Why I watched…
There are many reasons to watch a Cup race. You want to see if those up front can stay there, if those in the ditch can pull themselves out, to see if a safety vehicle out on the track the same time as a race car might be aware of the possible dangers.
A truck full of folks were just cruising along the inside of the track during a Nationwide caution Friday in Texas as Kyle Larson came chugging along to get back into position for a re-start. As he neared the truck, a tire blew, sending his car directly at the safety crew. A last-second move to the inside by Larson up against the wall prevented a bad, bad situation from happening. As for the safety workers, it does not appear they even saw Larson coming. Maybe NASCAR can be a bit pro-active in ensuring that safety crews protect themselves at all times. In short, they need to watch their own asses, just in case.
Usually I couldn’t care less about the sponsor of a race if that is all there is to the name. However, the NRA 500 race in Texas sure had resonated with people for rather polarizing reasons. Due to the controversy, NASCAR might take another look at who the tracks get to sign on as a sponsor in future, too. Guns are a hot button issue at present, and it might not be seen as very politically correct to be a bit too chummy with the NRA, except in places like Texas, obviously. This probable action on behalf of NASCAR is a bit different than the safety issue I raised earlier. This is all about some wishing to cover their own asses, just in case. What does this all have to do with what went down Saturday night? Not a damn thing.
Apparently FOX agreed. It was the Texas 500, according to the graphics. That was not all that disappeared, as just about all the drivers in this one become rather irrelevant early.
There were two exceptions. Martin Truex Jr and Kyle Busch dominated this race, usually among the top three, more likely the top two. Busch won in his 300th start, his second of the season and the 26th of his career. Truex finished second, as he did at Kansas both races there last year. I wonder where they race next week?
Jeff Gordon fans had an opportunity to be excited, as their man was running a strong third. With less than thirty to go he fried a wheel hub and lost about 35 positions as he headed to the garage.
Dale Earnhardt Jr was challenging for third past the midway mark when he was hit by electrical problems. Problems that should have been fixed by the flick of a switch to change to the other battery. Time got lost, a speeding penalty turned into a change of tires which resulted in yet another penalty. At least he was in the top thirty…barely.
Tony Stewart had a pit problem of his own. He may have stayed on the track, but we didn’t really see him again as he was barely inside the top thirty. On the bright side, team mate Ryan Newman was 10th.
Kurt Busch started on the outside pole beside his brother, but an issue under the hood left him just inside the top forty on the day. Danica Patrick was nowhere to be seen except on the tracker, where she finished a spot ahead of Junior.
Bobby Labonte was sick, but had Mike Bliss as a backup. Too bad Bliss was still driving his own car when Labonte folded his cards. The car stayed parked until Michael McDowell parked his own, took Labonte’s ride out until it broke, and managed a share of 42nd and 43rd. As for Bliss, he finished 41st. It would appear no one thought of bringing in a ringer.
Both Penske cars of Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski had a tough time going through pre-race inspection due to issues with their rear end housing. The cars did, not the drivers. As the call came for the gentlemen and lady to start their engines, I don’t think either had got into their cars just yet. Both finished in the top ten. Others who rather quietly recorded a top ten in Texas included Carl Edwards (3rd), Greg Biffle (4th), Jimmie Johnson (6th), Aric Almirola (7th), and Brian Vickers (8th). Excitement is not a keyword I would use for this one.
Kyle Busch might have won the NRA….er…Texas 500, but he did not shoot off the traditional pistols in Victory Lane for the television audience. In the end, it was tame. Too tame. After all the pre-race drama, which turned out to be a whole lot about nothing, we are more than ready to move on to Kansas this Sunday.
Rating the race – (7/10)…
It was a great race if you loved Kyle or Martin. It was good for a while if you liked Gordon or Junior, then it got just plain disappointing. Visually it was not all that stimulating, but it had miscues on pit road and a few on-track surprises to at least keep it interesting. Well, at least to a point. To be honest, this was the dullest race of the season thus far, with more excitement to be had earlier in the day when the Rays played the Red Sox. In fact, there was even more controversy involving Tiger Woods at the Masters than what we had in Texas. Darrell Waltrip told us how this was the kind of track the new Gen 6 car was built for. If so, why were the first six events a whole lot more interesting than this last one turned out to be?