Monday, August 8, 2011

Sprint Cup 2011: Race 21: A Historically Awful Afternoon at Pocono

A bad track, bad weather, little real racing, and an unprecedented number of drivers pulling out of the race refusing to compete made today’s race in Long Pond, PA the lowest point of the 2011 Sprint Cup season which NASCAR could well be oblivious to seeing the obvious black eye such a fiasco has given this tedious event.

Sprint Cup racing at Pocono is a frustrating affair. Let’s be honest, although the track provides its own challenges and cannot be branded another cookie cutter 1 ½ or 2 mile track, its differences neither make for better racing or a better experience for the fans. At 500 miles twice a year with only a few weeks between races in June and early August, the races are too long. 350 miles might be more satisfactory, but it’s a horrible venue to begin with. Being close to Philadelphia and New York with range of other population centers, the Pocono location could be a good one, but from the horrible access to enter the track’s campus to the dreadful sight lines and configuration, Pocono Raceway is a dreadful fan experience. The only access to the track which isn’t pure torture is from the North off of Interstate 80, but even that’s not as logistically sound as entry into most tracks. Once at the track, there is only grandstand seating along the front straightaway which is just that – straight giving fans very little to see in front of them since the walls and seating configuration blocks out much of the track. Once cars go into turn one they virtually disappear until they round turn two but are so far away with some stretches obstructed, that viewing is not good either. Cars go into turn three in the strange triangle configuration and then follow the straightaway where fans can turn to their left and see the transition but once they are on the straightaway, there’s not much to be seen. If there’s a track on the circuit that should be replaced or have its events moved, Pocono is the worst track on the circuit but since it’s one of the only tracks not owned by the France Family’s group or Bruton Smith – that’s not going to happen any time soon. A two hour rain delay today only added to the frustration.

Brad Keselowski, driving with a strained back and broken ankle fought courageously to bring home the victory, but there is so little quality racing, it’s more a matter of when does a car have the chance to opportunistically take the lead and who’s lucky enough to get some distance at the end wins. There is seldom side-by-side true contention or much mixing up in the field. IT’/S NOT GOOD RACING!!!!

For the record, the top finishers are:
1. Brad Keselowski, #2, Dodge
2. Kyle Busch, #18, Toyota
3. Kurt Busch, #22, Dodge
4. Jimmie Johnson, #48, Chevrolet
5. Ryan Newman, #39, Chevrolet
6. Jeff Gordon, #24, Chevrolet
7. Carl Edwards, #99, Ford
8. Greg Biffle, #16, Ford
9. Dale Earnhardt Jr., #88, Chevrolet
10. Paul Menard, #27, Chevrolet

Movement in the point standings among top contenders shows Keselowski the big winner for picking up three positions putting him in the top 20 and with two wins holding one of the two wild card positions for “The Chase.” Kyle Busch gained one position moving to 3rd while his brother picked up two spots to secure 4th. Making room for them was Kevin Harvick who dropped two positions to 5th while Matt Kenseth dropped from 5th to 6th. Outside the top ten, the other big mover is Mark Martin who moved up three spots to 15th keeping his faint “Chase” hopes alive. David Ragan lost three positions dropping to 19th and his wild card spot being behind Keselowski with two wins and Paul Menard who is in 12th with one win. This all but voids his shot at the Chase barring a 2nd win or Menard completely collapsing.

An unprecedented NINE cars engaged in “start and park.” Their presence at the race track is not welcome as they are an embarrassment to competitive sports while NASCAR looks the other way. Making matters worse, such insanity now moves up to the 35th position. Given that three cars that would not compete did not qualify, that’s twelve cars entered in the Pocono race that showed up with no intention to race.

Here’s today’s freeloading slugs. They should be suspended for the rest of the season. Enough is enough.

35. Robby Gordon #7
36. Casey Mears, #13
37. Todd Bodine, #66
38. David Stremme, #30
39. Brian Vickers, #83
40. Scott Speed, #37
41. Joe Nemechek, #87
42. Erik Darnell #46
43. J.J. Yeley, #55

The amount of purse money wasted on these shameful do-nothings will be posted tomorrow. NASCAR and its media outlets are succeeding in keeping attention minimal where only fans who look at the race results and stats notice. Nice work, NASCAR!!!


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