The Carfax 400 came down to a fuel mileage race once again and didn’t disappoint, especially if you like drama and are a Red Bull Team, Bryan Vickers fan.
It really looked like Jimmy Johnson was going to take the win until he ran out of gas with a little over two laps to go. Up to that point he had led the most laps of the race, adding up to 133. The only thing left to see after that was whether or not Bryan Vickers would run out of gas, (as Greg Biffle did back in June), and turn the lead over to Jeff Gordon or Dale Jr.
As we all now know, Bryan Vickers managed to conserve enough fuel to finish the race, run the cool down lap and do a partial burnout after winning the Carfax 400 at MIS. However, he did need to be pushed into victory lane. That just tells you how close the mileage was figured by those that decided to try and get fifty one laps on a tank of fuel. For some it worked and for others, like Mark Martin, it did not.
In fact, Jimmy Johnson was running first when he ran out of fuel and finished 33rd. Mark Martin was running just outside the top ten and finished 31st. After the race, the biggest question as the teams left Michigan was, why did Mark’s crew chief take the chance? Even He was wondering if it was worth the risk after it was all over.
All in all, this was a good race and went pretty much as I expected. As far as I could tell from much of the pre-race chatter, everyone expected it would probably come down to a fuel mileage race and it did although many question why it had to. Personally, I just didn’t think they would be stretching out the fuel so many laps. Many wonder why so many teams decided to take the track position over fuel, especially knowing that the race in June pretty much pushed things to the limit.
If we take a close look at a couple of drivers, we see that both Jeff Gordon and Bryan Vickers managed to push the fuel envelope to the 50 plus lap limit and it worked out well for them.
One just has to wonder what the limit will be next time Nascar shows up at MIS. Unless someone is way out front in the waning laps next time, I just don’t see how they can save much more fuel than they have the last two times out. After all, no one expected they could go more laps than they did in June and now it appears the August race has set the new watermark for laps run on a tank of fuel.
From this fans view, I don’t think anyone is going to try to go further than they did last Sunday at MIS. It is possible they could, you understand, but it just doesn’t seem the risk outweighs the advantage after a certain point. I mean, even the guys that tried it and failed this time are thinking that maybe they should have done it differently. It is my opinion they won’t want to chance loosing the points for such a long shot in the future. But, as we all well know…this is Nascar Sprint Cup racing and no one has ever said that taking chances wasn’t a part of the deal …
See ya next time …
(all views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer)
© August 19, 2009 – all rights reserved
Just A Fan’s View and Rusty Norman