When you read that title, I'm guessing your first thought was of David Reutimman's car flying out of control across the track at Watkins Glen. Or maybe the image that popped into your head was that of Tony Kanaan's car resting bottom side up on top of a tire barrier at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Either way you looked at it, more things than just their race vehicles have been figuratively turned upside down over the past couple of weeks.
The first thing I noticed heading into last weekend's races was how switched up things were between NASCAR & IndyCar. IRL's two series headed to an oval track they hadn't run on in over a decade while the Cup & Nationwide series took to one of their rare road course races. The rain enjoyed turning Sunday's race schedule into a sloppy mess, but everything on track over the weekend seemed to go fairly normally. Kyle Busch and Marcos Ambrose paced the Cup series practice sessions, a Cup series regular won the Nationwide race and Dario Franchitti looked like he was on pace to build his points lead into a greater margin over his competitors.
But that's where everything changed. Dario's wreck on that restart didn't only change the perception of the race, but it also seemed to indicate things were going to get even crazier. All of a sudden drivers who aren't normally associated with leading had the focus thrust on them as the rain moved up from the South. Will Power looked to be in a really good position to gain tons of ground in points, but the now infamous restart on the slippery mile flipped that right over. Before too long the official's decision to end the race and revert to the running order prior to the restart flopped it back to the only way they could have made the situation right. Since when does a sanctioning body reverse something like that and give back positions that were wrongfully taken away? I hope NASCAR will never put themselves in that position, but I have a hard time seeing them doing that.
Now back to NASCAR, where it doesn't appear things are any less chaotic. I'm pretty sure no one expected the Nationwide series to have so much green flag racing and only two cautions. With all of the inexperience in the field and drivers who hadn't raced on the track before, the low number of incidents was surprising to say the least. Some people might consider a race with so few wrecks to be boring, so the Cup race was more than glad to accommodate them with more than double the number of cautions. Of course, any race that Boris Said is in has the potential to get out of hand at some point. We just had to wait until the last lap to see it all come undone. All of that mayhem mixed up the running order so much that most people had no clue where they actually finished.
Where the past couple of weeks have really seen things turn upside down is in this battle for the Wild Card slots to make the Chase. David Ragan's chances of making the Chase have done a 180. He was moving up after getting his win but two disastrous finishes plus his closest competitors winning races have moved him into the spot Brad Keselowski was in before Pocono. I had practically written off Brad in the Chase picture, especially after his vicious wreck at Road Atlanta. His performances since then, though, have definitely moved him into being viewed as the favorite to make the Chase. Denny Hamlin and Paul Menard's hopes have both risen and fallen over the last few races. Denny's terrible wreck on Monday made it appear that Paul, armed with his Brickyard 400 win, was going to gain a ton of ground and set him up to possible pass Denny for the second wild card slot at Michigan. That was until he had his own hard wreck thanks to his tire blowing out. Instead, Brad Keselowski leapfrogged Paul while Clint Bowyer climbed up past Denny and put himself in position to make the Chase if he wins a race.
Normally having a healthy driver in your car is the preferred position, but Brad Keselowski seems to be confirming the theory that maybe that isn't necessarily what you want. It has happened before with Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin and others where they get hurt and then instantly start finishing better. If the owners ever catch on to this pattern, there may be a lot more inexplicably beat up drivers walking around the garage area. Let's hope they don't pick up on that!
With so many of these things happening, it can nearly make your head spin. All of this flipping and flopping is what keeps NASCAR interesting, so I guess all I have left to say is: Let's keep the cars on all four wheels, but keep doing what you are doing!
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