Saturday, August 6, 2011

Sprint Cup 2011: Race 21 -- Pocono's 2nd Try

The starting lineup of tomorrow’s 500 mile Sprint Cup race at Pocono shows some teams getting some much needed redemption and a possible break to help find fortune in rather lackluster seasons. At the end of last year, it looked as if Joey Logano had arrived. He’d be competing among the best in 2011; however, the 2011 season has been a bust with the young driver looking overmatched. Catching the poll on a track that’s one of the most unique configurations in the whole sport speaks well for him if he can accomplish a clean race and gain a top five finish. Kasey Kahne has not accomplished what’s been expected of him in recent years during his year in a holding pattern with Red Bull waiting to move on to the #5 car with Hendrick next year. He’s start from the outside poll. Martin Truex Jr. who has been almost the invisible man this year starts third. Carl Edwards starts fourth as the first of the true chase contenders to earn a spot.

Here are the top entries:
1. Joey Logano #20, Toyota
2. Kasey Kahne, #4, Toyota
3. Martin Truex Jr. #45, Toyota
4. Carl Edwards #99, Ford
5. Kurt Busch #22, Dodge
6. Denny Hamlin #11, Toyota
7. Paul Menard #27, Chevrolet
8. Jeff Burton #31, Chevrolet
9. Greg Biffle #16, Ford
10. Kevin Harvick #29, Chevrolet
11. Kyle Busch #18, Toyota
12. Ryan Newman #39, Chevrolet
13. Brad Keselowski, #2, Dodge
14. Clint Bowyer #33, Chevrolet
15. David Ragan #6, Ford

The starting line up with four out of six Toyota’s representing their three top teams looks good for the “rice burners.” Conspicuously absent from the top of the line up are any of the four Hendrick rides. They don’t show up until Jimmie Johnson #48 in 18th and Dale Earnhardt Jr. #88 in 19th. Jeff Gordon, winner of the June race at the Long Pond track, starts a miserable 31st.

The Sprint Cup slugs showed up in abundance this weekend, but three were eliminated in qualifying with no sponsored ride intending to compete being shut out by the shameless free loaders. Geoff Bodine #35, T.J. Bell #40, and Mike Skinner #60 go home. Meanwhile several likely quitters did make the field including Todd Bodine, racing for Phil Parson’s rip off operation in 30th. It’s likely at least six entries will pull off and park robbing from the purse of more qualified and deserving teams. Having watched some coverage of an ARCA race with only 35 entries, the field looked no less full with fewer cars. NASCAR MUST REDUCE THE STARTING FIELD if it can’t be assured all entries will at least strive to finish the race and give a good fight to finish on the lead lap.

Reducing the number of starting entries on the top level and Nationwide would only serve to make ALL series more competitive as it would require higher levels of achievement to compete that the top and make teams fight harder for what berths remain. The notion of a professional sport serving as a quasi-welfare operation for unsatisfactory teams is simply a sad spectacle that cheapens the whole sport and the integrity of NASCAR as a sanctioning body. If NASCAR is too cowardly or complacent to address the issue before the end of the 2011 season, it must be addressed with new procedures in place for 2012.

No comments: