Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Top 6 NASCAR things learned from Indianapolis - The Brickyard 400 edition.

As the race to the chase continues, the latest stop on NASCAR schedule before the chase starts in New Hampshire in September, NASCAR finds themselves in hollow grounds, the famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway and across town at the Indianapolis Raceway Park (ORP) in Speedway, Indiana.

Over the course of last weekend, we all learned a few things, but what where the headlines from Indianapolis covering the Truck Series race, Nationwide Series race and the Cup Series race:

1. Jamie McMurray: After several bad seasons at Roush-Fenway Racing, McMurray has proven that joining Earnhardt-Ganassi racing was a good one, and that with the right people and equipment, he can be a contender on a weekly basis for race wins especially at the big events. So far in 2010, Jamie McMurray has already won the Daytona 500, finished 2nd at Talladega, Darlington and in the Coca-cola 600 at Charlotte and now he adds winner of the 2010 Brickyard 400 that those stats.

Some people are looking a Roush-Fenway Racing and saying what gives, why couldn’t McMurray have won with that organization, but I don’t look at it like that. I believe that McMurray is more of a small team type driver and with good equipment, good chemistry (with his car owner Chip Ganassi, his crew believes in him) and some good luck, he has the confines to win races and that’s what a driver with talent really needs. But I wouldn’t put down RFR, they have good equipment too, it just didn’t click.

Simply put, McMurray has what Jimmie Johnson has in terms of a good relationship with his crew chief and crew period.

2. Mark Martin is being disrespected especially over his 2011 plans and beyond. For months now, Mark Martin and Rick Hendrick have been saying that Mark Martin will be driving the #5 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet in 2011 and that Rick Hendrick will find a place for Kasey Kahne next season.

However it seems that everyone has an opinion on it and in this case has to continuously reminded and ask Mark Martin where he will be racing in 2011 with Kasey Kahne waiting in the wings and signed for 2012. Hendick will honor amrtin’s contract. Randy Pemberton has said that Martin will be leaving Hendrick and joining Red Bull and Ray Evernham has stated that he believes that Martin should do the right thing and give up the #5 ride to Kahne next season instead of 2012.

I believe that Mark Martin should do exactly what he has said all along, drive the #5 in 2011 and then Kahne will drive the #5 in 2012 as planed and that’s it. Personally I don’t understand what the problem here is, the plans are set, and why does this story have to be an ongoing thing?

As for Kahne, he knew that he would be in another ride for 2011 and then in the #5 in 2012 when he signed, that’s it. The story here is where is Kasey Kahne going in 2011? According to Marty Smith, he’s hearing that RPM is close to signing another driver for 2011 depending upon sponsorship, and that’s another option gone. But when Kahne has something, he will announce it.

3. The Brickyard 400 is losing some of its desire. I’m not sure what it is about the Brickyard 400, but attention is down, I believe that again NASCAR fans either don’t have the money to buy tickets, there too pricy and/or tire gate in 2008 was the enough for fans to not bother. However I heard numbers of 115,000 in attendance and for this day in age, that’s good. Anything over 85-90,000 for attendance is good.

But what about making the Brickyard 400 a road course race? It might be different enough to work and put some excitement back into this big event. They would of course use the MotoGP infield course and have the Grand-Am Series join them for a double header weekend.

4. Ron Hornaday Jr. wins at ORP and is still in the Truck Series championship hunt. We are just past halfway in the season and already some are saying this is a 2-3 driver race for the championship, however there are still 13 races I believe to go, that is more than enough time for a driver in 4th, 5th or 6th to race there was back into this championship. In the same right, never count out Ron Hornaday Jr and at this point, I’m picking him to win the Truck Series championship in 2010.

5. Aric Almirola has found his place in NASCAR as a driver. The only good thing from last Saturday night’s Nationwide race was Aric Almirola finishing 3rd in the #88 JR Motorsports Chevrolet. I’ve been impressed with Almirola in both the Truck Series and now the Nationwide Series this season. Hopefully JR Motorsports will pick him up in 2011 to drive the #88 ride. If he gets it, he will be a contender for the championship if it’s a Nationwide driver only championship.

6. Carl Edwards/ Brad Keselowski feud: During this year or so long feud between Edwards and Keselowski, NASCAR has stayed out of it somewhat with only calling a meeting every incident, but most thought that after Atlanta this was over, but clearing no after last weekend at Gateway.

Fans, drivers, media, teams, the NASCAR community all looked to NASCAR to see what they were going to do about the “over the line” incident and NASCAR’s response wasn’t anything and promoted as Lee Spencer put it “Let’s play the feud”.

However after Gateway and ORP’s Nationwide Series races, I have come to a few the conclusions.

First, NASCAR doesn’t know the difference between “Boy’s, Have at it” and “unacceptable racing” especially when it comes to Carl Edwards. They need to look at this and address it a little bit better. For example, tell us where the line is and probation means nothing in my eyes when it comes to NASCAR.

This incident, meaning Carl Edwards wrecking Brad Keselowski to win the race was “unacceptable” period and Carl Edwards needs to parked for one race period.

Second, ESPN knows how to take a storyline to far, namely this feud.

The Final lap: The Truck Series race at ORP on Friday night was a good one from SPEED’s telecast of the race to the racing action on the track and it was good to see Ron Hornaday Jr. and the #33 team back in victory lane. It’s a tough series to win in and every win is cool to watch.

The Brickyard 400 was exciting at times as well to watch despite the fact that one driver lead a lot of laps, however races in 2010 has shown that the finishes are unpredictable and the Brickyard 400 lived up to that fact. Congrats to Jamie McMurray and the #1 EGR team, that was one amazing victory and for the second week, it should fans that underdogs can win and when they do, it’s sweet to watch.

But and this is a big but, I am seriously considering not watching the Nationwide Series races anymore, enough with the Edwards/Keselowski feud, enough with the ESPN telecasts and enough with the Cup Series drivers winning all but one race this season. The races are not interesting to me anymore. And no Edwards wrecking another driver to win a race isn’t exciting to watch either. I know this is a hot topic and that NASCAR is working on, but enough and simply that includes writing about it unless something good happens.