No more road courses for the remainder of the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, but the last one put on quite a show! Juan Pablo Montoya dominated the entire race, though Marcos Ambrose put up quite a fight. Meanwhile, several drivers left the racetrack very angry with each other, but what else is new? Would it be too corny to say it was a “Heluva Good!” race?
Here are some questions on my mind following the race…
Is all well between Juan Pablo Montoya and Brian Pattie now? … Race fans have more access to their favorite teams than any other sports fans, which means heated exchanges between a driver and his crew chief become public feuds. For the last few weeks, Montoya and Pattie haven’t exactly seen eye to eye on things, making highlight reels on any NASCAR television show. While I doubt they’ll be hanging out away from the racetrack anytime soon, hopefully the win on Sunday helped patch things up between the two.
Can Marcos Ambrose catch a break? … The same could have been said for Montoya if he had lost the race, but Ambrose’s string of bad luck has been more well documented and generated more sympathy from race fans. As the race wound down on Sunday, it became clear that Ambrose was most likely not going to catch Montoya without a caution. For a while, Ambrose was able to maintain second place but was passed by Kurt Busch with just a few laps remaining and radioed to his crew he thought he had a soft tire. While it wouldn’t have been surprising for some sort of bad luck to bite Ambrose at the end of the race, many race fans were holding their breaths hoping the beloved Aussie could hold on for just a few more laps. He did, and finished the race in the third position. However, there are more than a few race fans who would have rather seen Ambrose in victory lane than Montoya.
Will Kurt Busch ever let it go? … NASCAR drivers are known to hold grudges, usually waiting until the worst possible moment for the other driver to retaliate from a previous incident. Insults are hurled from behind a microphone and a camera (but strangely rarely face to face), racecars are used as weapons, and fans are left begging for more. Usually, though, cooler heads prevail, the rivalry simmers down, and everything returns to normal. One week before Watkins Glen at Pocono, though, Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson crossed paths and it didn’t go very well. Busch left upset with Johnson, and Johnson claimed, “he’s never been very fond of me.” While Busch used to be known as somewhat of a hot head, he had recently taken on a much cooler persona and acted more like a well-respected champion than a quick-tempered hotshot. However, the Friday before the Heluva Good! Sour Cream Dips at the Glen, Busch addressed the media and referenced, not just Johnson, but all of Hendrick Motorsports as “pretty boys.” Alright, so he was still upset about what happened at Pocono. He would move on once the green flag flew at Watkins Glen, right? Nope! In the post-race press conference, Busch again took a shot at HMS by saying it was a good race because, “without having anything go wrong, not running out of fuel, not having a flat tire, not getting run over by a Hendrick car feels pretty good.” Hmm… Busch and Johnson weren’t around each other very often in Sunday’s race. Should we watch for retaliation the next time they are?
Is Clint Bowyer sweating bullets? … The race for the 12th and final spot in the Chase for the Sprint Cup gets tighter every weekend. However, Bowyer had been able to maintain the 12th position for a while and keep Mark Martin on the outside looking in. The tables turned last Sunday, though, when Bowyer faced mechanical problems and had to head to the garage for a few laps. He returned to the racetrack three laps down and gained back two of them before the race was over. He is sitting 13th, ten points behind Martin. Ryan Newman and Jamie McMurray are both within 100 points of the Chase now too. That’s four drivers for one position. Someone is going to be unhappy.
Are road course races becoming more popular? … Most NASCAR fans prefer ovals to road courses and feel two on the schedule is more than enough, while well-rounded race fans who like all forms of motorsports seem to prefer road courses to ovals. The last few road courses, though, have put on a great show and many NASCAR fans have seemed to enjoy every single lap. Even in the inaugural race at Road America in the Nationwide Series received high reviews from race fans. Respond in the comments section….. do you prefer road courses to ovals?
Bonus questions: Did Boris Said’s hair get in the way when Tony Stewart turned him? … When are people going to start blaming Johnson’s “struggles” on the new baby? … Why did it seem like so many cars lost pieces of the car over the weekend?
Photo courtesy of NASCAR Media. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author.