Sunday, August 10, 2008

Live on Type Delay: The new Roadmaster

First some apologies. I said that Jimmie Johnson was in the lead when he ran out of fuel during the final laps of the Zippo 200 at Watkins Glen. That was not a live on type delay report, and I was trying to write from memory,. which isn't that good these days. Jeff Burton was in the lead, and never gave it up until he, too, ran out of fuel.

Now on to today's race. There is nothing like seeing those cars going in to turn one from the start three wide and beatin' and bangin' on each other. When things settle down after the first lap, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, who likes Watkins Glen much better than Sonoma, takes the lead. Jimmie Johnson is second, Jeff Gordon third, and pole sitter Kyle Busch is fourth. There is a commercial already.

No MRN or PRN today, but Kyle Petty says that they make up the action because nobody can see what they are talking about. He is only saying that because he is a TV guy, but that makes me nervous anyway. I fear I may not be able to write anything that you don't see on television. Screw it, MRN is on, but it will be interrupted for the radio station's special promotion, a fund raiser for the ASPCA. Worthy cause, so I won't complain.

By lap ten, Tony Stewart, who has been moving up agressively from the start, has moved into fourth position. Dale Jr is checking out, doing very well, and Jeff Gordon has fallen back to fifth. Now Carl Edwards has made it into the top five, and Kevin Harvick is in sixth, while Gordon falls all the way back to seventh. Now Jeff Burton is trying to pass Jeff Gordon. This is disturbing, actually, that Gordon is starting the race so poorly. There is plenty of time to get that car fixed, but Jeff Gordon falling back at Watkins Glen is just plain wrong.

PJ Jones and Patrick Carpentier perform some synchronized spinning, similar to what we saw with Busch and Burton yesterday, and there is no caution as they race on. Allmendinger makes the first green flag pit stop of the day on lap 17. On lap 19, more spinning by Reed Sorenson.

Lap 23 and more cars, including the three JGR cars make their pit stops. Jr and Johnson are still leading, not having pitted yet. We are keeping our eye on yesterday's winner, Marcos Ambrose, who started in p-43, and has moved up as far as 13th before he pits. Johnson pits on lap 27. This reminds us somewhat of the different pit strategies used at last week's race at Pocono. Jr still has yet to pit. Then he pits on lap 29.

Jeff Gordon is staying out, but only because he hasn't heard the team's orders to pit. something is wrong with the radio, and NASCAR helps out by black flagging him so he has to pit. That was done as a favor by NASCAR. Here we go, techsplanation time, and it doesn't surprise us at all that ESPN is back to their old tricks. Does anyone really care about where the radio plugs in?

After the pit stops cycle through, Kyle Busch is in the lead, Johnson is second, Stewart third, Edwards fourth, and Harvick fifth. Earnhardt, Jr came out of it in seventh, but soon moves up into sixth. Jeff Gordon has fallen back to 23rd. Marcos Ambrose has settled into 20th place. There still have been no cautions, though 12 cars have been involved in spins and general leaving of the track. There is a battle going on for third, but the lapped car of Robby Gordon, in 39th place, is preventeng Carl Edwards from getting close to Stewart. Gordon wants to stay close to the leaders in hopes of a caution that will give him a free pass.

Lap 42, and Johnson has a tire issue. This pit stop will be too early to get Johnson to the end of the scheduled race on fuel, but it could work out for him if the race is stopped because of rain, which could happen.

It doesn't look good for the #48 team, as all the tires that came off look good, and it could mean that there is something else wrong with the suspension, which could be serious. This does put Tony Stewart in a distant second place.

Marcos Ambrose has now moved up to fifteenth. I would like to see Energizer sponsor Ambrose's car, and put Marcos in the place of "Jacko," the wild and crazy Aussie who used to stomp through the commercials holding a giant battery over his head, shouting, "Hoy!" Do Tasmanians shout "Hoy!"? Marcos would make a good "Jacko."

Finally, a caution on lap 49. This will still be early for fuel mileage, so some cars will stay out. Maybe. There could be a massive psych-out here. Several cars do take to the pits, including Ambrose, Earnhardt Jr, Jeff Gordon, David Ragan, Hamlin, and Kasey Kahne. Gordon is getting more adjustments, and stays in the pits longer in hopes of a better car late in the race. Most of the cars that pitted stop for four tires and fuel. Johnson exits the pit road first, and Jr is second out of the pits.. Busch, Stewart, Edwards, and Harvick stayed out. Montoya also stayed out, and moves into fourth place.

Tony Stewart is now racing Kyle Busch for the lead, and this should be some good racing. I think Stewart can outdrive Busch in the turns, we shall see. This is good.

Carl Edwards takes his pit stop with thirty seven laps to go. He should be good to the end of the race, if it goes as scheduled. Stewart and Busch have yet to pit. While Edwards was in the pits, Stewart took the lead in turn eight, I think, but then Busch takes the lead back in turn one of the next lap. That race is not over yet.

Now with 34 laps to go, Stewart, Busch, Harvick, and the rest of the cars that didn't pit earlier stop. Hamlin stops again for fuel only, to get him to the end of the race, as does Marcos Ambrose, from 17th place. Robby Gordon is on the lead lap now, by virtue of the leaders pitting.

Montoya is now the leader, but he takes his pit stop. Jimmie Johnson is now in the lead, and Earnhardt Jr is second, then takes the lead as Johnson pits. Nobody wants to run out of fuel now.

If Stewart could race Busch so well while his car was tight, he should be great if his team made the right adjustments. during that last pit stop.

Robby Gordon went back to a lap down after he pitted. Jr is still in the lead, and still hasn't pitted. Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart, who have pitted are running second and third. Jr stayed out too long, and you know there will be words between him and Tony Eury Jr, as the caution comes out for the second time. Jr will be stuck having to pit by himself, and will likely have to restart at the back of the field with twenty six laps to go. The 88 was the only lead lap car to pit. That is not good. There are twenty five laps to go in the race.

Busch is now in first, Stewart is in second. Restart on lap 66. Ryan Newmnan is third, Martin Truex is fourth, and Marcos Ambrose is fifth. Busch and Stewart are still racing hard. Ambrose is racing Truex hard. And here come Hamlin and Montoya.

I have the TV on mute and the radio on, but back in the pack, Earnhardt Jr is making some amazing moves, the kind of which only he is capable, to work his way back to the front. He is now in 28th place, I believe.

Truex, Ambrose, and Montoya are getting crazy as well, battling for fourth place. Lots of exciting stuff going on here. PJ Jones moves off of the track and gets rear ended by the fence, but still no caution. Now, on TV we see that it was Jeff Gordon who did the moving. Way to go Jeff! We love to see that.

I will have to say, at this point, ESPN's coverage is somewhat better than it was last year. It seems to me as though they are still stretching some story lines for drama value, which was one of the worst things they did last year, but that is not as bad as it was last year, where the story lines were stretched so far they took away from the race.

Fourteen laps to go, and everyone seems to be behaving themselves, so far. There should be some action coming up soon, though.

Ouch! Newman loses it in turn one and spins off the track with 13 laps to go. His car stalls, and comes back onto the track with the driver's side facing the oncoming traffic. Caution. That had to be a scary moment for Newman. Hornish has to push Newman back to the pits, as the car will not restart.

In the pits, they still can't get Newman's car fired up. This is sad, because Newman was doing so well, especially for Watkins Glen, and this will probably kill his chances to make it into the top twelve. Hornish's act of teammanship and generosity moves the 77 out of the top 35 in points.

Ten laps to go, with Busch first, Stewart second, Ambrose third, Montoya fourth and Truex fifth. Newnman has left the pits and stalled on the bgackstretch, so the restart is waved off. This should be one heck of a shootout to the end of the race. I can now turn off MRN and let the ESPN guys cover the rest of the race. I think. They have time for a commercial with nine laps to go. This is going to be an interesting restart. Something of interest, Ambrose moved up all the way from last to third without a mark on his car.

Montoya makes a move on Ambrose going into turn one, but doesn't make it stick. Busch and Stewart are again racing hard and pulling away from Ambrose and Montoya. MRN is still on here, just in case.

There is a big wreck coming off of turn eleven. Blaney, McDowell, Nemecheck, Kvapil, Bobby Labonte, Michael Waltrip, Hornish, Sorenson, PJ Jones, David Gilliland, and Max Papis are all involved. The race is red flagged. On TV, the barrel barrier at the beginning of the pit lane is devastated. Heck the wall is crumbled there. Reports say that the #77 car spun into that backwards. That is a hard hit.

MRN is reporting that it started with Gilliland and Mcdowell getting together coming out of turn eleven. The chain reaction was the result of being stuck back in the pack with less then ten laps to go, because everybody back there was racing for position all the way around the track. Something had to give, where the traffic was so thick.

ESPN has now confirmed that MRN wasn't lying. This time. Sorenson may have gotten away with only a little damage, but most of those other cars are out. Once again, Watkins Glen takes on the characteristics of a short track race.

Bobbly Labonte, who walked away from the wreck is being transferred to a local hospital for further evaluation. Our prayers are with him. Hopefully, he hasn't suffered injuries that would cause him to miss a race.

Poor Max Papis. He is so enthusiastic about racing in NASCAR. Unlike many European drivers, his heroes are Tony Stewart, Dale Earnhardt, Jr, Jeff Gordon, and other NASCAR drivers, rather than Michael Schumacher and Ayrton Senna. He really wants to race NASCAR. It is his dream. Much like Scott Speed and Marcos Ambrose, he has already had his chance at Formula 1 and has made NASCAR his big league of choice. Even after the wreck which, in his words, has left him heartbroken for his team, he remains enthusiastic about continuing his duties as road test driver for Hendrick Motorsports.

They are wondering if Stewart will settle for second, or push the issue against his team mate to win, possibly risking a wreck and falling out of the top twelve. I say race him hard, Smoke. Think "What Would Kyle Do?"

That would be dumb. Would I give up driving for a championship caliber team if someone gave me half ownership of a second rate team to drive for them? Certainly, in a heartbeat. We can't blame Smoke for taking that deal, but it is still dumb.

I was getting excited about Stewart Haas, and getting over my misgivings, until I read Trent Cherry's blog, in which he speculated that Newman would be joining Stewart-Haas next year, and his readers, who think that will be a move for the worse, asked if Hendrick would actually provide equipment that would allow Stewart - Haas to have better race results than HMS. Reading that, I immediately regressed to depressive pessimism. So stay dumb, Smoke, and you could win this race. (For those who don't know, Trent Cherry is a pit crew member for the #12 team, who blogs on That's Racin' dot com.) Oh well, I would rather be depressively pessimistic and be pleasently surprised later than be manically optimistic and be bitterly disappointed later.

Thanks, Ryan Newman fans. I really was growing way too optimistic.

Gosh I'm hard on my favorite driver, but we are still under red flag conditions, and I am rambling like the guys on TV and radio are.

They have fired up the cars and will restart the race soon.

Interesting. Sam Hornish Jr's #77 car hit those barrels that hard, and they are getting him back out to finish the race.

Getting excited now. Will Smoke get Busch on the restart? In turn one? Or will he just play it safe and hang out for second place? Will he get an opportunity in the next five laps and take advantage of it? Or will he settle for second?

Busch floors it at the green and pulls ahead. Through the esses, Tony is catching him. The racing is going for fifth place, though. Harvick is trying to catch Truex. This is excellent racing. Allmendinger holds off Johnson for eighth position. This could be Allmendinger's best finish in his career. Will he be in that car next year, or will it be Scott Speed? Allmendinger is fighting well for that job right now.

2 laps to go and Johnson takes eighth, but holds off a charging Edwards for ninth. Ambrose is threatening Stewart for second, and Kyle takes the white flag, pulling away. Kyle Busch sweeps the road courses, Ambrose holds off Montoya for third, and Stewart gets second. Great race for the Tasmanian Devil. Hoy!

At the beginning of the season we had no inkling that Kyle Busch would be a road course ace. He has won at Mexico City, Sonoma, and Watkins Glen, giving him more road course wins in one season than any driver in NASCAR's history. Wow.


SCHUMIGIRL1956 said...

Great blog, but i think Michael Schumacher isnt interested in Nascar racing as he finds it boring in which i agree with him.but he is doing fine at what he is doing now, i would be totally suprised if Michael did Nascar.

RevJim said...

Thank you very much for reading my blog and leaving a comment.

I tried to find where I implied that Schumie might be interested in NASCAR, and I don't think I have mentioned that anywhere. I did mention that Max Papis is interested in driving full time in NASCAR, which is something he has said himself, several times.