Kansas Rear-View Mirror

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Pete Pistone shares some news, notes and observations from a weekend of racing at Kansas Speedway. (Photo: Getty Images)

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Saturday night’s Go Bowling 400 at Kansas Speedway will be remembered for two things. 

Martin Truex Jr. was finally able to get a victory at the 1.5-mile track after leading the most laps for the third straight spring race.

But the jubilation of Truex Jr.’s triumph was muffled by the violent accident that involved Joey Logano, Danica Patrick and Aric Almirola. The trio got swept up in the melee racing out of turn two Saturday night at lap 199, an incident triggered by what appeared to be a mechanical problem for Logano that sent him into Patrick’s car. Almirola came speeding into the scene with nowhere to go and made heavy impact with Logano’s car that resulted in a brief fireball.

The race was red flagged while a battalion of safety workers extricated Almirola from his car cutting a portion of the roof away to do so. He was alert and was transported to a local hospital and needless to say the entire NASCAR community is hoping for a positive report. The team released a statement that he is in stable condition and will be held overnight for further observation.

The incident was a stark reminder of just how dangerous a sport that has made such great strides in safety can still be in 2017. Neither Logano or Patrick were injured, another testament to the safety initiatives NASCAR has made to both cars and tracks. Hopefully Almirola will emerge from the accident without serious injury.

Truex Jr. deserves the accolades for his performance. But even he understands his win was overshadowed by a reminder of what can happen in stock car racing when things go wrong.

  • Friday’s Cup qualifying inspection snafu was another bad look for the sport. Eleven drivers including big names like Dale Earnhardt Jr., Clint Bowyer and Jimmie Johnson, never took a lap of qualifying. NASCAR maintained the system or equipment at track is not at fault and that it’s incumbent on teams to be prepared to get through the inspection process every week. “It’s fairly disappointing that they can’t present their cars to pass inspection,” NASCAR vice president of competition Scott Miller said on MRN. “We had plenty of cars that did not pass the LIS station. What we measure there is a big performance metric, and everybody pushes the limit. everybody pushes the limit. They obviously pushed the limit a little too much today, and a lot of cars didn’t pass. There were 28 cars that did pass inspection, so it’s certainly possible to get it right. It’s the LIS, where we measure the rear steer of the car, which is a big performance metric. It’s something that everybody pushes to try to get right to the limit. They want to be right on the limit, and obviously, 11 of them were over the limit.” The bottom line is the situation needs to be eradicated. Fans that pay for a qualifying day ticket as well as those watching and listening on television and radio broadcasts are being gypped.
  • The 2018 schedule has not been released and there was much discussion over the weekend about possible movement of dates. The Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway could either move up to an earlier July date or later in the summer. There is also speculation about whether the track’s infield road course may be used for the 2018 NASCAR weekend. There has also not been a definitive answer as to Charlotte Motor Speedway’s intention to put its October race on the road course. And Las Vegas Motor Speedway, which will have a second date coming at the loss of one weekend at New Hampshire Motor Speedway, is reportedly lobbying to have its playoff date further back in the schedule. Stay tuned.
  • Friday night’s Camping World Truck Series race was the epitome of being a bitter pill to swallow for Ben Rhodes, who appeared well on his way to score his first career victory. That was until an engine expired with less than seven laps to go opening the door for Kyle Busch to inherit the lead and win. The young Rhodes understandably initially expressed uncontrolled emotion over the turn of events but did a remarkable job of finding composure and conveying his thoughts in the aftermath of heartbreak. I will always admire any athlete capable of speaking in defeat and not only in times of celebration, or in the case of motorsports sponsor plugging.

The opinions expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the positions of the Motor Racing Network.

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