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Kurt Bush had the field covered Sunday afternoon at Sonoma. His #22 Dodge was fast when they pulled it off the truck and it was fast all weekend. In fact from this fan’s view, the only place he didn’t cover the field was when he qualified (although he did manage to qualify eleventh.) He admitted he blew his qualifying run and didn’t perform as well as he’d hoped but he made up for it and, though he didn’t lead every lap, he was hardly ever challenged all afternoon.
To me, the race was an interesting race not because Kurt Bush was leading almost all day, but because of all the action taking place on the track. There were a lot of instances of short tempers, paybacks and just general times of, “boys having at it…”
I still say the road courses (at least lately and particularly the one at Sonoma) are more and more like short track races than anything else. It was very obvious from the bumping and banging, along with a lot of pushing and shoving, at least half the field was not about to be patient with someone they thought was in their way and keeping them from advancing toward the front. Even more evident was how hard some pressed and how they got themselves all worked up for the seemingly smallest reasons.
Of course, we all know one of the reasons for moving people out of the way is because there are so few places to pass at Sonoma. Because the track is also quite narrow, it didn’t appear some were in the mood to be blocked, especially going into the hairpin at turn eleven. That is always a turn that has a lot of action and Sunday afternoon was no different.
One of the more notable confrontations for the day was between Brian Vickers and Tony Stewart. Early in the race, Stewart decided Vickers was blocking and pushed him deep into the turn, causing not only damage and difficulties for Vickers but for several others. Near the end of the race, Vickers decided to return the favor and dump Tony and the ensuing spin left Stewart’s #14 resting with its rearend seated on the tire barrier. Although Stewart did return to the race after some quick but extensive repairs, his car was not driveable and his day was over. One other interesting thing about this particular confrontation was how both seemed to be happy to have taken care of it between them and both were ready to face the media and move on to next week.
One incident that still has this fan wondering was between Michael McDowell and Bobby Labonte. I didn’t see what went on between the two earlier, but McDowell turned Labonte into the wall coming out of turn eleven ending Labonte’s day. Of course, I know Bobby had been off the asphalt not long before that, but I don’t know what transpired between them to warrant the end result. I’m not sure, but we may never know, unless one of them decides to speak up about it.)
Of all the things going on during the race, Jeff Gordon finishing second on the day was probably the most surprising. When the race began he was struggling and falling back and later on he was running twenty seventh or worse and looked like he was going to have a terrible day like several others. Suddenly, things began to go his way and a caution came out at the right time allowing him to get into the top ten and then he drove his way into second and, had the race been a little longer, he just may have given Kurt Bush an even closer run for the checkered flag. As it was he ran out of time and laps.
Now this is just my observation, but Jeff Gordon’s run was an example of a driver and team not giving up and also, an example of how not over-driving paid off, at least for the four time Cup Champion.
Nascar fans have come to expect to see Jeff running for the win at road courses but it didn’t look that promising for him this weekend; that is, until around the last twenty laps. With his second place finish and the fact that others had a really bad day, Jeff moved into the top ten in points for the Chase and has two victories. From this fan’s view, I really do think Gordon and the #24 team are going be one of the ones to beat when it comes down to Chase time and I wouldn’t be surprised if he contends for his fifth Cup Championship when we come to the end of this 2011 season.
I still like the road courses and enjoy the change of pace they offer to the rest of the Cup schedule. I don’t even mind if the drivers are somewhat overly aggressive and react in strange ways to what goes on during the road course races. Can’t wait til the next one either, but in the mean time, I am looking forward to the fireworks (in more ways than one) as NASCAR heads to Daytona this weekend…
See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© June 27, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and Nascarfansview.com
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