By admin | September 13, 2009
By Richard Allen
The race in Richmond was interesting. The drama of whoâ€™s in and whoâ€™s out of the Chase for the Championship going right down to the final lap was captivating. Thereâ€™s no doubt about the previous statements.
However, just think of how intense it would have been if it had been real rather than manufactured.
To say that the â€˜debrisâ€™ caution and another mysterious caution or two were used at opportune times would be accurate for the Richmond affair.
The race in Atlanta was one of the best NASCAR has put on in a long time, and it worked out that way with no interference from the folks in charge. It was simply a good race.
However, the powers that be simply could not help themselves in Richmond. They were determined that there was going to be a last lap shootout to qualify for the Chase.
In all, there were at least three cautions for â€˜debrisâ€™ during the Chevy Rock and Roll 400. That number doesnâ€™t sound so excessive, but it was the timing that made them interesting. In each instance at least one Chase contender was about to be lapped or was in need of a stop.
It seemed as if the team of Matt Kenseth needed a great deal of help throughout the night. On more than one occasion they were saved from going one lap down by a well timed debris caution. Eventually, it became apparent that all the cautions in the world werenâ€™t going to help and the #17 was eventually lapped.
Perhaps the most interesting caution of all came on lap 326. Clint Bowyer barely touched the bumper of Jeff Gordon which sent the #24 car sliding up and out of the groove. He did not hit anything nor did he spin out, he just moved up and out of the groove which caused him to loose a few positions. It looked as if there was a bit of a quick trigger for the yellow light if one of the Chase drivers found even the least bit of trouble. And apparently that applied even to those already locked into the playoff.
NASCAR just could not help themselves. They wanted so badly for Saturdayâ€™s race to come down to the very end that they at least gave the appearance of â€˜helpingâ€™ that to come about. Knowing that the NFL was starting the next day and that college football was going on other networks in the same time slot, they may have wanted to make sure viewers would stay tuned in and that they would get near top billing on SportsCenter for the next day or two.
Maybe I was simply imaging things, but the timing of things was quite a coincidence if those cautions weren’t used as a way of keeping the interest up.
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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