Saturday, July 12, 2008

Live on Type Delay: Chicagoland

"Gentlemen start your engines!" as shouted by Brenden Frasier, was the most enthusiastic we have heard since Kevin James did it last year. The race starts just as enthusiastically, and JJ Yeley is black flagged for dumping weight!?! Wow, we haven't seen that since the seventies. Did he have sand in the roll bar, like they used to do in the old days? Maybe it's only me, but the mere fact that someone actually tried that in this day and age is exciting.

Before the third lap, Michael McDowell and Jason Leffler illustrate the hazards of running near the back and McDowell gets the worst of it. The laps are passing quickly, and Kyle Busch is way out in front by lap 24 and is nearly three seconds ahead of Carl Edwards. Jimmie Johnson is third, and the front three cars are way spread out in single file. As can be expected at a night race, all the teams have started the race with a loose set-up, and this will be worked on during the competition caution on lap 35. Kyle Busch loves loose, and Tony Stewart doesn't seem to have a problem with it either, as he has gained six spots since the start of the race.

Planned competition caution after lap 35, and everybody pits, as expected. Jeff Burton comes out first, and Kyle is second. But Burton is penalized for exiting too fast. You don't want to make that kind of mistake here. Stewart takes some adjustments and looses two spots. Dale Earnhardt, Jr, who was in fifth, gains one spot. Carl Edwards is in second, Earnhardt Jr restarts third, because of the Burton penalty. Jimmy Johnson is fourth.

The front two, Kyle Busch and Carl Edwards quickly move away from the field, and they are racing hard for the lead. And clean. After about a lap locked in battle, Edwards takes the lead. There has been a lot of racing going on behind the leaders, and as things clear up, Johnson is in third, Matt Kenseth is fourth, and Tony Stewart is fifth. Dale Jr and Denny Hamlin seem to be having trouble, and Hamlin's car looks like the trouble is serious. He has no electrical power at all. A Gibbs Toyota with electrical problems is not unprecedented. Caution, to get the eleven car off the track. I do not think Denny stopped on purpose this time.

I missed the restart, but it looks like Jeff Gordon and Greg Biffle stayed out, and are racing each other for the lead. Brian Vickers is up there as well, and when I get back to the keyboard, there is a good race between Gordon and Vickers for second. It is some exciting racing that goes on for two or three laps, and Vickers takes the spot. But these guys are still racing. Vickers makes the bottom work, then the top works for him. Further back Stewart in fifth is challenging Kyle Busch in fourth, and Carl Edwards is in that mix. There is some great racing going on in the top five or six spots. We are actually getting some good excitement early in the race.

Johnson, Harvick, and Truex, Jr are also racing hard further back. Jr's problems continue, though, and he is back in 29th spot because of a slow pit stop, taking four tires and adjustments, while everyone else took fuel and two during that last caution. This race is actually pretty good so far, and we have a long way to go.

Biffle seems to have a car that can stay out front, and he has pulled away from the rest of the field while they have been racing each other. Kyle has lost more ground to Johnson, Truex, and Kenseth, and this tells us how much clean air means to these cars. By the time the commercials on both the TV and radio are over, Vickers is in second and gaining on Biffle. Stewart is running in third. Edwards is in fourth, and Jeff Gordon has fallen back to fifth. The last pit strategy has worked so far for Biffle, who stayed out, but not so well for Gordon.

Vickers is still gaining on the leader, and, by lap 86, Truex has entered the top five. It still seems the race is going by fast.

When the commercials are over, Vickers is only .4 seconds behind Biffle, who is negotiating lapped traffic. Stewart is over seven seconds behind Biffle. Truex passes Edwards for fourth, using the top of the track. Biffle reports that he is too loose, but remember, he did not pit when most of the other cars did. TNT is playing catch up on commercials, since this is their last week of coverage, interrupting the race coverage every three minutes, or so it seems.

Biffle makes a green flag pit stop, as expected. Vickers pits as well and Stewart takes the lead on lap 94. Jeff Gordon makes a very good pit stop. Stewart and Truex haven't pitted yet, and are running first and second. Lap 99, and Smoke still hasn't pitted. He likes that lead. Johnson and some of the others in the lead pack begin pitting around lap 102 or 103. Stewart finally pits on lap 105 or thereabouts, as does Kevin Harvick. It seems that everybody is out of pit stop sequence with everybody else. This is interesting.

Biffle is back in the lead after the pit stops cycle through, by lap 108, and Gordon is second. Stewart comes out of the green flag pit stops in fourth, and if there weren't commercials, I could tell you the rest of the top five line-up.

Michael Waltrip spins and brings out the third caution of the race around lap 112, while MRN is interviewing Brendan Frasier, and TNT is showing commercials. This is Frasier's first experience at a NASCAR race, and he is very impressed and very excited. "This is my first race," he says, "but it is definitely not my last."

Everybody takes to the pits again, and Tony Stewart is the first off this time. Biffle and Gordon take four tires, everyone else seems to take two. Truex has to come back into the pits for too fast exiting the pit lane.

Yeley's penalty at the beginning of the race was for changing the driver's water bag, it is now revealed.

Matt Kenseth, Kyle and Kurt Busch, AJ Allmendinger, David Ragan, and Reid Sorenson stayed out, and after the green flag waves, Kenseth and Kyle are racing hard for the lead, as Tony Stewart closes in. We have a three way race for the lead now. Stewart watches them race for a while, then sees an opening and takes second place. As he stalks Kyle Busch for the lead, they face Jeff Burton who is at the end of the lead lap. Kyle uses the 31 car for a pick and keeps Stewart behind him, but it looks like Stewart may have the faster car.

Kenseth has to pit because of a tire going down. And Kyle Busch is now putting some distance between his car and Stewart's. Simultaneous commercials again! But we can't complain, because, surprise, surprise, surprise, this is the latest I ever remember my local MRN radio station staying on the air after seven PM.

At the halfway point of the race, Busch leads, Stewart second, David Ragan third, AJ Allmendinger with his new crew chief Jimmy Elledge is fourth, and Brian Vickers is fifth. A great run for the Red Bull.

One of the things Kyle Busch's crew chief has attributed to the success of the #18 team is the fact that his driver is never happy with the car, even when the car is in the lead. "He is always pushing us to do better, no matter what," Addington said, "so we just keep getting better."

I never should have mentioned MRN, as the station that carries it here is now off the air. Meanwhile, we are watching Larry Mac sawing a guy in half. I feel like I have been blinded.

I still like the Montoya Juicy Fruit commercials. They really emphasize racing, and that is a good thing.

I am really wondering what is going on in the race. It seems like it has been about ten minutes since the last time we had race coverage. I don't know if it has actually been that long, but it just seems that long. Now we are watching action from 2006.

Okay, caution for debris. Kyle Busch will restart in the lead. Tony Stewart is second, Kevin Harvick is third. Don't wreck Tony, Kevin, he is your friend. Stewart gets hung up in lapped traffic, and Busch takes off. They may have over-adjusted the 20 car, because it looks very loose.

Edwards is fourth and Vickers is fifth. The sunset is very orange, so we can take that as a sign that Stewart will win. I really hope I haven't jinxed my favorite driver. Yes, there is a bunch of BS here now, because TNT still refuses to give us a clue as to what is happening on the race track. I still think the Coors Light commercials are pretty awesome, but that won't make me drink Coors.

The only thing that has changed is that David Ragan is in fifth and Vickers is in sixth.

Does anyone else wonder what Jeff Burton would look like with a Mullet? "Business in the front, party in the back" sounds like a good assessment of JB, doesn't it?

Don't know what happened during the commercials, but Tony Stewart has caught Kyle Busch. Busch has mentioned that he felt like his right rear tire had low air pressure, and he is fighting tight. Stewart is about to engage in a race for the lead, when the caution comes out for a spring rubber on the track. The leaders all pit.

They come off pit road with Busch in first, Stewart in second, and Carl Edwards in third. Harvick and Ragan fill out the top five.

Does anybody else get the impression that TNT is actually trying to leave the fans with the affirmation that TNT really does suck at race coverage? I do like their camera coverage, usually, and they did a good job at explaining why Kyle Busch won last week at Daytona, so there was no mistake that he was in the lead when the caution came out. But other than that, this race coverage really does suck. No wonder people think the races are boring.

Stewart, starting in second, gets a good restart this time, but not quite good enough, and Kyle Busch again takes off.

Wally Dallenbach is thought of as being from Colorado, so I don't say anything bad about him. We watched for years as he and his father tackled the Pike's Peak Hill Climb. They are part of what is left of the racing identity of Colorado Springs. Sad, isn't it?

Carl Edwards takes second from Stewart, but Stewart is better on the long runs, so he will probably gain that spot back, later.

I'm tired of Loren Wallace, and the Toyota fan controllers. I think there might be an over-abundance of commercials tonight. This is very frustrating.

Something is wrong with Stewart's car, it seems. Harvick has taken third. Stewart has said he is too loose, but he feels it will come back to him. I think the car is just the way he wants it, and we will see that toward the end of the race. Carl Edwards takes the lead, but both Edwards and Busch are increasing their lead over the rest of the field.

Kyle Busch retakes the lead with 55 laps to go, as Carl Edwards has to pit due to handling problems. It seems that the front splitter has broken, and the car is very tight as a result. Jimmie Johnson takes second from Kevin Harvick, as Tony Stewart continues to have no problem and has now fallen back to fourth.

Caution for debris. Ryan Newman does two tires and fuel, and comes off the pits second, after Kyle Busch, but that strategy gains him twelve positions. I wonder if it is supposed to rain?

Restart with 37 laps to go. Everybody has enough fuel to make it to the end. Johnson is in third. He may be a contender. If he doesn't wreck while trying to get through lapped traffic. Busch is pulling away. Stewart and Biffle almost wreck, as Stewart gets loose and moves up the track. Stewart loses momentum Johnson has taken second from Newman, and Harvick has taken third. Paul Menard, whose daddy bought and sponsored a car for him so he could wreck the big boys, removes the rear panel from the #70 car in front of him and brings out another caution.

Restart with 27 laps left. Johnson gets a good restart and stays close behind Busch. This could turn into a good race here. I like this, the 48 is using the track to beat Kyle Busch, but is still studying a way to get the lead. He makes a move, but falls back. This is good racing, and smart at that. Personally, I like Kyle Busch better than I like Jimmy Johnson, but that doesn't mean I don't want to see Johnson try to beat him. Bobby Labonte spins and brings out yet another caution.

This race doesn't have the intensity that the Coca Cola 600 had, but it does hold our interest a little better than the Michigan race did. But TNT really is playing catch up with the ads and is showing six weeks worth of commercials during this broadcast. That is a shame. We should be enjoying this race more than we have been.

Still good racing up front, and Jimmy Johnson is racing hard for the lead. He catches Kyle this time and takes the lead. Yeah, I guess that means another commercial. David Gilliland's blown engine brings out a caution. Two laps to go at the restart. It will be a shootout between Johnson and Kyle Busch. This is the stuff. Whoo hoo is right. Kyle Busch goes deep in turn three and takes the lead. A very intense final lap, where Jimmie Johnson almost wrecks three times trying to beat Busch, but Busch takes the lead. Kyle Busch gets stuck in the mud trying to celebrate and the crowd goes wild.

This is Kyle's seventh Sprint Cup win this season, and, I believe, his fourteenth NASCAR win for 2008. Those last two laps were wonderfully wild. Johnson is known for driving hard into the turns, and Kyle had to go even harder. It was good hard racing, and the adrenaline level was high for the finish. Good job, guys.


gdr said...

What was with TNT having a magic show in the middle of the race? Are those folks so desperate for face time on screen that they'll do ANYTHING?

I watch NASCAR racing to watch the racing - or segments related to racing - NOT to see some idiot sawed in half!


RevJim said...

I would use stronger language than "ridiculous," but I try to refrain from that here. It was truly effed up though. I think they did end up skipping ten minutes of the race between that segment and the commercials.

I usually like to have MRN on and that normally enhances the racing experience, and for the night races, our local station that carries the race coverage is very unreliable.

Tim Zaegel said...

*Shrug* I dunno, I thought it was funny.

As for the race, though, man ... gotta say that horsepower and equipment aside, Kyle Busch deserved every bit of that win on Saturday. That move he put on Johnson was just sweet.