Sunday, May 01, 2016

Talladega Postscript

Matt Kenseth's melee was just one of three melees in a very frustrating Talladega race.

The Geico 500 has left a few people happy and seemingly everyone else anything but.   Talladega being what it is one expects the competition level to be a lot higher than other tracks and one also has seen, not just this weekend but in the past, how much circumstances natural and otherwise plague racers.

It was the most competitive Talladega Cup race since 2014, the overall racing was at times very good, and yet it left a lot to be desired, with Jamie McMurray for one noting it's even harder to pass now with this Generation Six car - anything but a good thing for the sport - and further noting the "beach ball" effect (Dale Junior's description) it generates that is hurting passing.

Some postrace observations -

* This looks more and more like a lost year for Matt Kenseth - Yes, we still have six and a half months of racing to go but by now one would think some momentum would go Kenseth's way.   Leading 347 laps so far this year one would think would be a sign of changing momentum - and all Kenseth has to show for it is two seventh-place finishes.  

* The Fords storm back against the Toyotas - Brad Keselowski pretty much had the lead to himself when it counted and both Penske cars, which had been somewhat quiet in recent races, asserting themselves.   The wildcard, though, was Trevor Bayne, making his first bid for a victory in a long time and the first bid for a Roush car since Carl Edwards left.    It was doubly amazing given Trevor didn't get any drafting help from the other Roush cars who wound up crunched up again at the end.    Bayne also all but doubled his career total for Cup laps led in this one race.

* Even with that the JGR Toyotas remain atop the Hendrick Chevrolets - Dale Junior's season took a decided turn for the worse with a mediocre run at Talladega - his best track - and a crash. After five top-eight finishes in a seven-race span Junior has struggled the last two weeks - and still has not led a lap since Phoenix - and he wasn't alone as Chase Elliott ran good but his teammates weren't around to see it.  

Not that JGR had much of a better day - Kenseth, Edwards, and Hamlin weren't around either, yet the JGR organization looks stronger still compared to the Hendrick fleet.

Stewart-Haas grabs a good day - Ty Dillon brought Tony Stewart's #14 home in the top ten to go with Kurt Busch's wildcard win bid.   It salved some of the damage of Harvick's near-tumble and yet another Danica melee.

* Some good paydays for smaller teams - Brad Daugherty, Bob Jenkins, Barney Vissar, and Jay Robinson all had solid finishes for their cars while HScott Motorsports entered the race amid mild controversy over harsh radio charter from Clint Bowyer about their cars in this, an interregnum season before he takes over Tony Stewart's car; the weekend ended with a solid finish for Bowyer.

* RCR Enterprises has a back-to-the-future moment - Austin Dillon has frankly been uninspiring so far in his Cup career; in Talladega he raced to finish third, while Paul Menard actually challenged for a win.  

* Maybe people need to start questioning Chris Buescher - Buescher tumbled down the backstretch, what became the first of three off-the-ground wrecks, and looking back over the last few seasons, wrecking looks like a pattern with him.

* When it's not your day.... - Aric Almirola looked like an unsung hero as he rallied from a spin, from dodging the Turn One melee, and drafting into the top-ten - then the hole slammed shut in the Kenseth melee.  

*'s not your day - Matt DiBenedetto didn't have much to write home about with engine failure.

With Talladega idle until October, the Cup guys head to Kansas City for a Mother's Day eve spectatcular.  

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