I felt like I was in the middle of some crazy nightmare yesterday. Congratulations to Jimmie Johnson for coming in first yesterday. I don’t know if we could call what happened yesterday racing. Yes, there were 43 cars on the track trying to make their way to the front. And I guess by definition that would be racing, but the type of racing I like to see between the drivers didn’t happen yesterday.
In case you missed it, NASCAR basically dictated the pace of the race yesterday. With all the problems the teams were having with tires, NASCAR chose in the name of safety to call competition yellows throughout the race in hopes the track would rubber up the longer drivers were on the track. However this wasn’t the case and so the race was done in segments. The drivers would get the green, but just when they would get to a decent pace (in my opinion) a competition yellow would be thrown so teams could come into the pits to change tires. Clearly the track and the tire were not compatible. It was clear the situation was not going to get better throughout the day. I was resigned to the fact the race was going to be a series of several pit stops.
Even though these pit stops were dictated by NASCAR, it was interesting to see how the crews used tire strategy to get track position. Both Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon began using changing four tires instead of just the two right sides like other teams were using. When teams did change just the right side tires, they were able to get some decent track position. But there was Jimmie and Jeff marching towards the front, so it was clear they had good running cars. I really thought Carl was going to make it a race in the last segment, but kudos go to Jimmie’s pit crew for getting him out first after the last compeition yellow. Talk about making the most of the money stop.
Who was to blame for this tire dibacle? I am no position to pint the finger of blame to anyone organization. I feel it was a combination of things that lead to this situation. This was the first time the new car was running at Indy. This car has a higher center of gravity thus it is difficult on the right side tires. This coupled with the surface of Indy which is not primarily designed for stock cars lead to this situation yesterday. When Goodyear did a tire test in April at Indy, only three teams (Earnhardt, Kurt Busch, and Brian Vickers) participated in the test. One would think they received enough data to bring in the right kind of tire, however this wasn’t the case either.
NASCAR was in a difficult spot yesterday. The Brickyard is one of those races everyone looks forward to each year. I for one do not miss it. I usually schedule no activities for this day. NASCAR did what they needed to do to put on an event for the fans sitting in the grandstands as well as those of us sitting at home. This was also about the safety of the drivers as well. It was obvious what would happen when tire blew under high speeds. One only has to look at what happeend to Montoya and Kenseth yesterday. I would rather have had the segmented race than all those drivers blowing out tires and causing wrecks. I do have to applaud Goodyear and NASCAR for giving teams an extra set of tries for the race as well an extra 1600 tires aka Pocono tires. But luckily the Pocono tires never came into play yesterday.
No matter the case, this is definitely one hard lesson for NASCAR and Goodyear to learn. The only thing now is take what was learned from yesterday’s “race” and head back to the drawing board.
Despite the tire issue, there were some good runs. Elliot Sadler finished 4th. Jamie M. finished with a 6th place finish. And how about A.J. Allmendinger, he finished in the 10th position. Unfortunately, Tony who started 14th and looked like he was going to have a decent finish, finished 23rd. Luckily he didn’t loose any positions in the standings. He is currently 10th. The points leader finished in 15th yesterday, but still maintains 253 point lead over Dale Earnhardt. But as well know all bets are off once The Chase begins. The real race is for me is going to be from about 10th-14th. It will definitely be interesting to see how this all shakes out over the next few races.