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Sunday, July 6, 2008

Earnhardt had car to beat, but Busch steals another one

After watching the first 100 laps of Saturday night’s race at Daytona, during which Dale Earnhardt Jr. put on his usual clinic for the other drivers, two things entered my mind.

The first was, “Wow, this is a very boring race.” There was way too much single file racing, and I was far from intrigued.

The second was, “The demolition derby will begin soon.” Sure enough, my prediction came true far too many times.

It’s become an annual ritual that in the last 40 or so laps of every restrictor plate race, the drivers lose their minds. People get so desperate to gain positions, they risk dangerous contact with their competitors and often wreck their car and a bunch of others in the process. There’s no one driver to single out on Saturday, as they all were doing this as the race drew to a close.

It’s not all on the drivers though, as they are just driving in the conditions provided for them. NASCAR for some reason insists on telling us that their group of brilliant mechanics STILL can’t find a way to slow these cars down without using silly restrictor plates, which creates the conditions conducive to “The Big One” the TV announcers seem determined to see every plate race. I find that hard to believe, and there has to be a better way to slow them down that will allow great racing and diminish the massive packs. If not for some great driving by many to avoid wrecks, there could have been about three or four “Big Ones” Saturday night.

Late in the race, after his earlier dominance, Earnhardt was shuffled back a little bit and never recovered. With all the cautions, he never really had a chance to run long enough to get back into the lead. If he had a long run, he most certainly would have been the victor.

That brings us to Kyle Busch, who somehow pulled out yet another win, his sixth of the season. While he did lead some laps early, he really wasn’t much of a contender for most of the race. Early in the evening, he almost tore his car up, but made a great save and had to charge back through the field. But even if Jr. had problems, Jeff Gordon looked like the car to beat and I figured Kyle would end up with just a top 10 finish.

I must have forgotten that the driver of that #18 car has had a rabbit’s foot in his pocket all season.

TNT’s unique approach to the TV coverage had its good and bad points. I liked that we had a constant view of the on-track action, but I also think the announcers spent more time hawking products than commenting on the race. It was pretty silly, and I almost would prefer hearing the advertisers do their own hawking. The more I hear them endlessly hawk the sponsors, the less respect I have for the announcers. Even worse, they often did not cut away from the pop-up ads when something happened on track, leaving viewers to guess what was going on while listening to the end of the ad.

J.J. Yeley had to jump in Tony Stewart’s car because he felt “nauseated and dehydrated”. It must have been bad, because you don’t get a dedicated racecar driver like Stewart out of his seat easily. Yeley actually did a decent job after jumping in the car for his former team. Unfortunately, he ended up collected in the late-race wreck fest.

Speaking of points, Stewart got credit for the Yeley finish of 20th and dropped to 12th in the points standings as a result. He is only two points ahead of Kevin Harvick in the race for the final Chase spot. Big winner of the week was Matt Kenseth, whose third-place finish jumped him from 13th to 9th in the points. He can’t get too comfortable though, as positions 8 through 13 are separated by 34 points. Also, Jeff Burton wrecked and had his first bad finish in a long time, so Earnhardt Jr. was able to leapfrog him to 2nd in points, 182 behind Busch.

Kyle Busch needs to stop that ridiculous bowing he does after every win while all the fans are booing him. It might have been funny the first time, now he just looks stupid every time he does it.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Busch steals another one? If you call coming from 37th to the lead stealing one, you need to seriously need to look into another career.

July 6, 2008 at 1:36 PM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

I guess it all depends on how you define the word. Stealing to me means someone winning the race who really had no business doing so, and there are several scenarios this could apply to. After the incident put him so far back, Busch really had no shot at winning, but he ended up doing it anyway.

July 6, 2008 at 4:27 PM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Come on Matt, GET OFF you hate Busch attitude and give the kid credit where he seserves it. Not only is he a great driver but also is with a great team. You are probably a Toyota hater too and jealous they are the most profitable automaker in the world.
Of course you'll probably say they cheat there too.
I think you have a problem and need to realize Busch if the man this year....

July 6, 2008 at 7:06 PM 
Blogger Eddie said...

You can define a word to suit your own needs,I'll venture a guess that if the tables were turned & Jr. had been in the same situation you would say Jr. won a well deserved race, after having trouble early & falling back to the back he fought his way back to the lead & won.Well it wasn't Jr. it was Kyle Busch & he deserved the win as much as anyon would have for the same reason's stated above.He did not steal the win he worked hard for it,everyone is entitled to their own opinion but for a reporter to comment on the win like you did shows no respect at all & low professionalism.By the way I'm not a Busch fan either of them but I believe in credit where credit's due.

July 6, 2008 at 7:40 PM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

While I do admit I'm not a huge fan of Kyle Busch the person -- as a result of some of his selfish actions on the track this season and in the past -- it's pretty obvious he's a great driver and will win many, many more races.

And regarding Toyota, I tip my hat to them. They appear to have more power than the other makes this year, and everyone else is playing catchup.

July 6, 2008 at 11:05 PM 
Blogger Eddie said...

Well I guess this will be the last time I read anything written by you.You claim to be an in the know NASCAR reporter tet you show too much favoritism to be a true NASCAR reporter, all the others have their pics to win a race but never trash a driver because the have a problem with them,Sure K.B. has been arrogant on & off the track,but ha's a kid thrust into one of the top racing series on the planet, & to some folks (you included)because he's winning you want to disrespect him,but you wouldn't do the same to Earnhardt JR.You sir are a poor represanitive of your profession.

July 7, 2008 at 5:06 AM 
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From where I sat Kyle won the race, not stole the race. No, I am not Kyle fan nor a Toyota fan. I think you should give credit where it is due and it is not due to Jr. The way I saw it he caused Kasey Kahne a chance at another win. Kahne came from 41st and then from 24th after Jr. slammed into his fender causing the fender rub ruining his chances at a better finish. All the guys in the booth could say was get away from the #9 the car, they failed to mention that Jr. caused the problem. Had it been the other way around Kahne would have been in the same boat as Kyle. Shame Jr. fans are so blind to see he is human.

July 7, 2008 at 6:42 AM 
Anonymous Jim said...

Okay, Matt you lost me......

As the race was winding down Dale Jr. was overheard on the radio complaining about numerous handling issues with his car (this was during the same sequence of comments where he said that Martin 'wimped out' on him). So with as strong as Jeff, Carl, and others were running just how do you figure that he would have been the car to beat if there had been a long green flag run at the end of the race? By his own description his car was junk.

July 7, 2008 at 9:48 AM 
Blogger Matt Myftiu said...

A few things:

Eddie: While you may feel I'm trashing Kyle, it's really not my intention. My view of him is clear-cut: He's an highly skilled driver with championship potential, but isn't a very sportsmanlike competitor at times so he deserves some criticism. Believe it or not, if I had been writing 15-20 years ago, I probably would have spoken similarly about Dale Earnhardt Sr.
Also, if Kyle Busch wins the title this year, I'll be the first to congratulate him for stepping up his game so quickly.

Anon: Regarding the Kahne incident, when cars are that tightly packed together, a lot of bumping is going to happen and cars are going to have problems. With the exception of a blatant misjudging of space, like McMurray did during the race, I rarely fault either driver when wrecks happen at Daytona and Talladega. And FYI, I'm not trying to prop up Jr., just calling it like I see it ... he did lead the most laps and have the best car for most of the race.

Jim: I recognize Jr.'s car fell back late, and may have missed some of those radio comments about his car being that bad, but history shows Jr. can pull off great finishes at the plate tracks even with a car that isn't the best, as the other drivers know he's a smart choice to draft with. He may struggle at a lot of other tracks, but not at Daytona.

July 7, 2008 at 11:10 AM 

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