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NASCAR Bristol Sprint Cup Race Postscript

by Dave Grayson
Tuesday, March 24, 2009

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Bristol Crowd
Let's begin this week with a generic WHAT'S UP with the Food City 500 at the Bristol Motor Speedway. This was without question one of the most polite versions of a Bristol race I've ever seen. I sat down expecting to watch NASCAR's semiannual demolition derby and instead received a race broadcast that appeared to be sanitized for my protection.

The closest to the traditional Bristol Stomp from days gone by came from Juan Pablo Montoya who gets a WHAT'S UP for losing his patience with Jamie McMurray so early in the race. NASCAR officials made quick work of sending JPM the chill out message.

On a more positive note THUMBS UP to the Bristol Motor Speedway for selling out their 160,000 seat grandstands for the 54th consecutive time. That's 27 years of full grandstands. The fact that they were able to do it again this year, with the state of the economy, is quite impressive.

THUMBS UP to Kyle Busch for a stellar performance while in the process of winning the Food City 500. I've said it many times in the past, whether you love this guy or can't stand the thought of him he is the real deal.

WHAT'S UP with Dale Earnhardt Jr? How could a car possibly turn top speed laps during Saturday's final practice in race trim and then handle so poorly during Sunday's race? What was the problem with finding the right adjustments to make the car run better? Earnhardt drove the ill handling car to a 14th place finish and needed two lucky dog passes to remain on the lead lap. A radio transmission, heard during the course of the race on Track Pass, had Earnhardt telling his crew chief "there's a lot of s**t going on with this car." It was also noted that, during a post race interview, Earnhardt once again found himself defending crew chief Tony Eury Jr.

By the way THUMBS UP to Direct TV for giving its customers the gift of free Track Pass. 

THUMBS UP to Marcus Ambrose who ran a terrific race in his JTG Daugherty Racing Toyota. Despite the fact that his engine dropped a cylinder, “Kangaroo Meat" hung in there and scored a top ten finish.

WHAT'S UP with the Roush Fenway Racing Fords? "Concrete" Carl Edwards was heavily favored to win this race but could only muster a 15th place finish. David Ragan finished 27th, Matt Kenseth was 33d, Jamie McMurray, who had a really tough day at Bristol, came home 37th and Greg Biffle, sore ribs and all, was 39th after blowing an engine. I can only imagine the team meeting at the Roush Fenway race shops the following Monday morning.

THUMBS UP to Kevin Harvick for winning Saturday's Nationwide Series race at Bristol while finally getting a victory in a car that he owns. The 33 year old Harvick, driving his #33 Chevrolet, scored his 33rd series win. When the numbers line up like that you just can't miss. It got a little warm inside of the car for Harvick. A failing alternator forced him to turn off all of the car's fans including the driver comfort system. But when you park your car in victory lane none of that matters.

WHAT'S UP with Kyle Busch's pit stop? During the Nationwide Series race Busch came down pit road for his final stop of the race. The crew first changed the right side tires. The right rear tire was rolled towards the pit wall but the crew member whose job it was to catch the tire missed it. The tire bounced off the wall, rolled backwards and came to rest at the edge of pit road. A NASCAR official was frantically pointing at the tire in an effort to let the team know what had happened. Unfortunately the car was dropped off of the jack and Busch left the pit stall with the tire still on pit road. The result was a penalty that sent Busch back to the tail end of the longest line. He restarted 11th with time running out. The best he could do within the remaining laps was race his way back to sixth. Busch's car was a strong front runner all through this race and this pit road incident killed any chance he had of winning. 

At the same time THUMBS UP to Kyle Busch for keeping his temper under control. The visibly upset driver declined a post race interview and kept to himself. It was yet another sign that he seems to be at a new level of maturity and has found a way to control the outbursts that he's famous for.

THUMBS UP for Nationwide Series rookie Justin Allgaier for his fifth place finish at Bristol. This young driver is really starting to impress a lot of observers.

THUMBS UP for the Scott's Saturday Night Special Legends race. It was fantastic to see guys like Cale Yarbrough, Junior Johnson and Harry Gant behind the wheel of a race car again. The fact that the driver's purse from this race was dedicated to charity organizations made it even sweeter. THUMBS UP to Sterling Marlin for winning the legends portion of the race but, at the same time, WHAT'S UP with Marlin being in this race to begin with? A legends race should be filled retired drivers and not a current active member of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

THUMBS UP to L D Ottinger who late in the race charged from the back of the pack to a third place finish while putting a magnificent display of driving. The driver, now in his 70's, also displayed his sense of humor and called 52 year old Rusty Wallace "a spring chicken."

THUMBS UP to the father son team of Ned and Dale Jarrett working together in the ESPN2 broadcast booth. "DJ" also delivered one of the best lines from the entire NASCAR weekend. There was a discussion about NASCAR legend Junior Johnson being in a race car that he built for his son, Robert, to drive. It was pointed out that Johnson had to make some modifications to the car so it would comply with the rules of the legends race. "DJ" quipped "this is probably the first time in his life that Junior Johnson modified a race car so it would comply with the rule book." He's probably right.

The final THUMBS UP goes to the Speed Channel's Kenny Wallace who was extremely impressed with this special race and said "we need a senior racing circuit" and then added "it could even bring new levels of sponsors to NASCAR such as Geritol." Another reason why everyone loves "Herman The German."

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