(WOMR file photo)
“The action track”, Richmond International Raceway, as it is affectionately known amongst the NASCAR community lived up to its moniker. As the race was concluded last night, there was the usual “NASCAR officials/drivers conferences” that occur after a traditional short track “confrontation”! However, it was not because there was a lot of beatin’ and bangin’ during Saturday night’s Capital City 400, it was, instead, the results of two NASCAR judgement calls.
There were two drivers that were most affected, and thus two very upset people, for two very different reasons! Both drivers left Richmond feeling that they got “the big screw job” from the NASCAR officials!
Bruised egos and hurt feelings
The first incident involved Carl Edwards. He was involved in a somewhat confusing and questionable restart incident.
When the race restarted with 82 laps to, Edwards said he was told he had the lead back. But on the restart, NASCAR ruled that Stewart was leader and that Edwards jumped early and because of that, was penalized.
That penalty took him out of contention.
Edwards was having a very hard time accepting the penalty and its explanation after the race.
“I am trying to not be too frustrated and say something stupid,” he said. “So right before that start my spotter Jason Hedleskey was told by NASCAR officials that the 99 was the leader, the 99 is the leader. Jason told me and I had a split second to decide what I was going to do. I thought, okay, NASCAR made a mistake and they lined us up wrong.
“I was at a disadvantage being on the outside so I thought I was getting the best start I could get. It looked like Tony waited or spun his tires so they black flagged me. I still don’t understand why they black flagged me. They said we were the leader and I restarted the best I could given the disadvantaged position I was in. The problem is I don’t know if NASCAR is going to take the stance that I jumped the start. If they are saying that I jumped the start then that would be real frustrating.
“I was on the outside and thought Tony Stewart was the leader on the inside. NASCAR told my spotter about three seconds before the restart that the 99 was the leader. They put us on the scoreboard as the leader and I realized I was at a disadvantaged position on the outside land and NASCAR made a little mistake. I got the best start I could and Tony didn’t start or spun his tires and NASCAR black flagged us. I don’t know why they black flagged me. I don’t think it is right and I don’t agree with it. Before I say something stupid because I am real frustrated I would like to go talk to them.”
Tony Stewart’s complaint was the water bottle that was the “culprit” for the debris yellow flag thrown with just 14 laps to go in the race was out of the groove, and had been lying there for eight laps!
The alleged presence of the bottle on the track brought out a caution flag. Busch beat the field out of the pits during that caution, kept the lead on the restart and easily held the lead to the checkered flag.
“It was a gift,” Busch said of the caution. “Man, I just don’t know where it came from or what it was or anything, but it doesn’t matter.”
Stewart said it mattered to him.
“That’s what it looked like to me,” he said when asked if the backstretch debris was a water bottle. “I mean, it was out of the groove. It had been sitting there for eight laps.”
The water bottle, however, had accomplices in deciding the outcome; the pit crews of the Busch and Stewart cars for starters. They sent Busch out first and Stewart out second.
“We came down pit road,” Busch said, “and Dave Rogers (crew chief) and these guys went to work and gave me a great pit stop – got me out front. Gave me the lead so I could restart the race how I wanted to. That was the win right there.”
Stewart flashed a different tone toward his crew.
Asked about being upset at his crew, he said, “No different than anybody else that has a scenario that happens tonight. You go back and try to work on it and try to remedy the problem and try to make sure it doesn’t happen again.”
Note to Tony and Carl
As I have oft-repeated over the past few years in my blog, when racing at the short tracks anywhere in this nation, you must first leave your egos, your feelings, and your weapons at the pit gate! If you do this, you will not get your egos and your feelings hurt by the actions of your competitors, as well as, the sanctioning body of the race. Likewise, it is also extremely important to leave all weapons at the pit gate, as well. Thereby eliminating any possible homicides that would otherwise occur after the race, as the results of the beatin’, the bangin’, and the elevated tempers that naturally occur during the race!
Maybe before the race, as a part of the pre-race festivities, in addition to the invocation and the national anthem, the drivers and the pit crewmen should all hold hands and sing “Michael Row Your Boat Ashore”! That surely would have a nice calming effect on all the competitors! I am just sayin’…………………
What do you think?
TIL NEXT TIME, I AM STILL WORKING ON MY REDNECK!