I spent the better part of Monday morning browsing through the comment sections of various NASCAR-related websites trying to get a handle on what NASCAR Nation thought of Sunday’s Sprint Cup Series race in Kansas.
I wasn’t shocked to find out many folks who invested an afternoon watching the race claim that they were bored to tears. When you take a mile-and-a-half racetrack, add a relatively new surface and throw in a hard tire compound with little falloff, you generally get an afternoon of follow the leader.
And that’s what we got in Kansas. In this case, the leader happened to be Matt Kenseth, who started first and finished in the same spot.
But no matter how boring the race was, I don’t feel a bit of sympathy for you folks.
Sure, you had to sit through a lackluster afternoon of television. I’ll grant you that. But you didn’t have to sit down on the morning after and write a hard-hitting column on the STP 400. So you’ve got that going for you.
I’m almost tempted to follow the lead of a BBC newscaster who took the airwaves on an unusually slow news day on April 18, 1930. He flipped on his radio microphone and said, “Good evening. Today is Good Friday. There is no news.” Then he turned on some piano music and called it a day.
Unfortunately, piano music doesn’t translate to writing. I guess I could run a giant photo of Dale Jr. or Danica, but that just feels lazy. So let’s press on.
I guess we can start with the most newsworthy thing that happened in Kansas. In the era of Lucky Dogs, wave-arounds, double-file restarts, mysterious late-race debris cautions and cars engineered to go just about the same speed, the fastest car won.
In fact, Kenseth’s win marked the third straight week that the polesitter went on to win the race, a streak that extends back to Jimmie Johnson’s victory in Martinsville. To add some historical perspective, Kenseth’s victory marks the first time since 1985 that three consecutive polesitters have gone to Victory Lane. It may not seem that remarkable at first glance, but the new rules make it harder than ever for the fastest car to win.
As Brad Keselowski proved yesterday, it’s easy to get laps back through a strange brew of strategy, voodoo and sleight of hand that even the guys in the booth can’t fully explain. It’s kind of like watching an episode of “Extreme Couponers” where a shopper with an overflowing cart walks up to a cash register armed with a binder of coupons and ends up paying 53 cents for $500 worth of merchandise.
In Keselowski’s case, he cashed in a Lucky Dog or two, took a wave-around and next thing you know, there he was driving a beat-up car into the top 10 in the closing laps. He eventually salvaged a sixth-place finish.
Now I’m not picking on Keselowski here because all he was doing was taking advantage of the rules as they are written. That’s something he should be applauded for because Kyle Busch sure couldn’t make the most of a bad day.
There wasn’t a dog in the state of Kansas lucky enough to redeem Busch from the demons that lurked inside his ill-handling Toyota on Sunday. He was running third the first time he spun out on his own. Busch repeated the feat later in the race, and his bad day mercifully came to an end when he collided with Joey Logano in a wreck that totaled both cars.
So there you have it. To recap, track position was everything, Johnson is your points leader and the sky above the track was blue.
None of this is particularly newsworthy. Cue the piano music.
Dave Ongie covers motorsports for the Times-News. On Twitter, he is @KTNSportsOngie. Reach him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can hear him every Monday morning at 9:05 on “Good Morning Tri-Cities” with Tom Taylor on 870 AM and 100.7 FM.