Sometimes nothing is best to say
• Long after Sunday’s race was over, NASCAR’s vice president of competition, Robin Pemberton, provided a thorough, clear explanation of why caution lights inexplicably came on with two of 500 laps remaining. Unfortunately, Pemberton’s explanation wasn’t the only one offered by NASCAR. Even if the original explanation – a mechanical malfunction – honestly was thought to be the correct one at the time, NASCAR never should issue statements or explanations until it is certain it has the right one. The best of intentions easily can be overshadowed by a mistaken perception of a cover-up, or even worse, incompetence.
• If there is one sport whose fans always should be wary to assume a particular outcome, it’s NASCAR. How many of the sport’s most famous race finishes came about because something unexpected happened on the final lap of a very long race? Dozens. It is silly to suggest “the right driver” won Sunday simply because it was the same driver leading before the caution miscue. We know who won because of a mistaken caution and subsequent downpour. We have no idea who would have won had the race remained under green.
• On the surface, Jimmie Johnson (19th) and Joey Logano (20th) had average finishes. It would have been interesting to see how the outcome might have changed if both had not suffered issues during the race – Johnson with a shredded tire and Logano with broken power steering. Both had very fast cars early in the race.
Stewart ended up fourth, by far his best outing of the season, and he was the only non-Ford driver among the top five.
“Everybody just worked hard all weekend. We had a long way to go from Friday when we weren’t very good, and every day we just got better and better,” he said. “So, I’m really proud of this team.”
“The first few weeks haven’t been great to us, so it was a good way to come back,” Almirola said. “You want to win. I saw it right there at my fingertips on that one restart when I raced side-by-side with Carl, but he had a lot better car than we did.”
Ambrose said Sunday’s race was particularly “aggressive.”
“These cars go a lot faster around this track than the old-style cars and we had to really dig in our feet,” he said. “The groove went to the very fence and we had to really watch ourselves there and keep adjusting the car all night.”
Although he did not lead, several times he was battling for the top spot.
“It’s crazy to think it’s kind of a disappointing finish for the way we ran for most of the race, but all in all it was a good race,” he said. “It was a lot of fun racing with Austin Dillon there at the end. We must have ran side-by-side or so for the last 20 laps.”
Earnhardt began the year with finishes of first, second and second but struggled Sunday and finished 24th, four laps down from the leaders.
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