Notes from New Hampshire

The Modifieds

I saw about half of the Modified race on Saturday, and the half I saw was great. Pushing, bumping, trading the lead every 2 or 3 laps, good cars going to the front but not running away from the field – it was pretty much everything you want in a race. I only wish I knew the drivers better, so that each move would have had more significance in my mind. Anyway, they were awesome.

I actually caught this race by accident, as I was at the track to see if I could get Keselowski to sign my Track Schmak shirt (he was the only driver that I knew was signing autographs). Anyway, I forgot that you have to buy tickets to get stuff autographed, and you had to get them at 8 am or something stupid like that. So no schmak autograph. But still there was “Schmak at the Track!”

Photo

The Nationwide Race

Terrible. Horrible. Easily the worst race I’ve ever seen in person. Kyle Busch dominated, got sent back by pit strategy or a mistake or something, spent 50 laps coming back to the front. Brian Vickers held him off for a while, but as soon as Busch got past, it was over. The only redeeming thing about the race was the caution with 2 to go, which lead to 3 Green-White-Checker attempts. 2 out of the 3 restarts, Kyle Busch got away easily. The second restart, Vickers kept up until entering turn 1. Then it was over.

I’ll have some more thoughts on how to improve the Nationwide racing on this week’s schmak (due out on Thursday-ish), but for now, that series is just hurting. Very little racing anywhere in the pack.

The Cup Race

I thought it was a great race. Of course, it had to be the hottest day in Loudon so far that week, and I got roasted in the stands. Note – I need to bring a neck towel and ice next time. No sunburn, but just a nice good old fashioned 4 hour roast in an oven.

There was some actual racing going on almost every lap, although track position was still king. Tony Stewart did not look like he had a top-5 capable car until he ended up in front. Likewise, Dale Jr. looked strong until bad pit strategy got him mired back.

Vickers – I was trying to follow him early, and he didn’t look that great. But once he got into 3rd position, his car started looking strong. From my vantage point, he was driving into the corner a little higher than Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart, and was driving with more intensity than either of them. Once he settled in a little and stopped over-driving the corner, his car started looking like a winning car.

The crowd also seemed to be rooting for him – when he passed Stewart, a cheer erupted. When he passed Busch for the lead, an even bigger cheer erupted. Leaving the track, I talked with some fans who said they felt good about Vickers winning, since he was an underdog and was back on a positive career path.

So it was a popular win.

Newman

In case you haven’t heard it, here is a link to Kyle Busch calling Newman a big ogre.

Ryan Newman had a so so day going, until about a lap before he was wrecked. He had stayed out to gain track position, and was on older tires on an already mediocre car, so he was kind of a road block. Kyle Busch kind of roughed him up when passing, so the next corner, Newman drove in deep trying to get back to Kyle Busch. Keselowski then took advantage and slid a little high off the corner while Newman chopped down. There was more contact, and Newman gave Keselowski a shot on the exit of the corner, causing Keselowski to almost spin. Then, 1 lap later, Kurt Busch just plain over drove the corner. I know the TV replay shows Kenseth hitting him or nearly hitting him, but from my angle, Kurt was already drifting up the track into Newman by the time Kenseth had anything to do with it.

You can read the whole war of words between Newman and Kyle Busch here.

Newman kind of proved Kyle Busch’s point, saying:

I’m sure if I rearrange his face I might fix it

and ended his statement with:

It seems like after his comment about me not having a ride it seems like he has way more to lose than I do.

Threats and retribution. Sounds like a frustrated ogre.

Overall Race Rating

This was one of the better Cup races I’ve seen in person. Good on ya’ NASCAR.

Danica Patrick

After our last Schmak in which we took Kyle Petty to task for saying that Danica is not a racer, I felt I had to follow her race a little more closely than normal. Most of the TV coverage provides superficial analysis (at best) of her racing, and while I’m glad it’s not the Danica-cam all-the-time style coverage that happened when she first entered the series, the current reporting doesn’t provide any depth at all.

By my observation, she is definitely racing. She passed two cars on the outside on the restart, and raced with the 7 car, 93 car, 83 car, and made passes. In particular, she raced the 83 of David Reutimann for 30 laps straight. She would get a run off of 2, run side by side down the backstretch, have to back off the entry of 3 in order to run side by side, and couldn’t get back to the gas quick enough to pass David. So she’d have to fall in line, stalk, diamond the corner to get a run off, run side by side, and then keep the car low while David chopped her on the exit.

She was frustrated on the radio, mildly cussing at Reutimann a few times when he diamonded the corner on the exit, but she never overdrove the car, never touched Reutimann (as far as I could see). She acknowledged that she needed to get better at keeping speed while trying to pass, but she was definitely trying, and definitely racing. Kyle Petty is dead wrong about her not being a racer.

Trach Schmak Chase Points Week 2

Here is week 2 under our relative points system.

Place NASCAR Chase: Relative
Playoff System
Points Regular
Season
Wins
Chase Wins Official NASCAR Points
1 Jimmie Johnson  (+1) 25 3 0 1st Jimmie Johnson
2 Brad Keselowski  (-1) 23  (-2) 3 1 2nd Brad Keselowski  (-1)
3 Denny Hamlin  (+4) 20  (-5) 4 1 3rd Denny Hamlin  (-7)
4 Kasey Kahne 20  (-5) 2 0 4th Tony Stewart  (-10)
5 Tony Stewart  (-2) 18  (-7) 3 0 5th Kasey Kahne (-15)
6 Clint Bowyer 17 (-8) 2 0 6th Clint Bowyer  (-15)
7 Dale Earnhardt Jr.  (-2) 13  (-12) 1 0 7th Earnhardt Jr.  (-26)
8 Jeff Gordon  (+4) 10  (-15) 1 0 8th Kevin Harvick (-31)
9 Kevin Harvick  (+1) 10  (-15) 0 0 9th Greg Biffle  (-33)
10 Martin Truex Jr.  (-2) 9  (-16) 0 0 10th Martin Truex Jr. (-34)
11 Greg Biffle  (-2) 7  (-18) 2 0 11th Matt Kenseth  (-35)
12 Matt Kenseth  (-1) 6  (-19) 1 0 12th Jeff Gordon  (-45)

Be sure to listen to this week’s Podcast where we will break down the points systems.