Carl Edwards dominated Sunday in an impressive win at Bristol, and that’s the headline you’ll read about all over the ‘net, but here are five other things we saw this weekend at the Bullring:
1. What about those guys in the Top-10? Bristol’s not an easy track, and yeah, a few of the big-guns like Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch and Jimmie Johnson had issues. But not so many that it made things a walk in the park for Clint Bowyer to finish eighth, Trevor Bayne to finish fifth and Matt DiBenedetto – yes, BK Racing and Matt DiBenedetto – to finish sixth. Nice job.
2. You remember when Bristol was the hardest ticket in the sport to get? Yeah, that’s apparently not the case anymore. In our unofficial count based on the overhead shots during the broadcast, there were a grand total of 3,278 fans in the ‘Last Great Coliseum’…but the good news is, that number is still double what showed up for the Xfinity series event. Did someone forget to tell everyone when tickets went on sale? NASCAR and the tracks need to do something – reduce prices, add more value to the ticket, make the races shorter – maybe all of the above. Comparatively, the IndyCar Long Beach Grand Prix was packed.
3. The wheels came off – almost literally – for Kyle Busch. I guess the talk about Cup drivers in other series will die down for a bit, since the streak is officially over for Kyle Bush. In his bid for a third straight weekend sweep, The Shrub came up just shy of the win in the X series, and then things were disastrous Sunday, where Kyle got hit with two pit road speeding penalties and had two right-front tire blowouts – the second one sending him to the garage. That doesn’t change the fact that NASCAR needs to do something about Buschwackers.
4. Is the ‘lug-nut strategy’ really worth it? NASCAR’s pit-road video system can’t see in enough detail to tell if a lug nut is tight, so the powers-that-be simply decided stop policing the rule that says you have to have all five on securely. As a result, teams aren’t even pretending to comply with the rule anymore, only gluing up four – and sometimes three – lug nuts on wheels to save time on pit stops. Kudos to FOX, by the way, for noticing over the last two weeks and highlighting the situation; a rare highlight for them this season.
Problem is, drivers were suffering loose wheels all over the place at Bristol; so they saved .75 seconds on their pit stop, then lost a lap or two coming back in for a new wheel/tire. The gamble isn’t worth it, and the ‘non-rule’ is stupid. At the very least, NASCAR should make teams glue up all five lug nuts, and attempt to tighten them – at least that could be reviewed from video.
5. The Dash4Cash is good in theory, but needs help in execution. The brave few that showed up at Bristol for the Xfinity race saw a pretty cool concept in the Dash4Cash event…which suffered from one fatal flaw. And that flaw? Incentive. And Cup drivers. So there’s actually two flaws, then…nobody said we were geniuses at math. The Cup drivers don’t care about winning the Heat races, because they aren’t eligible for the $100k bonus, and as long as they start in the top-10, they have a chance to win. The rest of the X drivers are stuck so far behind the Cup guys that there is no reason for them to risk wrecking in the Heats to catch up to the two in position for the Dash4Cash qualifying spots. So you end up with two guys going all-out, and the rest of the field just riding around waiting for the Main race. Eliminate the Cup drivers, and you’d get something more exciting…just sayin’.
Side note – we FINALLY have an Xfinity driver in the Chase! Congratulations to Erik Jones.
Next Week: Richmond. On a Sunday, which is…strange.