Sunday, June 15, 2008

Live on type delay: The Lifelock 400

Bill Engvall, as a member of the "Blue Collar Comedy Tour" is one of my favorite comedians. He is a genuine NASCAR fan, and he has among his jokes several good NASCAR stories. He gave the command to start the engines at the Lifelock 400, and it makes me wish that NASCAR could get him for their banquet at the end of the season.

Kyle Busch quickly takes the lead from the beginning of the race, but on lap three Dave Blaney has a problem with the rear suspension and spins out, bringing out the first caution. After the restart, Jimmie Johnson takes the lead. Edwards makes a move for second, but Busch holds him off. Dale Earnhardt, Jr holds a top five position, and Brian Vickers, who started eighteenth has moved up to fourth place by lap sixteen. That 83 car looks fast.

After the first seventeen laps, everybody except for Johnson, Vickers, and Matt Kenseth seems to be having handling issues, and things have settled down. Except Vickers and Kenseth are still gaining positions, and Johnson is checking out on the field. By lap 30, Kenseth has moved into fifth place and Vickers is running second.

Blaney, who had a broken axle, is back on the track twenty-two laps down, and the star-crossed Dario Franchitti has reported a broken valve spring. Vickers has made up most of the four second gap between him and the race leader, Jimmie Johnson. Johnson can't block him, and Vickers has the faster car. Vickers takes the lead on lap 33, after starting eighteenth. We have to wonder if his team remembers this is a marathon race. Franchitti's engine gives up just as Vickers takes the lead. He was about to be lapped, but he caused no interference for the leaders, as he had to pull off the track on turn four, and into the garage. Dario's day is done

Kenseth is still on the move, as the Fords are flexing their muscles, and has taken third place from Kyle Busch. Johnson and Vickers exchange the lead, then exchange again, almost reminiscent of Saturday's truck race, where the racing for the lead was a constant throughout the race.

Vickers pits from the lead on lap 37, as scheduled green flag pit stops begin, for fuel and tires only, no adjustments needed. Smoke is happy with his car, and just needs to free it up a little. He sounds impressed by the power plant. Earnhardt has an excellent pit stop, and should gain positions after the pit stops cycle through.

After the pit stops cycle through, Vickers is running away with the race in first, Johnson second, Kenseth in third, Busch in fourth and challenging Kenseth on lap 41. Edwards is fifth, Earnhardt, Jr is sixth, Kahne is running in seventh, Biffle in eighth, Jeff Gordon in ninth, and Tony Stewart is tenth.

So far, this has been a pretty good race. Vickers isn't really running away with it after all, and the field is catching him. Johnson is threatening for the lead again. If racing for the lead is what we like to see early in a race, we are loving this. By lap 56, twenty-nine cars are still on the lead lap.

First cool moments of the race happen as Kasey Kahne in the Bud car has been involved in a race for sixth place against Dale Earnhardt, Jr, for several laps. Matt Kenseth has taken second place on lap sixty-five, but Johnson seems to be losing the handling on his car. Unless something important is broken, we can be certain that Chad Knaus can fix it Kenseth, on the other hand, is catching the leader, who is still Brian Vickers.

Now Stewart is falling back, and is running in thirteenth. Martin Truex, Jr has entered the top ten, and Ryan Newman seems to have an overheating problem, as does his team mate, Kurt Busch. Newman's problem is now reported to be a broken drive shaft, and, just as the next round of green flag pit stops begin, Kenseth has pulled to within half a second of Brian Vickers. Another race for the lead, except Vickers pits first. Still no adjustments, just four tires and fuel. The other cars can be expected to have adjustments made on them. By lap seventy nine, the pit stops are already cycled through, and Matt Kenseth seems to have the lead. Vickers is second, Kyle Busch third, Johnson is fourth. Johnson and Busch are racing each other, so that position keeps changing. Edwards has been staying around fifth place.

Caution for Budweiser debris on lap ninety-two. We can expect to see some more pit stops here, and all the leaders do pit. This is a no brainer on any intermediate track, as it is always treated as a fuel mileage race, and you don't want to get caught on old tires if everyone else gets new tires. Edwards takes two tires only and comes off pit road first. They wanted to get him to the lead, because he has been having problems in traffic. The strategy may work for a while. Hamlin stayed out, and has the lead, but Edwards is in second. Hamlin pits before the green flag, however.

Edwards is now first, Kenseth second, Kyle Busch is third, Brian Vickers is fourth. Jimmie Johnson is fifth, asnd there is some exciting racing at the drop of the green flag. Edwards gets the lead, but has to deal with lapped traffic. Kenseth, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Brian Vickers change positions several times, but as they put the lapped traffic behind them, the order settles down Edwards first, Kenseth second, Johnson third, Kyle Busch fourth, and Vickers fifth. Kurt Busch spins and brings out the third caution of the day, at just around lap 100.

We're on dial up, so we can't have a race buddy, but that seems to be a good deal for those who have DSL To make matters worse, my local station that carries MRN has suddenly lost its signal, so we're stuck watching commercials. This is really tough, if you like racing. I know they are under caution, but it is like being blind if you don't know what's going on during the pit stops. Jeff Gordon has taken seventh place, as everybody who was in seventh on back pitted.

After the restart, we have some five-wide racing going on back in the pack. Edwards is still in the lead, Kenseth is second and Kyle Busch is third. Stewart seems to be able to get back into the top ten, but that is as far as his car will go, Jeff Gordon is falling back. This is not his season. Stewart has moved into eighth, and David Regan has made it to the top ten.

Stewart is still moving up and takes seventh from Dale Earnhardt, Jr before I can type a top five run down. Kenseth takes the lead on lap one-oh-something. Another Dodge besides Kahne's seems to be doing well as Elliott Sadler moves into the top ten. Regan is running twelfth

More green flag pit stops around lap 140. After they cycle through, by lap 144, Kenseth retains the lead. Stewart and Earnhardt, Jr both seem to have good cars, and we should see a change in the top five, soon.

I guess it is a good thing my MRN reception is gone, because it will make for a shorter, and perhaps, more readable post. It will, however, be less detailed and less accurate.

During the commercial, around lap 150, Bobby Labonte spins out and brings out a caution. Ryan Newman returns to the track sixty-three laps down. Kenseth stops for two tires, as does Kyle Busch. Busch is the first car off pit road, but Jimmie Johnson stays out and takes the lead. Robby Gordon gets wrecked on the restart, and it is caution again.

This race is going by pretty quickly, and we like that. There are less than fifty laps to go, and there will be one more pit stop before the end. There will be different pit strategies that will make a difference in what happens during the last thirty-four or thirty five laps. The anticipation is exciting, even if the race itself might not be for some.

Johnson restarts in first, Jeff Gordon's day gets worse as he is penalized for too fast exiting pit road. Sam Hornish, Jr., who also stayed out is in second, and Kyle Busch is in third, Kenseth is in fourth. Stewart moves into fifth after a lap or two. Earnhardt, Jr has a good car, but not early in the run and he falls back to eighth during the restart. Hornish is making his second place position stick.
Sam Hornish actually races to the lead for a lap, then falls back closely behind Johnson. The way things are going now, there will have to be fuel stops. We don't believe anyone can make it to the end with the fuel they have, without a caution.

Cool moment #2 is a Kyle Petty quote. Just before the last restart, Johnson reported that he didn't have first or second gear. Petty was saying that Johnson may hold up the restart without the two bottom gears, but Johnson took off. "Like I was saying, if he doesn't have first or second gear, he has 85,000 horsepower in third gear."

Johnson takes four and fuel for his last pit stop, Kyle Busch does likewise. Greg Biffle takes right sides only but gets a penalty after running over his air hose. It wasn't Da Biff's fault, he was given instructions to go on the jack drop, and the tire changer was slow in getting back to the wall.

Most of the teams, even the ones that had pitted most recently on lap 148 know that they can not make it on fuel, they are all pitting. The Roush Fenway teams do seem to have been having diffulty executing their splash and two stops.

Well this is a whole new jar of pickles. Earnhardt hasn't refueled since lap 148 and may be short on fuel. There is a caution with a little over three laps to go. GWC restart, caution on the last lap, and Jr wins. Let me say that again JR WINS !!!

Beer cans are flying, people are booing and yelling curses at the winner. Just kidding. The celebration is going to be big.

Kasey Kahne finishes second, Matt Kenseth comes in third, Brian Vickers fourth, and Tony Stewart stays in the top twelve in points standings by finishing fifth.

Meanwhile, we get on with celebrating Fathers' Day. Happy Father's Day, Dad.


DaleJarrett4Ever said...

I have to admit it was a pretty good race for Michigan. It can be a pretty boring race at times but it seems the Car of Tomorrow, oops, I mean Car of Today is proving to make the races a bit more exciting.

Kudo's to Vickers!!! He is really starting to climb the ranks and show people out there he can really drive.

CONGRATS to Junior!!! I heard he told Mr. Hendrick to stay home and not go to the track, good thing Mr. Hendrick doesn't like to listen, especially to his employees..LOL

Impressive Kahne. Back to back wins and now a second place finish. Seems he is on a mission.

Liam Dempsey said...

I am just glad that Junior finally got a win and on Father's Day too!