Mulhern reviews 2012 Capital City 400 won amid controversy by Kyle Busch
My Take: Kyle Busch pulled off his first Cup win since August 2011 thanks in part to a controversial restart earlier in the race that swatted out Carl Edwards - Edwards led over 200 laps; on a restart around a quarter distance to the end he was posted as the leader when Tony Stewart was ostensibly the actual leader; Stewart then gagged on a restart and Edwards blew ahead; he was blackflagged by NASCAR. A late caution (14 to go) allowed Busch to close up, get tires, and beat Stewart to the restart when Tony gagged again and Busch was gone to the win. NASCAR is borderline here - Edwards being where he was, ostensibly outside the restart box, made the call ticky tax at best, and the ideaq of a penalty deciding a race is never persuasive.
The Busch win came in a race where tire wear was a major issue - tire conservation appeared to take precedence over fighting for the win, making nonsense of the long-standing driver talking point - reiterated by Edwards in recent interviews about the uncompetitive nature of 2012's racing - about softer tires making for better racing.
Much will be made of Dale Earnhardt Jr's runner-up finish - that Junior has shown marked improvement in his finishes is clear, but with Hendrick Motorsports curiously faltering in its quest to win its 200th race, one has to wonder if the improvement really telegraphs a pending victory - especially with Talladega beckoning.
Two disappointments in the race were AJ Allmendinger and Aric Almirola. Allmendinger raced well most of the night yet curiously faded at the end, continuing the trend of him being the organization's "backup" racer to Keselowski. Allmendinger deserves better than that and may be finding his Penske deal isn't better than the deal he had with Petty 2009-11.
As for Petty's present driver, Aric Almirola was rather vocal before the race about running well at Richmond. He then went out and laid a big egg, something he's been doing almost all season. Given Petty's status in the sport, it's insulting that the #43 is getting so little for it out of its driver.
See also Tony Stewart and Carl Edwards postrace comments.