Saturday, July 18, 2009

Rating the Coke Zero 400: 5 Stars *****

Restrictor plate racing does it again and gives us another 5 Star Rating. Being the Fourth of July this race could not be a dud and it was far from it. The only negative about the entire night was the debris caution with 15 laps to go. Other than that, this was one that left me standing on my feet at the end.

This race pretty much had it all. Every green flag lap that was run was seen by the viewing audience - nice job TNT on that, there was the big one that changed the complexion of the race for the second half, and there were plenty of different guys up in the top 10 throughout the night. Plus, the number one thing about this race was the finish. Just like Talladega, it all came down on the last lap and the winner wasn't decided until they actually crossed the finish line.
Speaking of the finish, there was not much that either driver could have done in that situation and still feel safe that they could get the win. Stewart got a run coming off of turn 4 and did the double fake that Kesalowski used on Edwards in April. The only other choice that Kyle Busch had was to maintain his line on the bottom and hope that Stewart didn't have enough time to get in front of him before the finish line. I think it would have been a photo finish had it gone that way. Either way it was going to be a great finish and thankfully everyone came out of that final wreck alright. Once again, NASCAR made the right decision to build the safer car.

While there were several comers and goers throughout the night, there were also about four cars that remained in the front group the entire night. Stewart, Hamlin, Busch, and Edwards were definitely the class of the field. There seem to be restrictor plate races where a ton of guys are out front for just a little while, and there are others where just a couple guys dominate, and the latter was the case Saturday night.

Overall a fantastic race and now TNT will finish up the Summer Series in Chicago once again under the lights. This is a track where often a few guys dominate the race but the racing has been getting better over the past few years. We are also coming up on a stretch that doesn't normally have a bunch of different winners. There have been 11 different winners this season and only 12 all of last year, but there were already 10 different winners at this point last year. Busch, Edwards, and Johnson just dominated the entire second half of the season. Still, this season isn't quite setting up like last year. There is more parity and seven of last year's winners have not won yet this season. You don't have to look it up because Monday Morning Crew Chief already did. Have a great week!

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