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NASCAR Dover postscript

by Dave Grayson
Monday, May 17, 2010

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The Busch Bow
During the NASCAR weekend at the Dover International Speedway we learned that the "new Kyle" can dominate a race as easily as the "old Kyle" except it's nicer. We learned that even the best in the business can too fast for their on good. From the same driver we learned that it's not a good idea to ram another car, prior to a restart, when a live television camera is watching and we learned we also learned that the old racing adage "eight wheels is better than four" doesn't apply when you're driving down pit road. With those thoughts in mind, let's begin with:

THUMB’S UP to Kyle Busch. When it comes to the fan base there doesn't seem to be any middle ground for this driver. You either want to become the next president of his fan club or you want to be the fan that boos the loudest when his name is mentioned over a public address system. No matter how you feel about him, his performance on the track, and the impressive statistics that comes with it, cannot be ignored or denied.

This was especially true during the NASCAR weekend in Dover. On Sunday afternoon Busch led 131 laps of the Autism Speaks 400 presented by Hershey's Milk & Milk Shakes. It marked his second NASCAR Sprint Cup win of the season, his second at Dover and his 18th career win. The win also elevated him to second in the championship standings and just 69 points away from leader Kevin Harvick. All of this was accomplished despite the fact that he had no radio contact with his crew chief and spotter for a major portion of the race.

On Saturday Busch completely dominated, and won, the NASCAR Nationwide Series' Helluva Good 200 by leading 191 of the 205 laps. A late race multi car crash led to both a red flag and green-white-checker finish. While it eradicated his large race lead, it didn't deter Busch from winning his fourth series win of the season, his second at Dover and his 34th career win. This came after he won the pole position during qualifying while setting a new track record.

On Friday night it appeared that Busch was going to dominate and win the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series Dover 200 after leading 172 of the 200 laps. However a late race incident created a green-white-checker finish. Much to the surprise of all, Busch's Toyota sputtered during the restart and he became one of several trucks that had to come to pit road for gas. It cost him the race and regulated the team to a 16th place finish.

The numbers Busch compiled at Dover are completely awesome. In three days there he ran three races totaling 900 laps. He led 494 of those laps. He, and his Joe Gibbs Racing team, collected over $390,000 for the effort. He's now won two of the last three NASCAR Sprint Cup races. By the way, that third race was won by his Joe Gibbs Racing team mate Denny Hamlin. That's how you get THUMB’S UPS.

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WHAT’S UP with Jimmie Johnson and his pit road speeding penalty at the end of the Sprint Cup race? While a pit road penalty can happen to anyone, this is probably the last driver in the field that one would expect to make a mistake like that. It happened during the final pit stop of the day with 36 laps left in the race. Johnson was ordered to do a mandatory drive through down pit road. The re entry to pit road was significantly delayed by the presence of another car and that cost Johnson even more precious time.

All during this race Johnson was a major player in this event. He and Kyle Busch had the fastest cars on the track and he had a better than good opportunity to take the win especially after leading a race high 225 laps. Johnson had to settle for a 16th place finish, one lap down, and fell to fourth in the championship standings.

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WHAT’S UP with driver Clint Bowyer who had to endure two days of incidents that were both bizarre bad luck and embarrassing? The first incident occurred on Saturday during the Nationwide Series race. With seven laps to go, the final caution flag of the race came out in the race. On the ensuing restart Bowyer was lined up second. When the green flag fell Hamlin got into the back of Bowyer's car. his car spun and was collected in what turned out to be a multi car crash on the front stretch.

Following a red flag period, Bowyer came into the pits for repairs. When he returned to the track he found Hamlin's car, while the yellow was still out, and rammed the left front fender causing Hamlin to spin out. NASCAR ordered Bowyer to park his car and report to their truck known as "the Oval Office." Bowyer wound up 25th in the final running order while Hamlin finished 12th. Despite the situation the two drivers seemed to be fine with each other after the race. That's likely because it was a Nationwide Series event where the two drivers had little to lose in terms of points.

That leads to a WHAT’S UP to ABC/ESPN2 broadcaster Dale Jarrett who, following this incident, said "I don't know if it was done on purpose more so than it was something that could have been avoided and didn't need to happen." What?

Bowyer's frustrating weekend continued on Sunday during the Sprint Cup event when he left pit road with his jack still attached to his car. The mandatory return to pit road ruined a potential strong run in his Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet. Bowyer wound up finishing 17th a lap down.

Meanwhile here in the Los Angeles area the local sportscasters, who has proven time and time again that they know nothing about NASCAR racing, ran their obligatory, inept, 8 second race coverage. It featured a clip of Kyle Busch bowing before the fans. Do I even need to tell you what the second video clip was?

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THUMB’S UP to NASCAR Nationwide Series veteran Jason Keller who commemorated his official 500th series start last Saturday. This is considerably more than just a driver's personal milestone, it's series history. Unfortunately a broken shock mount forced the team to go behind the wall for repairs. But Keller did return to the race where he managed to move up to a 33d place finish. Apparently his team, Tristar Motorsports, refuses to participate in the start and park concept despite their underfunded status. Their extra effort netted them a $21,000 plus paycheck. They deserve another THUMB’S UP for that.

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THUMB’S UP to Aric Almirola for winning his first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Dover for Billy Ballew Motorsports. Almirola had to come back from adversity to make this personal career moment happen. Following a flat tire the team was nearly two laps down when they returned to the race. His win also keeps the series' Dover streak alive. 11 truck races there has produced 11 different winners.

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The final THUMB’S UP of the week goes to Nick Harrison, the crew chief of the #1 Nationwide Series car fielded by Phoenix Racing, for a terrific one liner. Sprint Cup driver Ryan Newman drove the car at Dover in place of James Buescher who recently left the team. It was pointed out that there might be a weight problem with the car because Newman has a much larger frame than the very slender Buescher. That caused Harrison to quip "I'd much rather have Newman, and his extra 50 pounds, in the car than any other driver you could name."

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Finally we ask you to continue to send good thoughts and prayers to Sprint Cup driver Brian Vickers while he continues his specialized treatment for the blood clots that has temporarily side lined his racing career.

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