The races are boring.
That’s what people like to tell me. It’s “the reason I don’t watch it.”
My standard answer to those folks centers on the fact that not every sporting event is riveting – nor should we expect them to be. You’ve got great races; some mediocre ones and you’ve got some real snoozers. That’s just the way it is.
But if you thought the Quicken Loans 400 at Michigan wasn’t one of the highlights of the season, well, you’re just not paying attention.
NO PLACE TO RACE: NASCAR Sprint Cup Series teams showed up a day early to test the newly paved track. It was obvious from the beginning that there wasn’t going to be a bunch of side-by-side action based on the racing line that rose above the surface. This shouldn’t have been a shocker as it’s a bi-product of re-surfacing. Okay, we’ll deal with it.
‘TROUBLE IN TURN ONE… TWO, THREE AND FOUR!': Uh-oh, the tires are blistering. This, my friends, is gonna be real trouble.
Goodyear, NASCAR and the teams had have had flashbacks of the tire plague at Indy in 2008. It killed the race and left bad a taste in the mouths of fans. This can’t happen again. The tire issues offered NASCAR and Goodyear less than 24 hours to remedy – which they did successfully, with time to spare for teams to get 75 minutes of practice to completely revise the setups of their cars. A different compound was gonna be a game-changer.
WORD TO YA MOTHER (NATURE): She’s got a real sense of humor, doesn’t she?
There was limited rubber on the track when we first arrived on Thursday. We got some more after Friday’s practices, the ARCA race, Saturday qualifying and the Nationwide race. The groove seemed to widen a bit, and maybe that would enhance the race. Then the rains came on Saturday night through early Sunday afternoon and washed away the progress. Square one.
BEATING THE BUSCH’S: Amidst all the tire calamity and weather issues, the Busch brothers added to the drama, albeit non-intentionally.
Nationwide Series third-place finisher Kurt Busch, on the heels of a one-week NASCAR suspension, had another encounter with the media. While trying to “cool off," he was approached by a network correspondent and they had a brief exchange which turned into breaking news. At this point, I think the notion of “just doing my job” versus baiting the prey has evolved into a ridiculous mix. But I’ll save that for another article.
And I say non-intentional because it’s become obvious that Kurt can’t help himself. It’s truly beyond his control.
Kyle’s issue was also not of his making. For the third consecutive race, the crowd erupted as Busch limped his car to the garage. An engine issue ended any chances of a solid finish. The driver who was feared by most last season has been relatively quiet since his Richmond victory in April.
WOW, WHAT A FINISH!: Dale Earnhardt Jr. won the race by five seconds, which is pretty uneventful on a track that takes about 38 seconds to negotiate. But who cares.
The Eagle Has Landed. The seas have parted. Gas prices have plummeted and the Nasdaq Composite Index is up a bazillion points. Life is good.
Sure that’s all very dramatic, but the fact remains that Dale Earnhardt Jr winning is good for all of us. You don’t have to necessarily be a fan of his, but you should appreciate the residual benefits to the health of our sport.
My job keeps me perpetually biased, but I was really glad to see him win.
So, let’s quickly recap the boredom:
Track conditions weren’t optimum, but it was the same for everyone. Tire issues sent teams scrambling for the best possible setup in the shortest amount of time. The weather delayed the start and washed away some of the racing groove, but we completed the advertised distance. The Busch brothers jumped in and got some attention and our most popular driver won the race. Was that boring enough for you?
Oh, in case you missed it, on Sunday, the Blue Jays beat the beat the Braves 12-4. The game took 3:14 and then everyone went home.
Mike Calinoff is the Spotter for NASCAR champions Matt Kenseth (NSCS) and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. (NNS), and driver Nelson Piquet Jr. (NCWTS). A 20-year veteran of the sport, Calinoff also owns @140BUZZ, a social media and branding company. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and at Twitter.com/MikeCalinoff. The opinions reflected herein are solely those of Mike Calinoff and do not necessarily reflect those of SPEED.com, Roush Fenway Racing, Ford or relative race team sponsors.