Saturday, November 21, 2009

Nationwide Saves the Best for Last

Talk about a barn burner!

The last Nationwide race of 2009 had it all - an edge-of-your-seat finish, a fender-knockin' feud, and a boatload of post-race smack.

It was a race fan's dream.

First, the finish. Even though Kyle Busch has had his lows this season - like a slew of missed opportunities to win (if you call that a low), a misguided attempt at rock stardom, and a propensity to flee the media - you've got to give the bad guy his due. Because even the most vehement KB critic will admit that when things go well for Rowdy, they go very well indeed. He scored nine NNS wins in 2009- most in dominating fashion - and he swept into Homestead in the happy position of not having to finish to clinch the title.

Like the "little girl with the curl" from the old nursery rhyme, "when Kyle is good he's very, very good and when he's bad he's awful." Fortunately for Joe Gibbs Racing, tonight Kyle was good. And he outraced Carl Edwards to prove it.

For a split second during the white flag lap, it seemed that Edwards might revive his Kansas City banzai move in a last-ditch attempt to steal the win.
However, Edwards said after the race, "I didn't have the heart to spear him in turn three." Thus, Edwards' derring-do couldn't stop the Rowdy train from rolling to the checkers and an exuberant crew in Victory Lane.

Then there's that blessed feud. Denny "pay-window" Hamlin didn't waste much time getting into Keselowski's bumper and spinning the #88. But let's be honest - Denny's payback looked more like a half-hearted attempt to save face than an angry man's shot at revenge. Keselowski's crew chief Tony Eury Sr. said over the radio, “That boy (Hamlin) will never learn. He didn't do it good enough.”

In the end, all the incident got Hamlin was a black flag from NASCAR and some props from fellow drivers. Whether fans approved the move is debatable - they may have actually been cheering Hamlin's penalty and not what led to it.

To make things even better, after the cars rolled to a stop, the smack went flying like turkey feathers on Thanksgiving. Keselowski hinted that Denny was suffering from off-track personal problems, while Denny asserted that he'd never heard so much applause as when he sent Keselowski on his unexpected ride.

All in all, Homestead was chock full of such goodness. There were more storylines than you could shake a stick at. More drama than Desperate Housewives. And more reasons to believe that the Nationwide Series is must-see TV.

Now if I can just hold out 'til Daytona...

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