Brickyard thoughts

So the Brickyard has come and gone, and Paul Menard was the one laying the big kiss on the famous yard of bricks at Indianapolis.  Yesterday’s finish was entertaining enough, with Menard trying to stretch his gas tank to the end with a hard-charging Jeff Gordon bearing down on his bumper, trying to earn the right to plant his lips on the bricks for the fifth time.

It was a great finish, but I have to ask myself whether or not the ends justified the means this time.  Too many times this season we have seen great finishes bail out races that suffered from lackluster racing over the course of the entire race.

Now, I’ll be the first to say that, at times, the racing this season has been exponentially better than it has been in the last five seasons or more.  But yesterday was a prime example of how this aero package of this car just simply does not lend itself to passing on the high-speed tracks that make up the majority of the Sprint Cup schedule.

Yesterday had many examples.  Kasey Kahne sat on the front row and, for the first 50 laps, looked like the fastest machine in the state of Indiana.  Out front in that clean air, Kahne seemed to have the dominant car and looked destined to compete for the win.

But once Kahne got back in traffic after pit stops, Kahne was not able to make any headway at all, eventually finishing 18th and never being competitive again.  Dale Earnhardt Jr. led laps and ran third for a considerable part of the race, but once he lost track position on pit road and restarted tenth, he was never able to make any ground after that.  Kevin Harvick came on his radio after taking four tires and told his crew chief that he had passed absolutely no one on that run because he simply could not make moves back in traffic.

Carl Edwards pleaded with NASCAR a couple of months back to make some changes to this car and make it where the drivers has some say in making runs and passing cars.  Track position has become so paramount that it’s nearly impossible to make moves if you don’t have clean air.  Drivers can no longer drive to the front, even if they have a good car, because of the aero package on this car that makes clean air so important.  Until some changes are made, we’ll continue to see races like yesterday, which featured an exciting finish, but saw a glaring lack of action that could stifle the strides that NASCAR has made this season in trying to regain some of its popularity.

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