Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Rating the Samsung Mobile 500: 4 Stars ****

After way too much rain over the weekend, stock cars were finally able to return to the track Monday for a long, but good, day of racing. The wait was worth it, however, and the Sprint Cup race gets a 4 Star Rating.

What Denny Hamlin did Monday afternoon was simply remarkable. Less than three weeks after having knee surgery he was not only able to run the entire race, but he beat 42 other drivers with two good legs.

Before the season started, Hamlin was the popular pick to challenge Jimmie Johnson and the #48 team for the championship. Shortly thereafter reports surfaced that Hamlin had torn the ACL in his left knee while playing basketball. So, many thought, the 2010 challenger to Johnson went down even before the season even started. After seeing Carl Edwards deal with his broken foot a year ago, expecting Hamlin to run up front consistently was nearly a pipe dream.

Then comes Martinsville, one of the most physically demanding tracks on the circuit, and Hamlin wins the race after announcing the surgery. Fine, he won before the surgery, which was amazing, but now it will be a few months before we see him near the front again. Not so. Hamlin overcame a bad qualifying run and made his way up to the front of the field in the final half of the race. Then, with several really strong contenders in the top five with Johnson, Kyle Busch and Greg Biffle, Hamlin was still able to come out on top. That, folks, is simply remarkable.

Along with Hamlin’s win, the other storyline Monday was how the spoiler would handle on a fast, 1.5-mile track, and the results were very encouraging. The racing at Texas looked a little more like the racing we all used to know and love. It looks like drivers will be able to, once again, nudge the car in front of them up the track without even touching them. Jeff Gordon did it to Johnson and Tony Stewart before they eventually collided and triggered a massive wreck.

Gordon had a very interesting day overall. He has Texas Motor Speedway figured out, with winning last year and leading a ton of laps in this race, but contact with other cars eventually ended his day. I will say, it is nice to see Gordon and Johnson go at it for once and not come out talking about how much respect they have for each other. Gordon went so far to say after making contact with the #48 that Johnson gets “treated different than everybody else.” Should make for an interesting week at Hendrick Motorsports.

After a nine-car pileup in Texas, things only get bigger and better as the series heads to Talladega Superspeedway this coming weekend. This is one of those races where it is generally a good idea to strap down your TV set because this race usually has people talking for at least two weeks after the checkered flag falls. Will there be a yellow line controversy? Seems like that happens every couple races there. Now, the addition of the spoiler looks as though it may make the restrictor-plate racing even better. I can’t wait.


  1. Why did Tony so quickly take the blame for the big one?

    He wanted to let all the other drivers know that, yes, he will go that far to hold his spot. And, with NASCAR's new 'hands off' policy, he didn't have to worry about the Man coming down on him.

    Even with the spoiler, it still looks like whoever gets out front, in clean air, is not going to be caught.... except by a much, much faster car. Last week at Phoenix, and here at TX.

  2. I'm itching for the green flag to drop at Big Bad Talladega. This track is where you can base your fantasy team on throwing darts at pictures of the drivers while blindfolded.

    As for Jeff and Jimmie, I think Jeff said that out of frustration; Jimmie escaped the Big One by inches. Had Jeff gone left instead of right, he'd have taken out Jimmie.

  3. Gene - And I think all of NASCAR was happy to see it. That tight racing there near the end of the race was a thing of beauty ... and then a mess. lol.

    jon_464 - Exactly. This is one of the few events each year where anything can happen, and usually does.

    Once again, Johnson used that lucky horseshoe. When you've got it, you've got it. And the #48 team has got it, and a sizeable lead in the points too.

  4. Now that Top Chef Masters is on TV again all I hear is the host's voice saying "four stars"...LOL You all probably have no idea what I am talking about but its funny to me...

    ANYWAY! Refreshing to see not all is hunky dory with JJ and JG - JG is absolutely correct JJ gets raced differently!

    Hamlin is pretty amazing...just hope he hasnt overdone it. Fin seemed to help the racing but still seems like who ever is out front is sittin pretty as Gene said. Dega will be quite the ride - too bad I wont be able to watch it live... =(

  5. klavus - lol That is funny. At this point it is hard to imagine a time when Hendrick Motorsports won't be THE powerhouse of NASCAR. But, I bet people felt the same way about Petty Enterprises for a long time.