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NASCAR Chicagoland postscript

by Dave Grayson
Tuesday, July 13, 2010

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David Reutimann
During the previous NASCAR weekend we witnessed a genuine feel good moment from the Chicagoland Speedway victory lane. Then, the following day, we got treated to yet another emotionally charged feel good moment from the Iowa Speedway. We were also shocked to learn that one of the most beloved drivers in the Sprint Cup Series needs driving lessons from an up and coming driver who needs to learn R-E-S-P-E-C-T ! With those thoughts in mind, let's begin this week with:

THUMBS-UP for David Reutimann for winning the NASCAR Sprint Cup race at Chicagoland. This is a team that has struggled for the first half of the year and had to endure watching good runs turn into bouts of bad luck often created by mechanical failures. Reutimann and company were major players in the Life Lock 400 all evening long especially in the final moments when it mattered the most. While standing in the middle of an emotionally charged victory lane, Reutimann apologized for what he termed a "lame victory burn out due to the tears in my eyes".

This event was Reutimann's second Sprint Cup victory and that leads to a WHAT'S-UP with all of the commentary regarding removing the *(asterisk) from his first win. That win, from May of last year, was the rain shortened Coca Cola 600. Since that time Reutimann's first Cup win was regarded as a silver platter event. I've never felt that was fair. I've always believed that for a driver to take advantage of a so called silver platter situation he must make sure he's in position to seize the moment. That's exactly what Reutimann did last year, seize the moment. He won the Coca Cola 600 last year: period-end of sentence, and it well past time for all of us to start respecting that. His first victory may have followed rain showers, but his second win came with a shower comprised of beer, bottled water and Gatorade.

THUMBS-UP to winning team owner Michael Waltrip. The Chicago win is a major shot in the arm for this team. It really wasn't that long ago that Waltrip put his entire financial being on the line to create this organization. The team that hit major struggles in the beginning is now being viewed as potential winners.

THUMBS-UP to Carl Edwards for his second place finish as well as being a major player at the end of the Life Lock 400. A strong finish like that one had to be a major breath of fresh air for Edwards, Roush Fenway Racing and the Ford Motor Company.

THUMBS-UP for Jeff Gordon's strong third place finish after completing his 600th start in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. But, WHAT'S-UP with that comment about not caring about his win less streak which has now hit 48 races? "I don't care", he said to the media at Chicago adding "we were talking earlier that there was a point in my career where I was winning every third race and now I win three out of 100. That's just the way life is."

WHAT'S-UP with the bump and run action between Juan Pablo Montoya and Mark Martin? In the final stages of the Chicagoland race they were aggressively fighting for 15th place. However the fender banging continued on pit road when Montoya displayed his displeasure. That led to Martin parking his car at Montoya's trailer to voice his displeasure. Montoya would later say that he needed to give Martin some "driving lessons" prior to the upcoming race at Indianapolis.

This entire episode of course comes from the frustration levels of both drivers based on their overall performances along with the realization that neither one of them will probably not make the 12 line up for NASCAR's Chase For The Championship. That would also explain some of the general crankiness we've seen from both of them off of the track lately.

WHAT'S-UP with Dale Earnhardt Jr who also displayed a great deal of frustration after the race in Chicago? Earnhardt fought an ill handling car all night long that the pit road adjustments made by the team couldn't seem to correct. He finished 23d one lap down. He also fell from 11th to 13th in the points standings. After the race Earnhardt admitted that he felt like screaming at everyone on the team but knew it wasn't the right thing to do. He also said "we're not good enough to be in the Chase."

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THUMBS-UP to young Austin Dillon for winning his first NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race last Sunday at the Iowa Speedway in only his 12th series start. He performed that feat in rather convincing fashion by leading 187 laps of the Lucas Oil 200. He backed up the dominance with a great restart during the green-white-checker finish that this series is so famous for.

THUMBS-UP for the race winner's grandpa: team owner Richard Childress. In a period of nine days Childress went to victory lane three times. The first was the NASCAR Nationwide Series race at Daytona where Dale Earnhardt Jr won in that famous retro yellow and blue Wrangler #3 Chevrolet. The following night he celebrated with his driver Kevin Harvick after he won the Sprint Cup race at Daytona. He capped off the celebrations last Sunday with his grandson in Iowa.

Earlier that day his other racing grandson, Ty Dillon, finished second at Iowa following his debut with the ARCA Series. Guess where the future of Richard Childress Racing is coming from?

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THUMBS-UP for Kyle Busch pulling off that last ditch effort win during Friday night's NASCAR Nationwide Series race in Chicago. It marked his seventh win of the season, 37th career win in 188 starts and it placed him second on the all time series' win list behind Mark Martin who has 48 wins.

WHAT'S-UP with the Chicago fans giving the race winner a bushel basket full of boo berries? In victory lane Busch laughed and said "I've got to thank the haters in the stands. I don't know if they didn't like the burn out or there's not very many Busch fans up there."

Truth be known the fans, as well as the television viewers, were a little confused about the green-white-checker restart line up which helped Busch get the win. With three laps to go the field lined up for a double file restart only to have it aborted when Brad Keselowski ran out of fuel and had to exit the front row of the line up.

It was expected that the field would criss cross for the restart. In other words David Reutimann was expected to cross from third to the outside of the front row alongside race leader Joey Logano. Instead, the entire outside row was moved up one position. In other words, Kyle Busch moved from fourth to second to join his team mate Logano on the front row.

When the green flag flew for the first green-white-checker attempt, Busch sailed into the lead. In turn four there was a multi car crash but it was too late for another restart because Busch had already driven under the white flag and the race was officially declared over.

NASCAR later said the line up move was "proper." But there was post race confusion over the move that later presented itself the following day during the Sprint Cup driver's meeting. Explaining the move at the meeting was NASCAR Race Director David Hoots who said "if someone drops out of either row , just pull up. We won't try to criss cross you with one lap to go. If you help us with that, we will get the race restarted nice and smoothly. We'll just pull both rows straight forward."

Needless to say the final results of the Nationwide Series race didn't set well with Joey Logano who had to settle for second. That's perfectly understandable but the young driver does get a WHAT'S-UP for not doing a post race interview. If Logano would have taken some time to cool off and then come out of the trailer to talk to the media that would have been fine. A belated interview is better than no interview at all. You can bet that someone from Joe Gibbs Racing has already reminded Logano that these nationally televised post race interviews are an excellent way to thank sponsors and team members who provided him a good race car that was capable of winning the race.

Where have we seen this act before? Oh yes, it was Kyle Busch several times over the past two years.

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Finally this week we have two GOD BLESS items for you. The first goes to NASCAR Nationwide Series driver Eric McClure and his wife Miranda who welcomed a baby girl to their family early Monday morning. Mirabella Rileigh came into the world, measuring 18.5 inches and weighing six pounds two ounces, and joins her two sisters.

Chandra and Jimmie Johnson officially announced the name of their first child last weekend. Genevieve Marie Johnson was born on Wednesday of last week. If you haven't seen them yet, pictures of this new NASCAR cutie have been posted on www.lowesracing.com.

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