It is the biggest motor sport weekend, as they ran the 97th edition of the Indianapolis 500 and the World 600 in Charlotte. Oh, yes, they also ran the Monaco Grand Prix, but my bed won that race. It is not often that I will spend a day watching two races, but Memorial Sunday is different and usually well worth the time.
After the 29 men and four women raced around in those fast tubes, we switched to NASCAR. Then again, we had four drivers who made that switch years ago. Danica Patrick is only the latest who turned to driving stock. Tony Stewart won the 1996 Indy pole, claimed the series crown in 1997, and drove in both races the same day in 1999. Juan Montoya won the Indy 500 in 2000, a year after taking their series title. Maybe next year Sam Hornish Jr will be back in Cup. The Nationwide driver won the Indianapolis 500 in 2006, along with three series championships.
Patrick was the lone woman in Charlotte and though she did lead a lap, she was a non-factor. Well, except for her taking out Brad Keselowski. Dale Earnhardt Jr was no where to be seen, until his car blew up. Kasey Kahne had one of the three most dominant cars on the day, yet had to settle for second. Matt Kenseth had another, but Jimmie Johnson broke loose and created a dustup that included Matt. Kyle Busch had the third and to say his day was interesting would be something of an understatement.
A fibre rope used to pull FOX’s aerial camera over head broke lose to hang down at track level. Busch hit it and tore up a front fender. Marcos Ambrose ran over part of it and it got caught up under his car. There was rope everywhere, and NASCAR decided to hold things for over half an hour so the crews could take care of any problems they had, and some had. Meanwhile, ten fans got injured in the incident, with three needing some hospital attention. That bottle of the title sponsor’s product seen lying in the infield came from the stands, along with more such Coke product, as the crowd tried to alert NASCAR to the danger. If you can string cable, there might be a job opening coming up soon with a certain television network. As for Busch, he later blew up the same lap Junior went up in smoke.
With a dozen laps left, caution came out but Kahne’s crew chief Kenny Francis did not call his driver in. They thought at least two or three, with relatively fresh tires, would stay out to put some distance between the leader and the hard chargers. Instead, the entire lead lap contingent came in. Kevin Harvick got the jump on the re-start and sailed off to victory. Kurt Busch, who had led until a battery went dead on him during a red flag, managed to get back to third.
Rating the Indianapolis 500 – (10/10) – Damn but don’t those little darts fly around that track. 220 mph, without fenders, with the engines turning over 11,000 RPM. It was fun to watch those bullets, a first time winner in Tony Kanaan (after years of trying), and a nice storyline with the lucky medallion he gave a young girl nine years ago who returned it in time for the luck to rub off on him on Sunday. A joy to watch from start to finish, and that was all we can ask for.
Rating the World 600 – (8/10) – It was not all that exciting to start with, at least if one discounted the dangler from above. Then Kyle and Junior blew up, Danica took out Brad, Mark Martin took out Aric Almirola and Jeff Gordon, while Johnson did the job on Kenseth. Surely we could count on Kahne to walk away with it, or so we thought. At least someone went home Happy, or in Delana Harvick’s case, with Happy.
Next, we go over to Dover, where Jimmie Johnson has won four of the past eight run there, including last year’s spring race. As for the other four, Brad Keselowski won there in the fall, Matt Kenseth in 2011, and each Busch brother claimed one. It might be a good track to allow somebody to rebound from this past Sunday. Enjoy the week!