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NASCAR Michigan postscript

NASCAR Sprint Cup race
Tuesday, June 16, 2009

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Mark Martin
Leave it to fuel mileage, and the lack of it, to create one of the best NASCAR races we've seen all year. We also got treated to a first time winner in the Camping World Truck series, teammates battling for the win in the Nationwide Series and, oh yes, our favorite "Rowdy" driver took another shot at the Junior Nation. With that thought in mind let's begin with:

THUMBS-UP for Mark Martin. His level of experience also comes with an abundance of patience. Realizing that he didn't have enough spare gas to chase down race leaders Jimmie Johnson and Greg Biffle, the 53 year old wily veteran figured the leaders were too low on fuel for the hard racing they were doing in the final laps of the race. He was correct and it was quite a sight to see that Hendrick Motorsports #5 Chevrolet charge into the lead on the final lap. He took the lead on fumes and ran out of gas during the cool down lap. It was later revealed that the battery in the car had been dead for the final 100 laps.

THUMBS-UP for Martin's crew chief Alan Gustafson. He did an outstanding job of keeping his driver calm during the fuel conservation mode. Gustafson was also looking at the larger points picture. Coming into the Michigan race his team was ranked 13th just one point out of the top 12 that determines the 12 man lineup  for The Sprint Cup Championship. Sunday's win vaulted him up to eighth in the standings. I've been saying for two years now that Gustafson is on the fast track towards joining the group of super start crew chiefs in Sprint Cup racing. After leading his team to their third of the season he seems to be making that prediction come true.

However, WHAT'S UP with Martin's mild case of paranoia last Saturday afternoon? He was disappointed with his 32nd place qualifying lap. In a post race interview he admitted that he went to his motor coach to lie down after qualifying and told himself "Man, I hope Mr. Hendrick doesn't fire me."

Also, WHAT'S UP with Johnson and Biffle racing that hard at a point in the race when fuel was such a critical issue? Johnson's engine expired with a full lap left in the race after leading 146 laps of the event. Biffle's engine consumed its last drop of fuel with a half a lap left. After the race Biffle actually said that he felt Johnson "baited" him into running that hard. But in total candidness he also admitted that if he hadn't taken the "bait" and stuck to the conservation game plan he probably would have won the race.

This week's THUMBS-UP for making chicken salad out of chicken do do absolutely goes to Jeff Gordon who followed his teammate under the checkers for a second place finish. After the team discovered they needed to change an engine on Saturday afternoon, they were forced to start the race from the last row. With a combination of good driving, good pit stops and fuel conservation Gordon charged his way to the front. This feat was accomplished despite the chronic back pain that he has endured for the last several months.

A second THUMBS-UP goes out to Gordon for delivering one of the better lines after the race. Gordon went to victory lane to congratulate Martin and said, "Old man you snookered us again."

Colin Braun gets hugs from parents
THUMBS-UP to Colin Braun for scoring his first ever win in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series during the Michigan weekend. Braun literally blew the numbers off of the door of Kyle Busch's Toyota during the final moments of the race to get the win. The impressive win followed a 35th starting position. His mom and dad were on hand in victory lane to share the joy. The young Roush Fenway Racing driver gave his boss, Jack Roush, his 50th truck series win. The win also came on the Roush home turf. Their headquarters is just a few miles down the freeway from the track.

But WHAT'S UP with the young driver completely forgetting to thank his sponsors during the live television interview from victory lane? This, of course, happened due to the high charged emotions that comes from that first win. Braun made up for it Sunday night when he appeared on the Speed Channel's "Wind Tunnel" program with host Dave Despain.

THUMBS-UP to Kyle Busch for correctly predicting the future. Busch was extremely busy on this weekend with driving in the truck race in Michigan on Saturday afternoon and the Nationwide Series race in Kentucky Saturday night. Then he had to fly back to Michigan for Sunday's Sprint Cup race. After finishing second in the truck series race Busch said he was on his way to Kentucky "so I can finish second again."

Busch arrived at the Kentucky Speedway just in time to jump into his car, with no practice time, and set the fast time in qualifying. Unfortunately the pole position went to his Joe Gibbs teammate Joey Logano. For the second time that day Busch completely dominated the race. Also, for the second time that day, someone blew the numbers off of his car door in the waning moments of the race. This time it was Logano. Busch was correct: he finished second again.

That leads to a THUMBS-UP for Logano for an outstanding driving performance in Kentucky. Give this young driver a little more time to complete the adjustment period with the Sprint Cup cars and he will launch a huge NASCAR career.

WHAT'S UP with all of those pit road speeding penalties during the Nationwide Series event at Kentucky? There were 27 of them with three of them belonging to Carl Edwards. By Monday there was wide spread speculation that there may have been a glitch with one of the pit road timing and scoring loops. That's actually very plausible. It just doesn't seem right that there were 27 speeders in one race.

Bad Boy Kyle Busch smashes guitar
Finally WHAT'S UP with Kyle Busch once again attacking Dale Earnhardt Jr and the Junior Nation? Last Friday, at the Michigan Speedway garage, Busch was doing some interviews. Naturally the subject of him destroying the custom guitar trophy he won at the Nashville Superspeedway was addressed. When told by reporters that many of the fans were upset by his actions, Busch laughed and said "the fans that are upset are probably the same ones who have the number 88 tattooed on their arms."

Once again I suppose I need to thank him for providing me all of this work.

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