Today marks the opening day, so to speak of NASCAR on ABC and the first Chase race of the post-season. So how did my man do?
Great, to start off with. Qualifying is not Tony’s strong suit, so I knew that when he qualified second (after Mark Martin) that he was sitting on one fast car. Smoke didn’t disappoint there. He led laps twice in the beginning of the race.
Then later on, a loose axle cap gave him the issue that I believe kept Tony out of the top 3. First, I gotta say that Darian Grubb probably didn’t make the right call not telling Tony IMMEDIATELY about the issue. Hey, Grubb, Tony’s no puppet driver, he’s the boss!! Not to mention, Tony is one of the sport’s best problem solvers–he should have been told immediately. Nor should Grubb have made the call to wait to fix it. Yes, I know, waiting for a caution sounds good but he still had to sit there and have the cap replaced and if he had done it during green flag condtions you can bet your asphalt they would have fixed it quicker. Not to mention, in the resulting caution, Tony could have stayed out for track position.
In other news, Kasey Kahne got a DNF when his engine blew. Junior, whose woes have followed him over to Hendrick, was having a great day, in contention for the lead wih a great car when he was taken out by the 00 car of David Reutimann, who is probably the most unpopular guy of the day right now.
Pablo Montoya made history by being the first foreign born driver to make the Chase and nearly won today but he just couldn’t beat Mark Martin. Of course, he said he could have nudged him out of the way but that he wouldn’t because of his respect for Martin (as well as due to the help Martin has given Montoya in the past) but that next time, he was going to bump him if he had to. Montoya is famous for his aggressive nature in the sport.
In the end, Mark Martin won the race at Loudden, his first time ever at this race. Congratulations to Martin who is first in the points standings by a margin of 35. Tony Stewart slips down to 6th place due to that damn axle cap..heads are going to roll on that one, no doubt. Good luck, Tony at next weeks, race..I believe it’s at Dover.