Sunday, May 9, 2010

From Bridesmaids to Babycakes - the Darlington Rundown

Even with a bum knee Denny Hamlin whipped "the track too tough to tame". 


In the same weekend.

But more went on at Darlington than Hamlin's coup de maitre.  Much more.  Below are my takeaways from the weekend that was.  Oh, and note to NASCAR - give Darlington a second date already!

If the crew chief ain't happy, ain't nobody happy: When crew chief Chad Knaus is testy early on, you know things aren't peachy in the Lowe's garage.  At one point, Knaus told his driver just to wreck the car if he hit anything else so they could call it a night.  I bet Knaus will be more careful what he wishes for in the future. It wasn't long after this directive that Jimmie Johnson's night effectively ended when he slammed into the wall courtesy of A.J. Allmendinger.  It's team Johnson's third DNF of the season.  Looks like the shine may be coming off that golden horseshoe.

Truex channels Mikey:  For a moment on Saturday, I thought the No. 56 NAPA Toyota was once again being piloted by the hapless Michael Waltrip.  After all, Martin Truex Jr. doesn't usually hit everything and everyone in his path .  But Darlington's a different animal altogether, and ol' Truex had some trouble keeping his nose clean Sunday night.  Where's that NAPA know-how when you need it?

So close, yet so far: Jeff Gordon has had the car to beat more than once this season, but he just can't end on a winning note.  This time it was bad timing on a pit stop that lost Gordon track position.  Last week it was poor restarts.  So far, Gordon has finished second twice. I just hope for Jeff's sake there's no truth to that old adage - "three times a bridesmaid, never a bride". 

Worst to first: Kyle Busch isn't the first driver to come from last place to p1 during a race. And though he didn't keep the top spot, Busch battled through a cut tire, a hole in the nose and the unforgiving Darlington gauntlet to run up front after starting in the way back. Kudos to Kyle for making the most of an unsavory situation.

Talk of the track: Before the race started, I found it pretty darn amusing that Tony Stewart's spotter called him "babycakes" via the team radio.  (I'd like to see a member of the print media try that one). However it was Dale Earnhardt Jr's scanner that provided the most entertaining chatter of the night.  At one point, Junior regaled all listeners with an explanation of how his visor tearoff somehow got wrapped around his steering wheel, making his glove adhere to the wheel. Then there was the comedic give-and-take between Junior and crew chief Lance McGrew.  But it was No. 88 spotter T.J. Majors who provided the snarky icing on the cake. When Allmendinger hit Johnson, Majors said he was hearing it was a brake problem on the No. 43 car. Then, "I'm not sure if it's brakes or brains".  Touche.

What the what?: Someone in the FOX wardrobe department needs to do a better job at selecting ties for Darrell Waltrip.  Though often attired in Easter egg hues, DW's Saturday neckwear was, well, more strange than usual.  The floral and butterfly combo was enough to distract viewers from what Waltrip was saying.  But on second thought, maybe that was the whole point.

Photo info: The sun sets on Darlington Raceway - Associated Press

1 comment:

  1. More precisely, Nascar needs to give a second date *back* to Darlington. They never should have taken a date away in the first place!