Mar. 20, 2017
The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly--Camping World 500
Welcome to this week's edition of The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly, where the temperature in Phoenix was so hot even the scorpions and rattlesnakes hid for cover. Without any further adieu, here we go!
Ryan Newman: Hello, Newman. (Done in my best Kramer from Seinfeld voice; I couldn't help myself!) He gets first billing as this week's race winner. Credit also goes to crew chief Luke Lambert for making the decision to stay out after Joey Logano brought out the caution with 5 laps to go, wiping out a sure Kyle Busch win. While he didn't have the best race car, he had a good enough car to put himself in a position to win at the end. He was the main beneficiary of that late caution. With the win, he punches his ducat into the Chase, provided he stays in the top 30 in points after the summer Richmond race. Newman gets his first win since the 2013 Brickyard 400, and RCR gets its first win since ironically enough, Kevin Harvick won at Phoenix in November 2013.
Kyle Larson: for the third week in a row, he finishes as a runner-up. When am I going to put you as first billing as the winner of the race? Maybe soon. You're due, Kyle. He was strong all day and the wins will come, sooner rather than later.
Ricky Stenhouse, Jr.: another beneficiary of the late caution. Like Newman, he stayed out under that caution. That decision proved to be wise, as he would finish third.
Kyle Busch: he was stout in the final stage of the race, leading over 100 laps but was bit by that last caution.
The Rookies: both Daniel Suarez and Erik Jones had solid top-10 finishes. Suarez finished 7th and Jones finished 8th. Props to Suarez as well from coming up from the mid-20's at one point in the race.
Kevin Harvick: he turned a junk car into one that contended for the win late, only to fade to sixth after a restart.
Honorable Mention: Jimmie Johnson, Denny Hamlin.
Corey Lajoie: only because for the fourth consecutive race, he brought out the first caution.
Tire issues: they bit Joey Logano, Matt Kenseth, Cole Whitt, and David Ragan hard. Whitt would run a few more laps before he exited the race. Kenseth's and Ragan's cars were destroyed after their respective accidents. Logano's accident with five laps to go ended his day.
The Weather: it was 90 degrees at race time, rising to 94 by the end of the race, making it one of the hottest races in Phoenix history. Phoenix itself had near-record heat for the day. Perhaps NASCAR should consider returning the spring race to prime time, given the number of drivers with tire issues due to the extreme heat.
That is my analysis of this week's race. Feel free to comment on how you saw the race.