck and it seems that Johnson's engine has expired. There will be no caution here, though, and Sadler moves into the top five, while Smoke moves into third. I'm already missing the radio. 41 laps to go and it looks like Kahne is catching Kyle Busch, and They are talking to Jimmie Johnson while Busch and Kahne are battling hard. Kahne takes the lead with 39 laps to go.

With thirty five laps to go we are discussing strategy. When will these cars begin to pit for fuel? We are assuming that all the cars will need to stop one more time in order to finish the race.

Wow, Tony Stewart has just taken second from his team mate, Kyle Busch.

With 17 laps to go Kahne gives up the lead to pit for fuel. Smoke is going to lead a few laps before his team decides to pit. Several cars have followed Kahne for a splash and go. Stewart is waiting. Then he pits with thirteen to go, and Kyle Busch takes the lead. Busch pits on the next lap. It looks like everybody will take fuel. Denny Hamlin has the lead with ten laps to go, and he pits with nine to go. It now looks like Jeff Gordon and Dave Blaney may gamble on fuel. Dave Blaney is now in first, then he decides not to gamble, and Smoke takes the lead. Stewart is now 5.5 seconds ahead of Kahne. All Smoke has to do now is bring it home.

Damn! Stewart cuts a tire with three to go, and has to give the lead to Kahne. See, Jr Nation? We fans of other drivers feel pain too. What a disappointment. Man that hurts! Kasey Kahne wins, Greg Biffle is second, and Kyle Busch is third. Jeff Gordon's gamble paid off as he finishes fourth, and Dale Jr brought his wrecked car home in fifth. What a race, what a finish!

I am emotionally drained. All I can say is that Kasey must feel good not having to keep his helmet on when he gets out of the car in front of the fans.

Some final thoughts: It seems like the teams may be getting a handle on the cars for the intermediate tracks. There were a lot of lead changes, and most of them were hard fought, rather than the "my turn. your turn" lead changes we have seen in the past. There was real racing, and even though we weren't treated to a real race for the win, due to mechanical trouble, it could have happened. I won't declare the new Sprint Cup Car complete and ready to compete at this time, but it does seem like we are getting there. It was a much better race than Texas or Atlanta were, so we continue to hold hope for the new car and the teams. Time will tell.


Antonette said...

I don't think I could take another race like that again anytime soon. Whew.

Cheyenne said...

That race tuckered me out and all I can say is praise the Lord and pass the biscuits...Dale Jr. finished in 5th place. WooHoo!

Snafam said...

Just one correction Rev! David Gilliland did not lose a wheel, it was Vickers wheel that bounced off the the hood of the 38, before traveling out into the infield. Thank heavens no one was hurt, as that could have killed any number of people. One wonders if NASCAR will be checking the status of the tethers on the tire of the 83

Anonymous said...

Yup, it was Vickers wheel, for sure. Earnhardt Jr is the MAN, crashing and still in 5th. Hey nice people, can you all help me win this contest? My video is under my name, Sheamus Montgomery, I'm in last place but this is the easiest and ONLY way I am going to get tickets to the next race! Just go to that site and vote for my video (last place) Please?? Thank youuu!

Tim Zaegel said...

Yeah, that was a very exciting race. And, though I'm still extremely bummed that Stewart didn't walk away with the win, I'm equally as happy that Busch didn't, either.

50/50 ... I'll take it, I guess.

RevJim said...

Thank ya'll for the correction. I was trying to do several things at once, and I had the TV muted and the radio on, so I wasn't sure at the time I wrote that whose wheel it was.