Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Rating the Sharpie 500: 4 Stars ****

The highly anticipated Bristol night race brought with it a little bit of everything this year. There were several long green runs, yet there were also several wrecks. Finally, as things came to a finish under the threat of rain Kyle Busch held off Mark Martin in a race deserving of a 4 Star Rating.

Once again, Hendrick Motorsports dominated most of the night, but in spite of all the laps led, they could not put a driver into victory lane. It is kind of amazing that every week right now there are two HMS drivers that take hold of both the lead and second place early in the event. Most often it has been Martin and Jimmie Johnson, and Saturday night’s race was no different. Thankfully, qualifying was not rained out because it allowed several drivers not in Chase contention to start near the front and also made big names have to come from the back of the pack.

Overall, when it came down to it, the usual suspects were up in the front of the field, but it took them a while to get there. It was nice to see guys like Michael Waltrip, Martin Truex Jr., and David Gilliland drive inside the top 20 for much of the race. However, one-by-one, each of these guys was taken out or had something go wrong on their car. The one exception was Marcos Ambrose. Wow, did he drive a great race or what? About midway through the race he broke into the top 5 and then was shuffled out after a round of pit stops. Then, later in the race he drove himself back to the front for a terrific third place finish. This guy is the real deal. Let’s hope he can continue to improve into next season.

Finally, if Bristol did not have the progressive banking, Martin may have laid the bumper on Busch at the end. But, the way that Bristol races now, there is more side-by-side racing throughout the majority of the event. As in everything, there are pros and cons, but I’m starting to warm up to the new Bristol.

Alright, next week is the final off week of the season. There are only four breaks in the entire schedule but it sure does feel like there are about twice as many on the schedule. But, with all of the rainouts it will be good for the teams to have a week at home. Then it’s on to Atlanta under the lights for the first time. They have qualified at night for many years and the high speeds on a cool track should make for a great race. That’s it for me until Labor Day. Have an enjoyable and safe two weeks.


  1. it was odd on the yahoo live chat, everyone was saying how boring the race was...I quickly got to wondering if they were watching a different race to me since I thought that race was great!

  2. tezgm99 - Yeah, there seems to be a large segment of fans that can't get over not liking the new banking at Bristol. IMO the racing was pretty close throughout the night. Even if the leader jumped out, he got caught again when he hit lapped cars. Thanks!

  3. 4 stars...good call.

    I thought the race was pretty good too mostly because some of the usual suspects had problems so we got to see some other faces up front and watch a few of them overcome those problems.

    At least at Bristol there is so much lapped traffic to deal with there is always racing on the track.

    Enjoy the week off! I will be out of town for Hot-lanta and (hopefully) Kurt's sweep!

  4. Nice post as always.

    I don't like it when HMS wins all the time; it gets kind of redundant. Nice to see these other teams doing so well...

    I'm going to try to go to the Atlanta race. Should be an exciting night...

  5. klvalus - There were many teams that faced some sort of adversity throughout the race and the track is so short that there is something happening somewhere at all times. Have a good off week and safe travel. Thanks!

    gonger93 - I agree. It gets redundant very quickly and it happens at some point every year. Hope you get to the race. I have always loved atlanta. Thanks!

  6. jmayer-I always like reading your stuff because you give credit where credit is due. Nice to see you spotlight some other drivers than 'the usual suspects'. Have a good off week!

  7. Anonymous - One issue that the Chase creates this time of year is a focus on only a few drivers. So, I feel it's good to get the word out there when a guy like Marcos Ambrose puts up a top 5 finish. Thanks and same to you!

  8. Nice run down, Martin Turex Jr can drive if he has something decent under him. Don't know about next year move will be all he thinks it will be. We had 3 wide racing during that race, what more you want to those who thought it was boaring. Finaly ESPN showed some of that instead of following a single car around the track and talking about things that don't matter. lol


  9. Forensic2 - Agreed. I thought ESPN did a very good job covering the race. It seemed to help that the track wasn't very big. But, steps in the right direction.

    As for Truex,I just hope they don't have the same problems RCR always has when they add another car. Thanks!