Thoughts, observations and a few questions following the 5 Hour Energy 301 at New Hampshire Motor Speedway:
- In the hour or two following @KyleBusch‘s third win of the season the chatter on social media on whether or not the rules for acceptance in the 2015 Chase should be changed or not changed, is simply laughable. It is much ado about nothing. I believe that even if the rules for Busch to make the Chase field were made even more stringent, Busch and the 18 car team would still meet whatever criteria that is thrown in their direction — although @DaleJr.’s idea of eliminating the “must enter all races” rule is one worth considering. By the way, if you haven’t noticed yet Busch is just getting started. Being away from the race car has given him a whole new appreciation for his life, his gig and family. And it shows in his results, his attitude and his smile.
- For those of you who considered this race to be a precursor to the Chase event in the fall, it won’t be. Not even close. Weather will be different, you never know who will be in the midst of a streak and the 48 car was nowhere to be seen on Sunday. That’s not going to be the case in September.
- I hope the crowd for the fall race is a bit stronger than what I saw today. I can’t think of an excuse for why the stands were so empty. I can’t remember seeing a race at NHMS that had such a light crowd. New Englanders are a hearty bunch and hot weather isn’t going to deter them from attending. Something else was in play here. Or have we reached a place yet where we should stop looking at the crowds in the stands and focus solely on the television numbers?
- I’d like to think that Carl Edwards is in the midst of catching a big wave. He’s finished in the top-10 on successive weekends for the first time this season. He’s still a long way from the form he showed in 2011 when he last made a serious run for the championship. That season he had 13 top 10s leaving Loudon. This year it’s only four. However the JGR Toyotas are the most consistent cars right now — a time when you want to be showing your mojo for a Chase run. Having a teammate who’s dominating like Kyle Busch is at the moment can elevate an entire organization to that next level. The real question is: Can JGR maintain that momentum?
- Why did Brant James at USA Today let Michael Waltrip Racing principle Rob Kauffman off the hook when the RTA member and spokesperson for the group suggested to James that the fans need not pay attention to these men behind the curtain and that the RTA’s business is secondary to the fans. Nothing could be further from the truth. “Think of us as the plumbing that you don’t see,” Kauffman told James, his words sounding more like the truthspeak often heard mumbled by NASCAR’s Integrated Marketing and Communications division. That plumbing analogy just might be on target, but it sounds more like the plumbing flowing from the toilet.
- I’m still getting used to the trio in the NBCSN broadcast booths for the Cup races – Rick Allen, Jeff Burton and Steve Letarte. Just when I think they might be talking too much and not letting the action tell the story, Burton or Letarte let loose with some brilliant piece of information that makes my mind spin and brings a smile to my face. I’m willing to bet the same thing happens to you. Their insight is fresh, up-to-date and while a bit too caffeinated at times, a far better television product than the fans have been forced to deal with in recent history.
- They say consistency wins championships and at the moment, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and the 88 team is showing a lot of it. This Hendrick Motorsports team has finished out of the top 15 only four times this season — Phoenix, Martinsville, Bristol and Kentucky. Phoenix was a wreck and Junior finished 16th at Bristol. A big litmus big test for this team comes at Indianapolis, one of his worst tracks. Only one top five finish in 15 attempts. Is this team and this driver for real? I think we’ll know in a week.
- Has it really gotten to the point where there was genuine discussion about putting car numbers on water bottles? Should they have name tags inside of gloves, too?
- It’s rare to find Brad @Keselowski in as foul a mood as he was following Sunday’s race. His brief post-race interview with NBCSN’s Mike Massaro was uncomfortable to watch. Fortunately Massaro, who is wildly underrated and often overlooked as an excellent reporter, pulled the plug quickly and knew it was time to send things back to the booth. Keselowski later apologized on Twitter for his mood blaming it on, of all things, the heat and the ill-timed caution flags.
- Speaking of post-race interviews, when there’s time left over in the broadcast block following the conclusion of a race, I enjoy hearing from the other drivers that finished in the top 10, don’t you? NBCSN has been good at doing that, as they did again on Sunday. This often proves to be a difficult task however, as most Cup drivers are usually in a big hurry to get it to the helicopter that will take them to the jet back home. The emotion shown by a driver immediately following an event is often rare and critical and often lost. We only get to see it recalled a week later during a driver’s pre-race media availability, when the passage of time changes perspective. In the current editorial climate of “let’s get something posted as soon as possible” the in-depth post-race interview has become a victim of modern journalism. Often the best story on any given race day isn’t about the winner.
- My early pick to win the Brickyard 400: @AustinDillon3. Think about it.
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