Saturday, June 9, 2012

Sprint Cup 2012: Race 14 -- The New Improved Pocono

Throw history to the breeze when a track is resurfaced and where could that be more true than racing on one of the Sprint Cup Series’ most unconventional configurations than that of Pocono Raceway?  With its unique triangle shape where each of the three turns is curved and banked differently – both car setup and driver approach requires tremendous skill where no one size fits all strategy can prevail. Given a smoother, more consistent surface, speeds should be faster and approaching the curves will require much more skillful use of braking and handling. Over 400 miles, to say that practice results are meaningful imply does not follow.

Kurt Busch is suspended this week while his career hangs in balance as his boorish, hostile behavior simply has worn out its welcome. Drivers are an intense bunch and subject to flashing tempers – but Busch’s constant belittling his support crews and hostility toward reporters does not stand in such a very image conscious sport as NASCAR. Not only has his conduct been suspect, that he has destroyed a parade of 14 race cars (Pocono is race #14 on the schedule) for James Finch’s small budget operation does not argue favorably for his continued presence in the #51 Chevrolet. Further, his conduct certainly is not endearing when attempting to attract much needed sponsors. David Reutimann moves from the Tommy Baldwin #10 where his job was to keep the seat warm and maintain top 35 points for Danica Patrick while Dale Blaney will drive the #10. Cry no tears for Kurt Busch, where he will be next week is anybody’s guess being on a race-by-race deal with Finch whose patience is clearly run out. Kurt Busch doesn’t burn bridges, he bombs them having lost rides with Roush/Fenway after his championship run then stinking up the garage for the venerable Roger Penske. Who needs him? He’ll soon find out.

Joey Logano won the poll for tomorrow’s race. Logano is in his contract year and certainly needs to show his career is growing after a horrible 2011 season. It’s time for the young driver to stop being the kid on the rise and be a true competitive veteran.  Today’s effort speaks well for him. He must also work to finish what he starts. Unlike Kurt Busch, this young man is very personable and public friendly. Who doesn’t want to see a kid like him do well while Busch is one of the ten least popular figures across all professional sports?

Another driver needing to show something though his contract situation is more stable is Paul Menard who starts 3rd while Carl Edwards surely needs some success starts second and another smitten driver, Kyle Busch starts 4th. Denny Hamlin, one of Pocono’s top competitors starts 5th, but the ageless marvel, Mark Martin starts 6th while another surprise, Reagan Smith check in at 7th.

Okay, we’re guilty of harping on this issue, but tomorrow’s race could easily surpass the record for “start and park” entries. The garbage that is allowed to enter in the highest level of NASCAR competition shows a lack of commitment to the fans to put the best professionals on the track when quite frankly many of these drivers would probably still be marginal in the regional series. As horrible as the entry field is, one driver will go home, David Stremme, in the #30 Inception Motor Sports Toyota. Beneath #30, the only drivers who certainly have commitments to finish the race are 31st, Brad Keselowski, #2 Dodge; 34th, David Ragan, #34 Ford, 36th, David Gilliand, #38 ford, and 37th, Travis Kvapil, #93 Toyota.  Any of the remaining entries are likely to pull off the track and collect their NASCAR welfare. Additionally, more garbage lines up in the 28th spot in the #19 Toyota driven b Mike Bliss. This shameful embarrassment to a sport that fancies itself a top tiered pro-sport must end. We say it again and again, reducing the starting field does not reduce or cheapen the competition on the track. If anything it enhances it.  If fans can’t cheer for a team to win, they should at least be able to cheer for teams that will place or improve. This isn’t complicated. It just shows a lack of commitment to quality and competition at the highest levels. How shameful it is to see a fellow who was once the model of sportsmanship, Joe Nemechek, to be hanging on as such a laughing stock for the sport where he once achieved so respectfully. The time is coming soon where Bill Elliot and Terry Labonte should be ready for Hall of Fame consideration; however, that they use their past champion provisional at times to support these fly-by-night losers certainly lessens this writer’s respect for their HOF credentials.

120Joey LoganoToyotaThe Home Depot179.598
299Carl EdwardsFordKellogg's / Cheez-it178.866
327Paul MenardChevroletMenards / Sylvania178.582
418Kyle BuschToyotaM&M's178.575
511Denny HamlinToyotaFedEx Express178.543
655Mark MartinToyotaAaron's Dream Machine178.228
778Regan SmithChevroletFurniture Row / Farm American178.158
888Dale Earnhardt Jr.ChevroletNational Guard / Diet Mtn Dew177.939
99Marcos AmbroseFordDEWALT177.862
105Kasey KahneChevroletFarmers Insurance177.823
111Jamie McMurrayChevroletBanana Boat177.658
1224Jeff GordonChevroletDuPont177.536
1316Greg BiffleFord3M / Rite Aid / NextCare177.518
1417Matt KensethFordFord EcoBoost177.501
1583Landon CassillToyotaBurger King Real Fruit Smoothies177.204
1615Clint BowyerToyota5-hour Energy177.026
1742Juan MontoyaChevroletTarget176.988
1839Ryan NewmanChevroletHaas Automation176.852
1922AJ AllmendingerDodgeShell / Pennzoil176.803
2031Jeff BurtonChevroletThe Armed Forces Foundation176.658
2129Kevin HarvickChevroletRheem176.543
2214Tony StewartChevroletMobil 1 / Office Depot176.419
2356Martin Truex Jr.ToyotaNAPA Auto Parts176.16
2448Jimmie JohnsonChevroletLowe's / Kobalt Tools176.149
2551David ReutimannChevroletPhoenix Construction Services176.074
2613Casey MearsFordGEICO175.596
2747Bobby LabonteToyotaBubba Burgers175.576
28119Mike BlissToyotaHumphrey Smith Racing175.387
2943Aric AlmirolaFordTransportatio-175.159
n Impact
3098Michael McDowellFordPresbyterian Healthcare System175.073
312Brad KeselowskiDodgeMiller Lite174.88
32249J.J. YeleyToyotaAmerica Israel Racing / JPO173.943
3387Joe NemechekToyotaAM / FM Energy Wood & Pellet 173.869
3434David RaganFordTaco Bell173.853
3526Josh Wise*FordMDS Transport173.497
3638David GillilandFordModSpace / TRG Motorsports173.24
3793Travis KvapilToyotaBurger King / Dr Pepper171.854
3823Scott RiggsChevroletNorth Texas Pipe171.52
3974Stacy ComptonChevroletTurn One Racing / Country Suites171.155
4036Tony RainesChevroletSealWrap.com167.411
4132Reed Sorenson+FordHerr Foods / Hero Energy Shot-
4210Dave Blaney+ChevroletTommy Baldwin Racing-
4333Stephen Leicht*ChevroletLittle Joes Auto170.345


No comments: