By admin | August 3, 2008
By Richard Allen
The title of these race notes for the Sunoco Red Cross Pennsylvania 500 is a bad joke, of course, but there were times throughout the race in which the action was not exactly riveting.
There was actually one(only one) competition caution on lap 21 due to the fact that both Saturday practice sessions had been rained out and NASCAR wanted to give teams a chance to check their tires and adjust accordingly.
To demonstrate just how spread out the field would tend to get during a long run I did a little experiment. I use Trackpass along with watching on television. I started with the race leader, who at the time was Carl Edwards, and then one by one clicked on each following car. The spacing was almost identical throughout the Top 20 cars. Each car was approximately 200 yards behind the car in front.
So, I hope we never see a race like last week again but there are times when in the middle sections of a long race it is not too disappointing for track officials to spot some debris out there somewhere(when the debris is actually there).
Along with that first thought, there were actually some green flag pit stops. So, we should give credit where credit is due.
Goodyear had a pretty good weekend. Their tires were praised for the way they held up in the rain during the Nationwide race in Montreal and they were able to bring a tire that could last for a full fuel run on Sunday.
One thing is for sure. The celebrity Grand Marshalls have really been giving it their all of late.
Brendan Fraser in Chicago and Keifer Sutherland in Pocono each gave some emphasis to “Gentlemen, Start your engines!” They both seemed genuinely excited to be there and did not make a mockery of the honor like some have in the past.
To say Michael Waltrip is struggling would be a colossal understatement. Sunday was the second 43rd place finish in a row for the #55 car. Prior to these last two races he was 36th in Chicago.
Going into Pocono MWR’s #55 car was 32nd in owner points, just 115 points ahead of 36th place. To make matters worse for Waltrip, that 36th place car is his own #00.
Like at Indianapolis Kevin Harvick and Kurt Busch spun early in Sunday’s race. At least this time they did not spin with each other.
Harvick, at least, recovered for a much better finish than at Indianapolis. He found himself in 4th place at the checkered flag which moved him up to 11th in the overall standings. His 37th place of a week ago had dropped him out of the Top 12.
Busch, on the other hand, fared little better in Pocono than Indy. After posting a 40th last week he only managed a 38th on the Pennsylvania triangle.
Speaking of Kurt Busch, all three Penske cars had trouble at the exact same spot on the track at different times on Sunday.
Busch spun early on in the event coming off of turn 3. Then, Ryan Newman and Sam Hornish each took a turn banging the wall off that same turn.
Although this race was certainly not the disaster last week’s race was, it still was not a strong effort for NASCAR.
As is often the case, there was little passing and the race seemed to drag in the middle sections. The only time there was any real racing was for the first few laps immediately after restarts, which prompted the title of this piece.
The fuel situation added some drama but not enough to call the race the overwhelming success the sport needed after Indy.
But, with all bad jokes aside, to NASCAR’s credit they did not try to grab short term headlines with a manufactured finish by throwing a “debris” caution in the late stages of the race. That would have only made matters worse.
After the last two races NASCAR and ESPN have to hoping something, anything, exciting will take place in Watkins Glen.
Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.
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