If it were up to me, every race would be under the lights.
The anticipation all day, waiting for green flag. The flicker of cameras in the stands, like stars on a clear Summer night. The bumping and grinding, tempers flaring, and the occasional helmet throw.
This is the epitome of a perfect race . . .
. . . So Atlanta was a bit of a disappointment.
Many stated that this race had the same air as Texas did back in April: long green flag runs and not much excitement until the end. That ended up being the theme in all three NASCAR series’ races. Given the expectations were running high after Bristol, Atlanta felt a bit short.
The last laps made up for it, however. Here’s the overview of the whole weekend.
Atlanta Gets Hot Near The End
Friday night put the Trucks series in the spotlight, where Ty Dillon started from the pole. Two notable drivers in that field were The Busch Brothers. Kurt and Kyle had never raced against each other in the Trucks series, so some were focused on them. Also, the latest addition to the Brad Keselowski Racing team, Ryan Blaney, was in the truck again, and K&N Pro Series East wheelman Kyle Larson was back. Multiple story lines usually equals great racing.
I had my eye on Ty Dillon all night. He was up and down for the most part, and, near the end, Richard Childress came on the radio. Pop Pop told his grandson to change his line. The advice shot Ty forward, giving him a chance to contend with Kyle Busch, who’s Truck was stout.
This was a great battle, but, after smacking the wall almost three times, Busch wiggled back, and the youngest Dillon prevailed, winning his first ever NCWTS trophy. There is nothing better than winning your first race on any level, but beating Kyle freakin’ Busch had to make it sweeter. Busch afterwards said Dillon had the better truck in the end.
Of course, many fans on Twitter voiced their opinions, saying Dillon wouldn’t have won if Childress didn’t put him in that ride.
My bottom line? Money doesn’t drive the truck/ car. Simple as that.
Nationwide raced the following night, making things exciting early with a slight disagreement between Kevin Harvick and Kyle Busch. Harvick came over the radio and told crew chief Ernie Cope, “I’m going to spin him.” A response? “Better to get it done early.”
Harvick would be one to talk about all night. His machine was on a rail. Nobody could touch him as the laps wound down.
Then, BAM! A wild caution flew in. As any driver would be, Harvick was upset. NASCAR stated the yellow was for debris. Before the object was specified, ESPN showed a clip of Brad Keselowski tossing his water bottle out the window. (This happened about 15 laps before the caution, actually.) Twitter lit up with speculation that the water bottle resulted in the caution, making the act intentional. When Harvick got wind of this, he was very unhappy.
On the final restart, Harvick was attempting to hold of both Ricky Stenhouse Jr. and Keselowski, but Stenhouse slipped by, claiming the victory. The exciting finish, however, was overpowered by what happened afterwards. Harvick parked on pit road and talked to Busch about their early incident. Then, he moved over to Keselowski and talked about the water bottle incident, Brad stating he had no idea what he was talking about. Since they both finished in the top three, they went to the required Media Center press conference and sat next to each other. The two made jabs at the other, and, when Harvick left, he patted Keselowski on the cheek. “Sleep well, buddy!”
NASCAR came out and said the debris was a piece of aluminum high in turn two, not the water bottle. Not a big deal anymore. Harvick shouldn’t have laid a hand on Brad; it seems very rude and unprofessional to me. Oh well. Congrats to ESPN’s coverage for that tiff.
The big show was Sunday night. Tony Stewart led the field to green, but his car didn’t have anything for the rest of the night. Not even leading the first lap, he fell back. Another notable who didn’t have a good night was Kasey Kahne, who has held that first Wild Card spot since his second win at New Hampshire.
Once again, the race was comprised of long green flag runs, and Martin Truex Jr. was pulling away. Carl Edwards’ engine had issues, putting what seems like the final nail in his Chase hopes’ coffin. Then, Jimmie Johnson and Ryan Newman wrecked. There’s another Wild Card contender struggling again. At this point, Truex was stretching fuel, so he didn’t want to see the final caution, brought out by Jamie McMurray.
The restart shifted Denny Hamlin and Jeff Gordon to first and second, Truex moving back. This is how the race finished. Hamlin’s pit crew aided in flawless stops and gave him the chance for this win, as he stated in his post-win interview. This was Hamlin’s fourth win this season, and his second win in the past two weeks.
We go to Richmond, and the Cup series is going to be the highlight. With the Wild Card race shaken up, who gets in? Who could get knocked out? What will be thrown on the track next?
Pull the belts tight, we’re headed for a crazy ride Saturday night.