Monster Slip of the Ahem

Monster Slip of the Ahem

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Monday, 27 March 2017
Dennis Michelsen

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.

Checkered Flag

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.

Sound Off

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.

8 Comments

  1. Ken says:

    Again, I think you were a more liberal grader than than the race deserved. I would have graded the first stage a D because it was not a close race. I would have graded the 2nd stage an F because it was not a race at all and I would have graded the last stage a C only because the finish was almost a race due to the late caution flags. I would have given the race a D overall. I think the best thing about stage racing is that it keeps the leader from lapping most of the field and the pit stops gives others a chance to run near the front for a little while.

    Other than the first lap or two after a yellow, I don’t recall green flag passes for the lead (did I miss some?). You keep talking about racing back in the pack being exciting but other than the fans of a particular driver, how many race fans pay attention? You don’t get partcipation trophies once you get out of grade school. My first memory of following NASCAR was when Fireball Roberts was killed and this year has been the most disappointing for me.

    • Dennis Michelsen says:

      Ken, first of all I mentioned your comment on last week’s article on our radio show Saturday on 105.7FM in Milwaukee…thanks for always adding to the discussion.

      My grades are more based on the entertainment of the race in question and I might be an easy grader still because it is early in the season and I remember how boring my Sundays were without racing!!

      There was some drama but I agree that the first 2/3rds of the race deserved a D even if I am generous with my grades.

      Thanks again for adding to the discussion!

      DMIC

  2. Bill B says:

    I would give the race a C. Having the finish be exciting just because there is a late caution and restart doesn’t increase the quality of the race in my opinion (although, at least it was a legitimate caution).

    Interesting that Ken feels ” the best thing about stage racing is that it keeps the leader from lapping most of the field” because I am exactly the opposite. I want long green flag runs so that those that suck get the finishes they deserve. When everyone gets to stay on the lead lap it allows drivers that don’t deserve a good finish to take a good finish away from someone that was competitive and truly deserve a good finish.

    • Ken says:

      I didn’t mean that stage racing was a good thing, only that it was something that some might agree with. I also like it when those that get behind or a lap down need to earn their position back. I hate the new rules that keep so many backmarkers on the lead lap. My favorite memory was watching Bill Elliott make up 2 laps at Talladega under green. He earned it and got what he deserved. Modern day drivers don’t have to earn their way back into the race, they only have to wait on it to be given back to them.

      • Bill B says:

        OK, thanks for the clarification Ken. I’d say our views aren’t too far apart. Nothing infuriates me more than when there are 15 cars on the lead lap after 2 hours of racing and then, through the magic of wave-arounds, when there are 20 laps to go there are 30 on the lead lap. Make me wonder why I bothered to watch the first 2 hours.

        • Dennis Michelsen says:

          Bill…great comment!

          It would sort of be like in baseball if you reset the score in the 7th inning if one team got off to a 5-0 start!

          Maybe if drivers could get eliminated from the event for a bad finish in the first two stages that might be a good idea.

          DMIC

  3. John says:

    I always have to grade California on a curve because it has never been a very “racy” track. So with that in mind, I’d give yesterday’s race a “B-“.

    Stage racing worked better yesterday by breaking up the usual, boring, lap-cutting parades of the past. Yes, Larson and Truex had the field covered from the start, but at least they weren’t able to put all but the top-15 a lap down in the process. I know the #2 team had to like how the stages gave them time to repair their damaged car and recover to finish 2nd.

    The late cautions were caused by side-by-side racing in the pack, but with the cars having very little rear downforce. It seemed like cars side-drafting one-another occasionally took air off each other’s rear spoilers, making them very loose. Adding a couple more inches to the rear spoiler might not be a bad tweak before they head back to the bigger tracks again.

    • Dennis Michelsen says:

      John…instead of adding spoiler I would like to see them “Test” a no front splitter package at the All Star Race and see how that goes.

      Thanks for adding to the discussion

      DMIC

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