View From the Couch: Las Vegas

“Is anyone else going to hear Mike Joy saying, “Caution on the racetrack” in their sleep? Actually the calls for “Trouble in Turn 2″ were refreshing and brought back fond memories.

Fourteen cautions that felt like forty and cars may still be spinning around.

The race actually contained a fair amount of intrigue with the variety of pit strategies and the way some of the favorites fell off. Matt Kenseth lost an engine before anyone could spell USG, followed later by teammates David Ragan and ultimately Carl Edwards.

Jimmie Johnson made a rare mistake entering the pits and then later wrecked thanks to some questionable clean-up of some Speedy Dry.

Jeff Gordon finished in the top ten despite a car with a huge patch on the left front. Some people may say his luck had changed. Maybe, but more significantly is his running position on the track. He’s running where he was in 2007 (at the front) and is more capable of recovering from “bad luck” or to capitalize on “good luck”.

In the end Kyle Busch patiently made his way to the front and took off, winning in his home state. It seemed like a popular win, something that the Busch brothers don’t always experience despite their massive talents. As talented as they are behind the wheel, they are equally quirky away from it. From Kurt Busch doing snow angels in Texas to Kyle Busch trying to kiss the Vegas finish line through his helmet, their victory celebrations still need some work.

Other Thoughts and Notes

  • during the broadcast quizzed viewers on Las Vegas Motorspeedway’s nicknames. I confess, along with Larry McReynolds, that I had no idea that LVMS had one nickname, let alone multiple monikers. Apparently Las Vegas is the House of Roush and the Diamond in the Desert. I thought the House of Roush was Michigan Speedway?
  • It’s clearly early but who else is surprised?
  • Penske Championship Racing had a strong day with all three cars on the lead lap for the majority of the day. Unfortunately Kurt Busch had mechanical problems and David Stremme suffered a late spin to spoil their deserved finishes. Sam Hornish Jr did finish in 16th on the lead lap.
  • On the subject of Penske Championship Racing, shouldn’t they have to win a NASCAR championship before applying that title? I realize Penske has 10 CART/IRL championships and that Kurt Busch and Rusty Wallace were both past champions, but it’s not quite the same. It would be like me suddenly dubbing myself Dr. Mike Maruska.
  • Dale Earnhardt Jr had possibly the quietest top ten of his career. Despite several articles proclaiming his demise, Jr has actually had top 5 or top 10 cars in all three races so far. His progress was stunted at Daytona by rain and a sour engine at California and he overcame a pit road speeding penalty at Vegas for his first top ten. He was one of the fastest cars on green flag runs, but was bogged down by the multiple cautions late.
  • Mark Martin has two engine failures in the last two races. His last engine failure prior? Try Pocono in 2004, 143 races ago.
  • How bad have you got it? I have a friend who has it bad. Last year he made plans with his brothers and dad to go to the Daytona 500. Then he and his wife found out they were expecting in February. The baby was born the Wednesday before Speedweeks, my friend flew immediately after to Daytona for the 50th anniversary of the Daytona 500, capping off one of the most memorable weeks in his life. Why am I bringing this up now? He named his daughter Shelby, which made me smile this week. He’s a car guy and well, he has it bad.

What caught your eye during Sunday’s race? How many wins can Shrub rack up this year? Can Mark Martin make the Chase?