Other than my neighbor who shot off fireworks for three straight hours on the 4th of July, perhaps the dumbest happening on the holiday was a pack of cars going so slow they could barely keep from falling off the high-banked Daytona turns, all in the name of keeping other packs of cars from going fast.
With an assist from rain cancelling the final two qualifying sessions, the front two rows of the Coke Zero 400 were David Gilliland-Reed Sorenson-Landon Cassill-Bobby Labonte. Having to take owner provisionals and starting in the rear of the 43 car field were drivers like Kyle and Kurt Busch. Truly amazing.
The bizarre weekend continued on Saturday when rain postponed the scheduled evening race. The race was rescheduled for Sunday morning. It had barely begun when rain put a halt to proceedings. The sun shining on the 2 ½ mile tri-oval was not a harbinger of good things to come. Shortly after the race restarted, the “big one” #1 took out name drivers like Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards, and Tony Stewart.
Normally one “big one” is enough at NASCAR restrictor plate tracks Talladega and Daytona. Yesterday, the big one was just a prelude to the “really BIG one.” Between the two wrecks, only seven out of 43 cars that started remained undamaged. I don’t even have the words to describe how ridiculously out of hand things were at that point.
I do enjoy the post accident TV interviews. Very few drivers will own up to making a mistake that caused the carnage. The second “big one” was either the fault of Kasey Kahne or Greg Biffle, or both, but neither would accept the title of Big One Facilitator. Kyle Busch ended on his roof at the end of this accident, and that is the one thing that would keep me out of a NASCAR Sprint Cup car. Well, the fear of roll-overs and a great lack of ability as well. Busch called it a “slow carnival ride.” I never really liked carnival rides either.
Rain came yet again, halting the race with 48 laps remaining and Aric Almirola in front. By then even the most die hard fans wanted the fiasco to end, and end it did. On the 30th anniversary of Richard Petty’s final NASCAR victory, the famed #43 was once again a winner. It was Almirola’s first Sprint Cup victory. Brian Vickers, Kurt Busch, Casey Mears, and Austin Dillon rounded out the top five.
The win puts Almirola in The Chase, and as the number of races to the NASCAR play-offs dwindles, the heat is turned up on drivers without a win. The 11 race winners are in, and if The Chase started today, non-winners Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Paul Menard, Clint Bowyer, and Austin Dillon would be in on points. Kasey Kahne and Tony Stewart would be out.
-The qualifying procedure at Daytona and Talladega has to be changed. What happened on Friday was a travesty and makes the sport look stupid. During a race, NASCAR has a posted minimum speed-drivers must maintain this speed or they are black flagged and sent to the pits and not allowed to return to the track. Do the same in qualifying.
-TNT is promoting Larry McReynolds as “America’s crew chief.” Personally I think they ought to promote Wally Dallenbach as “Jethro Bodine’s favorite race commentator.” No, not one of the Bodine former driver brothers, Jethro is one of the Beverly Hillbillies.
-Driver Jamie McMurray stated that the “big ones” are not as hard of hits as when a right front tire blows sending a car careening into the outer wall because all the cars are wrecking at the same speed. Perhaps, but they certainly are scary.
-NASCAR CEO Brian France suggested in his “state of the sport” address that “robust” discussions involving changing some of The Chase venues are underway. Homestead has a contract with Ford that will keep it the final race of the season for several years, as it should be-it is warm there in November, plus the track configuration makes for decent racing.
Personally I would love to see Chicago, Dover, and New Hampshire out, but it seems unlikely all three would be replaced. Still, I would like to see Iowa replace Chicago entirely, Richmond replace Dover, and Sears Point replace New Hampshire, adding a road course to The Chase mix.
-It may have ended up being the Coke Zero 280, but I am certain Almirola is not going to give back the win.
Thanks for stopping by.