Parker's Points: Helmets fly, a hot points race, and a tightrope tirade! | Sports & Recreation
CONCORD - What a weekend for racing! The Sprint Cup series roared into Bristol and that created a lot of excitement.
To break it all down we've got the foremost expert on all things NASCAR. He lit up the scoreboard when he wore Raider red at South Rowan, then helped some of NASCAR's best to negotiate the twisty road course that is public relations, now he's the communications director at Charlotte Motor Speedway. It must be our very own Adrian Parker and Parker's Points!
DW: Wow! Bristol was beatin' and bangin' and that was just Smoke's helmet! Lots to cover in this one question AP. What about the racing, the track surface? And what about that incident with Stewart, Kenseth, and the helmet? Your friends with Kenseth, would he just tend to chuckle about something like that?
I thought Bristol was, start to finish, the most exciting race of the season. Plenty of drama throughout the night and most of that was created by that fact Bristol seemed to be a one groove race track again.
Now, the preferred groove is no longer around the bottom, as it was in 2006, in fact, it’s now around the top, but it appears as if there’s only one way around the track again and that’s the recipe for beating and banging.
In all there were 22 lead changes, 13 cautions, one helmet toss, one finger wag, one shoulder shrug, one no comment and lots of hot tempers on Saturday night in Bristol. Those are the type of numbers that earned Bristol the moniker The Last Great Coliseum.
As for the Stewart, Kenseth incident, I personally thought it was hard-nosed, short-track racing, but more important, in the grand scheme of things, it was a Bristol Moment. It was two stars of the sport not settling for second, getting together and wrecking, and then one of those stars letting his emotions show in front of the enormous crowd and the millions watching around the world. That kind of drama should make everyone with a stake in NASCAR smile.
I haven’t spoken with Kenseth since, but I know he never enjoys being in the spotlight for something like this. It comes with the territory though. No matter who you are, if you are running well and competing for victories, you’re eventually going to have dustups with other drivers.
That being said, I was happy that Kenseth was nowhere around when Stewart got to drive an M-36 Jackson Tank Destroyer at Charlotte Motor Speedway earlier this week.
DW: Who comes out of Bristol looking good heading to the Chase, and who got the bad breaks?
The biggest loser in the Chase hunt on Saturday night was Ryan Newman, whose 36th-place finish dropped him two spots to 15th in the points. Had he scored his average finish in the past 10 races at Bristol, he would likely be in the second wild card spot for the postseason. Instead, he’s now third in the chase for the final wild card spot, 19 points out of the desired position.
Big winners in the Chase hunt at Bristol were Kyle Busch and Jeff Gordon, who finished sixth and third respectively. Busch is in the second wild card spot currently, but Gordon is only 16 points behind with two races remaining. Busch will be a favorite to win next weekend at Richmond, but don’t be surprised if Gordon competes for the win this weekend at Atlanta.
DW: This week another SMI track in the spotlight as the series heads south to Atlanta Motor Speedway. Who looks good for this one?
A very fast, slick 1.5-mile superspeedway, Atlanta is a place where the NASCAR power teams will excel as horsepower and aerodynamics reign supreme.
Tire wear usually has a bigger impact at Atlanta than it does at other intermediate ovals.
This may be Carl Edwards’ last chance to score a much-needed win before the Chase. He’s won three times at Atlanta, including his first career Cup win. He’s a wheelman and I have no doubt you will see Edwards do everything he possibly can to will his car to the front of the field this weekend.
Expect Gordon to do well this weekend. The No. 24 team has been getting better as the season has gone along and he’s won five times during his career at AMS. His average finish at AMS in the past 10 races is 8.1 and Busch, who he’s chasing for the final wildcard spot, during the same span at AMS is averaging a 16.9 finish. Atlanta sets up very well for Gordon to make up ground in the Chase hunt.
But, who will win? I’m going with Kenseth. He has an average finish of 6.9 in the past 10 races at AMS, which is better than anyone else, and has finished in the top five in half of those. He’s been consistent all year long and very good on intermediates. Not only does he get it done this weekend, he won’t even have to dodge a helmet to do it.
DW: And I like let you crow a little about upcoming events in our area and I think, if you listen closely, you can already hear some very big engines starting to rev up. What's that all about?
Did you know the fastest accelerating machines on the planet return to zMAX Dragway, Sept. 14-16, for the O’Reilly Auto Parts NHRA Nationals? Well, they do. It all starts Friday, Sept. 14, with a Night of Fire when nitro cars qualify under the lights. There will be jet cars, fireworks and 8,000 horsepower nitro-breathing machines launching the NHRA’s postseason, the Countdown to the Championship.
The Fall Season of Speed is here and only getting better. We announced on Wednesday that high-wire acrobat Nik Wallenda, last seen walking over Niagara Falls, will perform a high-wire act at Charlotte Motor Speedway on Oct. 13 as a part of the Bank of America 500 pre-race show. This is the first of many announcements over the next month that will roll out our huge fall NASCAR weekend.
Wallenda’s announcement was only made better by the fact WBTV’s finest came out for a little friendly competition. I won’t spoil the outcome for you, but you can watch it here: http://bit.ly/PzUDiw
Of course, David, you were one of the contestants. Do you care to give your post-event analysis? I think you may have been robbed.
DW: Robbed? Well, not exactly. I should have done a better job with it. I made three attempts that weren't very smooth, but then, neither were Kristen Hampton's. In the end, Mr. Wallenda decided that Ms. Hampton was the better choice and I conceded that my talent's were better spent doing other things, like mowing grass, or sitting in a chair.