Move of the Race
Mad Mikie: The #18 car staying high while Logano & Hamlin were battling it out in the middle of the track and taking each other out.
Mike Sanders: Gotta give this one to Mini Douche, for hanging around in third place on the last lap while he waited for Burnt Toast and The Hamster to wreck each other, then going up high past the two of them and winning the race. It always helps to be in the right place at the right time.
What the Fans Are Talking About
Mad Mikie: Once again, it’s not about the race itself. Denny Hamlin’s injury is a hot topic right now. Of course, there’s also 104 laps of sheer boredom with the last 2 laps being the only real excitement shown on TV between Hamlin & Logano battling it out for the lead then taking each other out only to have the #18 car slip by and take the win. Then the post-race excitement between Stewart and Logano on pit road.
Mike Sanders: Wow, where to begin. There are several topics this week: The Hamster's injured back, which will cause him to miss at least five races and thereby ending his title hopes this year; the bumping and banging between Burnt Toast and The Hamster on the last lap (was it retaliation, or was it just good, hard racing?); the post-race melee between Burnt Toast and Smokeless; and the issue of why Fontana doesn't have a SAFER barrier covering the entire inner wall (and btw, has anyone followed up on whether Michigan did anything with the end of the pit road wall the 55 car got shish-kabobbed on last year?)
Most Impressive Run by an Underdog
Mad Mikie: Casey Mears, a non-story because of the info-mercial coverage, managed to come in 15th with a single car team. We did see some accidental shots of Casey but only because he was being passed or racing near one of the info-mercial cars. Considering everything that happened up front, making it to the end without getting caught up in somebody else’s mess is a major accomplishment. And the Dinger deserves an honorable mention for his 16th place finish despite driving a car that’s a subsidiary of another team.
Mike Sanders: know I left out Maxi Douche from last week's underdog report. I know Furniture Row Racing is a small single-car operation run out of Denver and not out of a city in North Carolina, but the team has won a race before and they have a former Cup champion as their driver (no matter how much of a douche he is, he's a damn good driver when he puts his mind to it). Therefore, they're not a true underdog like some of the other smaller teams; however, I guess I can give them some credit. So, this week, the 78 team is the runner-up for Underdog of the week. The award this week goes to Dave Blaney and the 7 car from Tommy Baldwin Racing, who finished in 21st and on the lead lap. Honorable mentions to Casey Mears, who keeps the Germain Racing 13 car inside the top 15, and to the Dinger, who gave James Finch another top 20 finish this week.
Bonehead Move of the Race
Mad Mikie: That would have to be Hamlin & Logano taking each other out costing both of them a chance at the win.
Mike Sanders: A couple of options here, but I'll give this one to Smokeless, who continues to be a world-class hypocrite when it comes to blocking. He continues to do it with sometimes disastrous results (Talladega last fall, anyone?), then issues some lame apology (yeah, I'm sure that made One Trick Pony feel MUCH better) and hopes nobody is mad enough to beat the crap out of him. However, if someone blocks him, he gets pissed off enough to come after the offending driver with his helmet (Matty Ice at Bristol last fall) or his fists (Burnt Toast at Fontana). Hey Smokeless, what B.T. did to you on that final restart was perfectly fine; going after him post-race was a bonehead move.
Grading the Race
Mad Mikie: The radio coverage would have to get a solid A while the TV coverage gets a solid D-.
Mike Sanders: I'll give it a B, and here's why: due to a very nasty storm (the same one that caused the Bay Hill golf tournament to be postponed; I live a little less than 20 miles from Bay Hill) with 70+ mph wind gusts, hail, and all manner of other unpleasantness, I lost power about half an hour before the race started and I was only able to watch the last 40 laps of the race (without the sound, which may have been a blessing in disguise) at a local sports bar. Friends I talked to that watched the entire race said I didn't really miss much, that it was a typical sleep-inducing Fontana race. So, all of the fireworks of the last lap and post-race only bring it up to a grade of B.
My Two Cents/Random Thoughts
Mad Mikie: My how soon Tony Stewart forgets about his blocking at Talladega which caused a 30 car pile-up and then he uses a 3350 pound battering ram on pit road and tries to go after Logano for doing the same thing that he himself did. At least Logano didn’t cause a 30 car wreck with his blocking. Logano also brought up 2 other valid points. One has to do with the restart itself. The rules state that you can’t beat the leader to the start/finish line. So he had to hold back on the throttle not to violate that rule. The second is protecting your line, which he did by blocking Stewart rather successfully. While some folks may fault him for the blocking, he was well within the rules on the restart.
The race coverage followed the storylines, pre-race interviews, and pit reporters stories. Jabber Jaws and Motormouth Mikey both rambled on about how Mr Toyoda’s company had never won a Cup race at Fontana, how JGR hadn’t won at Fontana using Mr Toyoda’s cars, how both TRD and Mr Toyoda’s American headquarters were nearby. They also talked about Shrubbery, Brad K, Biffle, Johnson, Hamlin, Bowyer, mentioned the Queen of Hype’s Kid Choice Award, how Stewart was struggling, the Twitter battle between Hamlin & Logano, Motormouth Mikey on pit road saying something or getting a comment from Jeff Gordon and Jamie Mac, Jabber Jaws picking Bow Wow Bowyer to win, how Dale Jr was consistent, Matt Kenseth getting a plug, and constant plugs and mentions how the COT II was so great. The only other cars to get shown were caused that had problems like Marcos Ambrose, Front Row Joe, and Josh Wise.
Despite the fact that Jeff Gordon’s Belgian wife can show respect to our flag, One Problem still has a problem with it.
Plenty of empty seats were visible and you have to wonder how many of the seats that were filled were actually from free tickets as each track worker could have up to 10 free tickets to give away to family and friends.
The race didn’t get far into the first lap before the gimmick cam shots were being used. 3 on the first lap alone. Of the 104 green flag laps almost shown, there were 256 gimmick shots used all from cars whose sponsors buy commercial time. 62 green flag laps were lost to commercials along with at least 10 laps being lost to the Hollyweird Motel and the Booth Buffoons. And if you count NA$CAR’s exclusive Myopic Vision race coverage, there were maybe 20 actual laps of green flag racing shown. So from what’s advertised as being a 200 lap race, we actually get to see 20 laps of it on TV. Don’t you just love the Beach Boy Bubba’s providing the script on what stories will be covered and Jabber Jaws having creative control over the race and only showing 20 real laps of racing? I know that’s what I pay my cable bill to see. NOT!
One thing not being mentioned much by the NA$CAR-controlled lamestream media is the fact that Bobby Labonte’s car was laying down some grease on the track from a rear axle problem which may have very well been the contributing factor in Logano and Hamlin getting together. Why wouldn’t they want to mention it? Because it disrupts all of the hype about the alleged rivalry between the two. Heavens forbid that the wreck was actually caused by grease on the track and NA$CAR didn’t throw a caution flag to clean it up. Imagine how few articles there would be criticizing NA$CAR for putting drivers unnecessarily in jeopardy over and above what they already do. You might actually get 2 brave souls with credentials to actually write about it.
Mike Sanders: Somebody had better give Burnt Toast a bigger shovel, because the hole he's digging for himself continues to get deeper. He's managing to piss off a lot of people in the garage, and payback can be hell. Smokeless is after him and you'd better believe that The Hamster won't wait until the last lap of a race to exact his revenge. Was that last lap good, hard racing (ala Ricky Craven and Maxi Douche at Darlington) or was it payback on B.T.'s part for what had happened at Bristol the week before? B.T.'s own comments right after the race, before he knew of The Hamster's back injury, seem to indicate it was payback more than anything else. He has since changed his tune after the extent of the injury became known, but his comments now ring hollow. Martinsville is the perfect place for a little "accidental" nudge into the wall, and I wouldn't put it past Smokeless to wreck half the field again to get his payback against the 22 car. One potential fallout from this whole situation: no fines will be levied against any of the drivers involved in this mess, so I guess "boys have at it" is back in vogue again. And that could lead to some very messy situations in the coming weeks. One final thing: there is absolutely no reason for Fontana not to have SAFER barriers around the entire track on the inside and outside walls when next year's race is held there. They've got an entire year to make it happen. If NASCAR was truly worried about driver safety, they would demand it, no matter what the monetary cost. Actually, every track on the circuit should have them all the way around on the inside and outside walls.