Saturday, April 18, 2009

Live on Type Delay: The Subway Fresh Fit race at Phoenix

The Digger cartoons are already running repeats. Perhaps they need a sponsor. We would suggest Riddex. Digger would be a great spokesrodent for a pest control company.

The guy who doesn't need a sponsor now is AJ Allmendinger. His ride is now sponsored to the Fall Richmond race. We have confidence that if Allmendinger makes it into the top twelve by then, sponsorship will be no problem.

Things are tough for up and coming drivers these days. Drivers like Joey Logano and Aric Almirola do not have the luxury of testing at NASCAR sanctioned tracks, as have others before them. Almirola's Earnhardt/Ganassi Incorporated ride has been suspended indefinitely, due to lack of sponsorship. Rumors are flying that Joey Logano may not finish the season in the JGR #20 car. Both of these drivers have a lot of potential--they just need a chance to get acclimated to the Sprint Cup level of competition.

JGR has insisted that they are sticking with Logano, and that his ride is safe. In fact, things are looking up for "Sliced Bread," as he gained his second career Nationwide Series race last week at Nashville, in impressive fashion.

Today's economic atmosphere in NASCAR would be a great reason to advocate that the Nationwide Series regulars stay in that series for a minimum of four years. Of course, that would be up to the teams owners, and not NASCAR. NASCAR's official description of the NNS is "A series in which up and coming NASCAR stars of the future match up against veteran NASCAR stars from the Sprint Cup Series."

Oh yeah, the race has started.

Mark Martin starts on the pole, with Kyle Busch on the outside. Right behind them are Kurt Busch in third, and Jeff Gordon in fourth, while Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart are in row three. Martin gets a good jump on the start and holds the lead.

By lap 37 Kyle Busch has fallen back to eighth place, while Mark Martin has led every lap. On lap 42, Tony Stewart threads the needle between the lapped Elliott Sadler and the third placed #24 car. This move requires a lot of trust, and this time it pays off, as Sadler moves up the track to give him room, and Gordon lets him by. DW remarks that Jeff Gordon wouldn't put a bumper into Stewart at this point of the race, forgetting that he said, during the Martinsville race three weeks ago, "Gordon doesn't race other drivers that way."

Caution on lap 54, as Sterling Marlin hits the wall and damages the right side of his car. Everybody pits, except Michael Waltrip stays out to lead a lap and get five points.

The restart is on lap 61, with Martin in first, Kurt Busch second, Denny Hamlin in third, Tony Stewart fourth, and Jeff Gordon is fifth. Stewart gets third from Hamlin a few laps later, but almost loses control of his car in doing so. He saves it, and pulls in line in front of his former team mate. Jimmie Johnson enters the top ten on lap 66, and is on the move. Six laps later, he is in eighth place. Martin Truex, Jr, who started in the 26th position, moves into ninth place on lap 78.

Kurt Busch is creeping up on the race leader, Mark Martin, on lap 92, and Tony Stewart joins the fray. Martin does some great blocking, forgetting that his fans believe that he doesn't race that way, and holds the lead, while Stewart takes second on lap 95. Kurt Busch takes second back on lap 102, and there is a caution for debris. Bobby Labonte stays out to gain 5 ponts for leading a lap, and Kurt Busch gets out of the pits first to take the lead. Martin will restart in second. Greg Biffle moves up to third, Denny Hamlin is fourth, and Jimmie Johnson is fifth, and Jeff Gordon is sixth. Tony Stewart will restart in seventh, having had a little trouble during the tire change in the pits. Restart is on lap 109.

The graphics going into the commercial, with Kurt Busch in the lead, plays up the "class clown" image Dirty Kurty has made for himself. Whether that is the real Kyle Busch or not, we really don't know. It just seems forced sometimes. It seems forced most of the time. But it's okay for one to reinvent one's self, and more power to him.

On lap 112, we have some wild stuff going on in a race for eleventh position, with Martin Truex, Jr, Kasey Kahne, and Johnny Montoya going three wide through lapped traffic. Exciting stuff there. Meanwhile Dale Earnhardt, Jr is having handling problems with his car and is losing positions. But the sun is setting, and handling characteristics are going to change. We will not give up on Jr, yet.

Stewart moves back into the top five on lap 124, and the top five are now Kurt Busch first, Mark Martin second, Greg Biffle third, Jimmie Johnson fourth, and Tony Stewart fifth.

Mark Martin is closing in on race leader Kurt Busch, but then, on lap 138, we get a caution as David Stremme loses it in turn two, and spins into the infield. Some drivers, especially the ones with the initials "D E J" really needed this caution.

Jimmie Johnson loses eight positions in the pits. That is uncharacteristic for the 48 team, but we are certain they will recover.

Kurt Busch and Mark Martin want no changes, Tony Stewart gets air pressure adjustments, Martin Truex Jr takes two tires only and gets off the pit road in second. Restart on lap 144 with Kurt Busch in first, Truex, second, Mark Martin third, David Reutimann fourth, and Tony Stewart fifth.

On lap 150, Jeff Gordon's car has developed a tire rub under the left front fender, after contact with Denny Hamlin. His prayers are answered on lap 152, as AJ Allmendinger spins and hits the wall.

Restart on lap 156, with Kurt Busch first, Mark Martin second, Martin Truex, Jr third, Tony Stewart fourth, and David Reutimann in fifth. Stewart takes third from Truex on lap 165. Kyle Busch has moved into the top 5, and takes fourth. On lap 167, Michael Waltrip gets loose in turn four, and collects Robby Gordon, who hits the wall and brings out a caution. Dale Earnhardt, Jr stays out and takes the lead. He will restart in the lead. Of the cars that pit, Mark Martin takes four tires, most of the others take two.

Green flag on lap 171, with Dale Earnhardt, Jr in the lead, Marcos Ambrose second, Jeff Gordon third, David Stremme fourth, and Bobby Labonte fifth. These cars stayed out during the caution. Lots of action going on. Kyle Busch takes third from Jeff Gordon, then second from Ambrose. Gordon takes third from Ambrose, and Earnhardt, Jr increases his lead to three seconds. Tony Stewart has the fastest lap time on lap 189 and has moved into fourth. On lap 212, Stewart battles Kyle Busch for second, and takes that position after a short, but exciting contest. Mark Martin takes third on lap 214. The Booth Bunnies say this is because Stewart and Martin have fresher tires than Kyle does. I thought Stewart only took two that last pit stop, but what do I or the lap by lap reporter know?

The "Toyota Driver Seeker" commercial still makes me laugh, no matter how many times I have seen it. So does the Tony Stewart Old Spice commercial. My mind must be turning to mush. The aliens are winning.

Wow the live leaderboard on has finally loaded. Those of you who may, like Rev' Jim, be stuck with a dial up connection know what an accomplishment this is. I started loading it at the beginning of the race. I had to refresh the page several times, and finally, two hours and one minute later, it is updating. Yaaaaaay!

Meanwhile Tony Stewart has been cutting steadily into Dale Jr's lead, and is about to become NASCAR's most hated driver, at least for now. The fans will get over it and go back to hating Kyle Busch before the race is over. By lap 219, Stewart is three-tenths of a second behind the leader, and Driver 88 is reporting that he has used up his tires.

Still we finally get to see some of Junior's ability as he holds off the hard-charging Stewart for several laps. Stewart begins the pass for the lead on lap 218, and finally closes the deal on lap 220. Mark Martin takes second right after that, and Jr begins the green flag pit cycle by pitting on lap 226.

On lap 230, it is Stewart first, Martin second, Kurt Busch third, Reutimann fourth, and Biffle fifth.

Greg Biffle gives up fifth to pit with 76 laps to go, and Jeff Gordon has to enter the pits again because of a penalty due to missing lug nut. Again, this is something very uncharacteristic for that crew.

Oh fun, just before they pit, Martin is racing Stewart for the lead. We know this is for funsies, as both cars will pit soon, but we know these guys have a mutual admiration for each other, and it is fun to watch them race, even though both cars are wildly loose.

Stewart and Martin both pit on lap 242. Johnson takes the lead, then pits on the next lap, letting Vickers lead a lap. With the green flag pit stops completed, on lap 246, it is Earnhardt, Jr, back in the lead, but with not enough fuel to make it to the end of the race. Don't worry, there will likely be a caution.

Greg Biffle is four seconds behind Jr in second, Mark Martin third, Tony Stewart fourth, and Kyle Busch is fifth, with Kurty The Klown, his brother, right behind him. On lap 251, Martin takes second, then takes the lead on lap 257. Tony Stewart has moved into third. Greg Biffle is fourth, and Kurty The Klown has moved into fifth, while Kyle, the other Busch, is in sixth. In the seventh position, Jimmie Johnson is running identical in time with the leader. Dale Jr has developed handling trouble, and is now running in eighth.

Tony Stewart has moved into second by lap 267, Kurt Busch is third, Kyle is fourth, and Da Biff is fifth. It still sounds funny when it is spoken out loud.No one can say "Da Biff is Fifth" twice real fast, let alone three times. The Rev' says "Da Biff ith fifth" on the first try.

Talk about being good on long runs, Mark Martin has posted the fastest times on laps 275, 276, and 277. He was two seconds ahead of Stewart on lap 274, and is now three and a half seconds ahead.

On lap 280, Reutimann has the fastest car, and has passed Da Biff for fifth. This is shaping up to be a great finish. Lap 282 and Jimmie Johnson is on the move in sixth.

If either Mark Martin or Tony Stewart wins this race, we will have tears in our eyes. It would be Mark's first win since 2005, or it would be Stewart's first win as an owner/driver, at the same track Alan Kulwicki got his first win as an owner/driver.

Caution with twelve laps to go, while Martin had a four second lead over Sterwart. Dale Jr, having been lapped by the leader on lap 297, loses control with the help of Casey Mears. I can't wait to hear the conspiracy rumors on this one.

All the leaders pit, and Mark Martin exits the pit road barely ahead of Kyle Busch, but the younger Busch got caught speeding exiting the pits, and has to serve a penalty.

Ryan Newman stayed out and will lead at the restart. There is some controversy about why he didn't pit. Did he have radio problems, or did he pretend to have radio problems? Anyway, restart with six laps to go is Newman first, Martin second, Stewart third. What a great restart by Martin. He passes Newman as if he is standing still, and immediately gains five car lengths on Stewart. Johnson moves into the top five, and takes fourth with three laps to go. Tony Stewart and Mark Martin are running at the exact same speed as Martin takes the white flag. Stewart will not catch Martin. I am crying, Martin wins, Stewart second, Mark Martin is third, Jimmie Johnson, who almost caught third place, and Da Biff ith Fifth.

Wow, a historic moment, and a great race for the old man. For some, life begins at fifty. Or maybe The Kid is only twenty five years old for the second time around.

1 comment:

Charlie Turner said...

Nice re-cap Jim. It was tough to stay awake.