Sunday Night Quick Takes

Spencer Neff
Hope everyone had a great weekend. Here are my thoughts on this weekend’s festivities.

1. Saturday’s IndyCar race at Fontana was one of the most spectacular races in series history. Graham Rahal picked up his first win since 2008 and engine/aero kit manufacturer Honda’s third of the season in a race that featured a record 80 lead changes.

Despite the excitement, many drivers voiced concerns about the racing. With drivers wheel-to-wheel at nearly 220 miles per hour, accidents became a concern. Particularly one crash on the last lap, where Ryan Briscoe and Ryan Hunter-Reay collided, sending Briscoe airborne. Thankfully, neither was injured.

However, the concern still remained, particularly with the crash at Las Vegas in 2011 that claimed the life of Dan Wheldon still in recent memory.

Although I do think that any concerns voiced by the drivers need to be treated with the highest regard, from what I saw (albeit, on TV) the racing seemed very clean until the race drew near its conclusion and Fontana is much wider than other superspeedways, such as Texas and Indianapolis.

Luckily, the series only has one superspeedway left on this year’s schedule, when they visit Pocono on August 23. So, whatever issues may need to be worked out should be in two months’ time. Until then, here’s hoping the series can get more fans in the seats at each of the remaining tracks.

2. Today, the Cup Series ran on its first of two road courses at Sonoma. After Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson dominated much of the race, Kyle Busch took advantage of fresh tires on a late restart to win his first Cup Series race since breaking his leg and ankle in February at Daytona. Kyle’s brother Kurt finished 2nd, the first 1-2 for the siblings.

Currently, Kyle is 136 points out of 30th in points, needing an average finish of 14th to be in the top 30 after 26 races. Getting and staying there will be tough for Busch, although he may be one of just a handful of drivers capable of pulling it off.

Having Busch in the Chase does undoubtedly add excitement and the injury of course could be argued as a mistake on NASCAR’s part, as CEO Brian France has alluded to. Regardless, I don’t think having a driver miss that many races and be elligible for the championship is the best process.

In some ways it takes away from other teams and drivers who have competed all season. Had Busch missed only a handful of races (like his brother Kurt, who was suspended for three races), I may be more in favor of his inclusion in the playoffs.

Overall, I think that this is an issues NASCAR needs to look at soon. I do applaud that they have added medical waivers and that they have issued some limits (such as the ones for Kyle Busch).

I would like to see them consider a no-exceptions rule that a driver must compete in a minimum percentage of regular season races (e.g. 80-85% of the 26, so 21-23) in order to maintain postseason eligibility.

Have a Great Week


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