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,Â 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.
â€œDavid couldnâ€™t hold his line,â€ a frustrated Junior declared. â€œI should have known that.
â€œDavid just ran out of talent.â€
Predictable event #2: Was anyone surprised when a â€œdebrisâ€ 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.
â€œTheyâ€™re talking about debris in turn 3,â€ one spotter told his driver well before the caution ever came out.
â€œYeah,â€ the driver replied. â€œYou know theyâ€™re gonna throw it.â€
â€œTheyâ€™re just waiting for everything(pit stops) to cycle through,â€ the spotter added.
To add to the folly of the situation, ESPN/ABC reporter Jerry Punch was openly hinting to NASCAR of the networkâ€™s desire to see the race tightened up at the finish. More than a few times the announcerÂ pointed outÂ 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 â€œdebrisâ€ 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.
â€œYou knew that was coming,â€ 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.
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