Heading into Sunday’s action in Atlanta, the real story was the new rules, and how it would effect the racing on such a fast and challenging track. But, heading into Sunday, it was not exactly the race to determine how the taller spoiler, radiator pan, splitter and tapered spacer would perform.
Atlanta is a place that as I said long ago, has become the new Darlington. This track has 22 years of wear on it, and like a fine wine it can age with grace, but also has a bite.
This racing surface is abrasive, and it chews up tires just like Darlington did for so many years until it got a new surface a little over 10 years ago. Drivers pleaded to not change the surface, to not have a repave, and most importantly to let them decide on how to run the race.
And so, even with a new rules package, all we saw was an Atlanta race that has been the same for so many years.
Quite honestly, this isn’t even judging a book by it’s cover, nor even the first chapter. I can’t give an opinion on this new package until we see it used the next three weeks at three completely different tracks. Atlanta is not a great place to judge a new look, as we have seen over the last several years when the rules package had less and less downforce. Atlanta is a place all it’s own because of it’s age, so trying to say the new rules aren’t working is premature.
Give it another 3-4 weeks when we hit Vegas, Phoenix, California and even Bristol. By then we will have a good idea of how it runs.
That being said, the run that is still in question is the penalty…that ended up being a non-penalty.
Even I was confused on the situation with Martin Truex Jr. with them originally calling the pit road penalty for too many men over the wall, but then them rescinding the call shortly after. Everyone was confused, including Truex himself because he was set to honor the call, but then was never told to do so.
I think we all are in one of those mindsets where “Ok, so it may or may not have occurred.” It’s like when in the NFL the booth reviews a certain play, or a coach challenges a play. The difference is, the NFL needs conclusive evidence to reverse a call on the field.
By having the penalty on Truex on the report, but it showing inconclusive evidence as to such on the camera, there is no violation. NASCAR just showed that inconclusive evidence means no penalty, instead of say a penalty is called but a team argues it and inconclusive evidence means the call stands. Consistently inconsistent yet again, but in a very unique way.
Hopefully this is the only time we have to hear of such an incident.
And then there’s the sick man, and that is a full on literal statement. Brad Keselowski, flat out, was sick for the better part of a day and a half. And being strapped into one of these cars when not feeling 100% is a challenge all it’s own. Flu-like symptoms are not good in a sport where motion is practically the only thing that is consistent within it. Cars are always going fast, and in the same direction for most of the weeks on the season.
Keselowski after his gutsy win said he lost about six pounds because of the illness. Honestly the biggest mistake he probably made in hindsight is possibly taking a few sips of that Miller Lite. I’m no expert, but alcohol during illness is not exactly the best choice, but ya gotta do what a sponsor asks.
I bet he enjoyed it, but probably paid for it later. Must have been the same feeling in 2012 after his championship when he admitted on live television that during the celebration he had a good buzz going.
At this point a season ago, we had two races and two winners, but then the “Big Three” began when Kevin Harvick went on his first win streak on the season. The question is will a repeat come, or is it time to see a 3-for-3 effect to start the 2019 season? In seven days, we shall find out.