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Monday, March 26, 2007

View from the Couch: Bristol

The two most common phrases on Sunday: Unscheduled pit stop, and Trouble in Turn 2! I appreciate Mike Joy and Bristol doing so much to promote my little blog. Turn 2 was where all the action was on Sunday. The race had plenty of stories happening. The world didn't end with the introduction of the Car of Tomorrow, Joe Gibbs Racing lead all of the laps that didn't matter and there was a close, exciting finish. Compared to most Bristol races, there were very few racing incidents. It was a day of battling one's car and the track more than other drivers. I also appreciate Kyle Busch and Jeff Burton and making my Friday picks look smart. Quite the finish.

Car of Tomorrow Notes
-Maybe Busch's quote from Victory Lane summed it all up, “I can't stand to drive these things, they suck.” And this is from a driver that won the race while spending the majority of the day in the top five. Drivers will get more comfortable with the car with time. This will be especially true at smoother tracks than Bristol. Maybe the best name for the CoT is WhIP (Work in Progress). Drivers must relearn how to control the car and crews must figure out which adjustments will work. Fans will also get used to the awkward look of the car.

-When Dale Jarrett hit the wall it looked like his trunk exploded. Other cars had pretty significant damage for pretty innocuous crashes at Bristol. The CoT will run at Darlington. Practically every driver this the wall there, what will happen to the bodies of the new cars?

-There were so many cars that had problems it was hard to tell which teams truly struggled with the car. It was surprising that Jimmie Johnson's 48 team did not run better.

-Smaller teams seemed to be more competitive: Mike Bliss, Jeff Green, Kenny Wallace Ward Burton. This probably has a lot to do with experience on short tracks. If these drivers on small teams continue to do well at other tracks on the schedule, it will be a victory for the CoT.

-The bad news for Gibbs Racing: All three cars had mechanical problems and their best finish was 14th. The good news: They led 88 percent of the laps, and the same car is back next week.

Other Views from the Couch
-Once again, Evernham was up and down: The day started great with all three qualifying and running in the top ten. Then all three cars had different problems, and none finished on the lead lap. Scott Riggs is currently outside the top 35 (right where he was last year at this time), and Kasey Kahne is barely on the right side in 34th. Elliott Sadler is in 13th, but has only one top ten so far.

-This year's Brent Sherman wild ride award winner is David Ragan. He spun three times before finally wrecking. After a solid start to the season (5th, 16th in two races) Ragan has had three tough races. Martinsville could be another long day for him. The good news is that he is solidly inside the top 35.

-Fox featured lots of in-car shots and really did a great job capturing the action from track level. It was great work to see how bumpy the track truly is. I hope this is a trend and not a novelty because of the CoT.

-Jeff Green has had some decent runs this year, but not the results. He finally finished well on Sunday, taking sixth. Without the solid run, he was in danger of falling outside the top 35.

-Mike Joy often mentions that none of the fans are leaving the end of this race. Why would they? This isn't an NBA game.

-Jeff Burton=class. What more can you say?

-Kyle Busch makes the occasional stupid mistake, but in between he is pretty likable. He is honest, is extremely talented, and does his best to respect other drivers like Burton. The new goatee also makes him look older than 18.

-The top 35 now reflects this season's standings. Joe Nemechek and Johnny Sauter crack the top 35 despite missing Bristol. Sterling Marlin also regains a guaranteed starting position for the #14 car. Dave Blaney, Scott Riggs and Ken Schrader (with Jon Wood) all fall outside the top 35. Riggs has qualified well all season, but Blaney and Schrader face a challenge in the coming weeks. Dale Jarrett was in the top 35 for the first four weeks, but his crash placed him outside the safety bubble. The mildly good news is that Jarrett made the race on time, thus saving one of his two remaining provisionals.

My Torqued off Tuesday Bug:
-Why did NASCAR wait so long to throw the caution when Jimmie Johnson cut a tire? He was crawling back to his pits and everyone around him was slowing to avoid him. In turn, this allowed Kyle Busch to pass the boxed in Denny Hamlin. This could have not only greatly affected the race, but causes a huge pileup. If Brian France and NASCAR are truly serious about integrity with their cautions and safety is a priority, someone had better send some caffeine to the control tower to keep everyone awake.

-I spent all of Monday in a seminar on negotiating. One of the first things the instructor says is, “I won't try to be a Bo Derek.” The obvious implication that he won't try to be a perfect 10 instructor for us. “I'm more of a six.” In reality I could have learned more from a book on my own time. Companies like mine spend lots of money for these kind of seminars. It's a little sorry when an instructor basically says he isn't aiming to be the best teacher, but only mediocre.

[Note: I did work on my new site, but there were some complications that delayed its launch.]

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