Race day at the Brickyard started with much anticipation and enthusiasm for both fans and competitors alike. It quickly turned into frustration for everyone. As I mentioned in my preview blog, I attended the first 13 Brickyards and I have seen the other two in it's entirity on TV. I have to say this is by far, the worst Brickyard ever. Being a Jimmie Johnson fan, you would think I would be elated he came home with the victory. I was instead upset at how that entire race was run. It turned into a race down the yellow brick road rather than the Allstate 400 at the Brickyard. Since tires were the main issue today, I forgoe the usual 5 lugnuts to a 4 tire race recap blog.
1 - Tires -- Let's go with the most obvious first. Was it Nascar or Goodyear's fault for not bringing a tire good enough to race? That question will be all over the airwaves, newspapers and internet. I have to agree with what Dale Jr. said after the race. He stated that the Nascar put on the best show they could with what they had to work with. Not only did the cords start showing about 9 laps into a run, they were worn down the middle and on the edges. It wasn't all the teams fault with camber settings. It wasn't all IMS's fault for diamond grinding the track. It wasn't all Nascar's fault with the new chassey. In hindsight, it would have proven very beneficial if Nascar had an open test session at Indy earlier in the year. If that had occurred, this mess may very have never happened.
2 - Color Of The Day Is Yellow -- Eleven yellow flags for a total of 52 laps out of the 160 laps run. That is just at one third of the race. This part is what frustrated me the most, competion cautions. We had six of them throughout the race. I can understand the first couple of competion cautions to let the teams figure out what they needed to do, but to continually do it throughout the race was awful. Nascar must not have much faith in the teams crew chiefs to preserve their car and driver and not risk blowing a tire and come in on their own. When teams were short pitting before that competion yellow, Nascar then closed the pits three laps prior to that mandatory yellow. This took most strategy out of the teams hands. It only left them to think of what minor adjustment to make on the car (because afterall, you were going to get a maximum of 12 laps of green flag time) and if you were going to change four tires or two.
3 - Jimmie Johnson -- JJ was at the top of the leaderboard all day long and was consistantly the best car throughout the race. When it came down to crunch time for his pit crew do do their best work, they came through and helped provide his second Brickyard triumph. Hopefully Rick Hendrick can dig a little deeper in his pockets and give them a little more after this race because they deserve it. He has continued his trend of crash and catch on fire followed the next year by a win. That trend started in 2005. I'm sure he would rather skip the crash and burn part for 2009.
4 - Surprise Finishes -- This award goes hands down to A. J. Allmendinger. He starts 26th and comes home with a 10th place finish. At one time he led the Brickyard and maintained a top 10 spot for the last two thirds of the race. Marcos Ambrose finished in 22nd place - one spot ahead of Tony Stewart. Not bad for his first start at the famed 2 1/2 mile oval.
Next week we're headed back to Pocono Raceway for the second time in just a few weeks. As we head out of Indy and on to Pocono, just be sure to keep those lugnuts tight.