I hope everybody enjoyed this past weekend as much as I did! Thing started off kind of slowly with the Nationwide race since most of my favorites struggled through the race (and I was less than thrilled that a Cup driver won), but as soon as the calendar turned to September, I was singing the exact opposite tune.
Sunday was amazing and stocked full of racing from start to finish - there were about six races I took an intense interest in. It was beginning to feel like Memorial Day weekend - IndyCar race in the afternoon & an evening Sprint Cup race included. With the Firestone Indy Lights race on the streets of Baltimore, everything kicked into high gear as Sage Karam finishing second and Peter Dempsey took home fourth. I was really happy for Jack Hawksworth winning his third race of the season - I was even more thrilled about Sage Karam taking over the points lead with only two races left. Nothing against Carlos Munoz, I've just really enjoyed the times I've been able to meet Sage this year!
Soon after the checkered flag fell in Baltimore, the Truck race took off. I found the race to be fairly entertaining, but the finish got WAY more so (more on that later). The one thing that was ultra-exciting to me was that Chad Hackenbracht moved his way up to second--his best NASCAR finish in a career that is really beginning to blossom. Keep an eye on this kid!! When he moved his way into the runner up spot by the line, I think that instantly became my favorite part of the weekend. He is an amazing person and his whole family is wonderful!
While the Truck race was still finding its footing, the IndyCar race began in Baltimore. I didn't get ahold of an online stream until after the Truck race finished--thereby not seeing the whole Will Power/Scott Dixon incident, but I listened to the race via IndyCar.com's radio broadcast - and kept listening even after getting my eyes on the race. I could not have been more thrilled when Josef Newgarden finished second! Most definitely I was hoping he could chase down the leader, but the win for Simon Pagenaud was a good thing as well. Top that off with James Hinchcliffe rallying all the way back to seventh and it turned out to be a good race.
I was beginning to get the hint that my super-favorites were finishing second, so naturally there was hope that Brian Vickers would finish in that spot--or one better--back in Atlanta. That didn't happen, but he did rally all the way back up into the top 10 by the time he took the checkered flag - that was a fun run to listen to his scanner, for sure! If ever you are trying to figure out who to listen to on the scanner, I encourage you to listen to Brian. He is so analytical, catches every detail, nothing gets past him, gives great feedback to his team, keeps his language relatively clean and even says some funny things--whether he meant them to be funny or not!
Topping off Sunday's action was Zach Daum winning for the second night in a row at Angell Park Speedway in Sun Prairie, WI. This week could not have gone better as he nearly dominated the evening of the Jason Leffler Memorial Race on Wednesday as well!
Scariest moments of the weekend: 1. Did anybody else see Peter Dempsey's near-flip in Indy Lights practice? Thankfully he didn't go all of the way over! 2. James Hinchcliffe posted a picture on Twitter of the front of his car all the way up in the air. 3. Brian Vickers' slide through the grass! Add these to Hinch's slide and save at Infineon last week and I'm going to have to have someone tell my favorites to stop scaring me!
Rants of the week:
#1 - Fox Sports & their treatment of us racing fans. I knew this wasn't going to be a good thing for any of us who love auto racing of every kind, but Saturday took it to a new low--the only tv coverage I could see (as one of those not privileged enough to receive Fox Sports 2) was the Nationwide race - on ESPN. On our "wonderful" new Fox Sports 1: no Cup practice, no Nationwide qualifying, nothing. This whole thing has gotten under my skin, as perhaps best stated last week on one of my Facebook statuses: I found the Wikipedia page for Fox Sports 2 & it says it is the overflow channel for Fox Sports 1, "including NASCAR..." Yep people, we now officially count as "overflow"--which basically is a nice way of saying "we don't have room/time for you." Doesn't that make us feel special now?
#2 - Top finishing drivers not getting interviewed. Chad Hackenbracht has made three Truck series starts now and on NONE of the pre-race shows or broadcasts has he gotten much of a mention. That honestly got me pretty frustrated before this race in Canada. After all, he IS driving Kyle Busch's own truck, the same ones he races in every Truck start, and if Kyle had been in it this weekend, he is all we would have heard about (replacing Max Papis & Miguel Paludo as the focus). So you would think they could at least give Chad a little mention, or show him during the pre-race ceremonies (made longer by, naturally, adding the Canadian Anthem), wouldn't you? I figured his performance on track would grab him some attention - and it did, once or twice. And of course his second place finish would earn him an interview! But no, coverage was running long; they covered the drama and left his supporters without even seeing him. That is inexcusable! If a driver finishes in the top 3 (I would say 5, but I'll start with this), they should be interviewed, no matter what! For their team, their sponsors, their fans & especially themselves, any TV broadcast should have one minute to give to them. Well, maybe when he wins the next one, he'll be interviewed. NBC Sports Network did a much better job handling the IndyCar post-race, despite it's being overtime as well - but then, they are proving they value racing & its fans much more than any other channel at present (airing ARCA races that haven't been shown on TV in the past that I know of--that is impressive)!
That's Racing or "He took him out!"
First up in this category: the finish of the Canadian Truck race. Part 1: Right after Chase Elliott and Ty Dillon collided, I was rather up in arms about Chase taking out Ty. In some ways I think maybe he still did, but I don't think it was intentional. Looking at replays today on NASCAR.com, it looks like they both were just going for the same space and collided. I'm happy for Chase, but I was really wanting Ty to pull off that win--sure would help his points a lot - or a lot more than losing 16 spots! Part 2: Max Papis vs. Mike Skeen (never heard of him). Post-race I was too busy celebrating Chad's finish & watching the Ty/Chase thing to put a lot of their incident, but it looks to me like the Canadian driver caused that last wreck - giving Max a perfectly good reason to be mad and fulfill his nickname. I'm not even going to touch the girlfriend/slap thing. But wouldn't that have been a little bit perfect if Tatiana had given HER a piece of her mind! "You don't dare touch my husband!"
Second (and more important/controversial): IndyCar's Will Power vs. Scott Dixon. Will has found himself in the odd and uncomfortable situation of having to apologize to Scott and his team - for something he didn't realize was going to be a huge problem, especially for Scott. To his credit, he did take the blame for what happened in Baltimore and listening to his post-race interview, I don't know how you couldn't forgive the guy. Pippa Mann was broadcasting the race on IndyCar.com and when her fellow announcer was attacking Will for making the dumb move, she was giving the perspective of being in the car. To encourage cooler heads to prevail, she stated that he did make a terrible move, but there must have been a reason why it happened--that had nothing to do with any ill-intent on Will's part. Her insight was extremely valuable (especially with me not being able to see what was happening) and Will backed her comments up in his post-race interview - as well as going farther by saying he was looking ahead & didn't think to look behind--something she did clearly say he should have. In the end, I feel terrible for both Scott Dixon (and how this impacts his points) AND Will Power.
Things you didn't hear on TV this week:
Racing off pit road under the first caution of the race, Denny Hamlin and Paul Menard made rather significant contact that brought Paul back in. Later in the race when Paul slid up into the outside wall, he got uncharacteristically upset with Denny and was telling his team his perspective of what happened. Then I was shocked when he was told this over his scanner: "10-4 that's two times [he's gotten us] today, go finish him off." I never expected him to act on that, but it was funny how shocked the ESPN announcers were when Paul returned what he felt Denny deserved. He was just being the good, obedient driver to his team. Haha
While cleaning up the oil put down from Clint Bowyer's blown engine, Brian Vickers was getting rather agitated that the sweeper trucks were up in the top groove, apparently blowing some of the marbles down into the it, prompting him to state "Tell them to stop." He was entirely serious about it, but just the way he said it caught me as being very funny. They did stop though - and the race went green a couple laps later.
After a pit stop in the second half of the race, Brian was told "The 56 has a lug nut stuck between the wheel & the caliper. Happens once every 3 years." With all of Martin's problems, this "once in a blue moon" occurrence also took place.
Immediately following the completion of the Nationwide race after being praised for a good run, Chris Buescher told his team "Oh yeah, that was fun."
Parker Kligerman's assessment of his race was this: "That was one of our worst races...that's how it goes [sometimes]. Not going to let it get us down."
*Coming to the checkered in Canada, the top two black trucks wrecked out after contact with white trucks they were racing. The third one (Chad Hackenbracht) thankfully did not suffer that fate - helped by him being in a clear, "safe" spot where he wasn't racing anyone.
*The second place finishers of the two races I watched who aren't people I particularly cheer for (Kyle Busch: Nationwide, Joey Logano: Sprint Cup) were extremely disappointed with finishing second. That's actually pretty refreshing!
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