Ah, the summer six-pack of races has come to an end, with five different drivers taking wins, and the races happening on six completely different race tracks. There were two common themes though in these races.
The first, the best always make sure to rise when the pressure is on. Look at Pocono when Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in the right spot all race long, and took advantage when the leader got hot and had to slow up to save his motor. Then there’s Jimmie Johnson who finally got his win at Michigan. Brad Keselowski dominated Kentucky, and had the dominant car on Sunday at New Hampshire, although it took a green-white-checkered finish to decide the eventual finish.
Carl Edwards put some questions on hold for his future to celebrate at Sonoma, and then in the surprise of the season thus far, Aric Almirola put the famed No. 43 back in victory lane for the first time since 1999.
It was one of those summers that is expected when the best drivers are competing at tracks where they are familiar with. Since Jimmie Johnson won at Dover, there has been only one new addition to the Chase, that being Almirola, giving the Chase field an 11-driver look thus far. But with only a short time till the Chase begins, time is running out until the title run begins.
The second part that was common throughout the last six races: horrible television coverage. I know it’s something a lot of people are critical of each week depending on the network, but it was clear that these last six weeks have seen some of the worst coverage I personally have witnessed in all my years of watching. For the longest time, the main broadcasters for TV were CBS, TBS, ESPN and TNN. Although recently that has changed, and will again next year.
This season is the final one for TNT and Turner Sports to broadcast racing, as next year the television coverage changes. In fact, when NASCAR returns, it will also be the final year ESPN will broadcast races, as in 2015 it is only FOX and NBC doing coverage.
You’d think that with TNT leaving, they would want to go out with the best coverage they are capable of.
Turns out, their coverage was absolutely pitiful all season long for them. It was not bad when it started, but then when the audio began repeating itself it got annoying. I let it slide for the first week, but then it happened again the following week. Twice isn’t a coincidence, and then a third week of it, and a fourth…something went awry, and wasn’t fixed.
I missed the final race they broadcasted, and somehow made it through the rain-soaked coverage from Daytona last week, and I cannot tell you how grateful I am that TNT isn’t doing races after this year. I’m not harping on the announcers themselves, they are professionals and they have jobs to do. They likely weren’t aware of the technical issues that were going on, so I have nothing negative to say in that regard.
It is just sad that when you know that NASCAR is not coming back to the network, wouldn’t they want the best coverage they could get? Unfortunately that didn’t happen.
Alright, rant over. Everyone enjoy their off-week for NASCAR.
RESULTS: 1-Keselowski 2-Kyle Busch 3-Larson 4-Kenseth 5-Newman 6-Bowyer 7-Stewart 8-Hamlin 9-Stenhouse Jr. 10-Earnhardt Jr.
NOTABLE FINISHES: 13-Edwards 17-Kurt Busch 23-Almirola 26-Gordon 30-Harvick 40-Logano 42-Johnson
CAUTIONS: 7 for 35 laps. Lap 15-20 (#48 accident-T1), 113-118 (Debris-T2), 154-157 (Debris-BS), 178-181 (Debris-T1), 213-218 (#22, 33 accident-T4), 250-253 (Debris-T3), 299-303 (#51 accident-T4).
LEAD CHANGES: 18 among 9 drivers. Kyle Busch 1-62, Hamlin 63-73, Keselowski 74-78, Larson 79, Kurt Busch 80, Hamlin 81-89, Keselowski 90-113, Larson 114-126, Kenseth 127-138, Keselowski 139-154, Logano 155-157, Bowyer 158-176, Keselowski 177-180, Bowyer 181, Keselowski 182-213, Bowyer 214-229, Keselowski 230-250, Gordon 251-269, Keselowski 270-305.
TIME OF RACE: 2 Hrs, 58 Mins, 3 Secs.
AVERAGE SPEED: 108.741 MPH
MARGIN OF VICTORY: 0.75 Seconds
POINT STANDINGS: 1. Gordon, 670 points*; 2. Earnhardt Jr, -12*; 3. Keselowski, -36*; 4. Kenseth, -49; 5. Johnson, -72*; 6. Edwards, -96*; 7. Newman, -97; 8. Kyle Busch, -103*; 9. Logano, -119*; 10. Bowyer, -122
*Race Winner, Chase Eligible
Other Chase Eligible drivers: Hamlin (12th, 1 win); Harvick (13th, 2 wins); Almirola (22nd, 1 win); Kurt Busch (25th, 1 win)