200 MPH!!! It’s not an illusion, but take a look now because chances are no one will see this again for a long time, the top NINETEEN qualifiers for tomorrow’s Quicken Loans 400 at the Michigan International Speedway all had lap times over 200 mph with Marcos Ambrose topping the leader board at 203.241. 200 mph has always been considered a dangerous threshold in NASCAR racing for the aerodynamic properties that start to develop at such a high speed keeping cars from getting airborne in touchy situations on the track as had been seen to tragic results at Talladega and Daytona hastening the era of restrictor plate racing at those tracks and a completely different style of racing.
What NASCAR will decide to do will be influenced by tomorrow’s races. Certainly, there will be discussion whether restrictor plates should be implemented at
; however, before taking such a drastic step that could be overkill at the two mile oval, perhaps there are some engineering tweaks working with aerodynamics and down force that might do the trick if necessary. Long time fans will not forget that driver Ernie Irvan almost lost his life in a horrible practice accident and Michigan , and Bobby Allison’s younger son, Clifford, was killed in a practice mishap a year earlier in what was then the Busch series. The myriad of safety improvements after Dale Earnhardt’s death at Daytona in 2001 has not addressed potential 200 mph racing. In recent years, competition has only flirted with 200 mph hitting that speed on some straight-aways like Michigan Texas and . Atlanta
Repaved race tracks introduce many new variables and the predictions based on past performance are tossed away. Surely, last week’s Pocono competition benefitted tremendously from the new surface and remembering the recent calamity that befell Kasey Kahne and Elliot Sadler, the safety improvements are most welcomed. However, given the
track’s long straight-aways, many were looking ahead to this weekend and the possibility of some stunning speeds. Pennsylvania
After an early practice, Tony Stewart, a veteran of many forms of racing noted how it seemed the faster the car drove the more he felt a sense of comfort likening it to his experience with Indy Car racing on oval tracks. Certainly, those used to the “beatin’ and bangin’” style of driving will be at a loss in a brave new world tomorrow afternoon; however, Michigan, traditionally a fuel mileage race, can yield some amazing finishes one of the most memorable being Dale Jarrett’s first victory dueling Davey Allison in the 2nd Michigan event in the summer of 1991. The track would seem to favor competitors including Stewart, the Hendricks and Roush boys, and engineering focused drivers like Ambrose and Ryan Newman.
Two drivers whose seasons have fallen far short of expectations delivered frustrating results in qualifying. Jeff Gordon who is struggling to reach the top 20 much less dream of the chase starts in a mediocre 28th while last year’s championship contender who lost the cup by a whisker, Carl Edwards, attempting to stay close to the top 10 in a still winless season is buried in the back-of-the-field trash heap at 42nd. Kyle Busch who has also had rather undistinguished results in 2012 check in at 34th substantially behind NASCAR’s most hated driver, his brother Kurt, who will have the evil eye trained on him in 26th.
|16||56||Martin Truex Jr.||Toyota||200.384|
|17||88||Dale Earnhardt Jr.||Chevy||200.317|
|21||42||Juan Pablo Montoya||Chevy||199.612|
|30||26||Josh Wise #||Ford||197.699|
Failed to Qualify:
Final observation, having witnessed the Indy Car competition from Milwaukee on ABC, clearly NASCAR would do well to reduce the number of cars allowed to start the race. Once again, the Indy field showed true competitors from top to bottom with every car having something to prove. Certainly the sport could be more exciting where fans get to focus on real racing and not having to pick it out through the clutter. No car should start what the driver doesn't expect to finish. The status quo in NASCAR is such an insulting afront on anyone who appreciates true top tiered professional sports that's supposed to represent the best in its form of competition. Today's Sprint Cup races are like watching baseball with beer-bellied softball hacks playing first base and center field. What's wrong with that picture? Then without any mention from the broadcasters after the first inning, those positions are standing vacant WAKE UP NASCAR!!!!!