Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch or Martin Truex Jr. didn’t win last week on the wide two-mile Michigan layout, which is good news for most of us hoping the NASCAR Cup Series balances out instead of being so top heavy. But the bad news is the winner, Clint Bowyer, needed to use some pit strategy and have rain shorten the race.
Even then, Harvick was still reeling him in at a rapid rate and would have passed Bowyer within two laps.
I had thought by June the kept secrets of achieving maximum speed by the elite teams would have been stolen, shared or eventually found out on their own. But one more race on a downforce track like Michigan shows no one is catching up. Harvick’s teammate Bowyer and Kurt Busch are getting close and at times we see Kyle Busch’s teammates Denny Hamlin and Erik Jones looking fast, but overall, there is a divide in the sport like I’ve never seen before. Is this what it was like when Richard Petty and David Pearson were winning each week?
The part that is really upsetting is wagering on a driver to win hasn’t been fun, I know, because finding an odds nugget of 25-to-1 or higher to win the races is so unlikely. It’s basically a payout of 7-2 or less almost every week. Bowyer paid 20-1 last week, and his average speeds in practice showed an indication that he might be fast on race day, but you can’t handicap rain and pit strategy. Driver matchups are what I’m betting most now. But that will change next week.
After Father’s Day weekend we get a road course race at Sonoma Raceway, which means it’s all about the driver and the edge Harvick, Busch and Truex have in their car being negated, even though all three have won at Sonoma before. We’ll be talking about A.J. Allmendinger, Hamlin and Bowyer rather than the elites. I love road course racing the best in NASCAR with these big heavy cars making both left and right turns and I like it even more because of the current climate of the sport.
I’d also like to acknowledge my father as part of the reason I love NASCAR so much. He was always looking for ways to bring extra cash to our household in the 1970s and had a knack for doing bodywork and fixing engines. We’d go to the junkyard, find a car, get extra pieces and chrome from other junk cars and bring it home.
When he’d come home from his 9-to-5 job, he’d work on a project car almost every night and after about a month, there was a beautiful hot rod and he’d profit around $2,000. He was brilliant with his skills and most were on GM hot rods all the younger kids wanted. I hated seeing those cars go every month, but the memories of just Dad and I all greased up and building something together will always make me smile. And when I see a sweet ‘68 Camaro on the road, I always get the same smile.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there.