Tuesday, March 8, 2011

On Carl's consistency, the Gordon/Conway mess, IndyCar's grid limits, single file racing, LVMS's victory lane, Wise's ride, and Danica's first top-5

- I am an avid reader of Bob Margolis's Sledgehammer blog, particularly his weekly "Observations" on Mondays. I do have a disagreement with him this week, right off the bat: he believes no one in the Sprint Cup Series has yet shown the consistency to be pegged with the favorite label. I disagree. I believe Carl Edwards has shown that out of the gate he will be the guy to beat for the title this season. He closed 2010 with two straight wins, finished second at Daytona, won the pole at Phoenix before getting eliminated in someone else's mess while running strongly, and followed up with a win at Las Vegas. How much more consistent can he be?

-The Robby Gordon/Kevin Conway mess continues to make headlines as the two trade insults through press releases. Conway's team sent out one of the worse press releases I've ever read with sponsor innuendo and double entendres right in the very first line. I love a good play on words as much as anyone, but maybe referencing stiff competition should be left to people who don't need to play musical chairs from ride to ride as the driver drops one and then the next and then the next out of the top-35.

-It's mystifying to me why the IndyCar Series would limit its starting fields to 26 cars. The more the merrier I say, and with so many unused cars sitting on the sidelines that could certainly be dragged out before moving to new equipment in 2012, why not invite anyone and everyone? If it's a matter of keeping certain slow drivers off the track, just don't issue them a license.

-Las Vegas Motor Speedway spent millions reconfiguring the track to a multi-groove, progressively banked layout to improve competition. It's always fun to see 190 mph speeds, but there also needs to be close racing and right now the 1.5-mile tracks aren't offering much of it beyond the initial starts and restarts. Maybe that will change as the teams figure out the handling package with the new noses and other aero enhancements.

-Speaking of LVMS, no one is questioning it's claim as one of the finest facilities in all of motorsports. It's an amazing place, no doubt about it. The view from the stands is incredible and everyone who's ever been inside it will never say anything negative about the "Neon Garage." However, there is one thing that needs to be remedied: the location of victory lane. It's in the middle of the garage area where a small percentage of the paying customers can see it. Yes, the Neon Garage ticketholders can see it, but that's what, one percent of the people there? Move it out somewhere where the people in the grandstands can see it too. California Speedway made that mistake back in 2004, moving victory lane to the end of the infield suites towards turn four, and no one had any idea it was there. They soon relocated it back to where it belongs, right where everyone can see it.

-How about Josh Wise's airborne ride in the Nationwide race? Reminded me of the good old days watching Mickey Thompson stadium off-road races in the early days of ESPN! Wanna bet that launching pad is remedied by the time the IndyCar Series makes it to LVMS in October?

-Bernie Ecclestone has set a May 1 deadline for the unrest in Bahrain to be solved or the Formula 1 circuit will cancel its 2011 race. Anyone else wishing NASCAR was racing in Las Vegas this weekend so they could make a bet on the race being canceled?

-We heard the Negative Nancy's get on Jennifer Jo Cobb for playing the attrition game en route to a sixth-place finish at Daytona, and now we're hearing the same detractor's complain about Danica Patrick's fourth-place finish at LVMS. I stick with what I said, it doesn't matter how you got there only that you get there. Fourth is fourth, it's the best finish by a woman, and that's excellent for her. However, I think what we need to look with when talking about Danica isn't just results it's her development as a stock car driver. You can learn a lot more about racing a stocker back in the pack than you can by jumping out front by a mile and winning (see Steven Wallace's ARCA career for proof). She's learning, well, hopefully she is, and that's what matters at this point not where she finishes. But I am sure every top-ten she brings home is more than welcome, too.

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