Monday, June 15, 2009

On Type Delay: The Lifelock 400

First things first:

Kyle Busch goes too farSmack talk is smack talk, but it is neither good, nor a driver's place to criticize the fans of another driver, no matter how over the top they may be. It seems that Busch the Younger wants people to hate him, and eggs them on to do so. As Dale Jr, himself pointed out, it causes problems for other drivers and fans. How can a track promotor expect to sell out a race if nobody wants to sit in the front five rows for fear of getting hit by flying debris from angry Jr fans?

This should never have happened The Camping World Truck Series is without a defending champion, as Johnny Benson has lost his ride due to sponsorship issues. Kyle Busch offered his ride at Detroit to Benson, but his sponsor, Miccosukee Resort and Gaming, nixed the idea. To make matters worse, Benson was seriously injured in a wreck at New Berlin Speedway during a supermodifieds race, suffering several broken ribs and possibly a punctured lung. I don't understand, even during these hard economic times, why no one is willing to sponsor the reigning series champion--it really seems like a lost opportunity. One would think that TRD themselves would want to sponsor a driver who is among their top stars, at least until he could get a sponsor. It is another blow to the NASCAR series that often features the best flag to flag racing.

Best Sponsor Placement Carl Edwards has to be the best thing that has happened to any NASCAR sponsor since Michael Waltrip. He always seems to be able to fit a word for a sponsor into any topic of discussion. Talking about the unseasonal coolness of the weather during Saturday's Sprint Cup practice, Carl remarked, "It's probably because all those people driving their Ford Fusion Hybrids and helping global warming."

Now for the race.

Michigan International Speedway is similar to California AutoClub Speedway, except it is wider and allows even less opportunity for mishaps other than lapped traffic, than California. That means we will probably see some cautions for phantom debris, and long green flag runs.

Kyle Busch, starting on the outside of row one takes the lead. His lead lasts eight laps, then Jimmie Johnson passes him on the low side and assumes the lead. Pole sitter Brian Vickers falls back. Jeff Gordon, who had to start in the back for an engine change is rapidly moving toward the front, as is Mark Martin, who started 26th. Tony Stewart has moved into the top ten, and Kasey Kahne and Juan Montoya are looking strong in the top six. Green flag pit stops begin around lap 36. On lap 42, the top five are Johnson, Kahne, Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, and Greg Biffle.

Johnson maintains the lead after the pit stops cycle through. Johnson is still leading when the first caution flies on lap 72. Restart on lap 77, after all the leaders pit, and it's Johnson, Biffle, Kahne, Montoya, and David Ragan in the top five.

The next green flag pit stops begin around lap 114, with Kasey Kahne giving up a top ten position to pit. Carl Edwards leads for one lap after the pit stops cycle through, but Jimmie Johnson regains the lead on lap 119. The top five are Johnson, Biffle, Montoya, Kahne and Stewart. The second caution, for debris, comes out on lap 121. Thirteen of the lead lap cars pit, including Jeff Gordon, Kyle Busch, and Kasey Kahne. Ryan Newman has been having troubles and is now a lap down.

Restart on lap 125, and the top five are Johnson, Biffle, Montoya, Stewart, and Hamlin. Mark Martin makes it to the top five on lap 127 and is now in fourth. He gets by Montoya on lap 130 for third. Just as the teams are preparing for green flag pit stops, David Stremme spins at the entrance of the pit road and hits the water barrels, bringing out the third caution of the race. These could be the last pit stops of the race. If they are, fuel conservation will be necessary. The restart is on lap 156, after Biffle gets out of the pits first.

The top five at the restart are Biffle, Hamlin, Johnson, Martin, and Jeff Gordon.

Lap 175 and the race slows down some as the lead drivers are told to save fuel. Some of them, including the leader, Biffle, have been saving since before the restart, so there really hasn't been a whole lot of action.

Now things start to get exciting with ten laps to go. Biffle still leads, Johnson has taken second from Hamlin, Martin is third, Hamlin is fourth, and Jeff Gordon is fifth. The question here is not who will race to the win, but who will have enough fuel to finish the race first.

Johnson seems to think he has enough fuel to race for the finish. He races Biffle for the lead beginning on lap 191 and completes the pass on lap 195. Biffle tries to get the lead back, then lets up to try to save fuel. The white flag flies, and Johnson runs out of fuel at the start/finish line. Now Biffle leads, with Martin in second and Gordon in third. But Biffle runs out of fuel with half a lap to go, and Martin takes the lead. Jeff Gordon is second, and they practically coast across the finish line. Martin wins his third race of the season, Jeff Gordon is second, Denny Hamlin is third, Carl Edwards fourth and Biffle is fifth. The top ten are filled out by Montoya, Stewart, Kurt Busch, Brian Vickers, and Clint Bowyer. Johnson finally crossed the finish line in position 22.

We don't expect a lot of action at the 2 mile intermediate tracks, and that makes it easy to write the On Type Delay post. We could actually go across the street to the corner store without missing anything important. The final ten laps were exciting in their own way, and we are happy to see Mark Martin once again in Victory Lane. He now leads the field in Chase bonus points, with thirty.

This race was 390 miles of not much happening. Perhaps NASCAR could rethink scheduling four races on these two mile long flat tracks that are more suited to manufacturers' testing than to auto racing?

Next week's race is at Sonoma on the road course formerly known as Sears Point. The new double file restarts should be very interesting, and there should be plenty of them. We can hardly wait!

1 comment:

Trixie said...

I have to say I am not a fan of this part of the NASCAR schedule. We have two trips to Pocono, a road race, and Michigan.

The only exciting part of yesterday...Martin winning his third race of the season--WOO HOO!

Kyle likes being the villian and part of me likes his "don't give a rat's butt" what others think attitude, but lately it's getting harder and harder to be a fan. Someone needs to take him out to the perverbial woodshed and know the rest.

It is a shame when a defending champion loses his ride. I got a chance to meet Johnny at a TMS race. He was very nice and kind. Best wishes to him on a speedy recovery.