Friday, March 1, 2013

Phoenix is a Passion Pit: Five Questions before the Subway Fresh Fit 500 at PIR



There’s nothing I love more than passion. It runs the world and keeps the wheel in the sky turning. My heart rate rises when I see people doing what they love, allowing their emotions to flow over the brim. It gets me excited to see others genuinely dedicated.

Anger, persistence, all that stuff makes things ... interesting.

That’s what happened the last time we entered Phoenix International Raceway. There were pit crew guys throwing punches, a driver sprinting from pit road to the garage area and a controversial ending.

If that’s not interesting, I really don’t know what is.

Realistically, not every race is a brawl. The Daytona 500 is the perfect example. Nobody was tackling anyone at the end of that race because they were all asleep.

So, will Phoenix deliver the rough and tumble that fans are craving, or will it be a drawn-out game of Follow The Leader once more? I address that and more in this week’s Five Questions.

Will Bowyer and Gordon butt heads again? From what the media says, Jeff Gordon and Clint Bowyer aren't on solid ground just yet. Bad blood is still boiling between them. So, will they do an encore performance? I don’t think so. Every driver is attempting to figure out this new car and damaging it for some petty payback would be quite, well, stupid. Don’t look for Bowyer and Gordon to put on boxing gloves, but don’t expect them to make up anytime soon, either.

How will the Gen-6 car run in an actual race? If you used Daytona as an indicator of how the next Gen-6 will race, then you’ve been mislead. Very mislead. Daytona is such a wild card with so many outside factors that the performance of the new car was overshadowed. Phoenix is the real start of the season. This is when we will see what the machine can really do. Don’t fret; our days of single-file, “boring” (as some say) racing are coming to an end.

Does Danica deliver at Phoenix? She started on the pole. She led laps. She brought it home eighth. Ladies and gentlemen, it is DANICA PATRIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIII - hold it right there, folks. Let us put forth the facts: Patrick’s start isn’t that special, especially with all the ride-around racing we saw. However, she did make history as the highest-finishing woman in Daytona 500 history and as the first woman to lead green flag laps. This does not make her Superwoman, but she could possibly be on her way. This weekend is her time to shine or crack; there’s no draft or restrictor plate to cover up her actual skills. Whether she’s a jack of all trades or a restrictor plate racer, we’ll find out for ourselves. 

Will NASCAR throw cautions when needed? At the end of last year’s Phoenix race, we saw a massive wreck, caused by Patrick’s injured Chevy limping around and putting down fluid. The incident, which happened with a few laps to go, failed to bring out a caution. Many fans were outraged that NASCAR ignored the situation and basically set the drivers up for disaster. Someone could have gotten hurt, and each damaged car costs a lot of dollar signs. It's scary to think that some situations can bring out cautions, yet some other situations can't. This really needs to be addressed. 

Who will pose a true threat this season? One king will be crowned after Homestead. Twelve princes will qualify for the Chase to the championship. The quest begins in the hot, dry terrain of Phoenix, Arizona, but it ends in the cool, damp shower of champagne and confetti. It’s those who show strength early and continuously flex muscle who are the ones to watch. So, who will be a contender? Only time will tell.

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