First of all, I am new here, but I am really excited about writing my thoughts and seeing what everybody thinks of it. I?ve been watching NASCAR since 2001 and I have a bunch of favorite drivers that I have followed for years.
Now, this weekend was an up and down one, as is normally the case if you have more than one favorite driver. Case in point: watching Johnny Sauter win his second truck race was a huge up, but seeing Eric McClure and Michael McDowell struggle through a race they desperately needed to do well in was a big down.
I?ll start with the Cup race. It wasn?t nearly as good as the race in Talladega as far as the excitement level goes, but having Casey Mears back in a decent car added a lot to the race, and he did really well being in a completely new situation. Qualifying 13th was one of the best points of the weekend, and watching him hang around the lead lap while racing the big teams before winding up 26th was a very solid finish. I am really hoping this turns into a multiple race deal; he deserves it. For Brian Vickers 20th was a lot better than they way his last 3 races turned out?blowing tires and getting caught in one of the big ones. It was a quiet night for him, but he did pass his teammate Scott Speed back in points and got things turned around to head back towards Chase contention. Both he and Paul Menard seemed better on the long runs as they moved to about 17th and 18th. Paul was actually having a decent race, but the penalty for a loose lug nut on the last green flag stop really hurt him. His 27th place was definitely no indication of where he was able to run.
On Friday night, watching Brad Keselowski dominate the race wasn?t exactly the way I wanted things to go, but Justin Allgaier sure tried to make it interesting on the restarts, diving to the inside and almost taking the lead a few times. He had a top 2-3 car for sure, but the combination of old tires and spinning his wheels on the last restart dropped him to 15th. Even worse, he lost a ton of ground to his teammate and the points lead. He?ll start getting the top 5s again, but it might not be enough to get the championship with NASCAR letting the Cup drivers ?double dip?. Other than Justin my other favorites struggled to keep up the fast pace. Trevor Bayne hung between 15th and 20th most of the race, but fell to 21st, minus 2 laps when it was all said and done. Brian Scott, Michael McDowell, Shelby Howard and Eric McClure hardly ever got higher than 25th and wound up finishing 28th through 31st. Eric had high hopes for the race, wanting to gain ground over 31st in owner points and solidify his locked in position. Instead he got a hole punched in the nose of his car on the first caution and the timing of the cautions hurt him before he pretty much lost the clutch on his car. With the battered car back on the truck, he barely hung in 29th, 15 and 45 points ahead of the two Roush cars. Michael McDowell is the last person locked into the next race in Darlington and is also looking for a really good run to move up.
Sunday?s Camping World Truck race got off to a rough start when Brian Rose, Matt Crafton and Carl Long got caught in wrecks, but the thunderstorm that moved across the track, bringing hail with it, breathed new life into the race. Johnny Sauter took the lead soon after nearly getting collected in a wreck and slipped to 5th before rain forced the trucks to pit road. When Ron Hornaday had to pit again to pull the fender off of his left rear tire, Johnny was able to get back to the lead. What had turned into a good race almost went back the other way as Ron Hornaday got really loose and drifted up into Johnny with 12 laps to go. Despite catching the wall with the right rear of the car, Johnny was able to straighten it out, and Ron Hornaday miraculously kept from spinning all of the way out. Ron had smoked his tires too much trying not to completely wreck, and Johnny stomped away to the win?and a birthday cake in his face. It was a great finish to the 3 days of racing and provided excitement that even green-white-checkered finishes can?t do.
Now, have you guessed who my favorites are? Some weekends are like this one, lots of struggles and a few bright rays of light, but hey, that?s racing.
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