Michigan apparently a not-so-friendly reminder to NASCAR teams that the regular season is about to end

Did anyone else find it fascinating concerning what all can happen in the space of a month?

Here are a few examples:

A. I personally went from “productive citizen” to “hooray, I’m stuck in my home because I get to wear an oxygen line leash!” thanks to Covid.

B. The Allies went from storming the beaches at Normandy on June 6 to controlling a significant portion of France four weeks later.

C. And finally, Harry Gant won all four September races in 1991. He didn’t equate this to a championship, but hey, I thought it would be neat to bring up Mr. September.

What’s happened so far in August?

1. Well, in case we have all forgotten, we had something of a snoozer of an event at Watkins Glen, where, on top of us being quietly reminded that the outgoing NASCAR machinery really doesn’t have much of any place on a flat-ish road course (hooray for the incoming Next-Gen cars!). Practically every driver on the track burst a rotator cuff in their attempts at being “gentlemen drivers” in how furiously and happily they waved Kyle Larson to the front.

2. Do I dare bring up the Indy road course debacle from last week/Scene 24? On top of being reminded…again…concerning how poorly the old, paltry downforce Model T NASCAR machinery does on flat road courses or even flat tracks for that matter. We also had the completely unfamiliar specter to process that with a handful of laps to go. There was a mildly alarming realization that the Turn 6 curbing was now actively wrecking the drivers.

Concerning the “amateur hour” that unfolded afterward, it definitely appeared that something had gone horribly awry with the Turn 6 curbing, but shouting at our TV’s only works 50% of the time in making people onscreen listen to what we’re telling them to do or not to do. In this case, it was readily apparent that something had gone “Exxon Valdez”-level of wrong with that curbing. This reminds me of another D-Day invasion story, where a Tiger tank got past an Allied artillery station because whoever was manning it was busily relieving himself, and the Tiger knocked out several American tanks.

At any rate, we all saw the show that unfolded afterward, including the truly genius decision to leave the perpendicular secondary curbing/Robby Gordon Super Stadium Truck Series jump ramp in place for the remaining few laps. After the lethal primary curbing had been unceremoniously removed, a wee bit of vehicular carnage presented itself as entertainment.

Side notes for Indy:

  • Chase Briscoe gets punted off of turn one by Denny Hamlin (who was previously punted into Briscoe by someone else), and Hamlin is then somewhat shocked to discover that Briscoe just might retaliate only against the person who was punting the No. 14? Uh, okay.
  • Concerning the No. 14 “non-retaliation,” and “Briscoe has never done anything like this ever before!” No, he’s probably done it, it’s just that he’s never been this blatant and caught. Kudos to his explanation concerning what happened afterward, almost as if someone else (space aliens?) took control of his car and forced him to run into the back of Hamlin.
  • Yes, Indy happened almost two weeks ago, but I thought it would be better if I took an extra week to write about that. As my inner misanthrope was dominating any conversation I had immediately after that event, especially taking into account that the race probably should have ended after the first big curbing wreck that took out many competitors. But then again, it was nice to see Allmendinger in victory lane, so my thoughts are mixed.

3. Michigan, however, that was the turnaround. Oh, hey, NASCAR teams finally remembered that the end of this season was two weekends away, and then proceeded to try to make up for 20-something weekends of coasting through the 2021 regular season all in one race. As everyone was racing for the lead, to the point where it looked like even the pace car was beating and banging to try to stay ahead of everyone else.

Okay, I might be exaggerating slightly.

Michigan notes: Um, can someone remind me as to why Austin Dillon has a full-time ride in NASCAR? And why is he parked in a car that has the legendary No. 3 on the side?

Asking for a friend.

4. The regular-season finale is Saturday night, in the Coke Zero 400 at Daytona. This is NASCAR’s original crash fest track and what a way to close out the regular season, practically the rest of the entire field (you know, pretty every team out there not already locked into the NASCAR Championship). This event has a distinct flavor…hint…feeling of October 2011, at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, another season-ending event with a huge potential payoff for the winner, a track that was hosting cars that were probably too fast for the venue. A monster crash occurred with that year’s Indy 500 winner taken from us far too early in one of Indycar’s most horrible incidents.

Not that I’m suggesting that there are too many elements of potential panic being pushed into one five-pound bag, but judging by the race full of Hail Marys being thrown last weekend at Michigan, this weekend doesn’t suggest, in the slightest, that this won’t be toned down for this night time Daytona bookend to the 2021 regular season, which promises to be one for the highlight reels for all the wrong reasons.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of SpeedwayMedia.com


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