The Backstretch Blog: Road Courses are the new short tracks

Tony StewartJeff GordonJimmy SpencerAuto RacingMartinsville (Martinsville, Virginia)

At least that's how it seemed this weekend. I have to be honest, I am not a big road course fan. They are interesting to watch for a while, but honestly there is just enough speed, its too hard to pass and they way pit strategy works out, it's too hard to figure out who really has a good car when you are watching on tv. I usually lose interest pretty quickly.

Um, not on Sunday. By they time Tony Stewart's car ended up propped on a tire barrier n turn 11, I was already hooked. But Brian Vickers vs Smoke was just one of many feuds on the day. Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski where both unhappy with Juan Pablo Montoya, and Denny Hamlin described his day on twitter as being "dingered" (a reference to driver AJ Almendinger).

"The problem is turn 11.  There's two places you can pass on this track, going into seven and 11.  You couldn't really pass going into seven (Sunday)," said Jeff Gordon who finished second. "Because you're racing one another, it seems like guys, you know, really block the inside lane and force guys to go around the outside lane.  So it builds frustration.  You get in a position where this is your only shot for that entire lap to try to make a pass."

Complaints about passing have been a staple of the season. So have complaints of a lack of respect for other drivers. That's why Stewart says he dumped Vickers.

"I've been complaining about the way guys have been racing all year," Stewart said. "I like Brian, I'm not holding it against him at all. I don't care if it was (teammate) Ryan Newman, I would have dumped him too. If they want to block that's what is going to happen to them every time for the rest of my career."

Vickers response?

"I wasn't blocking him. I think when he sees the replay and he realizes why I went low, if he looks at it out of my front windshield, he'll realize it had nothing to do with him. It's unfortunate. He made his bed at that moment, and he had to sleep in it."

The quotes at the end of this race, kind of reminded me of what you might hear at the end of a Martinsville or Bristol. Not Infneon. But the reteric made to race that much more entertaining.

“Montoya just drove through me at the top of the hill, that’s just obvious,” Kahne said after their dust up. “Last year when (the Earnhardt Ganassi Racing) cars were really, really good and Jamie McMurray was the man, Juan still couldn’t win a race. That shows about what he can do here in NASCAR anyways.”

Kesolowski's take on Juan? "The body language of Juan’s car said he was going to wreck me. I just made sure that didn’t happen.”

And what did JPM have to say about the whole thing?

"It’s hard when people don’t know how to race on road courses and think they do. It’s OK.”

It's more than OK, it's great for the sport. I miss the days Ward Burton throwing heel pads at Dale Junior or Kurt Busch doing the Hokey Pookie for Jimmy Spencer (you know putting his back side in?)  I mean I like good racing, but a little spice every once in a while makes things a little more interesting.

If road courses are the new short tracks, then we need one of these in the chase. I mean, that race Sunday provided more of a wild card then cars going two by two at Talladega.

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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Tony StewartJeff GordonJimmy SpencerAuto RacingMartinsville (Martinsville, Virginia)
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