You want to make up new rules to a race? Go ahead. Want to penalize him for rear window bracket failure? Go ahead.
Do whatever you want and Kevin Harvick and team will probably find a way to win the race. The only thing Harvick is doing right now is leading the battle for points, even with 5 wins, more Top 5 and Top 10 finishes, more stage wins and playoff points than any other driver and has led more laps.
So how is he not leading the points?
It doesn’t matter right now anyway. Harvick will get there eventually if he keeps this pace up.
Harvick won the first and third stages of the All Star race and of course, the final stage for the win in what turned out to be the best All Star race in recent memory. Charlotte races tend to get strung out in a hurry and the restrictor plate package NASCAR instituted for this race certainly changed that. We’ll have to wait and see if the action we saw gets eyes back on NASCAR because the TV viewership was flat and the stands were nowhere near full. Flat stats for TV isn’t all bad, it sure beats a double-digit drop as we have seen for most of the last few years.
The good in this race? Seeing the cars much tighter together on a mile and a half track. While speeds were down a little, it wasn’t so much that you could notice. There was more passing going on throughout the race, but that also leads to one of the bigger challenges with the race package.
The bad in this race? Speaking of passing, that meant someone had to be going backwards. One of the biggest challenges of the package and race format was that if you got hung out to dry, you went backwards in a flash. And there was little you could do to make up ground in the short stages unless someone else also got hung out to dry and you filled that position. The other aspect of plate races are plate wrecks. We saw one of them when Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. tried to make it four-wide and sent Martin Truex, Jr. across the track in front of a lot of cars. The ensuing mayhem took out a handful of cars and damaged some others.
Of course, had this been a regular race and not the All Star dash for cash, perhaps cooler heads would have prevailed. On the other hand, perhaps not. At the closing stages of any race the drivers are digging for all they can get and in any pack that will not end well, especially with Stenhouse pushing the issue.
But all in all, I would give the race a B grade. Even though the race package was supposed to keep the leader form getting away, Harvick proved that his car can do whatever he is asking of it right now. Daniel Suarez might have had a chance at Harvick if he had pushed the issue a little harder. Had that been Logano or Hamlin side by side with Harvick, the result may have been different. Or at least a little more interesting.
You can be certain that NASCAR is going to look closely at this package for 2019. There are some tracks where the racing gets really spread out and if the restrictor plate and the track meet the right criteria, I could see this being used at Kentucky or even a place like Michigan. Michigan is a big fast track, but the racing there puts me to sleep. The Xfinity plate race at Indy was a success last year so it wouldn’t surprise me to see plate racing for Cup at Indy.
I think NASCAR would have to pick one track to do this at first. The All Star race was broken into short segments, so one would have to see what happened after 60 laps instead of 20 or 30.
What was your take on the race?