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NASCAR Sprint Unlimited postscript

by Dave Grayson
Monday, February 18, 2013

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Race winner Harvick and Stewart go side-by-side
Getty Images for NASCAR
The Sprint Unlimited: it was an invitational event for NASCAR Sprint Cup Drivers who won Coors Light poles on qualifying day in 2012 plus past race champions. At the end of this 75 laps free for all was major bragging rights and a check for $200,000 for the winner.

During the course of this evening we watched an alleged "Lame Duck" walk all over the competition. We witnessed the big wreck in the race that every driver in the race warned us about. We witnessed the democratic process in action while fans voted on key aspects of the race format including which outfit Miss Sprint Cup was going to wear.

We also witnessed the potential of just how good NASCAR's new race car was going to be. Most of all, when the green flag waved in the air to start the Sprint Unlimited, it meant that NASCAR racing was back. With those thoughts in mind, let's begin with:

THUMBS-UP. Kevin Harvick clearly reminded us of how good of a wheel man he really is. He led 40 of the 75 laps on the way to winning the Sprint Unlimited for the third time in his career. His Budweiser-Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet was strong all night. At the end of the event Harvick displayed some masterful blocking to keep the presence of Greg Biffle and Tony Stewart at bay en route to the checkers.

WHAT'S-UP. In an effort to perform the traditional victory lane burn out, The engine in Harvick's Chevrolet stalled and simply would not restart. He had to be pushed to victory lane by a speedway tow truck.

THUMBS-UP. Team owner Richard Childress, realizing the car was powerless, ran all the way to the edge of the speedway to congratulate his driver and yelled "that was awesome!" Harvick replied: "sorry, I think I broke the motor." Childress, still with a big grin on his face, yelled "I know and I don't care!"

WHAT'S-UP. Can we please stop all of this lame duck talk regarding Kevin Harvick? Okay, we all know that he's leaving Richard Childress Racing at the end of this year to join Stewart-Haas Racing. That's how he got the lame duck moniker. Did anyone really believe that this driver would give anything less than his standard 110 percent effort to his #29 RCR team? He certainly proved that point in victory lane after winning the Sprint Unlimited.

WHAT'S-UP. The first segment of the Sprint Unlimited made it to lap 15 when the predicted "big one" melee presented itself. Tony Stewart moved down the track and clipped the front nose of Marcos Ambrose's Ford. Both drivers were able to get their cars under control again but, unfortunately, there was an accordion effect behind them that wadded up the race cars driven by Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson, Mark Martin, Jeff Gordon, Kurt Busch and Martin Truex Jr who eventually made it back into the race.

The big wreck caused by Tony Stewart
Getty Images for NASCAR
THUMBS-UP. Tony Stewart immediately came over his radio and took full responsibility for the wreck. After the race, during a live television interview, he again accepted responsibility and made it very clear that this incident was not the fault of his spotter.

THUMBS-UP. Sensing that a "big one" in a NASCAR exhibition race was inevitable, Dale Earnhardt Jr, during the parade laps, got on his radio to his crew and warned them the car may get wadded up. "I hope you guys ain't too attached to this thing," Earnhardt said.

THUMBS-UP. For the first time ever, the fans had a total say so regarding the format of the Sprint Unlimited. Fans were allowed to voted on the race segments and chose three runs of 30, 25 and 20 laps. They voted on the line up format and the winner was to use the 2012 scheduled qualifying dates and results. The fans were also in favor of a mandatory four tire stop at the end of the first segment and zero driver eliminations following the first 30 laps. They also voted on the fire suits to be worn by the trio of Miss Sprint Cup ladies during the race. By the way fans, nice job on the fire suits.

THUMBS-UP. The Sprint Unlimited was the first on track test for NASCAR's new Gen-6 race car under bonafide racing conditions. The general consensus from many of the drivers after the race was a thumbs up for the way the cars performed on the track.

THUMBS-UP. Seconds before the green flag fell on the Sprint Unlimited, former NASCAR champion, and member of the Fox broadcast team, Darell Waltrip yelled "BOOGITY, BOOGITY, BOOGITY LET'S GO RACING BOYS." That Waltrip tradition officially launched the return of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing.

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