Actions detrimental to stock car racing. Anyone who has spent any amount of time watching NASCAR has seen this term used for situations that have happened where drivers have been fined, suspended, and lost driver points. This week the term has reared itself once again in the aftermath of the Kyle Busch and Kevin Harvick incident at the end of the race Saturday night at Darlington.
Let’s get to the positive before we move on to the negative. Regan Smith deserves all the publicity and credit for winning Saturday night’s race. Where did Smith come from to even take the win? Once complaint that I generally keep to myself about coverage of the sport is that too much time is spent showing the big names on the track that are usually at the front. Sure we get the cursory run through the field so you can hear about your favorite driver, but when we get a surprise winner like Smith we missed the story of his night. We saw the end of the story, but we never saw what trials he went through to ultimately capture the checkered flag.
We know that Smith used pit strategy to get his car to the front of the field. I will admit that I thought he was a sitting duck for those cars that took two or four tires just behind. I wanted Smith to get the win once the final green flag came out, but I thought deep down that Carl Edwards was just going to be too good to not pass Smith. Smith then hit the wall off of two off the last turn. Once again, no way the Furniture Row car can beat Edwards back to the line. I was wrong and we have our second first time winner this season taking his car to victory lane.
Smith has been a qualifying machine this season. It seems that we have seen that black car with the orange letters and numbering starting up front all season long. He starts well and stays near the lead until around the first stop or so, and then the long slide to the back of the pack begins. For the full story on Smith’s run to the win in the Showtime Southern 500, here is a chart of his race from Yahoo.com:
Based the on chart and how Fox broadcasts the race, it is no wonder I do not recall seeing his car until the closing the laps of the race.
Did you find it odd that Harvick’s car just shot into the pit road wall after Busch pushed it out of the way? In case you were wondering, like I was, why this would happen, here it is: since the car was in gear it was like it was push started. When the car got pushed, engine fired and gently accelerated towards the wall.
While the car was going towards the wall, one of the oddities of sport for me occurred. What I am about to explain happens in football as well. Harvick takes a swing at Busch’s head through the window. Okay, so football players do not try to hit other players through the window of the car, but they do on occasion try to punch a player with a helmet on. None of us will probably experience what it is like to push a car to the edge of its limits for 500 miles chasing a victory in the highly competitive Sprint Cup Series, but what I cannot understand is why are you going to take a swing at a guy wearing a helmet? The only outcome I can see happening in that situation is Harvick ending up with a broken hand and missing a start, if not a few starts.
I personally do not have a problem with drivers wanting to push each other on pit road, throw punches at each other outside of the car with helmets off, and trying to intimidate each other in preparation for the next race. I do have a problem with Busch pushing Harvick’s car out of the way on pit road which endangered everyone in the general vicinity of the squabble. If the drivers want to settle differences outside the view of the public and such, I have no problem with that as well. Go back to motor coach lot and duke it out. When next week rolls around and they have bruises, broken noses, or black eyes, just tell the camera you tripped over the dog and fell down the stairs. Perhaps a commercial shoot went horribly wrong. Maybe when the car fell off the lift there was a not a Kobalt Tools case there to catch the car. You get my drift.
NASCAR came down rather gently I thought on the fighting boys for their altercation last Saturday. Each driver was fined $25,000 (chump change in the end for those guys) and received a four race probation. They will mind their manners for the next few weeks, and actually couple of months if I had to guess. If I were Harvick, I would let it go at this point, but I would guarantee that Busch does not continue his winning streak of Cup Races at Bristol Motor Speedway come late August.
Other quick NASCAR notes. Trevor Bayne is once again out the car this weekend. Word is he is improving and should be back in the All Star race in a week and a half.
Charlotte Motor Speedway unveiled the world’s largest TV yesterday on the backstretch. Dale Earnhardt Jr. got to play video games on it for the debut. Wish I could do that.
We are a third of the way through the May as of now. I still wish it was like it was at Indianapolis for the Indy 500 a couple of years or so ago. Practice would have already begun and we would have some more story lines to talk about. At this point we are waiting for Saturday for the first time for cars to hit the track. Once we get cars on the track, we will have the Twitter coverage, commentary, and thoughts as we get closer to the Greatest Spectacle in Racing.
Check back tomorrow for what to watch for at Dover this weekend.
Wreck of the week is the Red Bull car of Brian Vickers getting the driver’s side door popped open: