What started as a relatively calm weekend got its green flag with Camping World Truck Series. Side by side racing was the course for the day. Bump drafting in trucks whose bumpers do not line up requires skill and caution. In a series that touts itself the entry level NASCAR touring series, this field was split with experience and relative inexperience.
It was that inexperience that caused most of the issues on the day, with wrecks on pit road entry and finally the big one which saw Ron Hornaday flip 5 times in the Kevin Harvick Inc. No. 33 Chevrolet, after being collected by Todd Bodine who spun after an attempt at bump drafting by Grant Enfinger went bad. Hornaday was unhurt but the truck itself was destroyed.
However, there was light in the darkness, the first person to Hornaday was fellow competitor Todd Bodine. It is that kind of concern, friend or not, that shows that through the years Todd has learned what it means to be a champion. His concern and his actions showed the class of a champion and spoke highly of the human being and man that he is.
The truck race had the closest finish in Truck series history since the implementation of electronic scoring, with Kyle Busch winning by .002 seconds over Aric Almirola; however, the finish was not without controversy. Kyle got sideways, due to air turbulents, just before the start finish line, and ended up with the left side tires below the infamous yellow line trying to save the truck.
Almirola was understandable disappointed and stated, “It says plain as day in the rule book you can’t improve your position going below the yellow line. But NASCAR said no penalty to Busch because Kyle’s truck was sideways when he was next to me, that’s what made him go below the yellow line. I don’t have a clear understanding of the (yellow line) rule, I guess. A part of me feels that I got robbed.”
Busch after watching the replay stated, “I was already alongside him well before I got below the line. Judgment call. It’s on NASCAR.”
Kyle Busch used good judgement. Although many fans have already begun saying it’s controversial and have began making negative statements about Kyle, the finish, and of course NASCAR’s ruling on the incident. The bottom line is that by exercising that judgement, he saved a major wreck that would have taken many of the front runners if not all of them out at the finish line.
At that point in the race, the odds of someone getting hurt were astronomical. The situation would have been along the lines of the 1993 Talladega crash of Rusty Wallace only with more trucks involved. By choosing to control the truck by moving two tires below the yellow line, Kyle Busch avoided that for himself and all of the competitors on the track with him.
Sometimes I think that we get so use to disapproving of a specific driver, in this case Kyle Busch, that we just out of habit disapprove. That we don’t watch the replay and look at it from a unbiased point of view.
In the past, I have said that although Kyle is an extremely talented young man in the race car/truck, his immaturity and lack of judgement hurts the publics ability to take him seriously in a positive way. But Kyle Busch is growing up. He is maturing. He is growing. Not only as a man but as a driver as well. He used judgement that benefitted not only himself and his effort on the race track but protected his fellow competitors as well. I will call a spade a spade. But this time it’s a diamond.
Kudos to Kyle Busch and his team on one of the most dramatic and hard fought wins of the season in the CWTS. You earned it and you deserved it.
There will be more races and other opportunities for Aric Almirola. His talents also were show cased today. His move to JR. Motorsports next year will only continue to polish his obvious talents and increase his prowess in both the Nationwide Series cars and the Camping World trucks.
His disappointment will stay with him. This will be a race that he looks at for a long time and thinks I let that one get away. But there are plenty of those in every career. What makes the mantle of a champion is how he deals with them. Does he learn from them and grow, or does he spend the rest of his career pinning for what could have been.
Other notable performances in the truck series today were Ken Schrader who managed to show the “younguns” that the old dog still knew plenty of tricks and led the race in Kevin Harvick Inc.’s #2 Chevy before finishing 11th with a truck that was badly damaged in the big crash with 4 laps to go.
Also, congratulations to Jennifer Jo Cobb on showing the prescence of mind to keep her cool when running out of gas and coming back to finish 23rd 4 laps down in her drivenmale.com/Driverboutique.com Ford. She ran in the lead pack through the early part of the race before running out of gas before halfway. She showed herself to be an extremely capable driver and not just another pretty face in her first attempt at Talladega.
Tomorrow as the world prepares for the spookiest night of the year, Halloween, the Sprint Cup series will tackle Talladega. As is the case with the trucks, the Sprint Cup competitors will hold their breath and use all the talent and skill available to them to avoid “The Big One.” Who will come out on top here? Will it be a Chase contender? A spoiler? Or will JR. Nation finally be appeased with their first win since 2008? Only the spirits of Hallowdega know for sure.
Tune in to see the filmette by AMP Energy Juice called “The Legend of Hallowdega” before the race. The short film by renowned director Terry Gillam features David Arquette and Terry Kirk, as well as appearances from some of NASCAR’s legends and the driver of the Hendrick Motorsports, Legend of Hallowdega, #88 Chevrolet, Dale Earnhardt Jr. You can watch previews at the site, www.legendofhallowdega.com.
Finally, thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends and associates of Jim Hunter, NASCAR’s Vice President of Communication, who passed away last night at the age of 71 after a long battle with Lung Cancer. He had an impact on the sport that we love that will long live after him. It was his direction and support that helped create many of the stars of today in our sport. He cared about them and the fans and all the people that worked in and around NASCAR. He will truly be missed.
In a show of respect, Talladega Superspeedway will lower the track flags on property for Jim Hunter; however, they can’t lower the U.S. flag without a decree from the Alabama Govenor. There was no word on whether that was requested by NASCAR. The speedway also announced Sunday morning that their press box will be renamed to honor Hunter.
The Fourth Turn will be back after Sunday’s race with observations and insights on the AMP Energy Juice 500. Until then, to all the competitors in all the series thanks for giving us everything you have to give, you are our heroes. Most importantly, thanks to all the families who shared their loved ones with us so we could cheer our favorite driver and favorite teams. You are the true heroes of the sport and we are forever in your debt.