June 6, 2012
By Chuck Abrams
Dick Berggren retired, Smoke scared another driver into admitting their part in a wreck, Kurt Busch is in the (expletive), Jeff Gordon is still snakebit and Jimmie Johnson wins in a rainbow ‘fro at Dover.
Sounds like quite the racing weekend, eh?
First off, Dick Berggren is a consummate professional and we’ll miss his reporting. He is 70 and has decided chasing Cup drivers around the country is not quite as much fun as it used to be. I wonder who might have given him that idea?
Kurt Busch, maybe?
You gotta admit, you can’t make this stuff up. I hope someone out there is keeping track because this will make one heck of a made for TV movie someday. This will end in one of a couple ways. Either Kurt will get his (expletive) together, start winning again and get back on top of the world after nearly ruining his career.
He will continue down this (expletive) path, ruin his career and never race at the top levels again.
Either way it will make a great TV movie. Kurt had issues at Dover a couple of years ago with Tony Stewart and was fined and docked points. Smoke even said that Kurt “is not a bad guy”. And Smoke was known for going after reporters for a while as well, but he has gotten his anger a little better under control. He may be snide and sarcastic, but he doesn’t threaten to beat the (expletive) out of a reporter for asking a question.
NASCAR has come down hard on Busch and suspended him from racing at Pocono. This form of punishment got Kevin Harvick’s attention when he was suspended for a race. I just am not so sure what will get Kurt’s attention.
Now, on to the race. I guess I was a bit surprised that Mark Martin got the pole but not so surprised at the outcome. And after a bunch of tame races, wreck fans got their fix early on when Stewart, Landon Cassill, Regan Smith and ten others all wrecked.
It all started when Cassill came down a little on Stewart who had little room to spare on the bottom of the track. Smith got into the back end of Stewart and then it was game on. Thirteen cars total, the biggest accident of the year in terms of cars involved. Afterwards, Cassill was not sure if Stewart got into him or was just close by and he got loose on his own. He praised Stewart for being one of the most patient drivers in the garage that early in a race.
Smoke later said he was not as patient as he could have been since he started pretty far back in the pack and wanted to make his way forward. That makes two weeks in a row drivers have fallen all over themselves to clear Smoke of any blame in an accident. Once again, you can’t make this stuff up!
Once the Red Flag was lifted, things got down to business with hard racing -- all over the track. The only cautions were for mechanical failures or debris. And phantom debris as far as Jeff Gordon is concerned. Gordon looked like he had a car that could win and even led 60 laps. But a bad pit stop and loose wheel with the ill-timed caution ruined his day. It was not the best of days to have Jeff for a first name, as Jeff Burton lost an engine after running well late in the race.
Aric Almirola continued to improve as he gathered up a top 10 finish. And this was a valid finish, not one manufactured by fuel mileage or a weather event.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. got another top 5 finish and leads all drivers in top 10 finishes this year. That is all well and good folks, but he needs to win. But Dover and Pocono are not his strongest tracks. If he can manage to stay in the top 5 and top 10 on his bad tracks, he might just eke out a win this year.
I thought Joey Logano would choke this week like he did in the 600. I guess these Nationwide wins are boosting his confidence because he drove to a top 10 at Dover, which he rarely does.
In fact, the top 10 was full of drivers that we are not used to seeing very often. Martin Truex, Jr. returned to the top 10 as well as Marcos Ambrose and Kasey Kahne. Kahne has been improving lately and Dover has not been kind to him, so placing in the top 10 was another major step forward. Marcos was strong at Dover last year as well and with some road courses coming up, he may just get another Cup win.
I don’t quite get why he isn’t stronger at Pocono. It is often described as racing like a road course. But is also requires a lot of horsepower with those long drag races down the straightaways. Perhaps they are just not making the kind of horsepower Pocono requires.
And speaking of horsepower, Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 team are making oodles of it. Johnson is no slouch at Pocono and sits just 33 points out of the lead. Greg Biffle is going to have to step it up this week in order to keep his foot on the neck of his competitors. Biffle is running out of wiggle room but if he can avoid a calamitous finish at Pocono, he can look forward to Michigan where he has two wins, seven top 10 finishes and no DNFs. And that is how you keep the points lead.
Long live the rainbow ‘fro.
Drive fast, turn left and keep the shiny side up.
The thoughts and ideas expressed by this writer or any other writer on Insider Racing News, are not necessarily the views of the staff and/or management of IRN.