NASCAR Fans: The Auto Club Race Was Great, Stop Whining

Busch wasn't happy with the final pit call, but has to meter himself.

Busch wasn’t happy with the final pit call, but has to meter himself.

I’ve heard all of the whining and complaining that the Auto Club Speedway race wasn’t exciting. Horsecrap. That race used to be the one thing besides two Quaaludes that were guaranteed to put you to sleep.

What I saw was the first time I have EVER been able to watch the California race from start to finish. The cars are harder to drive and the best drivers are doing just that: Driving them.

At Charlotte, there will be even less down-force, which should complete the changes for the season. But, the changes so far have made all of the non superspeedway races more exciting and, yes, the Auto Club race much more interesting.

To be fair they strung out, as you should expect at a minimally banked, non-plate, two mile track, but by nowhere near the margins from last year or the year before.

Complaining about Keselowski? He, or rather Paul Wolfe, out smarted everyone else and won, that’s all that counts. Just call Keselowski and Wolfe Natty Bumppo and Chingachgook.

It was the Busch and Harvick show all weekend and the two really, deep down, viscerally believed they would be their two car show at the end. They spent the entire race setting up for it. Keselowski’s chief knew it was their chance to go for it. They had nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Harvick made a snap pit call and left his box with two tires.

Harvick made a snap pit call and left his box with two tires.

Everyone counted Keselowski out of it but that is where he shines, he comes from the back, his crew chief makes a brilliant four tire call and he has all the grip he needs to spank Harvick and Busch.

Busch was really the big loser as four tires would have delivered a win, no doubt in my mind. Harvick, on the other hand could afford to roll the dice and go for two tires, against his crew chiefs wishes. It was a fairly dangerous move to simply allow the front tire changer to clear his nose and floor it.

The jack man could have had the jack going under when he left his box which would have been a disaster, but give him credit for trying. Harvick is a fox who knows how to make calls on his own. He needs to be cautious that his prowess doesn’t run smack into Rodney Childers calls in the future, it could cost him a championship.

As for Busch, he drove one hell of a race. For a guy that seems to have the social skills of a Honey Badger, he drives like one as well. Totally focused and hell-bent on winning. He should have won, but he didn’t. His crew chief counted on it being he and Harvick dueling it out in the Octagon, but BK snuck up on them both.

The one takeaway from California is that these cars are moving in the right direction and the hard chargers are there at the end to go for the win. Isn’t that what all of you fans wanted? Let’s hold our deeply ingrained judgments about whether NASCAR did something right or wrong.

Well not really, they finally did something right and it’s hard for me to say but Brian France apologizing for the COT gave me some personal vindication after being eviscerated by others in the media for damning the car when it came out.

I’m looking forward to Charlotte and the remaining changes to see what we really have for the remainder of the season.

And bonus points for the first person who can tell me who Natty Bumppo is. You have ten seconds.

 

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About Michele Rahal

Michele Rahal began his career as a professional racing driver in the United States driving for top road racing teams and owners such as Tom Gloy Motorsports, Lever Brothers and the Championship Group. His professional racing career continued from 1980 to 1987. In 1988, Mr. Rahal retired from active driving and moved on to create motorsports insurance packages for teams, events, facilities and drivers developing and instituting programs through such world renowned institutions as Lloyds of London.

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