Monday, June 1, 2009

Are NASCAR victories tainted if the race is called early? I.e. Reutimann’s rain-shortened victory in the Coca-Cola 600

I guess I am a little bit late to the party, but you know I had to make my grand entrance in the only way I know how, anyway, over the past week, the talk in NASCAR has centered around the latest first time winner David Reutimann and how he won this first NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career victory last Monday at the Coca-Cola 600.

Now last weekend was one of the biggest Motorsports weekends all season long and just so happen to be the longest with the Monaco Grand Prix, the Indianapolis 500 and the Coca-Cola 600 all on the same day, however while the Monaco Grand Prix and the Indy 500 did go off as scheduled, but weren’t the races that should have shined, the Coca-Cola 600 had to be postponed until Monday.

I had been looking forward to the Coke 600 as season long and unfortunately it just didn’t go off as anyone expected. Monday was really no better with the one and off rain showers that plagued the race from going full out all day long. After a good NASCAR All-Star race with this new COT car, I was looking seeing if the 600 was going to be the same way and that NASCAR fans would finally see better racing on 1.5 mile racetracks, however with the rain, the amount of cautions and the shorten race, it really didn’t play out that way.

With that said, since the Coca-Cola 600 was called after only 227 laps (instead of 400 laps), was David Reutimann’s rain-shortened victory in the Coca-Cola 600 tainted? The same could be said for Kenseth’s victory in the 2009 Daytona 500, was his victory tainted too?

Especially in the Cup Series, it is tough to get a victory no matter where you are, it’s either right place right time or you have the best car on that day and yes racing luck does play a role in it. So when a driver and team plays a strategy move, for example the driver and team decide to stay out (just past halfway, it has to be at least past halfway for this strategy to work) instead of pitting because they think the race is going to be called due to weather or even darkness and it does to the pleasure of the driver and team, like in the case of David Reutimann who was out front when the race was called, then Reutimann wins the race, no tainted victory here, a win is a win and that goes for anyone that wins a rain-shortened race including Matt Kenseth’s first Daytona 500 victory earlier this year.

I watched the race on Monday and even though the race never really got going like most thought, the race was past half-way and what a good call by David Reutimann and the #00 team to stay out on that last caution, everyone else in the front of him had that option too, but choose to pit, he didn’t, he wins, hats off to David Reutimann, the entire #00 team and Michael Waltrip Racing for winning their first Cup Series victory, that’s cool.

How would a victory be considered tainted? The only way one could say a victory is tainted is if a driver won a race and their car was deemed illegal (you know they cheated) and the driver still was able to keep the victory, or many be (and I don’t want to get too deep on this issue) if a driver used illegal ways to win the race, then that might be considered a tainted victory.

Staying with the Coca-Cola 600 and with just about any race that is called due to bad weather, did NASCAR get it right in calling the Coca-Cola 600 after 227 laps?

Simply put yes, I had been watching the radar on my computer with Weather Bug all day long and the rain was and is coming, there was no way for NASCAR was really going to get back to racing. Remember it takes over an hour to get the racetrack dry, before they can race again, in this case, NASCAR made the right call.

This isn’t the first time especially in NASCAR that we have seen a driver win a race-shortened race or a race called due to darkness (that happened a few years ago in New Hampshire for a Truck Series race), but nobody should call a race victory in this case tainted, I’m somewhat surprised it came up at all.