The big story heading into the race weekend in Texas was the race’s sponsorship. The race was called the “NRA 500.” Yes, that NRA. Of course, the sponsorship started a huge political firestorm in all forms of media.
But once the cars got on the race track the story shifted to the racing, which should be the main story at every race anyway. When the race went green, most forgot that the race was sponsored by the National Rifle Association. Instead we watched another long, mostly dull race from the Texas Motor Speedway.
The sponsorship was done to bring attention to the race, and it worked. But it can only work so well. It brought some eyes to the race. It turned away others. But those that did watch saw another dull race. And that’s a problem.
Races at Texas are just too long. I’m not usually an advocate for shortening races, but in the case of Texas I am very much a proponent of the idea.
Saturday night’s race went green at 7:45 ET. It didn’t end until about 11:30. That’s a pretty long race, and there were times that felt like we weren’t even seeing any racing, but riding until that next pit stop for fresh tires.
If the race was to be shortened by 100 miles like Pete Pistone of MRN Radio and SiriusXM, the race could be drastically improved. It would lessen the amount of time drivers have to ride around. It would cause them to race hard all race long because they have less time to get to the front. Shortening the race by 100 miles worked wonders for Pocono last season.
All that said, things weren’t all bad during Saturday’s race. The racing was fantastic on restarts, and it’s always great to see tire strategy rather than fuel strategy. I love seeing tires that wear out over the course of a run.
My advice to NASCAR would be to continue working with Goodyear to produce tires that wear out over the course of a green flag run.
My advice to Texas Motor Speedway would be to shorten the races by 100 miles. It could make the racing better.
But hey, who am I?
Penalties to Come?
Before Saturday night’s race the two Penske Racing teams ran into some troubles with NASCAR during pre-race technical inspection.
Both teams failed tech a couple of times, and then both had the rear-end housings taken off their cars and confiscated by NASCAR.
After the race the 56 team failed post-race tech inspection for being too low on the right front.
This is the first time that someone has attempted to “play in the gray areas” with the new race car, so it will be interesting to see where NASCAR comes down with their penalties.
The Camping World Truck Series raced at the Rockingham Speedway yesterday for the second year in a row. Personally, I thought the race was great. Others may disagree considering the dominance that Kyle Larson displayed, but I look for certain things throughout a race that perhaps others don’t.
I look to see how much side-by-side racing there is throughout the field. I don’t want to see a single-file parade. Having more lead changes would have made things a bit better, but even still the battles for the lead were really good even though Larson won out in the end of every one.
There was a reason for the great racing yesterday; one that I already brought up when talking about the Texas race. The track is so abrasive that the tires wear a lot. The drivers were slipping and sliding and screaming that they needed new tires within 10 laps.
And the tires are what led to Joey Logano’s dramatic climb through the field in the last 20 laps of the race.
But regardless of what happened on the race track, it’s great to see NASCAR action at The Rock again. I just wish the grandstands were a bit fuller.
The Young Guys
Once again we got to see the young guys strut their stuff in the Camping World Truck Series.
20-year-old Jeb Burton won the pole for the second straight race. 19-year-old Kyle Larson won the race. 16-year-olds Chase Elliott and Erik Jones finished fifth and ninth respectively.
The young guys are out in full force and they are incredibly talented. But it was the actions off the track of one 19-year-old who crashed late that left me more impressed than the finishes of the other young guys on the track.
Darrell Wallace Jr. was crashed under caution by 54-year-old Ron Hornaday Jr. with just a few laps remaining. It was obvious to everyone who saw it that it was done intentionally (no matter how vehemently Hornaday denied that), and Wallace knew that.
But he stayed calm. He didn’t retaliate on the track. He didn’t attack Hornaday after the race. Instead he did a peaceful interview, got his Coca-Cola chug on air, and explained his side of the story.
There are times when it is obvious that Darrell Wallace Jr. is only 19-years-old. If you follow him on Twitter you know what I’m talking about. But you wouldn’t have known he’s only 19 during that interview.
That’s called maturity, and it was great to see.