Tuesday, May 4, 2010

5 Questions After ... Crown Royal presents The Heath Calhoun 400

Richmond International Raceway is a short track. Any race fan that knows anything about short tracks knows they tend to cause short tempers. After racing at one of the biggest tracks on the NASCAR circuit a week previous, drivers would have to make the transition from bump-drafting and plenty of room for three-wide racing to very little space to move around. It’s tough on the drivers, but fun for the fans.

Here are some questions regarding Saturday night’s race:

When will Jeff Gordon finally pull through? … If Jimmie Johnson has a golden horseshoe hanging around somewhere, then Jeff Gordon must have recently adopted a black cat. Gordon could have easily won three or four races this season, yet has constantly come up short. From tire strategy, to wrecks, and downright bad luck, the original four time champion has continuously been shut out of victory lane thus far in the 2010 season. It can’t last forever though, right? Sooner or later, the No. 24 team is going to make all the right calls and make all the right moves to finally seal the deal. But how soon will that happen?

What is all this about a “new” Kyle Busch? … Busch made a comment after the race that there’s a “new” Kyle Busch inside the racecar. What he said and what people made of it seem to be two different things. What he was trying to say is he’s matured as a driver, and he’s not as quick to throw his hands in the air and give up when things get tough. Everyone else seemed to take that to mean that he was a changed and better person. Maybe he’s more mature than he was a few years ago, but thinking we have a “new and improved” Kyle Busch is a bit over the top. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying Busch is a bad person. On the contrary, I really hope he doesn’t change! We have lots of “nice guys” in the garage area. Busch is arguably the most polarizing figure in NASCAR, and frankly it’s good for the sport. People either love him or hate him. So even if he does mature, let’s hope he doesn’t change too much!

Was there a catfight in the grandstands? … This was almost a bonus question, but it might have confused people without an explanation. However, if I say the names of the drivers it might all become clear: Joey Logano vs. Kasey Kahne. The two drivers got together heading into turn one right in front of second place driver Kevin Harvick. It would have made more sense if they were trying to stay on the lead lap, but both were already a lap down. Neither one of them were very happy with each other after the incident. Both of these drivers have about the same demographic of race fans. I couldn’t help but wonder if there was a catfight going on somewhere in the grandstands. I know it’s mean, but don’t pretend you weren’t thinking it too!

Was the racing just a bit tame at Richmond? … Parts of the race were really good, but most of it seemed relatively lackluster. The slow pace of the race most likely had a lot to do with Kyle Busch’s dominance, leading four times for 226 of 400 laps. Between Jeff Gordon and Busch, they led all but 30 laps of the race. That’s kind of a let down from the record number of lead changes we had the previous week at Talladega. The six cautions seemed a bit low too, with two of them coming for debris. Speaking of which …

Was that “timely caution” just too convenient? … I’m not much of a conspiracy theorist. I will search for the most logical answer to an incident before crying foul. However, the timing of that debris caution on lap 155 just seemed all too convenient for Jimmie Johnson. Just seconds after Kyle Busch put Johnson a lap down, the caution flew. Guess who was the beneficiary? I’m not saying NASCAR favors Johnson or that they were trying to help him. But did you see any debris? Obviously, just because the TV didn’t show it doesn’t mean it wasn’t there. However, it doesn’t help the credibility of a caution when we aren’t allowed to see what it is for. I’m curious for your thoughts on this. Let me know in the comments section.

Bonus questions: Was Joey Logano bound and determined to have every driver angry with him by the end of the night? … When was the last race we had that wasn’t determined by tire strategy? … Is the spoiler affecting the No. 48 team more than they’re willing to admit?

Photo courtesy of NASCAR Media. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author.


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