Monday, March 5, 2018

9 Things We Thought About During the Pennzoil 400 in Las Vegas

Kevin Harvick Celebrates his Victory of the Pennzoil 400 (Photo by Brian Lawdermilk/Getty Images)
Well, the season of mile and a half racing has commenced. With its cheese grater surface, Atlanta ran more like a Darlington than the cookie-cutters we can look forward to after the rest of the West Coast swing is over. But that didn't stop Las Vegas from producing a predictable and somewhat sedate afternoon of racing.  Which left time to ponder a variety of topics along the way.

1.       Looks like Harvick has it going this year: After the emotional score in Atlanta, this week's class in driving focused on a dominant run by a team that seems to be untouched by the fleet of new rules this season.
2.       Are the lug nut guns really a huge issue? While we have seen several lug nut gun failures during pit stops this year, is it really an issue with the NASCAR provided equipment? Honestly, there have always been failures during every race.  We're just hyper focused on the problem because it's a chance to throw some mud at our favorite sanctioning body.
3.       Hey! Blaney's great run in the No. 21 last year was no fluke: Did you notice that the new No. 12 team has been running right up front with the No. 2 and No. 22? I guess that young kid just might have the chops for a championship team.
4.       Where are the Hendrick boys?  I still don't think Jimmie Johnson and the No. 48 are in any kind of trouble, but it is unusual for the entire Hendrick stable to be running so far down in the listings.  We've heard of rebuilding years in other major league sports--I suspect Hendrick is using 2018 for that purpose with their fleet of rookie drivers to bring up to speed.
5.       I really do like the new FOX Sports scoring pylon: I realize that there are still some glitchy problems with the new graphic that sticks to the right hand side of your TV screen, but I love it. The old scroll just went too slow and they changed up the stats so often you couldn't follow a driver other than the Top 3.
6.       Chris Myers continues to irk me: I know that man has been providing emcee services for the Hollywood Hotel since FOX began their NASCAR coverage in 2001, but I still can't stand his stand-up comic approach to Sunday afternoons. Please make him go away.
7.       Was that a better race than New Hampshire? This year New Hampshire Motor Speedway will only be hosting one race, losing its second date to Las Vegas. It's been a blend of low ticket sales and "boring" racing that led to the corporate shuffling of race dates. But does Las Vegas provide a better afternoon of racing? Not that I can see. I guess the slot machines provide an extra reason to spend a week with your racing heroes. I guess...
8.       The odds are...I can't stand kitchy pre-race coverage:  If the only thing you can come up with to fill the hours and hours of race weekend chatter is what kind of odds the betting parlors are putting up for Sunday's race, it's time to turn in your TV production credentials.  It's time to step up your game, FOX.
9.       Heading to the land of the rising sun--one last race at the old Phoenix:  The racing surface is not going to be impacted by the major renovation, but with the Start/Finish line moving to the entrance of the dog leg, restarts are going to something crazy to see. But that's in the Fall. For now, enjoy watching one last race at this vintage venue.

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