NASCAR at Kentucky After Thoughts from A Fans View

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Well, Kyle Bush won the inaugural Sprint Cup Race at the Kentucky Speedway and he did it just the way I didn’t think he would. Yeah, that’s right, you got it, (and I know you already knew it)… He may not have led every lap but he did dominate the race. Although there were moments in the race that his winning might be in question, he had the fastest car throughout the night and once out front with two laps to go, from this fan’s view, there was no doubt he was going to win.

Once again, Kyle Bush has dominated a weekend and not just in the Cup series, but made a very strong statement in the Nationwide race by coming from the rear of the field and finishing third and won the Campingworld Truck race, too. To top it all off, he moved into first place in points for the Cup series ahead of Carl Edwards and looks to be a very real contender for the Cup Championship this year. Sure, I know it is way too early to start making predictions for the end results of the Sprint Cup Championship, but he is looking awfully strong at the moment.

Of course you and I both know looking strong with nine races to go until the Chase starts and ten races in the Chase itself doesn’t mean a Championship is definite. At best at this point, it is a definite maybe that Kyle will be in position to dethrone five-time consecutive Sprint Cup champ, Jimmie Johnson. In fact, there are several drivers I am sure won’t be sitting back and waiting for him to ease into the top spot during the Chase and, obviously, Jimmie Johnson is one of those.

From this fan’s view, it is probably fortunate that the Kentucky Speedway had some diverse problems with getting people into the track Saturday night for the capacity crowd. In fact, I would go so far as to say those problems have overshadowed the overall event. Now, I’m not trying to be critical here, but I would like to offer my “observations” on the night… Now please remember, these are just my observations of the overall inaugural Cup race on Saturday night.

The Kentucky track is known to be a track where the lap speeds are fast and there is usually a lot of racing room even though the track is rough and bumpy. Saturday was no different and the laps times were fast, but the racing was often single file and many found it was hard to pass. It is nothing new that the track changed between the time the race started and the time it ended (and it is expected that should happen when a race starts in the daylight and goes into the night.) More than one team had problems with one or the other of the racing conditions and some managed to get better while others just fell back.

During the night, there were several cars that looked strong but the #18 JGR car of Kyle Bush always seemed to have the field covered whether or not they were out front or not. In my opinion, he just wasn’t always pushing the envelope and was waiting for the race to come to him. I don’t think Kyle ever doubted he could win, but I do think he knew it all depended on how and when the cautions came out and how his team performed in the pits. (They were pretty much flawless all night from my view.)

It did seem that once a car was out front in the “clean air” it was easier for them to stay there for a period of time. I realize there is nothing new about that and it has been a normal situation for some time in NASCAR, it is just the nature of the beast these days. I think most fans expected this race to be a fuel mileage race and it very well could have been had it not been for the cautions near the end. In fact it is my opinion, had it not been for the cautions near the end of the race, the race would have been somewhat of a letdown when it came to excitement.

Fortunately for all concerned, the cautions did fly, the field was tightened back up and the end of the race was exciting and some of the drivers, (like Ryan Newman, Carl Edwards, Jimmie Johnson and David Reutimann) made it more exciting than it might have been. Ryan Newman drove down on the apron on the final restart, followed by Carl Edwards and both made it the first turn and advanced their positions, while Jimmie Johnson pressured Kyle Bush for the lead. David Reutimann passed Jimmie Johnson on the last lap and finished second, his best finish this year. It makes this fan wonder what the opinion of the race would have been had there not been those late race cautions.

When all was said and done most of the talk since the race has been about the logistics problems and people that were turned away. Yes, it was a sellout crowd but most agree the traffic problems have to be solved and the people turned away after sitting in a major traffic jam for hours have to be dealt with in a satisfactory way. There is no doubt the addition of NASCAR Sprint Cup racing at Kentucky Speedway is a great addition and the fans showed their appreciation by the turnout for all of the events this last weekend. I know NASCAR fans are loyal but I also know no one likes to feel as though they’ve been taken advantage of and these fans are no different when it comes down to it.

Oh and one more thing, I am sure NASCAR and SMI will remedy and solve the problems they had at Kentucky and hardly anyone will remember the inconveniences next year. That is, unless they are repeated…

See ya next time…
All views expressed are strictly the opinion of the writer
© July 11, 2011 – all rights reserved
Rusty Norman and
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