This will be a more abbreviated post than the ones you're familiar with. Aaron beat me to the punch with an excellent diatribe on Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s popularity and Brandon followed-up with a reflection on his championship chances after Michigan. And thus, my instant reactions recap has morphed into a slightly-delayed analysis post.
How incredible of a moment did we witness on Sunday? I'll concede that it was just a single mid-summer victory but it felt like a moment. And during a period of racing where moments are hard to come by, Sunday will be remember for quite some time.
After taking his victory lap, Earnhardt was congratulated by crew members of several teams in a visual comparable to his father's 1998 Daytona 500 victory. He was congratulated by every driver who was interviewed during TNT's postrace coverage and by several others in victory lane. This is the very definition of a popular victory.
And why did he receive such applause when it could be argued that Marcos Ambrose and Regan Smith's victories last year were just as heartwarming? The answer can be found on the other side.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. is held in such high regard by everyone in the sport and rightfully so. We think of him as a relatively young and boyish driver but Earnhardt is 37 years old and in the middle of his 13th full-season in Sprint Cup.
Before that, Earnhardt grew up in a Sprint Cup garage. How many of you remember his back-to-back Nationwide Series championships or a blonde-headed Junior running around his dad's feet, dressed in a Goodwrench Service crew suit?
Dale is synonymous with NASCAR and it was heartwarming to see that recognized on Sunday.
So can Junior carry the momentum forward and duplicate Sunday's success for the rest of the season? Let's not entirely dismiss this as an isolated event. Through Sunday, Dale has Sunday's victory, six top-5s and 12 top-10s in 15 starts. Judging from his season-long consistency, Sunday might have signaled the start of several wins that could easily lead to a long championship run.
We'll call it the summer of Dale.
I'm curious to get your take on Michigan speeds. They reached in excess of 215 mph over the weekend, blistering tires and forcing Goodyear to change compounds, fearing for driver safety. But the high speeds generated a fair amount of media buzz.
Some fans have conceded that racing will never be competitive at Michigan, so why not drop the reigns and promote the "Fastest Race in NASCAR." So what's your opinion - are speeds out of control on new track surfaces or are you intrigued by the possibility of racing at 215 mph?
We're still a week away but next weekend is perhaps this website's favorite weekend of the season with two road course events at Road America (Nationwide Series) and Sonoma (Sprint Cup).
#WeWantRightTurns is the official Ranting and Raving hashtag of choice to lobby for more road courses in NASCAR, and we invite you to help us get this trending over the weekend. This will be the second year in a row of trending if we are successful.
Do you share our sentiment on road courses or are we alone in the NASCAR blogosphere?
Short Track Racing
The Rowdy 251 at Berlin Speedway is going green tonight for another mid-week short track late model race. Kyle Busch, Chase Elliott, Ross Kenseth, and Travis Pastrana are among those competing in the main event . Check out Speed 51's radio broadcast, which starts at 8:30 p.m. EST!
Use this post to talk about that race, or to respond to the questions brought up about Michigan and road course racing below in our comments section.