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Monday, February 22, 2010

California dreaming up in smoke

It looks like Kevin Harvick is going to give Jimmie Johnson a run for his money for the championship.

Not so fast
I say it 'looks like' because with only two races completed, the season is still in its infancy. Far too many races have yet to be run. Too many drivers have yet to come to stride. Predictions are for soothsayers or witches with crystal balls, not for racing. Every week will likely yield a new star, since the high level of competition of Sprint Cup drivers could produce a new one each week. But, even the best drivers must tolerate the interference of Lady Luck. She takes no prisoners. She just has her way with them.

Such was the case at Fontana, as several drivers lost their engines after a sustained 900 RPMs on California's fast superspeedway for just too long.

Losing one engine during a race is too many, but Sunday's race turned hard-nose race car drivers like Juan Pablo Montoya, Ryan Newman, and Martin Truex, Jr., into spectators. Kasey Kahne also had engine troubles as did Jeff Gordon.

Trouble is, so many commentators blathers about California being the poster child for the rest of the season. I totally disagree. If that were the case, I wouldn't bother to watch the remaining races. And anyone who knows me, knows that will not be the case.

Case in point
Ryan Newman's season is a woeful repeat of last year. As of right now, he is 0 and two. Two DNFs have resulted in Newman's poor showing of 36th place. Both were from no fault of his own. Newman needs to learn to woo Lady Luck since she seems to be out to get him.

Newman was one of the fastest cars on the track Sunday. He started back in 18th but was running second when a bad restart was followed by the dreaded billows of smoke and trailing oil following close behind as he tried to get to Pit Road.

Newman drove his tail off for the entire day, but all he got for it was a snide remark from Darrell Waltrip in the FOX sports booth that Newman's problem was 'self-induced.' We know Waltrip would never have been so cold over a Dale Earnhardt, Jr. incident.

I take offense at Darrell Waltrip's remarks
As a fan of Newman's I am really starting to take offense at Waltrip's remarks. While Newman admittedly spun the tires, he said he didn't rev the engine. It wasn't until the following lap that the engine let go, in a big way.

Waltrip made similar remarks about Newman last week after Elliott Sadler got into him, caused him to spin, and ended his day at Daytona.

For the most part, I have enjoyed DW's commentary. It is good for us non-drivers to have the explanation of a former driver who can tell it like it is. I even enjoy some of Waltrip's stories, since for me, NASCAR is as much about the people involved as it is the fast race cars. But Waltrip's obvious bias toward certain drivers, like his brother Michael and his adopted son Dale, Jr. over all the others in the field is becoming rather annoying. Perhaps it is time to get someone in the booth that knows NASCAR but who can respect all the drivers' abilities.

On to Las Vegas, the home of Lady Luck. I have my fingers crossed.