NASCAR at Darlington After Thoughts from Just A Fans View


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Rusty NormanRegan Smith won his first NASCAR Cup race on Saturday night at Darlington. Unfortunately, the after race confrontation between the drivers and teams of the #18 Toyota of Joe Gibbs Racing and the #29 Chevy of Richard Childress Racing over shadowed the sweet smell of victory for Smith and his team, (well, at least for a while.)

I’ll talk about that other stuff in a bit, but first of all, congratulations to the the entire #78 Furniture Row Team of Barney Visser and all I can say is, I should’ve known. With the way Regan has been qualifying and running, none of us should be surprised that they were finally in a position to capitalize on the increasing consistency their team has shown and it was only a matter of time until they did exactly what they did Saturday night. It just goes to show that at any given race, on any given day or night, even a one car team which some would probably consider under financed, can end up in Victory Lane.

That is a great example of just how good NASCAR Cup racing is in my book and also just how competitive all of the teams are no matter how well financed they may be and especially when things like strategy during a race work in favor of the smaller teams. That’s one thing this fan has always liked about NASCAR, you just never know how a race is going to end until it ends, especially with some of the rule changes that have made the end of a race much more exciting.

Over the years, NASCAR has taken a lot of criticism for the way it runs things and, I have to admit, some of it is justified, but I also have to say it appears they have always had what was good for the sport fully in view. I’m sure many will say, they aren’t perfect, and I think they know that but, what they do always seems to make sense when we get a chance to look at it in the rear-view mirror.

I don’t know about you, but during the race, I had mixed emotions about how it was going and at times just wanted to move on past the middle. I knew there would be long green flag runs and I knew track position was going to play a big part. What I didn’t know, or expect, was what transpired between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Bush in the waning laps of the race and on pit road immediately following the race. (I don’t think Clint Bowyer expected it either. If he had, I don’t think he would have made it three wide at the time he did.)

From this fan’s view, I saw two drivers thinking only of themselves rather than having any thought for those around them. Oh I know what you’re going to say, “So, what else is new?”

Well, look, I know that sounds pretty petty, but I have watched the action over and over again from that night and, honestly, there were a lot of cars close together and more than one of them could have been affected other than just Clint Bowyer taking it nose first into the inside wall. In fact, Kevin Harvick did a great job of keeping his car “relatively”in control after Kyle hooked his right rear and turned him into the walll and those around him did a great job of avoiding him. Were it not for everything working out the way it did, I think more than Kevin Harvick and Kyle Bush would have been mixing it up down on pit road and in the garage area after the race.

Anyone that has been around racing very long, or has actually sat in a race car, understands a thing called adrenaline. The drivers and the crews get pumped up by it just because they’re competitive and the drivers in particular experience the adrenaline rush simply because they are on the edge of wrecking just about every second they are on the track (and especially at a place like Darlington.) Add to that the closeness of the racing and 500 miles of frustrations and concentration and the effect is multiplied many fold.

Sometimes, it doesn’t matter actually whose fault it was and often it appears totally different to the drivers in the cars than it actually was on the outside, but emotions do run high on a fast narrow track like Darlington (or any track for that matter) and something has to give somewhere along the way. NASCAR made a decision to fine them both and put them both on probation for several weeks (which just means they’re going to keep a little closer eye on the two of them over those weeks) more for what happened on pit road than on the track, and when you consider the safety possibilities, it could have been a lot worse and someone could have gotten hurt by the unmanned car of Kevin Harvick.

I disagree with several peoples evaluation of the incident but I do understand their confusion of NASCAR’s standing rule of, “Boys have at it.” It is strictly my opinion, but I think NASCAR really means for the “Boys to have at it” and (to complete the actual statement as originally stated) “And have fun”… but I would add they were also thinking, “Just don’t be stupid…”

See ya next time…

All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer

© May 12, 2011 – all rights reserved

Rusty Norman and

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