“Man, this was the best race at Pocono in recent history,” or, at least, that’s what many were saying. I really can’t say I disagree with that take of the Pennsylvania 500. I think it was exactly what we have come to expect in a Nascar race these days, except for the fact that it was run on a Monday.
It was a very good race and, from this fan’s view, it looked as though the drivers forgot this was a 500 mile race and they drove almost every lap as if it was with ten to go. It did seem the intensity of the competition was extremely high and perhaps patience wasn’t quite as evident as usual. (That’s a nice way of saying there was a lot of pushing and shoving going on.)
Now, this is just my opinion, but I think two things added to the intensity for this race. First would be the fact that it is crunch time for those that are trying to make the chase and, second, would be the double file restart. Both of these are adding to the intensity of the racing, especially for those trying to break into the Top 12.
As a Nascar fan, I am relatively tired of one thing that is going on these days and it has nothing to do with the COT, the drivers, their teams or the sanctioning body called, Nascar. It has to do with the commentators’ favorite phrase, “Double-file restart, SHOOTOUT STYLE!” I can’t think of anything they say on a regular basis that is more tiring. If they really want to know the truth, I know I am not alone when it comes to feeling this way. Yes, the double-file restart has added an exciting dimension to the races, but, (and I only speak for myself on this part), every time they speak that phrase, it puts a knot in my stomach, (in other words, it makes me sick.) I do hope by next season, they lose that phrase and find a new one.
Why would I even be talking about this here? I don’t know, I think it is just because it is so sickening. If you ask most observers and followers of Nascar, you will find most are wondering why they waited so long to institute the double-file restart. The other way had outlived its importance and reason for being quite a while ago and, with the closeness of competition these days and the importance of being in “clean air”, the move to using the double-file restart was long overdue. I join with all the other voices in praise of the move and I am glad they did it.
Okay, let’s get back to Sunday’s race at Pocono. There was one thing that keeps on coming up in conversations and that, unfortunately, is where some think Nascar blew it again. The comparison is the incidents between Robby Gordon and David Stremme and Denny Hamlin taking out two of Michael Waltrip Racing’s cars, the cars of David Reutimann and Marcos Ambrose. Admittedly, if Nascar would have handled the Denny Hamlin incident the same as the Gordon/Stremme situation, Denny Hamlin would not have won the race.
I do understand the difference between the two – kinda – but I do see what the rub is. Some would use the argument of inconsistency. Nascar would call the one (the Hamlin incident) a racing incident while the other (the Gordon/Stremme incident) was an ongoing feud over several laps. Even though it is logical, I do see how it can be slightly misconstrued by the casual observer. The only answer is that it is a judgment call and yes, in Nascar’s judgment, the one was a problem and the other was a “racing incident”.
Well, enough on that subject for now. I’m sure we’ll have more to talk about on that subject in the near future. As for my opinion on the race at Pocono, I thought it was a very interesting race. I could say I expected Denny Hamlin to win, but even though I did mention him as a possible winner in the pre-race article, I didn’t really expect him to win. I knew his luck was going to have change because, like Mark Martin in the early part of the season, it couldn’t get much worse. Denny definitely had a strong car and even though he did take out a couple of cars during the race because of a mistake in judgment, he deserved to win because he did have the fastest car.
Some would argue that Jimmy Johnson was the strongest car but he did struggle with mechanical problems. It is possible, if things would have worked out, he and Denny would have had to race against each other at the end of the race. As it was he and his crew chief, Chad Knaus, did a marvelous job of getting everything they could out of the race, even with all of their problems.
There are those that think that another rule change is needed. Now they think there should be a limit to the number of “Lucky Dog” advances for an individual during a race. I say leave it alone… This was one race and it was a big track. For the 48 team to have done the same thing they did here at a place like Martinsville would have been almost impossible. Everything just worked out for them at Pocono. Personally, I think this is why the 48 team has won three championships in a row. They handle adversity as well as they handle advantage and they very well could make it four in a row at Homestead in November.
See ya next time …
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)
© August 5, 2009 – all rights reserved
Just A Fan’s View & Rusty Norman