5 Questions After ... Samsung Mobile 500

Rain, rain, go away! That’s what NASCAR Nation has been screaming all season long in reference to the dark cloud that seems to follow the series everywhere we go. For the second time this season, Mother Nature forced the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series to run on a Monday and moved the NASCAR Nationwide Series two dates past its scheduled race date. It seem as though the NASCAR community has been “snake bit” by weather, and we can only hope it will end soon.

Questions on my mind after the race weekend:

What can you say about Denny Hamlin? … 19 days after Hamlin had surgery to repair a torn ACL on his left knee, the Virginia native pulled into victory lane at TMS. Most didn’t expect Hamlin to be a contender after his surgery, let alone obtain a race victory! It was only a week ago, fans, media, and fellow competitors were wondering if Hamlin could even run the full race at Phoenix International Raceway. Though Hamlin was clearly still in pain after the race, there’s no denying the race victory made him feel that much better. Also, this is Hamlin’s second win of the season. Both have been on a Monday (the Goody’s Fast Pain Relief 500 at Martinsville Speedway was also moved to Monday due to rain). Though Skirts and Scuffs congratulates Hamlin on his second victory of the season, let’s hope his next one comes on a (dry) Sunday!

Are these competitors finally at the end of their rope? … Kurt Busch’s comments after Bristol Motor Speedway said a lot, as well as Jeff Gordon’s comments over the team scanner on Monday. Though both Gordon and Jimmie Johnson said that all is well in the Hendrick Motorsports camp, it seems there may be quite a bit of friction between Johnson and some of his competitors. Last year towards the end of the season, many drivers were preaching that race fans should respect Johnson’s dominance and appreciate the team for the greatness they’ve shown. Now, though, we’ve seen a few competitors get rough with the driver of the No. 48 and say some things that have raised some eyebrows (no eyebrow jokes!). Though some of it can be attributed to the heat of the battle, could these drivers finally be at the end of their rope after years of continued dominance by the No. 48 team? Speaking of Johnson…

What if there had been one more lap? … Yes, I know there wasn’t an extra lap but just for a minute, what if there had been? What if there had been a late race caution? Johnson was coming. Fast. That wasn’t what was surprising. Johnson suffered a cut tire earlier in the race after contact with teammate Gordon, had to pit under green for a late race pit stop, was mere inches ahead of a multi-car incident, and still almost came back and won. Though this is no longer much of a surprise, it’s still amazing, and at times frustrating, to see Johnson, Chad Knaus, and the entire race team have the type of luck other teams could only dream of having. Sure they’re a great team, and I’m not denying that! Dodging obstacles is what has helped this team win four, going on five, consecutive championships. However, you can’t deny that pure dumb luck has played a part either. Conspiracy theorists love to concoct behind-the-scenes circumstances that play a part in the team’s luck. Some of this, though, just cannot be scripted. No one could have planned a multi-car pileup towards the end of the race, or expected Johnson and Gordon of all people to race each other so hard. Instead of celebrating when the No. 48 has an issue, Johnson haters just place bets on how soon he’ll rebound. It’s kind of amazing when a team makes unpredictable so predictable.

Was the spoiler the cause for the great racing? … Intermediate racetracks aren’t typically known for being competitive or exciting, yet that’s exactly how the race was on Monday in the Samsung Mobile 500. Though at times it had a tendency to get spread out, there were many different drivers in contention for the win. It seemed as though the drivers had an easier time passing as well. Though post-race interviews didn’t reveal any stark differences between the wing and the spoiler, the on-track racing seemed to show the change might have done more good than people realized. Though it was only the first race of many on 1.5 mile racetracks, let’s hope it was a sign of things to come.

Who was at fault in the lap 317 incident? … At least nine cars were involved in the last caution of the day. On the next to last restart, several racecars got bottled up back around fifth and had drivers four wide in a place they shouldn’t have been. It didn’t work out as Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and Carl Edwards all got together and started a chain reaction that took several seconds to sort out. Many good racecars were wrecked and many potential race winners were now out of contention. Even more surprising than the size of the wreck was the fact that all three drivers that were involved at the start of it took partial responsibility. Watching the replay, it’s difficult to place the blame on one driver. It was a Texas-sized wreck of Talladega proportions. Clint Bowyer even deadpanned after the wreck, “I thought the big one was supposed to happen next week!” Well at least no racecars got airborne!

Bonus questions: Since when is Joe Gibbs Racing so good all of a sudden? … How did RPM feel about Kasey Kahne’s top five just days after announcing he was leaving? … What was up with that command?

Photo courtesty of NASCARMedia. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author.
5 Questions After ... Samsung Mobile 500 5 Questions After ... Samsung Mobile 500 Reviewed by Summer Dreyer on Tuesday, April 20, 2010 Rating: 5