Friday, May 27, 2011

Sprint Cup 2011: Race 12 -- The Coca Cola 600 @ Charlotte...THE BIG ONE!!!

You know the day destroys the night
Night divides the day
Tried to run
Tried to hide
Break on through to the other side
          -The Doors

‘Cuz when the sun goes down, we’ll be groovin’
When the sun goes down, be feelin’ alright
When the sun sinks down over the water
Everything gets hotter when the sun goes down, yeah!
       -Kenny Chesney

It starts in the daylight and ends in the dark going on for 600 miles longer than any other race on the NASCAR circuit, this is the Coca Cola 600 where the roar of 35 or more engines will rock and roar singing Sunday afternoon into Sunday night.

NASCAR’s unrefined rube, Brad Keselowski sits on the pole for the Coca Cola 600 perhaps seeming somehow fit for a Penske ride given team Penske’s Memorial Day weekend legacy albeit it aside from Kurt Busch’s win last year at a different race track with a different tradition with 16 wins at the old Brickyard. A.J. Allmendinger is knocking on the door again on the outside pole for Richard Petty. When this fellow starts finishing races, he’ll be a true contender. Carl Edwards has been released from Jack Roush’s dog house for busting up his car last Saturday night. The other inclusion at the top of the field that’s interesting is rookie Ricky Stenhouse Jr. starts 9th for the “legendary” Wood Brothers’ #21 Ford, in his first Sprint Cup race filling in for Trevor Bayne, the Daytona 500 winner, still on the mends from his infectious disease.

Here are the top starters for the Coke 600.

1- Brad Keselowski, #2, Dodge
2- A.J. Allmendinger, #43, Ford
3- Carl Edwards, #99, Ford
4- Denny Hamlin, #11, Toyota
5- Jeff Burton, #31, Chevrolet
6- Jimmie Johnson, #48, Chevrolet
7- David Reutimann, #00, Toyota
8- David Ragan, #6, Ford
9- Ricky Stenhouse Jr., #21, Ford
10- Clint Bowyer, #33, Chevrolet
11- Jeff Gordon, #24, Chevrolet
12- Ryan Newman, #39, Chevrolet
13- Mark Martin, #5, Chevrolet
14- Martin Truex Jr., #56, Toyota
15- Greg Biffle, #16, Ford

Noteworthy drivers not starting well include Tony Stewart (#14, Chevrolet) looking to right his season starts 22nd. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (#88, Chevrolet) and defending race champ, Kurt Busch (#22, Dodge) start 25th and 26th while Kevin Harvick (#29, Chevrolet) starts a row back in 28th.

The story of the night could well be whose engines hold up. Ford has been doing extremely well this year, but the extra 100 miles transitioning from day to night will be another test. There are noteworthy drivers with significant experience among the top starters yet David Reutimann’s first win was the Coca Cola 600; likewise, both Jeff Gordon and Bobby Labonte both won their first races in the Charlotte classic.

Five cars go home, three of which have no business on the track in the first place. Andy Lally (#71, Ford) and Tony Raines (#37, Ford) were prepared to compete the 600 mile marathon. T.J. Bell (#50, Toyota), Scott Wimmer (#77, Dodge), and Scott Riggs (#81, Chevrolet have no business showing up at the track in the first place.

The field is infected with its usual scum, freeloading cheats who will walk off with a nice big check from the NASCAR welfare fund not staffed or equipped to run the race. We’ll see what Robby Gordon (#7 Dodge) does requiring a provisional to make the field. How sad it is to know that his team’s lineage goes back to the late Alan Kulwicki who won a championship on a limited budget in 1992.

32 – David Starr, #95, Ford
33 – Michael McDonald, #66, Toyota
34 – J.J. Yeley, #46, Chevrolet
36 – Joe Nemechek, #87, Toyota
38 – David Stremme, #30, Chevrolet
43 – Mike Skinner, #60, Toyota

IT was nauseating to hear announcer Mike Joy comment favorably on how Joe Nemechek’s efforts represent the “go and go homers.” Our message to Mr. Nemechek is if you’re too cheap to pay for a pit crew and buy enough tires, GO HOME!!! How can NASCAR promote itself as a top tier sport unless it sports a field of true competitors? This is supposed to be the zenith of motorsports competition yet perhaps 15% of the starting lineup will purposely drive off into the night after a few minutes of track time.

Meanwhile, earlier in the day, the Indy 500 will have been completed. Missing from that field will be some well-financed, high profile rides that failed to qualify. It would be the equivalent of cars from Rausch, Hendricks, Gibbs, or Childress not making the field. THAT’S TOUGH PROFESSIONAL COMPETITION. Seven leeches sucking on the resources of the rest of the field is not professionalism – it’s garbage.

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