Short tracks are my favorite tracks on the circuit. You get 43 cars in a small arena fighting for the same real estate. When you hear “going three wide” on a short track, it usually isn’t a good thing. Short tracks make for some exciting racing, but it also can create some angry and/or hurt feelings during and after the race. Saturday night was no different at Richmond. It seemed the fireworks had already started on Friday night after the Nationwide race. Nelson Piquet Jr kicked Brian Scott, as we say in our household, in the peanuts. Then members of the RCR Nationwide crew were involved in an altercation outside the track. Before I get into all “love fest”, I want to talk about the race
Matt Kenseth team’s came into Richmond after receiving severe penalties from NASCAR. With these penalties, he lost the credit for his pole win. So with that, Matt Kenseth rolled into Richmond and won the pole! Up through roughly lap 253, the only two drivers who lead laps was Matt Kenseth and Clint Bowyer. In fact at one point early on in the race five of the first 6 spots were held by Toyotas. Kyle took the lead roughly around 253. It looked like the Toyotas had everything dialed in to the Toyota Owners 400. The first non-Toyota to lead during the race was Kurt Busch after the 6th caution on lap 203. It was fun to watch the Busch brothers race at times. They are very competitive races and want to win and Saturday was no different. The Busch brothers are aggressive drivers. I have seen Kyle do things with his car that leave you thinking, “Did I just see that?” Kyle is having a good year and Kurt is having a decent year, well compared to where he was last year. I have called both brothers out on this site for their behavior both on and off the track, but I always have given them props for their driving talents. BUT…I was none too pleased with Kurt after Saturday night (and to be honest there were others at Richmond who were none too pleased either).
Tony was entering the race mired way down in the points and no top ten finish since the 2nd race of the season at Phoenix. I was hoping this would a chance for Tony to get back on track as the summer stretch approaches. He tends to get “HOT” this time of year. So even though, he is in his worst 8 race start of his career, this Tony fan was hoping for a good result on Saturday. To my surprise, he was mired in the 20s for a third of the race. Every time there was a caution, I would track where he was when the yellow flag flew and what position he restarted. Around lap 171, he reached position 17th! I was excited. Perhaps if he managed to get to 17th, he could get in the top 15. After the 5th caution of the night, Tony restarted 13th! Wow! I can’t believe how pumped I was for Tony to be up in 13th position. I thought maybe as the night when the #14 team had gotten something figured out with his car. He continued to race in these positions until the proverbial black cat hit. Tony caused a crash. He got loose and got into Jimmie. This put him back down to 24th. He did come over the radio and took 100% responsibility for the crash. At this point I thought, this evening is over. Yes, it was at lap 328 and there was still some racing left, but with the troubles this team has had over the last several weeks I wasn’t optimistic. I have learned you never can count out Tony Stewart. Tony was up to 5th for the restart after the final caution of the night. I couldn’t believe it Tony had a shot at the victory! Restarts can be tricky and this one was going to be no different. It was crazy! All I saw were cars moving every which way to get their best shot at the win. And like he is known to do, here comes Kevin Harvick. With the front-runners bearing down, I really did have hope that Tony would have the chance to win. Unfortunately it wasn’t meant to be thanks to Kurt Busch. From my viewpoint, it looked like Kurt took Tony out of the groove causing Tony to get loose. Tony was on his way to the best finish he has had since Phoenix. Tony finished 18th. Tony was not happy with Kurt and made no bones about it after the race was over. Of course, Kurt said he didn’t know what the 14 was upset about. Really Kurt? Of course, Tony wasn’t the only who was not happy with Mr. Busch. I believe Matt K. was upset with him as well. Oh by the way, Tony left without comment.
Congratulations Kevin Harvick!
- I believe the penalties handed down to Matt Kenseth by NASCAR were harsh. I know NASCAR are hard asses when it comes to fuel, engines and tires. But in this case, this was a clear oversight on the people at TRD. In fact Clint Bowyer’s engines from Richmond and Daytona had rods too close for comfort so TRD pulled them out of use. Because of TRD’s oversight, JGR suffered the brunt of the penalties. JGR is appealing the penalties. Joe Gibbs said he was appealing on the severity of the penalties. It will be interesting to see how all this shakes out.
- Can Denny Hamlin make a run for The Chase this year? He has been sidelined since his wreck at California.with a back injury. It will be a long road for him. He will have to rattle off some wins along the way, but there are those who think he can do it. He begins his journey this week at Talladega. He has been given the clear the start the race which will allow him to receive the driver points. Then Brian Vickers will take over the car for the rest of the race. He is targeting the race at Darlington (May 11) to be his first full race since California.
- Speaking of Brian Vickers, I am glad he has been given the chance to show what he can do in a Cup car. Like Denny, Brian knows what it is like to see someone else to drive you car. During the 2010 season Brian had to step away from his ride due to illness. He did not return to competition until 2011 season. He has had a rough time the last couple of years, but I think he is back on track with his career. He is now running full-time for JGR’s Nationwide program as well as driving for MWR. Keep on plugging away Brian.
- Favorite term I hear uttered during the broadcast…”roll bar motel”! Thanks for making me almost spit Coke-Cola all over the floor Mike Joy!
Some final thoughts…I am returning to work as of tomorrow, May 1. I was planning to start grad school and being a stay-at-home mom. Unfortunately, grad school cost money and I don’t get a salary as a stay-at-home mom (even though it is one of the hardest jobs around), so I am headed back to the work force. It may seem weird, but I really like working. I like being a mom and being around for my kiddos, but being there is something I get from working in an office. I am nervous, but excited all at the same time. Luckily, I am returning to the same employer, Texas Tech University, however it will be in a different capacity. What does this mean for The Park? Absolutely nothing. I just will have to do some of my posts late at night or very early in the morning. Thanks for riding along with them over the years!