As The Sun Sets on Pheonix

I almost missed the race this weekend, as I forgot that it was on Saturday this week. I did miss the beginning of the race, but as I understand it everyone but those who were at the track did as Fox stayed with the rain-delayed Red Sox game.


As much as I hate missing the beginning of a race I have to respect what Fox did, I only hope that they do that in return for any future rain-delayed NASCAR event.


I've got to feel for pole sitter Ryan Newman as he had some major engine issues. On Lap 133, Newman's engine dropped oil all over the track and, as a result, a number of cars were caught up in the ensuing carnage. The mess left by Newman and the wrecked cars forced NASCAR to wave the red flag so they could properly clean up the track.


"It's the same thing that happened to us in Bristol," Newman said. "It's disappointing. That's two times in the first eight races that we had the same problem. Our engine company needs to get their stuff together."


"The motor still runs fine," Newman continued. "It just pumps oil out the front end and it gets on the headers and smokes real bad. I apologize for what I did to the race track, but that's all I had to work with."


Dodge engineers really need to look at this front seal problem, as they are in position to loose their only two drivers currently in the top 12 in points, Newman and Kahne.


I know Kahne didn't have engine problems (he actually had brake problems) but his teammate, and outside pole sitter, Elliott Sadler also had engine problems, which, if goes unchecked, could cause problems for Kahne later in the season.


Hendrick Motorsports finally won a points race this season - like we didn't know it was going to happen sooner or later - with Jimmie Johnson stretching his fuel mileage better than anyone else. Clint Bowyer also stretched his fuel mileage and finished 7 seconds behind Johnson in second.


Now all those people out there who were asking whether or not Hendrick Motorsports was in trouble this year can all go and pick on the Dodge teams instead - unless you are a Jeff Gordon fan.


It was interesting to watch the closing laps unfold. As Chad was telling Jimmie to driver slower and slower the lapped cars started passing him, including teammate Casey Mears in the 5 car.


As Mears passed him I wondered why he didn't just stay behind Jimmie for two reasons; 1) to protect his rear bumper in case someone who was quicker didn't realize he was driver slower and accidentally ran him over, and 2) to push Jimmie down the straightaways to help him save gas and to push him in case his fuel pressure did drop so that he would have enough steam to cross the finish line while still under his own power.


Interestingly enough though, as Jimmie went into his last lap guess who he passed? Casey Mears of course. Hmmm ... did Casey really drop off that much, or did he drop back to help his teammate after all? I personally think it was the latter. I'd like to ask Casey about it though just to see if he did it because he wanted to or because he was told to.


Look for the Hendrick cars to be the class of the field at Talladega next week, with any one of the 4 drivers having a chance for the win. Without looking at any stats, my gut feeling is that the winner next week will either be Jeff Gordon or Dale Jr.


For more in-depth coverage for this weekend's race I suggest you go to Track talk with Jaynelle Ramon who was at the track all weekend taking pictures, videos, and conducting interviews. She has at least 12 great posts from PIR this weekend.


As an aside: My congratulations go to the U.S. Women's National Hockey Team for their gold medal performance at the Women's World Hockey Championships in China this weekend.



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