Open weekend and bizarre Atlanta incidents
Published 8:29 pm Friday, March 13, 2009
There is no NASCAR action this weekend. No Sprint Cup racing. No Nationwide Series racing. No truck racing.
Though I am sure it has happened, I can’t recall a weekend that all three major series were idle. Typically, on off weeks for the Cup series, the Nationwide cars or the Camping World trucks are competing. Oh well, guess we all can shift our attention to the college basketball conference tournaments that will dominate the weekend.
With his dominating performance at Atlanta last week, Kurt Busch and his Penske Dodge are back on track and poised to have a solid year. After winning the most laps last week and winning the race, the elder Busch brother climbed to third in the standings through the first four races.
And big time kudos to Busch for celebrating his win doing something other than a burn out. After winning, Busch grabbed the checkered flag and made a victory lap around the mile-and-a-half track, in reverse. Now that was cool. Do you realize how difficult that must have been?
Some people have trouble backing out of their driveway, this guy made his way around a racetrack that has 24-degree banking while holding a checkered flag out of the window. Is there any doubt that these guys are the best drivers in the world?
Busch’s little trick was not the only bizarre incident during the Atlanta race. A crewman for Marcos Ambrose decided to run out in the grass, on the track side of pit road way too close to the track, and retrieve a tire that rolled away from the pits. Not only did this guy put himself in a very dangerous position, but his little stunt caused a caution flag and changed the complexion of the race.
Needless to say, the NASCAR brass was none too impressed by Jimmy Watts’ little stunt. Ol’ Jimmy will be sitting at home and not making the trip to the next four races.
Since the Chase for the Championship began in 2004, 72 percent of the drivers that were eligible for the Chase through the first four races of the year ended up making the Chase after the 26th race. That means that some big-time drivers better step it up, in a hurry, to become eligible to compete for the championship.
Mark Martin, Ryan Newman, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and David Ragan are all 22nd or worse in the standings. All will face an uphill battle to make the top 12. In fact, Newman and Martin, 32nd and 33rd, both need to have good finishes at Bristol next week just to stay inside the top 35 and earn the ever important guaranteed starting position.
Late Friday afternoon, I received a press release announcing some more changes to the All-Star race at Charlotte in May. This race, always to be known as the Winston to me, has undergone many tweaks and twists over the years to make it more exciting for the fans. I think Lowe’s Motor Speedway’s new President, Marcus Smith, has finally come up with the best addition to the race.
Smith announced that “The Nature Boy,” Ric Flair, will be the honorary All-Star race director this year. You can’t do much better than that.