Sunday, May 27, 2012

Rating the Coca-Cola 600: 1 Star *

A long race that finished a long day of racing Sunday ended with Kasey Kahne in Victory Lane for the first time as a Hendrick Motorsports driver. Unfortunately, the longest race of the day was also the most boring, and the Coke 600 gets a 1Star Rating.
Besides a freak problem like the tire situation at the Brickyard a few years ago, Sunday night’s race had all of the elements of a snoozer. It was a long race dominated by just a few drivers, there wasn’t much side-by-side racing and debris cautions plagued the race throughout the night.
The Coca-Cola 600 is billed as an endurance event, and that is certainly how this year’s edition played out. The drivers struggled to merely get to the end of the race and didn’t have much time to wage a real battle near the front of the field.
Plus, one of the few intriguing battles of the night was cut short by a debris caution on lap 318 as Kahne, Greg Biffle and Denny Hamlin raced hard for the lead among lapped cars.
After that, Kahne dominated the remainder of a race that had no drama.
Now, before we overreact and say NASCAR is horrible, the cars are horrible, the drivers are horrible and everybody should be fired because it wasn’t an exciting race, we still need to realize that not every race is going to be exciting.
Sure, it would have been a real shot in the arm to have a tense, exciting race for the Memorial day weekend special in Charlotte, which is one of the most prestigious races on the schedule. But that wasn’t the case. Fans will get over it and more on. At some point this season there will be a thrilling 5 Star race and everyone will say NASCAR is the best thing going.
For the first time in a long, long time, the Indianapolis 500 was the better race Sunday. IndyCar had a record number of lead changes in a race that was as close as open-wheel racing gets to NASCAR’s restrictor-plate style racing.
Anyway, congratulations to Kahne and the #5 team. Kahne has run well all season, but he is finally starting to register the finishes to match the way he’s run during the race. Don’t look now, but he’s 15th in the points standings with one win. That puts him just seven points behind Ryan Newman for the final wild-card spot in the Chase.
Speaking of overreactions, many people crossed Kahne of the list of Chase candidates early in the season when he was just a few spot away from falling out of the top 35 in points. My what a difference two months make.
We probably should have seen this coming. Brad Keselowski taught everyone last year that drivers can make comebacks with the new points system. Shoot, Keselowski was 24th in the points standings at this time last year.
With that backdrop, Jeff Gordon still has a real chance to make the Chase. With a good couple of months, Gordon could be at least fighting for one of the wild-card spots by the time NASCAR visits the Brickyard in August.
Now it’s time for the first northern swing of the season. It’s starting to get hot across the country, so the sport will leave the South for the next month until it comes back to Kentucky Speedway for the last weekend in June.
The Monster Mile at Dover is next week. Although that track can tear up racecars as much as any on the circuit, the way this season has gone we could be in for another mundane race, especially if one team hits the setup perfectly and runs away from the field. They might not be caught until Pocono the following week.
For now, have a great Memorial Day and honor those who have served and are currently serving our country.


  1. The Indy 500 had no debris cautions despite the fact that their cars are designed to disintegrate on contact. Either NASCAR has really bad track cleaning crews or they're manipulating the races by throwing needless cautions.

    Indy trumped Charlotte by a large margin.

  2. You are right on the money and I'm a NASCAR fan.

  3. I'd much rather have a "needless" debris caution, if it means more than 9 cars can finish on the lead lap, and more than 3 cars within 10 seconds of the leader.

  4. The solution is and always has been softer tires that wear out faster. People staying out for "track position" and then holding off cars with four tires is getting old. If they want some real variables let's get Hoosier, Firestone, etc to come and give Goodyear some competition.

  5. I'm kind of glad NASCAR will be moving to TNT/ESPN in a few weeks, since I don't have cable. I will not be tempted to watch Michigan, Loudon, Kentucky or Pocono and my yard will look a lot better.

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