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Junior’s crash, NASCAR’s debris cautions and a Hendrick win make for predictable Chase opener

By admin | September 20, 2009



By Richard Allen


The Sylvania 300 was filled with predictability. Here are a few of the easily foreseen events to have occurred in that race:

Predictable event #1: Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was having a very solid, and even race win contending, type of a run on Sunday in the Sylvania 300 at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. So, was there any doubt something bad would happen before the day ended?

As has so often been the case this year in the instances when the popular driver has had good runs, he was unable to get it to the finish. This time, however, the incident that ended his day early was not of his own doing.

After a late race caution, the #88 car restarted in 4th. By the time Junior got to the middle of the third and fourth turns of the flat one-mile track, he had hammered the outside wall. Contact with the #00 of David Reutimann was the thing that would ultimately bring about what has become all too predictable of an outcome for the third generation driver.

“David couldn’t hold his line,” a frustrated Junior declared. “I should have known that.

“David just ran out of talent.”

Predictable event #2: Was anyone surprised when a “debris” caution came out with 25 laps remaining in the Sylvania 300?

Apparently NASCAR cares very little that it has become somewhat of a commonly known joke that they will manipulate the endings of races.

“They’re talking about debris in turn 3,” one spotter told his driver well before the caution ever came out.

“Yeah,” the driver replied. “You know they’re gonna throw it.”

“They’re just waiting for everything(pit stops) to cycle through,” the spotter added.

To add to the folly of the situation, ESPN/ABC reporter Jerry Punch was openly hinting to NASCAR of the network’s desire to see the race tightened up at the finish. More than a few times the announcer pointed out that this race was short of its typical number of cautions and that a caution always seems to come out in the final few laps on this track. Finally, the message was received.

Sure enough, when the final round of pit stops had fully cycled through, the yellow came out. That debris was not in a position to cause any harm until after all the stops had been made. Then, it either grew or got up and moved into the racing groove. So, NASCAR did the safe thing and put the caution out to clean the track.

The above mentioned driver was so certain that the “debris” caution would come out at the proper time that he asked his crew chief if he should take it easy on his tires so they would be good to go for the late race restarts.

“You knew that was coming,” the driver told his spotter when the call for the yellow was made.

Yes, driver. We knew that was coming.

Predictable event #3: Was there any doubt that Hendrick Motorsports would emerge as the front runners for yet another Sprint Cup?

Mark Martin and his #5 team did not necessarily dominate the race but were at the front when it mattered most. The points leader coming into the race, due to the bonus points he received for winning the most races in the first 26 events of the season, added to his lead by taking the checkered in the first Chase race.

HMS driver Jimmie Johnson has won three consecutive titles so it should come as no surprise to anyone that the organization has the early lead in 2009 as well.

Richard Allen is a member of the National Motorsports Press Association. His weekly column appears in The Mountain Press every Wednesday.

Topics: Articles |

14 Responses to “Junior’s crash, NASCAR’s debris cautions and a Hendrick win make for predictable Chase opener”

  1. The Old Guy Says:
    September 21st, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Interesting to me that a driver, who has one win in the last three years and is 20 something in points, would say that another driver had run out of talent.

    Go figure!

    Debris cautions? Is there any doubt that all of that money the TV networks are paying isn’t ruling todays races.

  2. Ken Says:
    September 21st, 2009 at 8:26 am

    They are not “debris” cautions at all. They should call them what they are and call them competition yellows. If they don’t show the debris on TV, nobody believes it ever existed. But then again, the lousy TV coverage can’t show wrecks or passes for the lead live. NA$CAR manipulating races and louse TV coverage makes the race coverage very hard to watch or take the results seriously.

  3. Ginger Says:
    September 21st, 2009 at 10:55 am

    Old Guy, why don’t you go play in the traffic.

  4. mikeyfan5599 Says:
    September 21st, 2009 at 1:13 pm

    Junior said David ran out of talent, what did he say about his talent when he couldn’t find his pit stall this year?

  5. The Old Guy Says:
    September 21st, 2009 at 1:46 pm

    Hey Ginger, Classy. I like you too!

  6. Joe W. Says:
    September 21st, 2009 at 1:55 pm

    Old guy, that driver with the one win in 3 years does have 18 career cup wins. He also has two Busch (Nationwide) Championships. I think he can call out a guy who has ONE CAREER win, and it was a rain shortened fluke at that. I am not a Jr. nation member, but he has a lot more talent than the 00 driver. His number sort of says it all.

  7. andmarhar Says:
    September 21st, 2009 at 5:00 pm

    If two drivers make contact and one of them hits the wall while the other continues on which one ran out of talent?

  8. charlie Says:
    September 21st, 2009 at 5:22 pm

    Yeah look at the 88 who can’t find his pit stall so how will he ever find victory lane again. Yes he has 18 wins, so what his dad had 76 wins and ran out of talent at daytona in 01. the 00 did win and no matter how you win a win is a win. the 00 earned his win and I’m not sure you can say that about Jr and his restrictor plate wins and the pass under the yellow line at Dega and yes I will never forget the 04 Daytona 500 when Jr said “it was like a magic trick, I stepped out of line and passed without drafting help”.I think he got his dads plate you know the one he used in his last win back in 2000 he was like 18th on the last lap and blew by everyone. Dale Jr is the new Kyle Petty and I am sorry to say that because Kyle was good Jr never was.

  9. Charles Says:
    September 21st, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    While on the subject of phatom debris and other thing that seem phony!

    I like Mark Martin and nobody deserves to win the point title more than him!

    That being said after looking at how much quicker his car is over Gordons, Johnsons,Jrs, the others, I mean at Phoniex, Chicago, he could amost lap the field, I mean he is outrunning drivers 15 to 20 years younger than him on the ’same team”, I dont buy it!
    This is his first year with this team at that, I remember Harry Gant having a great year at 51 in 1991 but he was with a team that was mainly a one car team and they hit on something like the Elliots did in the 90s!

    This seems artifical to me and if Nascars intention is they think Martin is going to bring ‘old school’ fans back then they are wrong!

  10. Overra88ted Says:
    September 21st, 2009 at 8:22 pm

    So a driver who 21st in points say’s the driver 16th in points ”ran out of talent”? Jr. must have forgotten about the Daytona 500. By the way Reutimann leads Jr. by 489 points, or about 2 1/2 races. Jr.’s been running out of talent for about 5 years now. Final restart, 5 laps to go at Bristol, JR. used his God given average at best talent(?) to drive hard from 3rd place, 2 car lengths from 1st, all the way to finish 9th. Atlanta, restarted in 6th with 20 laps to go, used all that “talent” and charged to a 17th place finish. With all that “Talent” JR. should easily run the table, and go 0-9 that last 9 races. For yet ANOTHER WINLESS season.

  11. LB Says:
    September 21st, 2009 at 8:38 pm

    JUNIOR never had any talent , 1 fuel mileage win in what 2 or 3 years LMAO junior couldnt be a pimple on davids butt , he is a whiner and it’s always somebodys fault just like when he was driving up and down pit road looking for his pit , his step mother knew he was a loser and was trying to pry the company away from her which by the way iron head left to her not his snot nosed boy .

  12. Dave Says:
    September 22nd, 2009 at 12:30 am

    I’m not a Junior basher but I’ve seen him have enough brain-farts on the track that took out other drivers. Looks like he’s run out of memory.

  13. Joe W. Says:
    September 22nd, 2009 at 12:18 pm

    I think some of you people have run out of memory. Jr. has 18 cup wins!!! Thats more than a lot of people who have raced in Nascar. By the way Kyle Petty had only 8! He also has two Championships in the Busch series and he did it while running it full time, not as a Cup driver. So you guys don’t like Jr. That is your right. And maybe he is not as good as he once was, but finishing behind Ruitimann this year will be the first time that has happened. Some of you need to get a life other than beating up Dale Jr. all the time. And as I said in my 1st post I am NOT a JR. nation member. I am a fan of Jeff Gordon, and Carl Edwards but give credit where credit is due. You guys need to just admit you hate him and nothing he ever did, does now or will ever do is going to please you. Give the guy a break!!!!! He is a lot better person than that jerk Kyle Bush, but I bet you like him since he is winning, but you will hate him too if he has a couple off years. What a bunch of fickle people you are.

  14. Dave Says:
    September 23rd, 2009 at 1:26 am

    Joe W.- The point is that Jr was pointing a finger at a guy who was in a position that Jr has been in many times himself - wrecking someone else. It’s not running out of memory to recognize that, it’s actually HAVING memory. Reutimann’s got enough talent to compete in this series and didn’t need to be the scapegoat of Jr’s seasonal frustration.