NASCAR at Atlanta rapid reaction ...
The race was officially the “Oral-B USA 500,” and Oral-B toothbrushes and stuff are made in … Iowa City, Iowa. WHAMMY. Shout out to my in-state oral health posse.
Kyle, Kyle, Kyle ... oh KYLE. So, imagine our chagrin, couple laps to go in what seemed like a five-hour race, when Kyle Busch and Martin Truex Jr. “had contact.” Let’s go to the replay. Looks to me that Kyle just got to the back bumper of Marty and turned him on purpose.
Cue Twitter’s cascade of versions of WTF along with reassertions that Kyle needs to be involved in a brawl. (I, however, never advocate violence… out loud)
Truex radio: “What the hell was that for?” Crew chief: “He just dumped ya, man. I don’t know.”
Kasey Kahne was leading and looking good for the win at the time of Kyle’s Kraziness, so you can imagine he was King of the Chagrined at this point. Kevin Harvick who was in P2, however, wasn’t so pissed about it. Welp, that’s NASCAR.
Personally, I was kind of pissed because at the time Danica Patrick was in P8 and looking to finish there. BUT NO, how we got a restart. WTF?
So everybody pits. With a green-white-checkered finish coming up. Huh? Yeah, you pit, because fresh tires are like GOLD (Jerry!) at Atlanta, so everyone pits, including Danica.
GI-normous shout out here to Danica’s Go-Daddy pit posse. They had a couple of rough stops earlier in the race, but Danica’s four-tires, no fuel stop here was in-sanely fast. 11 seconds. BOOM. Tony Gibson Jr. and Danica were all up on the radio after that stop with the “good job boys.” They got Danica a spot in the pits, so she’s restarting P7. Insert little Go Daddy pit crew dance here.
So we got a restart. Welcome to NASCAR at Atlanta’s A Feature! GREEN. Cue the Circus Music. Paul Menard, who took two tires on the pit top to get out early, started in P2, on the outside (the not-preferred line), hosed the restart, that caused Harvick to tap his butt (take it easy) which led to the DREADED ACCORDION EFFECT wherein Joey Logano with a Festival of No Place to Go pinballed Harvick into the wall. Same Kevin Harvick who had dominated the race. When Kevin Harvick is angry, people hide their children. Kevin Harvick was angry.
Meanwhile, Danica had the start of her life, was Don “The Snake”' Prudhomme-like off the line, and was P4 by the time the tire smoke cleared. So, as you can imagine, I had to go find a bag to breathe into, and Danica later said right about here it crossed her mind that she had a respectable chance to win this shit. Because, after all, it’s NASCAR, and you can’t rule anything out, including air strikes. Still, she had to restart on the outside line, which was the shitty line.
So, the upshot of the restart was that Kasey Kahne was back in front when this whole deal started, except Harvick was not in P2, and probably throwing random shit inside his car. Restart. Nobody gets mental. Kahne wins, followed by Denny Hamlin, Jimmie Johnson, Carl Edwards and Danica in P6. Complete results here.
Naturally, nobody knows what Kyle was thinking. Truex just said “no” when they wanted to interview him after about getting BIFFED. The line of drivers and crew chiefs who wanted to talk to Kyle stretched for a block. Meanwhile, Harvick passed the time setting structures on fire just by glaring at them.
Yellows breed … I’ve always been a green flag guy. Stay geen. We want a green race start to finish. BUT … you know … maybe I was a little off in that. Here’s the thing: two 500-mile races this weekend, one in IndyCar (Fontana) and one in NASCAR (Atlanta). IndyCar had one yellow flag mid-race and finished kind of anticlimactically. Atlanta would have had the same finish as IndyCar (excitement-wise) if not for the Kyle-induced yellow at the end, which set up the Trophy Dash. Also, IndyCar at Iowa benefited from a late-yellow that added to the story line greatly, much to the chagrin of Tony Kanaan who had the race won before the yellow came out, and then lost to Ryan Hunter-Reay on fresh tires. I can’t deny that the NASCAR ending was more entertaining. I still hate the phantom yellows for “debris” that’s roughly the size of a playing card, if it exists at all. BUT, I can’t bitch about the entertainment factor of a late-race yellow. Race recap with final laps video here.
Lucky Dog … ah … Danica’s day was helped greatly by the NASCAR Lucky Dog rule. She was the LD twice, I believe, then she and her car came to life and she drove the shit out of it last third of the race to a NASCAR career-high P6 and a bunch of Twitter-based high-fives including a few weepy ones from me (act surprised).
Here it comes: I like the Lucky Dog rule. Not because it benefited Danica, BUT because it gives drivers a lap down something to race for. So there are two races, really, the race to be first car a lap down and be in position for the Lucky Dog and the race to lead the race. This gives fans of drivers who are a lap down something to keep them engaged in the race more so than if the LD rule did not exist. I’m not saying IndyCar should adopt it. I am saying it enhances my NASCAR viewing.
500 miles is a long-ass way. The NASCAR 500-miler seemed twice as long as the IndyCar 500 miler precisely because of those double-edged caution flags. So it’s a trade off. The Atlanta race seemed like it took five hours. It did take well over three hours for sure. I get that endurance of people and equipment is a beloved element of NASCAR, but, sha, that’s was a long-ass race. And if your driver ended up P28 or something, it would have seemed even longer.
Tony Stewart’s return. Stewart did fine in his much-documented return to the track. He ran well early, inhaled a lot of people, but then got taken out when he blew a tire and biffed the wall heavily on lap 173. Car was too damaged to continue. That was about 50 laps after Kyle clipped the front left of Stewart’s car in another one of them racing deals. Kyle is making tons of friends as per usual. Stewart return overview.
The fans heavily ovated Stewart when he was introduced. I thought he handled the return well. Made his statement to the media a few days before the race that seemed sincere and focused on the family of Kevin Ward Jr. Didn’t take questions. Understandable since the investigation into the death is still going on.
Danica’s day. Danica had a career day, as I mentioned. I listen to her pit radio via NASCAR’s insanely beautiful RaceView Audio, a subscription-based service that lets you listen to any NASCAR Cup driver you desire at every race. That, all by itself, keeps me engaged in most NASCAR races. Anyway, she finished P6 and it was a workman like effort from her. Soldering through the bad stints, staying focused, getting the Lucky Dog in lucky spots. Danica now discusses proposed changes to her car under yellow with crew chief Tony Gibson Jr. and Gibson solicits her input. So she’s learning what changes do what and becoming more involved in the pit change decisions, but certainly not to the point of telling Gibson what do to. Kind of as in Gibson getting her thoughts on if a tire pressure change alone will help, or they need track bar too or what.
There are elements of luck, good and bad, in about every NASCAR finish (just ask Harvick about that re: Atlanta), but overall she drove well, had good input, got a great stop from her pit guys at the end. Danica gave the pit crew love for the great stop in her post-race interview and generally is very Team Team Team. Danica race recap.
My simply rooting for Danica seems to anger some people on The Twitter. Just a “GO DANICA” tweet will get some kind of response, as in “good luck with that.” It’s kind of fascinating. My approach continues to be to root for who I want to root for, and let others do the same, and not harsh anyone’s buzz re: their driver. Nonetheless, people will have to work hard to reconcile their view of Danica as a no-talent bikini model with her P6 at Atlanta, an alleged “driver’s track.”
Richmond is next, and with IndyCar going into its six-month hibernation, I’m glad to continue to have some racing yet to come. Peace out.