Monster Slip of the Ahem
Couch Potato Corner- California Speedway
About the only thing predictable in NASCAR nowadays is that there will be nothing much that is predictable. The racing on the track has been OK; just OK not terrific but worthy enough of our attention. There are issues with the aero package that gives the lead car a huge advantage at any track where aerodynamics matter. The cars have never been more equal but somehow the leader is able to sneak away from 2-5 seconds while the rest of the pack battles 3 and 4-wide for position. Thankfully the stage format allows for frequent enough restarts to keep things interesting and the inevitable proliferation of late cautions will make for exciting finishes all season. This is certainly not the best racing product we have seen in NASCAR history but the show is almost guaranteed to have a crazy climax. We also seem to get some strange things happening after the races which get more talk after the race than the actual race. Earlier this week there was a fight and now a wardrobe malfunction by a Monster Energy Girl in Victory Lane. Apparently NASCAR needs to work on the technical inspection for that equipment too!
Cup Race Grade: B
The first two stages of this race featured some great racing back in the pack but a romp for the win. The final stage was going along just fine until a late caution brought around the usual cliché about “Cautions Breeding Cautions.” Cautions can also breed excitement and once again while the racing might have been average all day the “Show” at the finish gave us all something to smile about at the end. Despite all of the craziness the best car and best driver combination over the weekend won the race. This has been a great start to the season for Kyle Larson and his Chip Ganassi Racing Team. This week also added another strange saga to the weird season for the defending champion Jimmie Johnson.
Xfinity Race Grade: B-
Some of the top Cup drivers were back and the quality of the race went down quite a bit from the week before. The top four drivers in this race were Cup racers who are also currently four of the top contenders for the Cup playoffs. Each week we hear the commercials telling us “This is where names are made” and each week we see those new guys battling for 10th place. The only good news for the series is that it doesn’t appear that Joe Gibbs Racing has as big of an advantage as they did last year when their team won 19 of the 33 races.
Gripe of the Week
NASCAR is running such a tight ship with the inspection criteria being closer than ever. 14 cars were still waiting to pass technical inspection when the qualifying session for the Monster Energy Cup Series began on Friday. The tight rules have given us parity with the cars more equal than ever before but it is very clear that track position is more important than ever before in today’s NASCAR. When the leader of the pack can get away in clean air there is more left to do with this package. Maybe the rules are so tight that nobody can get an advantage at all to make a pass so clean air is king.
After several weeks of average racing with a slightly above average show it will be great to get back to an old fashioned short track. Martinsville Speedway is celebrating their 70th year and it will be great to see some old fashioned beating and banging on the half mile track. The highlights this season have occurred off the track more than on the track and Martinsville is the perfect track to end that trend.
What did you think about the race weekend? Give us your grades and the reasons why you thought that and the best comments might be used on “The Final Inspection” on 105.7FM The Fan in Milwaukee on Saturday at Noon CT. Steve Zautke hosts the most entertaining two hours covering all things racing and Lori Munro and Dennis Michelsen will have your NASCAR news and views every week.