Race Rewind: Observations

February 18, 2013 

When drivers participating in a race are confused about the rules, that says a lot. For all the good things about fan involvement surrounding the Sprint Unlimited, keeping things simple is always better. Remember, the race has a bigger audience then just those who voted. So, the people following along that didn’t participate need to be able to understand as well. Suggestion for the future: Cut down on the number of things being voted on and get rid of votes unrelated to the race (i.e. fire suits being worn).

The racing got one positive review from me – it seems clear the two-car drafting tandems are a thing of the past. Other than that, the race gets an incomplete. Mostly, that comes from the fact there just were not enough cars on the track most of the race to mimic what will be seen in next Sunday’s Daytona 500. Overall though, I’d say so far, so good.

I get the feeling Kevin Harvick’s No. 29 Chevrolet team is dedicated this season to proving all the detractors wrong that they can be in the title hunt even though Harvick has already said he’s leaving the Richard Childress Racing organization at season’s end. And why shouldn’t they be? Dodge announced early last year they were leaving the sport and went out and won the Sprint Cup championship.

Notebook:

Stewart takes the blame: Tony Stewart took the blame for the nine-car wreck that eliminated several top drivers from Saturday night’s race early.

“I got a big run on (Matt Kenseth) and I went to the bottom. I thought I was clear. The spotter did not clear me so I went on my own,” he said. “I thought I had enough of a run to be clear of the third-place guy.

“I’m pretty sure I clipped whoever was in third. I made a move for the lead and probably was a little anxious too early.”

Edwards can’t catch a break: First, Carl Edwards was going to start the Unlimited on the pole but had to move to the rear because he wrecked his primary car in Friday practice.

Then, as the race wound to close, a window net came off the right side of his car and he was black-flagged by NASCAR. Edwards finished eighth but was moved to the 12th position after the penalty.

5 key moments

1 . Earlier in the week, fans voted for a race format with three segments of 30, 25 and 20 laps. Fans also voted for a four-tire pit stop between segments 1 and 2 and for no driver eliminations (although a big wreck self-eliminated some of the field).

2 . Tony Stewart’s early move to lead the race on Lap 16 resulted in a nine-car pileup that claimed several race contenders including Denny Hamlin, Kyle Busch, Jimmie Johnson and Jeff Gordon, among others.

3. Stewart got through the accident unscathed and won Segment 1. He lost his advantage during a mandatory four-tire pit stop between Segments 1 and 2 as Kevin Harvick got off pit road first.

4. Harvick remained in control of the second segment for the most part but Stewart had another scary moment racing hard with Dale Earnhardt Jr., and Earnhardt developed a tire rub, slowing his progress.

5. Harvick put on an excellent display of blocking – which Stewart despises – to hold off Greg Biffle and the rest of the field to win for the third time in five tries in this non-points event.

Next race

Daytona 500

Where: Daytona International Speedway, Daytona Beach, Fla.

When: 1 p.m. Sunday

TV: Fox

Radio: Motor Racing Network

Last year’s winner: Matt Kenseth

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