Cousin Carl Throws Off the Monkey!
Cousin Carl Edwards finally got the monkey off his back with a huge win at Phoenix. This race was sponsored by Subway and Carl had Subway painted all over his car so I think it is safe to assume that the sponsor was more than a little happy on Sunday. And they may have been the only ones.
After starting on the pole, Mark Martin finished 21st. Martin got stuck deep in the filed on a four tire stop when many others took only two, had a vibration later on and he never recovered. Martin Truex, Jr. had a decent day going and wound up needing to replace his gearbox dropping him several laps down.
Jimmie Johnson was in the top 5 all day but lost the race at the end on the restart. He was not real happy with Carl, claiming that Carl was playing games at the restart. You did not even have to wait for the later post-race interview to know he was ticked off. The immediate post-race interview showed a terse, irritated Jimmie. You knew right away something was up. Dale, Jr. fought his way up front to the lead at a track he doesn’t always perform well at. He was going to come out of the final pit stop leading Edwards, but Casey Mears was in front of them heading to his pit causing Earnhardt to slam on the brakes and giving the lead to Edwards. The he spun his tires on the final restart and finished 5th. Moral victory? I think not.
Toyota had a lot of crew chiefs on pins and needles with Denny Hamlin needing to change his engine after just 61 practice laps and Kyle Busch needing to replace his before the race. Both drivers started at the rear and both made up a lot of ground. Unfortunately for Busch, he was overdriving his cars and wound up spinning his car twice. That’s two bad races in a row for Kyle to start the season. Hamlin, despite his insistence that passing was impossible, drove to the front and ended up third going doo to door with Johnson at the strip. His bonzai move across the dogleg apron on the final lap was the stuff fans eat up. It will be interesting to see if his candor on the Gen 6 car will get him a NASCAR lecture.
Kasey Kahne started on the outside pole but suffered an ill-handling car the rest of the day and smacked the wall. He finished 19th.
Danica Patrick was staying out of trouble, minding her own business and running laps when BOOM! Her right front blew sending her into the wall very hard and then to add to the mess, David Ragan practically drove over the top of her car, shredding her driver side sheet metal.
Speaking of right front tires going down, the same thing happened to Ryan Newman thus dropping him like a rock out of the top 10.
The Gen 6 car is supposedly getting its big test next week at Las Vegas. After two races where we really are not supposed to grade the much touted car (then why promote it so heavily the way NASCAR did?), we are supposed to get to see it the way it was intended to race. We’ll see about that. If the car does not perform up to expectations at Las Vegas, I am sure we’ll get another line from NASCAR about how it is too early to judge the car after just 3 races. And while I agree that we need to give the teams time to understand just what this car will do and give Goodyear some time to deliver the proper tire compounds, I think NASCAR thought the on track performance was going to be there from the start. They did not love the way the 500 racing played out and there were only 12 lead changes at Phoenix and track position was gained mostly on pit road. Sure, the leaders did not jump out to a 7 second lead, but Hamlin said that the car was still very aero sensitive. That was not supposed to be the case with the COT or this car.
What did you think of the race? Is NASCAR gambling on Las Vegas being the real test of the Gen 6 car? Let’s dish!