Monday, March 08, 2010

Post Atlanta Observations, with a Dash of Unintended Consequences

It has been a long off-season from NASCAR for me! I spent the majority of it moving my family from Vegas to Iowa, and trying to acclimate myself to a new environment. Yes, there was indeed some 'culture shock' in the move. I am not loving the snow, but I am loving the countryside and the pace of life here!

I found some highlights during the off season though! The most exciting for me was that David Gilliland found a ride with Front Row Motorsports. While he is once again with a team that is underfunded, I feel confident that David will continue to provide value for his efforts.

Apparently, Charter Air Transport also found value in David, as they were once again an associate sponsor on David's #38 car at Atlanta. Paul Kahalley from Charter 'has a past' in NASCAR, and it is great to see a driver who makes enough of an impression with a sponsor to bring them back into a sport.

Since I already had purchased my 2010 tickets for the Las Vegas Motor Speedway race, my family and I returned to Vegas to attend the race, this time as tourists. I have photos and observations in blogs later this week. We had a marvelous time, but I haven't been able to catch up to the world of NASCAR until this week.

Just when we thought NASCAR was going to shape up into another boring season, we have some great material. The NASCAR race at Atlanta, the Kobalt Tools 500, is one with enough fuel to "light up" NASCAR fans through a long off-week.

For me, the race brought excitement in seeing David Gilliland running so well with many fully funded teams, and after only the third race with his new organization. Sadly he was caught up in a wreck when Jamie McMurray got loose, and indeed was hit by Jamie. The damage to the right front of the car also knocked out 'the toe' and left them having to return to the track on their last set of tires, which were scuffs. He was going for a top 15 finish, but ended at 26th. This is a true case of racing not being a reflected in the finishing position.

It seems that tires were an issue, but not for everyone. It appeared that cars that were impacted were mostly from the Hendrick stable. My bet is that they had something in their set-up that caused the tires to blow. However, it did make it pretty predictable, that around 30 to 35 laps would be the point where a new caution would come out.

Chad Knause, from the #48 Championship team, thought life was going to be good for them on pit road, when he found out Gilliland was pitting in front of him. Sadly for Knause, Gilly did not fall off the lead lap, and Chad was vocal in his complaints that David was in their way. The #9 team of Kasey Kahne was also giving the #48 fits, as they were pitting too close to the front of the pit box, thereby making the 48 challenges even more difficult. David and his crew chief, Randy Seals, did everything they could to stay out of their way, and went so far as to stay out several times while the other cars where on the lead lap, and still could not satisfy the Champ's team. Finally, according to the scanner chatter, Randy basically said that the 48 team was going to have to live with it. They had already pulled so far to the front of their pit box that David had to be backed up. It was no longer worth the effort of keeping the other team quiet.

The incident creating the most noise from Atlanta, however, was the Carl Edwards/Brad Keselowski wreck.

The internet/twitter buzz on the evening of the incident was mostly from those who wanted to hang Carl for his transgressions, or at least suspend him for a year. Some blame the wing for the flying car, but we have to remember that cars with spoilers also 'took air.' Others think that the 'have at it' policy is to blame. But when NASCAR announced the 'have at it' policy, Mike Helton also said "It doesn't mean these guys have a get-out-of-jail-free card." I would expect that there will be some sanctions against Edwards, but not enough to take him out of the car.

I do have to note that David Gilliland's wreck probably would not have happened if it had not been for the CE/BK wreck. But I also have to keep in mind that Brad has made some enemies in the past, and I also have sympathy for Carl, as fans of Gilliland are all too aware of this type of situation.

And finally, I have to note that I had a 'discussion' with another blogger/tweeter last night, that left the other blogger requesting that I unfollow him. I did so, but was surprised this morning to receive several notes from friends that the other blogger had posted selective parts of our conversation on his blog. The result was that I received a profanity-laced comment on a press release I wrote for a sponsor. That was not the proper place to post the response, but if that same 'anonymous' person would care to post the same response here, I will be glad to publish it, to show the quality of fans who jumped to defense of the other blogger.
Finally, I do have to thank that other blogger. Just like Carl Edwards did not anticipate the unintended consequences of his actions, the other blogger drove more traffic to my site, along with many positive emails. I am pretty sure that was not his intent! Thank you, JD!