Imagine watching the final confrontation of Lord of the Rings. We have Sam somewhere out on the mountain, as Frodo and Smeagol battle for the ring on the edge of the volcano. Then, out of nowhere, Barliman Butterbur, the owner of the Prancing Pony bar, jumps in to steal the ring from them both, leaps onto the back of Bill the horse, and disappears into the sunset. You are left wondering just what in hell just happened. Fontana was just like that.
Barliman…er…Brad Keselowski, on a nice set of four new tires, utilized the second attempt at a green-white-checker to come out of nowhere to get by Kurt Busch (Smeagol) and Kevin Harvick (Frodo), who just had fresh right side only chariots. On the final lap, as Greg Biffle (Sauron?) wrecked in the distance, he pulled it off. We knew Brad was in the movie, but we just did not expect to see him in the end. It marked the first win of the season for the 2012 champ, and the 17th of his career.
While Frodo was second best, a top two performer in his last eight straight, and Smeagol was third, the role of Sam was played by Matt Kenseth. Absolutely superb pit stops left him in front or challenging for the top spot all day. Then, with 14 to go, the boys got their driver out in under 11 seconds, only the see his rear axle failing to survive the departure. Amazingly, they managed to do repairs to allow him to finish on the lead lap, though in 31st.
Kenseth failed to win, but both he and Ryan Newman got good news. With the statute of limitations removed from eligibility for the all-star race, they both got their passes renewed for this May’s event.
Brian Vickers was out in California bringing awareness to those who suffer from blood clots. That is exactly what has removed him from his ride yet again. We hope to see him back in his seat this summer.
NASCAR boss Brian France admits that the COT was a mistake. The ill-handling box was designed for safety, but was not worth a damn for racing. Now if he would only admit that the new rule for runaway tires is a bit of a mistake. Joey Logano got totally screwed for such an infraction, even though the rubber never left the pit stall. Denny Hamlin got called late, but at least his tread did cross over, albeit barely.
So…what exactly was the debris that caused that final caution with less than two laps remaining, with Busch and Harvick dueling for the finish line? Damned if I know. Do you? Does anyone?
So NASCAR has taken a few dollars, a very few, from the Cup folks to pay drivers in its developmental series. I guess stealing from Peter to pay Paul is preferable to actually digging into their own bulging wallets but it is something. Funny how they want to redistribute the wealth Obama style now, at a time when the truck series is no longer broadcast beyond American borders and the Xfinity series is being invaded by drivers a tad beyond developmental. Then again, we now live in a world that does not always makes sense to us, so why should NASCAR be any different.
If you watched on Sunday for excitement, for tight action, or for carnage, you might have been disappointed. If you like surprises, you loved Fontana. Godspeed, Barliman Butterbur. Godspeed.