Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Rating the Toyota/Save Mart 350: 4 Stars ****

A rough and tumble weekend on the first road course of the season brought out the best in some, but also the worst in several others. The race in the valley gets a 4 Star Rating.

What a heartbreaker of a race for Marcos Ambrose, and all of the fans who were rooting for him to beat Jimmie Johnson. He has a way of losing races in dramatic fashion. Last year in Montreal he had the lead into the final corner before he got in too hard and Carl Edwards was able to sneak by for the win. This time he cut off his engine going up the hill and the car came to a stop. NASCAR then placed him seventh in the running order instead of first, where he had been.

Aside from the fact that it would have been really cool to see Ambrose win a race, the battle shaping up between him and Johnson would have been fun to watch. They were clearly the two best cars all day.

But, Johnson wins again, this time on a road course. I hope people realize and at least appreciate what they are watching. Johnson is going to be a first-ballot hall of famer one day and his stats will compare with the all-time greats. They already do in many ways, but when his career is finished everyone will love him the way they are starting to love Jeff Gordon. It is amazing how fan’s attitudes toward a driver turn around after a guy quits winning all the time. Johnson’s time will come. He may not be loved at the moment, but there will be a day when he will be looked at as nothing short of one of the best to ever be in the sport.

Speaking of Jeff Gordon, he had a rough day and caused several other people to have a rough day as well. While Gordon came home fifth, Clint Bowyer finished 31st after Gordon took out both he and Elliot Sadler, who finished 17th. Also, and most notably, Martin Truex Jr. finished 42nd after Gordon spun him out in turn 11 and then Truex got caught up in a big wreck on the next restart.

However, Gordon took full responsibility for all of the mistakes. Truex was pretty upset after the wreck and basically said he was going to pay Gordon back. But, the way Gordon reacted after the race may diminish the likelihood of a payback.

“There are some things that I'm not proud of that I did today; certainly with Martin (Truex, Jr.). I mean, I completely messed that up and I will try to patch that up,” Gordon said. “I feel terrible because Martin races a lot of guys clean out there. He had a good run going and I ruined that for him."

It will be interesting, though, to see if Truex holds a grudge and spins Gordon out at New Hampshire.

Gordon certainly wasn’t the only driver to make a few errors throughout the day. Juan Pablo Montoya intentionally wrecked Joey Logano coming down the back side of the course. Once again, Logano just got shoved out of the way. My question is, does Montoya’s wife where the firesuit in that family now too?

Now the series moves on to New Hampshire, another place where tempers tend to get a tad out of hand at times. The layout of the track makes for tough, close racing, and it is hard to pass. Plus, when Robby Gordon is coming off a second-place run, there might be flashbacks to the 2005 fall race at the track. Enjoy and have a great week.


  1. I'm just glad the race was good to watch...it was certainly fantastic live :)

  2. It was an interesting race to watch. A bit too many intentional wrecks for my taste though. I certainly hope that Truex makes it his mission to total Gordon's car at Louden. It is way past time for some drivers to pay the price for their disrespectful driving.

    Imagine if Kyle Busch had done everything that Gordon did Sunday! The internet would have blown up by 8pm Sunday night.

  3. Okay... Is anybody keeping track of all the possible confrontations in store based on all the bad blood we've witnessed so far this season?

    Are we headed for a race where maybe ten to fifteen cars are left running at the end?

    The beauty of NASCAR!

    Gene, maybe Target ought to do a deal where any driver that's in another driver's dog house gets a Target insignia on the back end of their car!

    In another vein, just like the fighter pilots used to do, put a small sticker on the driver's door for each car he's wrecked during the season. Gordon would be an ace! Yeah! Ace Hardware could do those! LOL

    Thanks for the inspiration jmayer!

  4. tezgm99 - Sounds like it was an awesome weekend to be at the track. Glad it went so well.

    Gene - Great point. lol. And if Gordon had done those things 10 years ago people would have gone crazy as well.

    Dwindy1 - Have at it, boys. I didn't realize how much that statement would affect things this year.
    Also, some of the best races happen when there are only a few cars in contention. That's part of why I hate the debris cautions designed to give everyone a chance at the end.

  5. This race was not for the faint of heart, to be sure. If Logano has some serious stones, he'd target The Glen (or a short track) to pay back JPM and put him in the wall. (Then he'd put a 42-shaped notch on his door.) If he DOESN'T pay back JPM, I'll wonder.

  6. Being there was 5 stars but I am going to watch the replay on TV today so might change my mind depending on the broadcast.

    It was definitely an ole fashioned demolition derby out there - not sure why! Have at it boys I guess...there were about 4 cars in the garage without a mark on it - JJ's being one of them the rest were worse than Bristol.

    It sure was fun though!

  7. jon_464 - New Hampshire can be a good place for payback as well. I bet they qualify right next to one another.

    klvalus - Sounds like it was a great time. Maybe the COT has made beating and banging easier on the road course. Those cars are tough these days.