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It doesn’t matter which race you were watching Sunday afternoon, the last lap was where you would expect to find out the winner, and that generally goes without saying. What was kind of unexpected is that both the Indy 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 were decided coming out of turn four and the result was totally different than it looked like it was going to be before the leaders got to that point. From this fan’s view, I was glad I hung around to watch both of them and, I have to admit, I never expected what happened to actually happen.
Of course, you don’t need me to tell you what happened because the headlines and news reports have already covered the events more thoroughly that I could ever hope, but if you were watching, you know just how unexpected (or maybe I should say, shocking) the finishes were. Now tell the truth, when the races were over, did you really expect what happened??
I’m sure many of you Dale Jr fans are saying, “Yeah, it figures it would happen that way with the way his luck has been running.” I can agree with you on that, but there are others that have been having about the same kind of luck. A couple of names that quickly jump to mind are Denny Hamlin and Tony Stewart. Both of them could have finished a lot differently had things gone just a bit different. Several others that have been facing similar times would be Jeff Burton, Kasey Kahne, and Jeff Gordon.
With all of the speculation surrounding Jimmie Johnson possibly winning his sixth championship in a row, from this fan’s view he may be in the top ten in points, but so far this year, it has been a bit of struggle for him too. When his engine blew Sunday night later in the race, it only added to the challenges the #48 team has been facing this year. He probably would have finished near the front had it not happened but that is one thing about the 600 mile event… anything can, and usually does happen.
His engine failure was the first for the Hendrick teams this year. As anyone will tell you, it is unusual for a Hendrick engine to blow, but it is not unheard of. Jimmie Johnson and Hendrick fan’s across the board will watching to see what happens in the near future. From my view though, I think it was a fluke part failure and they probably have nothing to be concerned about. It does make life a bit more interesting for them during the next few weeks, and I for one will be paying attention to see if more failures happen throughout the organization even though I don’t expect it.
To me, probably the biggest surprise on the night other than the last lap, was where Carl Edwards finished. It wasn’t that he finished much worse than anyone else, it was that he and many others thought he was going to do much better. This race was a different one and it shows just how hard it is to do what so few have done – win both the All Star and 600 mile races back to back over the two weekends.
There has been some speculation in how NASCAR handled the last few laps which, somehow doesn’t surprise me. I have heard some say the reason they didn’t throw the caution at the last restart was because Dale Jr was leading. I guess that is a possibility and I can understand that point of view. My own opinion is they didn’t throw the caution because there was no debris and all of the cars were still moving and getting out of the way.
Now this is pure speculation on my part, but I think they considered how minor the accident was and that it was late in the race and a number of cars were definitely low on fuel (and could have caused an even bigger pile up the next time had they run out.) I do believe they were watching to see if the track cleared and they delayed throwing the caution until the last possible moment. As it worked out, the track was clear, no one was in any danger and the race ended under green with gas tanks running dry on many cars really mixing up the finishing order. From this fan’s view, the ending couldn’t have been more fitting than it was after this 600 miler.
Just as a side note, it appeared to this fan, Kevin Harvick was the most surprised person of all as the checkered flag dropped. For Dale Jr and Denny Hamlin to run out of fuel on t he last half lap had to be completely unexpected and for him to go from third to first in that short distance after almost 600 miles even more unexpected.
Now I know this is just my opinion made from observing him in victory lane, but he almost appeared embarrassed for the way he had griped and complained to his crew throughout the night; (and notice I said… almost.) Although I know he is very competitive and aggressive, (and admittedly a bit of a whiner at times), he did apologize to them and tried to make light of his treatment of them throughout the race. Since he did win, I’m sure all the “competitive whining” will be forgotten and ignored by crew chief and crew members, at least for now, but this fan has to wonder, what if the nit picking continues and they quit winning… ?
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 1, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
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