Saturday, July 18, 2009

Rating the Lenox Industrial Tools 301: 4 Stars ****

Strategy wins it again and for the third time in the last four races fuel mileage works out and this time brings home a surprise winner. Sliced Bread gets the first win of his extremely young career and becomes the youngest driver to ever win a NASCAR Sprint Cup Race. This combined with the better than expected racing this weekend at New Hampshire gets a 4 Star Rating even though rain ended the race before the scheduled 301 miles were complete.

This was a good race even before the late race drama with fuel mileage and rain came about. From the drop of the green flag to start things off Kurt Busch and Jeff Gordon battled door-to-door all day. And, had the race not been stopped by rain it probably would have been those two fighting it out for the victory. This was also the best race so far with the double file restarts. It helped that there were plenty of cautions on which to use the procedure, but almost every time Gordon and Busch would be side-by-side for the first four laps or so with Stewart or Johnson looking to possibly make it three wide. That was good racing.

For the second year in a row the extra mile tacked on to the end of the race was not needed because of rain. However, both times a very unexpected winner ended up with the trophy and the top of the finishing order had guys come from all different directions in order to get a top ten finish.

There also have been a few trends this year that this race continued. First, there was another fuel mileage finish. Second, there was another event where rain was a factor. And third, another different winner came in and took home the hardware. This was the 11th different winner already in the 17 races that have been run in 2009. Last year there were only 12 different winners throughout the entire season. The question raised by the numbers is whether or not this is just a fluke, or is the COT finally leveling the playing field to where more drivers are in contention to win races, and make the Chase?

Anyway, one exciting weekend of racing is followed quickly by another. Daytona is next week under the lights. Wide Open Coverage will keep the commercials at bay and Independence Day can shine next to the beach! To everyone, have a safe and wonderful July 4th. This year more than ever, that shouldn't be a problem with a race to finish off the celebration.

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