Sunday, August 17, 2008

Live on Type Delay: Michigan II

The beginning of any race at Michigan International Speedway is always exciting, as forty-three cars take the green flag and immediately go three and four wide. But Jimmie Johnson takes the lead and starts to take off. Dale Earnhardt, Jr, the winner of the previous race at MIS is right behind him, and by lap 7, has caught him and passed him. The Hendrick cars look good right at the start, so it will be difficult for anybody else to catch them at this point.

By lap thirteen, the field has settled into single file, and there is no action to report. Lap 19 and the #21 car of Marcos Ambrose seems to have lost its engine going into turn three. Yes, it seems that the engine blew up and the Wood Brothers car is out of the race. As somebody said last week (or the week before), the oil pan couldn't hold all those engine parts.

Johnson gets off the pit road first and will take the lead, Vickers is second, and Earnhardt, Jr is scored in third. Immediately at the wave of the green flag, Earnhardt makes a move on Vickers for second, That race goes on for a few laps, with Jr ultimately taking the second spot. Meanwhile Kurt Busch, Greg Biffle, and Jeff Gordon are racing three wide for fifth.

Jr retakes the lead on lap 28, and that car is flying. Kyle Busch takes advantage of Jr's forward momentum and passes Johnson for 2nd. Brian Vickers has regained third, but Carl Edwards is making his move toward the front. During the TV commercial, Jimmie Johnson is passed by Edwards, and Edwards has his sights set on Vickers. Johnson continues to fall back as Biffle gains a position.

Did Johnson lose the handle on his car, or was there a bad adjustment on the last pit stop? Perhaps this is the scenario we have seen so many times before on intermediate tracks--the car is good running in clean are, but becomes unmanageable in traffic. That seems to be the case as Jeff Gordon takes sixth place from Johnson.

Now some bad news from the 88 team. Jr is running away from the field but his car is overheating. While we were concerned about that, Vickers races Kyle Busch and takes the second position after a good race between the two purported "bad boys."

Something right was done on Stewart's pit stop, as he remained around 21st spot during most of the first segment, and has now moved up into eighteenth position.

Earnhardt, Jr has slowed down enough to let Brian Vickers pass him, and gets on Vickers's bumper to try to remove any debris from the grill that might be causing the engine to overheat. So Vickers takes the lead during the commercial, Jr's grill is clean, and Jr's car still seems competitive as he backs off to let his engine get some air. While ESPN's beloved "Draft tracks" are being shown on TV, Edwards takes third place from Kyle Busch. Vickers is moving away with the lead.

Green flag pit stops begin on lap 62. Many of the drivers are reporting that their cars are tight going into the turn, and loose from the center off. While they are talking about that on the radio, we can see on the television that Stewart is having some serious handling problems with his car. He looks almost like he is dirt tracking, and doing all he can to hold onto seventeenth position.

Junior pits on lap 66, and reports that the water temperature has dropped about thirty degrees, so he is out of the woods as far as engine temperature goes. There is some contact on the pit lane between Reed Sorenson and somebody else. Jr takes the lead after pit stops cycle through.

Again, we commend MRN for their excellent pit coverage, but it is way too much information to try to keep up with. Not complaining, just making excuses for any errors.

Edwards is second, Brian Vickers third, and Greg Biffle fourth, and Kyle Busch is in fifth. 69 laps are complete. This race is going fast.

Carl Edwards takes the lead on lap 74 as Junior runs up against the tale end of the field. Vickers follows Edwards into second place, and Junior settles in third. Jr's car has gotten loose over the last ten laps, and now loses another spot as Biffle takes third.

The 88 team is probably hoping for a caution, before he loses much more on the track. That comes during the commercial, as Newman gets clipped from behind, runs out of control into Dave Blaney's car, which, in turn hits the wall. Now, looking at the replay on TV, it looks like it was Paul "Daddy bought this car for me" Menard was the one who hit Newman. That was a great save for Newman, but not for Blaney.

Edwards barely beats Biffle and Vickers off the pit lane, and Jr comes off fourth. Kyle Busch will restart in fifth.

Johnson hit something with the left front fender of his car, and heavy smoke is issuing from that wheel well. He returns to the pits for repair.

While that was going on Edwards let Biffle lead a lap for points, then retakes the lead. Kyle Busch has passed Vickers, and then passes Biffle for second and is catching the leader. Now surprise there. Jr has fallen back to seventh, and Smoke has moved into twelfth. Now Jeff Gordon cuts a tire, and a caution comes out. We hate to see this, because racing is much more fun when Gordon is competitive. It turns out that it was Gordon's right front fender that was the something Johnson hit, while they were racing for eleventh place four wide.

The leaders pit, and Edwards once again comes out in the lead. Greg Biffle is second, Brian Vickers is third, Kyle fourth, and a third RFR driver, David Ragan is in fifth. It's Michigan, it's Ford, and it's Ford at Michigan. Oh yeah, Matt Kenseth is in sixth. McMurray, where are you? Might as well get all of them up there in front.

Kyle Bush makes his move on 106 and takes second, while Vickers battles Biffle for third. We may be treated to a Edwards-Busch wheel to wheel contest toward the end of the race, which is a very good reason to keep watching, in our opinion.

We are wondering, along with ESPN, why the 88 car can start a race in good shape, and then just start losing handling before the race is half over. This is not a good day for HMS. Jr is still running in the top ten, but his car looks very loose. This is where, once again, we admire Junior's car handling abilities. There would be several Cup regulars who would be out of the race by now if their car was handling like that.

73 laps to go, and Edwards has a four second lead over Kyle Busch, who has a substantial lead over Brian Vickers and Greg Biffle. Biffle has debris on his grill that is causing overheating, and Vickers once again obliges another driver by moving in front of Biffle so the debris clears off of the grill.

Now Kasey Kahne is having engine problems. He lost a cylinder a little while earlier, and now smoke is issuing from the rear of the car.

Green flag pit stops begin on lap 137. Edwards Kyle Busch, and Biffle pit on lap 141, as does Brian Vickers. and the stops cycle through with Busch in the lead. Edwards catches him and he takes the lead. Then Busch races back for the lead. This was good stuff.

Greg Biffle comes out in third, and Vickers in fourth. 56 laps to go and fuel is good for about 44 laps, so there should be one more set of pit stops to go. Will there be another caution or will the "money stops" be under green. We do expect some stops to begin in about fourteen laps, as that will be the window to make it to the end of the race.

A caution does come for debris from the 24 car, which has re-entered the race, and on lap 166, the lead cars pit. Vickers gets out first by virtue of a two tire stop, and Kyle Busch will restart second. This should be very interesting when the race goes green. Carl Edwards is third, Greg Biffle is fourth, David Ragan fifth, and Dale Jr. is sixth.

Wow, Busch has the advantage at the wave of the green, and quickly passes Vickers. Now we see Busch using the entire track while in the lead, to find the fastest line. Vickers, loses second to Edwards.

Kurt Busch spins with a cut left side tire, but the race stays green. Biffle has fourth, and Dale Jr has moved all the way back to nineth, while Jeff Burton has moved up to eighth. Biffle now takes third from Vickers, and Edwards is about to engage Kyle Busch for the lead. Ragan maintains fifth and Kenseth is running in sixth.

Wow wow wow, some great racing between Busch and Edwards with 23 to go. This is some real racing that goes up and down the track, from the bottom to the top. Great stuff, wheel to wheel for the lead. With 22 to go, Kyle is still in the lead, and just as this was getting exciting, we get a debris caution. Here is where we see a possible psych-out between the leaders, but I don't think anyone will pit.

Wrong. Kyle pits, and Edwards makes a last minute decision to pit. Both Edwards and Busch take two and fuel, but Edwards gets out first. David Ragan and Dale Jr stayed out, which makes this even more exciting because we know these guys are going all in to win.

18 laps to go when they take the green, and I think this is going to be fun! Ragan is first, Jr second, Edwards third, and Kyle is fourth. Awwww &%#! Junior gets tangled up with lapped traffic and gets clipped, and hits the outside wall. His day is over. Kyle wasn't involved.

As things settle, Edwards has taken first, Ragan is second and Kyle is third. Another caution for debris with thirteen laps to go.

There are fifteen cars on the lead lap when the race restarts with ten laps to go. Will Ragan, running on much older tires than the leader, be able to hold his spot, or hold up Kyle? No, Kyle quickly gets around Ragan, but now with nine to go Ragan is racing Busch for his position back. Good racing but Carl is getting away.

Denny Hamlin loses his engine with five laps to go. This will tighten the field up again as the caution comes out. There is likely oil on the track, and there will be a shootout. This will be a single file restart, and will be a two lap shootout in regulation time. I like this much better than a fuel mileage race, and something tells me most fans do as well.

Kyle Bush did get second before the caution, but Edwards gets a great restart and is ahead by five car lengths as he takes the white flag. Busch has nothing for him. Edwards win, and the fans get to see a backflip for the second day in a row.

Final thoughts. It was okay. That's about it. Mostly predictable, though we can't really say that or else we could have won the pick five for this week, so maybe ist wasn't that predictable. But the race started, the cars raced, and Carl Edwards won. Average.


Ovalscream said...

Great recap, Rev'd. R U interested in doing a guest column over at NTW this week?

kutty said...

it the mostly predictable, for your very nice

Hrithik Roshan