For the first time in what seems like forever, NASCAR Nation is talking about the action that actually happened on the track, instead of what should have happened. Though not all are happy with the results, it’s refreshing to talk about the action we had versus the action we should have had. No fuel mileage, no rain, no phantom cautions.
In the court of NASCAR fan opinion, this race features a couple of odd selections for villains. There’s no Kyle Busch, Carl Edwards or Kevin Harvick to kick around. Ladies and gentlemen, we present you Clint Bowyer and David Reutimann. The opinion this fan will express won’t be a popular one, but it seems from here the venom heaped upon them is a bit unjustified.
Sure, David Reutimann stayed out too long nursing his fading ride. He’s the first to admit it was a bad move in retrospect. What’s appalling is the notion that he’s the first guy to ever make that mistake. He’s not, and I think if a higher profile driver does it, he’s cut a little more slack. Secondly, consider Beak’s body of work. Other than a dust up with Kyle Busch, Reutimann has been the embodiment of a journeyman racer who minds his business and tries to play well with others. The way some fans are crying, you’d think he tried to punt Dale Junior into the path of traffic nose first.
Even more galling is this idea that this is ALL about keeping Danica Patrick’s part-time ride in the top 35. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Danica or Richard Petty himself, if Reutimann can’t drive it to the checkered flag, then his job is to keep the car in the Top 35 and grab as many points as he can. If you want to be mad, be mad at the Top 35 rule. If a top driver can’t be one of the 43 fastest cars at any given track, then too bad.
Then there’s all the hand-wringing over Bowyer’s move on the ensuing re-start. Either you want an aggressive driver who races to win, or you don’t get winning. Unfortunately, Kansas Clint tied Jeff Gordon and Jimmie Johnson to the turn. Dale Earnhardt Jr. said it best when he said it wasn’t something you could fault him for- it’s his job to go for wins. Heck, even Gordon cooled down after he and Bowyer talked it out.
Here’s a thought: maybe Gordon and Johnson should have put fresh tires on their cars. Am I really the only one who thought that the 24 and 48 were going to get rammed in the tail on that old rubber? Oh sure, someone else would have stayed out and they would have become the foils. That’s racin’. It was their prerogative to stay, and you can’t tell me they were oblivious to the risk.
Now you can just call Ryan Newman “Mr. Opportunity.” He raced his way back from a penalty, and slipped through the opening Bowyer provided. He’s been known to race hard a time or two, but his measured approach on this day nets him a nice little win and a grandfather clock- a fitting end for a deserving driver on a day where trying egos writing checks their cars couldn’t cash cost them. Lady Luck has hosed Newman more than once, so maybe this evens out the score a little bit.
That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking with it. You’re entitled to yours, but isn’t it great that for once, we’re actually talking about the race?
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Jim McCoy is a TV & radio sports anchor and play-by-play announcer living in southern Oregon. While passionate about sports in general, his great love is NASCAR. Favorite quote: "Auto racing is a sport, the others are just games."