June 20, 2011
NASCAR needs to do some tinkering
By Dean McNulty, QMI Agency
BROOKLYN, MICH. - The victory by Denny Hamlin in the No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota to Michigan International Speedway on Sunday was strictly the result of having the best track position at the right time — with less than 10 laps to go.
Not to take anything away from Hamlin — he was full value for the victory — but it has to be a worrisome trend that passing when a win is on the line has become a premium in the NASCAR Sprint Cup series.
You could almost hear the air coming out of Carl Edwards tires after the No. 99 Roush Fenway Ford lost the drag race to the end of pit road on the final caution of the 400 lap race.
He knew right then and there — as did second place finisher Matt Kenseth in the No. 17 RFR Ford — that the chances of catching and passing Hamlin were slim and none.
Edwards, in fact, made an impassioned plea in the post-race scrum that NASCAR bosses make changes to the cars — there are apparently plans for a new body style to be introduced in the 2013 season — to decrease downforce to make passing easier.
“This is a great race track and track position is so important,” Edwards said. “Sadly, downforce is such a big factor in these cars and I am really hoping that NASCAR will take the opportunity in 2013 to take downforce away so the fans can see the guys race race cars and not race downforce.”
Edwards said that it is just no fun racing when you realize you can’t win even if you are close at the end.
“All the cars are very close,” he said. “So let’s say all of the cars are a tenth (of a second) apart and you are behind two or three cars, your car is two-tenths of a second slow.
“You can’t make that up. I am not whining. Denny earned this win and those are the rules we are under. Track position was huge and I just wish it wasn’t like that.”
Kyle Busch, who finished third Sunday, agreed that NASCAR must make changes to make the races more exiting.
“I don’t know that I’ve ever seen a guy in the last run of the race take four tires and drive by everybody else and win the thing,” he said. “Last time that happened was probably a long, long time ago.”
WICKENS ON TOP
Canada’s Robert Wickens will get another chance at a Formula One drive after he won and came second in a pair of Renault 3.5 series races at the Nurburgring on Saturday and Sunday.
His 1-2 combination has put Wickens on top of the series leader board with a 30-point advantage over Tech 1 Racing’s Kevin Korjus and Wickens’ Carlin teammate Jean-Eric Vergne, who are tied for second.
It was confirmed after Sunday’s race that the Renault F-1 team will put Wickens in one of their cars at the European Grand Prix next weekend at Hungaroring for a half-hour of demonstration laps, as a prize for leading the championship at the midway point.
“You take every opportunity that you can to drive a Formula One car, but I was trying not to think about the possible Lotus (Renault) run over the weekend,” Wickens said. “I can’t wait for Budapest.”
J.D. Gibbs, racing boss at Joe Gibbs Racing, did everything but deny on Sunday that the team is interested in signing free-agent Edwards. Edwards is in negotiations with RFR to extend his deal past this season but rumours abound that Joe Gibbs is putting a full course press to sign the Missouri native. Gibbs, however, wouldn’t admit to anything after Sunday’s Michigan race. “We have three teams right now (Kyle Busch, Denny Hamlin and Joey Logano) that we want to concentrate on,” Gibbs said. Logano, however, has slipped badly this season an currently sits in 23rd position in the championship and if he doesn’t improve Edwards would be a good fit. ... A pair of unlikely combatants at Michigan on Sunday — Mark Martin and Dale Earnhardt Jr. Earnhardt blamed Martin for pushing him into the wall late in the race ending his hopes of halting his 108 race winless streak.