Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Rating the Brickyard 400: 3 Stars ***

After a week off, everybody got back in the swing of things this past weekend in Indianapolis. However, the much anticipated return to the Brickyard turned out to be incredibly alright. This race actually had the feel of an Indy 500 as much as it did a Brickyard 400. A pass on Sunday was about as hard to accomplish as when the open-wheel cars run there in May. Just advancing one position had to feel like a great victory. This race gets a 3 Star Rating; much better than the tire shredding race of a year ago, but nothing that really made this race stand out.

Thankfully the tires held up. I’m not really surprised that tires were not an issue because Goodyear spent a ton of time and money on getting the tires right for this race, and they did an excellent job. The bigger issue that this race brought out was that over the offseason NASCAR is going to have to unlock the box that is the COT. It is getting pretty regular now that the person out front is able to absolutely drive away from the rest of the field. Juan Pablo Montoya was so good Sunday that he had nearly half the field a lap down by the halfway point in the race, and that’s at a 2.5 mile track.

Montoya was good on the track but just pushed it a little too far on pit road. I understand that he was adamant that he did not speed on that last stop, but he didn’t have to push it that hard anyway. He had such a large lead on the field that he surely could have backed off a bit just to play it safe with such a large lead, especially at this track. He was able to drive away from everyone while in the lead, but back in traffic he was no better than anyone else.

So, all of Montoya’s troubles handed the victory to Jimmie Johnson. Johnson seems to win several races like this. He and the #48 team are so good that not only do they win races by out racing guys throughout the race, but they are almost always in position to pick up the win when somebody else has a problem. It almost happened at Michigan with the fuel mileage. But, this kind of takes the drama out of the finish of the race. It’s like “Oh yeah, there goes the #48, imagine that.” I guess that’s what happens when you march toward a fourth straight championship.

Alright, next week is back up in the Pocono Mountains for some more big, flat track racing. Expect the guys that were good at the Brickyard to be good at Pocono. These tracks are similar in that they are unique. Just take out a corner at Indy and add some banking to turn one and you would have Pocono. This will also be interesting to see who will run well since this is the second time teams race on the track. I think it will be a predictor of who will be good down the stretch and into the Chase. Thankfully there is no off week in between now for awhile, that last one took forever.


  1. Nice write J, you mentioned Nascar taking the COT out of the box. That would be real easy. Remove the Splitter/Wing set up, take off the side skirts and let em go. There has been talk that chassis movement has been limited with this new car, maybe doing away with the splitter will address that.

    Car bodies have been an issue long before the COT. The previous car was wacked out big time. We may have to go back to the early-mid 90's for a car that was close to a production body.

    I commented on a couple of other blogs here that Indy cannot have a real competitive race because that track only has one groove. Before the Cup guys started running there the track had lower aprons in the turns that actually made another groove, with out it we get a snooze fest.

    A little Pocono history. When the track was designed the thought was to incorporate the characteristics of three speedways that USAC was running on at the time.

    The first turn is modeled after the now defunct Trenton Speedway's turns, the second or Tunnel turn is designed after Indy's sweeping 90 degree left hander's and the third turn is a copy of Milwaukee's flat benders.

    The drivers really do like running there but the track should be repaved. Back in the day when race cars were real the racing was great.

  2. 3 stars at best. It was much better than the parade of shredded tires and broken hearted tire guys we had last year.

    You are right, too many races are leader runaways until something bad happens to them. I would prefer a lot more racing than just relying on bad luck or mistakes to make it interesting...

    Lets hope Pocono is more entertaining...and Kurt gets his groove back.

    Good one Jmayer!

  3. RLGuido - I have heard that removing the wing and bringing back the spoiler may be a good idea. I know the drivers hated the spoiler when testing the COT a few years ago, but letting the teams work on the setup may help the problems they felt at the time.

    I like Pocono as a race track too, repave would be a good idea. That one strip in Turn 3 made all the cars go high in that turn to get the grip of the new pavement. Thanks!

    klvalus - Agreed. Racing was not good but better than the situation last year.
    What was up with the #2 this weekend? Tough day for them, but they are usually strong at Pocono. Thanks!

  4. JM, good analysis. Definitely a better race than last year. JPM will definitely learn from this: when you have such a huge lead, go a few mph slower on pit road.

    As far as Pocono, the racing WAS good in the 90's, as the car at the time allowed for side passing. I sure hope they repave the track after the race. But I'm still in favor of losing one of Pocono's dates.

  5. jon_464 - I think if the drivers ran around the track it would have been a better race than last year. Tony would have some problems though. lol
    If Pocono gives up a date my dream would be for them to put the Rock back on the schedule. Just dreaming though. Thanks!

  6. Nice write-up as always!

    The Montoya-Logano battle in the closing laps is a perfect example of just how hard it is to pass there. Passing has seemed to be a common problem with the COT...

    I'm just not too excited about them going back to Pocono after just racing there a month ago. That's one of the flaws in the schedule that needs to be fixed...

  7. gonger93 - I agree passing has been incredibly hard with the new car.

    I have always thought the middle of the season has a lot of boring tracks, while the tracks I enjoy watching are at both ends of the schedule. Thanks!