Jason Leffler, (sigh)… Once again, the obvious danger of racing becomes very visible in the loss of Jason Leffler. We often lose sight of the dangers that a driver faces every time they get in to a race car of any kind.
Our thoughts, hopes and prayers go out to the family and friends of Jason Leffler at their loss. He was a husband, father and racer. There really aren’t words that fully express how we feel about the loss of one of the racing family…
Nascar moved up on nearly everyone’s appreciation list with the race in Talladega this last weekend. Just about every Nascar fan had something they liked about it, (that is unless their driver either didn’t win or got taken out by an accident.) Overall, the general consensus appeared to be one of all fan’s seeing a race they really enjoyed and, in most people’s minds, it was an exciting race with lots of action. There were a record number of lead changes and also a record number of different leaders probably making this Aaron’s 499 a focal point in the record books for some time to come.
As expected, the two car draft (or, “the two car tango”, as Fox Sport’s Mike Joy liked to call it) was very prevalent throughout the day and looks to be a restrictor plate expectation and advantage for the future, (as long as they don’t make too many changes to the rules they now have in place.)
I had one of my questions answered by the race in Alabama this weekend and that was whether or not we could have more than one of the two car drafts going on in the main pack of cars. At one time, I counted at least three within several car lengths of each other (and that’s being conservative.) It appeared to this fan that many of the drivers were trying to take advantage of the ability to go an extra 8-10 mile and hour faster.
Now, although the advantage was there for all to use, not all knew how to use it to improve their position. In fact, it was obvious that some knew it was there and used it, but didn’t know how to really make it work for them and caused themselves and others difficulties by their inexperience.
One thing is certain… Kevin Harvick knew how to use it and RCR came up with the best place to take advantage of it during the practices on Friday afternoon. Their discoveries proved to be the advantage that took the No.29 RCR car to Victory Lane at the end of the Aaron’s 499.
Whether you agree or disagree with this next statement doesn’t really matter all that much, but, many fans were ecstatic when a failed late race maneuver put points leader Jimmie Johnson against the inside wall, causing him to finishing a disappointing 31st . (Now remember, when I say disappointing, I’m talking about him and his team being disappointed, not those fans (and drivers) that are weary of seeing the #48 finish at, or near, the top of the finishing order every week.)
While we’re talking about the #48 Hendrick team, I guess now would be a good time to mention the continuing on-track struggles between the #24 and #48. It seems that no matter how the racing goes, the two just can’t get out of each other’s way. For the second week in a row, Jeff Gordon was “disappointed” with his teammate’s actions. Although I think the word “disappointed” is putting it mildly, it does appear Jeff could have had better finishes, in particular over the last two weeks, had it not been for Jimmie Johnson. I do think, had it not been for Jimmie Johnson and some other late race happenings, the #24 team would have at least three victories this year, (and possibly four.) Although I do understand that a lot of the activity between the two Hendrick teams can be attributed to “just racing” it definitely hasn’t worked out in a positive way for the #24 Hendrick team at all. (And let’s not forget Jeff’s run-in with Matt Kenseth in the #17 Roush Ford back at Martinsville and how that went down.)
Another side note about Jeff Gordon is his obvious determination and aggressiveness this year. He has definitely been one of the hard chargers this season and, for many fans, it has been good to see “the old Jeff Gordon.” I really don’t think anyone can deny he has been in contention for the win at the end of almost every race so far this season. He may not have had the best car, but he and crew chief, Steve Letarte, have definitely put themselves in position to win almost every week.
Wow, what else can we say (that hasn’t already been said) about this race in Talladega?
Let’s see, we had Kevin Harvick finally breaking his 115 race absence from Sprint Cup Victory Lane; EGR finishing second and third, with Jamie McMurray and Juan Pablo Montoya; Denny Hamlin still showing a lot of momentum since his knee surgery for JGR finishing fourth and Mark Martin for the Hendrick camp finishing fifth. We also had two car drafting because of the relaxed bump-drafting rules all the way around the track and cars able to move up or down in the scoring almost at will all afternoon. For the fans that merely show up to see the multi-car pile-ups that are part of restrictor plate racing, there was some of that, too, along with fan pleasing tight, bumper to bumper, door to door racing that always makes for an interesting show if nothing else.
With all of that, it makes a fan wonder what Richmond will be like this coming weekend. With way the races at Texas and Talladega have been, I wonder if it will be a little bit of a let down or just more of the same great racing we’ve seen all season so far this year? I reckon the only way to find out is to show up on race day and see what happens…
See ya next time… Rusty
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer