By admin | June 23, 2013
By Richard Allen
At one time, I used to dislike road course racing in NASCAR. I was an oval track snob and thought those types of tracks had no place in a stock car series. Then, the words ‘aero-tight’ and ‘cookie cutter’ became part of the racing vernacular and my mind was changed regarding the courses that require both left and right turns.
Typically, road courses provide some elation along with some frustration, and Sunday’s Toyota/Save Mart 350 at the Sonoma Raceway was no different. But along with those usual emotions, there was even a little ‘WTH’ moment.
The obvious elation was experienced by Martin Truex, Jr. This is a driver who has come so close on multiple occasions over the past couple of seasons only to have victory slip away for one reason or another. The happiness showed on his face and was evident in his voice during the long awaited victory lane interview.
“I can’t even put it into words,” Truex Jr. said of the emotion he felt after the race. “Chad (Johnston) has come so far as a crew chief, he’s just amazing. We’ve had cars that were really fast all year long, we’ve just had some tough luck. We’ve been close so many times…200 and some races without a win. It feels amazing to finally get one.
“The car was just awesome, what can I say. Today was just our day. We’ve had a lot of days that weren’t our days. We’re going to get a bunch of them now, I can tell you that.”
This was the second Sprint Cup win of Truex’s career, but the first came all the way back in 2007 at the Dover International Speedway when he drove for Dale Earnhardt, Inc.
Two drivers who left the California wine country feeling plenty of frustration were Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart. On lap 69, their two cars came together, resulting in a spin by Hamlin.
“OK, who am I wrecking?” Hamlin asked after the incident. “That was the 14,” his spotter replied. “OK, 10-4,” was Hamlin’s response.
Stewart countered by telling his team that Hamlin had left him with nowhere to go and the accident had been just that…an accident.
Hamlin went on to finish 23rd while Stewart ended up 28th after being involved in a second incident with Jeff Burton.
Another driver who had to have been frustrated in Sonoma was Bobby Labonte. This driver didn’t even really get a chance to race. Mechanical troubles forced his team to take their car to the garage area just after the firing of engines. After a scramble to make repairs, the car was sent onto the track only to suffer a blown engine moments later.
Labonte was left to sit alone in the infield portion of the track until a caution came out later allowing safety crew members to come to his aid.
Brothers Kurt and Kyle Busch were both aggravated during their day in Sonoma. While pitting from the lead early in the race, Kurt was hit with a speeding violation, which required a drive-through penalty. In the process of serving the drive-through punishment, the elder brother was busted again and had to come to pit road another time.
Kurt eventually recovered to post a solid 4th place finish.
Things did not turn out so well for Kyle Busch. After a day in which he too was penalized for speeding on pit road and just never seemed to get into a good rhythm on the track, the Joe Gibbs Racing driver found himself bouncing off a tire barrier after being bumped by Carl Edwards on lap 83. Eventually, the younger Busch finished 35th.
And perhaps the most frustrated group of the day were those who watched the TNT television broadcast of the race. Seemingly, on every restart there would be cars running two and three wide throughout the pack while the network’s cameras focused on the top-5 drivers running single-file. And more, it seems like TNT shows more commercials than either Fox or ESPN. That may or may not be true but it seems that way.
Watching their broadcasts is difficult.
What The Heck?:
And finally, there was a wreck on pit road as cars rolled off for their pace laps before the race even started. How does that happen?
David Reutimann stopped briefly to make an adjustment, but rookies Alex Kennedy and Paulie Harraka were unable to avoid him and each other and received significant damage to their cars.
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