Sunday, March 16, 2014

Dance Between The Raindrops At Bristol

So for the second time in four weeks NASCAR sees an unplanned primetime race, this one at Bristol.  NASCAR has been dancing between the raindrops a little too much so far in 2014 and this Southeastern 500 wound up with several angles worthy of comment -

Did anyone show up for this race? - Yes, it was rainy weather all day, yet the crowd was disturbingly small for Bristol.   Normally I don't feel bad for Bruton Smith; here I have to because it is never good for the sport when the crowd is that small.

Cue The Rookies - For pretty much the first time this season Kyle Larson and - more quietly - Austin Dillon showcased some legitimate racing moxie.  

Mister Danica Patrick - Ricky Stenhouse clawed his way to finish second and had a spirited running battle to get that spot.   His girlfriend finished a respectable 18th as well.

Start believing in The King again - It will take a lot more runs like this to believe in Aric Almirola, but finishing third, and showing some fight to get there, is an encouraging sign for Richard Petty's #43.

 Carl Edwards remains an enigma - He's won 22 races, yet it remains strange seeing him win, because his consistency has been so erratic - winless in 2009 and 2012, six wins since 2008's nine-win explosion. 

Brian Vickers keeps on keeping on - He started at the back and finished ninth - that's the best a Michael Waltrip car has looked so far this season.

The Busches get racetrack indigestion - The Busch brothers had a bad ending, as they combined to lead 101 laps yet neither cracked the top-28 at the end.

A rookie makes a rookie mistake - Timmy Hill's rear-end job on Matt Kenseth will make the season blooper reel for rookie mistakes.

The old Bristol is finally back - For about the first eighteen seasons since it was repaved as concrete instead of asphalt Bristol had been the worst track on the tour because it was one groove.   In 2010 with banking changes two grooves suddenly appeared, and despite more recent changes to get it back to the slam-fest it had been, the ability to pass has not been harmed.   While passing on the low groove is excessively hard, it's doable, and has led to some nifty battles - and a return of some of the old Bristol vinegar.

It can be lonely at the top - I'm fairly confident tears other than of the crocodile variety were not shed with Jimmie Johnson's mediocre finish.  

So that's that, and the series now ventures west to Fontana, and the second test of the new racecar package that got its first live fire test at Vegas; one hopes raceability shows improvement there.

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