In a Keselowski TV commercial "Brash Brad" says, "I'm Brad Keselowski, and this is my Chase." He might be right.
Before Dover fades from our rearview mirror, a couple of comments:
Having only six cars on the lead lap when the race ended is not good for NASCAR. Following an early caution during green-flag pit stops, many cars went a lap down. There were only four more cautions and most of the cars could not get their laps back. As one loyal fan told me, "I was bored out of my skull most of the afternoon."
NASCAR is starting the Sunday afternoon Chase races at 2 p.m. (actually, closer to 2:20 p.m.) to get away from 1 p.m. kickoffs for NFL games. Before the Chase, afternoon races began at 1 p.m. Why not 1:30 p.m. starts for Chase races? The TV networks never seem to care how the fans who paid for tickets are inconvenienced.
Alert readers of Monday's Daily News noticed Kyle Busch's crew chief, Dave Rogers, was quoted, but not Kyle. The driver of the No. 18 Toyota is receiving considerable grief for apparently not being available to the media following the Dover race and also for his foul-language tirade to crew chief Dave Rogers. Busch led 302 of the 400 laps. With 10 laps remaining, Busch had to pit for a splash-and-go stop and finished seventh, one lap down.
Many of us figured Busch was acting petulant, and not for the first time. I planned to criticize him for unprofessional behavior, but after contacting Bill Janitz, Busch's public relations man, we are presenting Janitz' account of what happened. Cynics might question using a team PR guy as a source. Well, I trust what Janitz says, and he's the only person who was with Busch the entire time after he parked in the garage area.
"As the seventh-place finisher, Kyle drove back to his hauler, where he parked and went in to change," Janitz said. "At that time, there was not one media member at the hauler. Kyle talked with Dave Rogers and coach [Joe] Gibbs, then left the hauler out the back door, where he came in. Still, not one media member was there approximately 10 minutes after the race.
"I was surprised that nobody came to [interview] him, but I understand with the Chase going on, and he not being in it, that there are other priorities following the race."
Janitz said Speed TV spoke with Rogers, then "Jamie Little from ESPN showed up looking for Kyle. [It] had to be around 20 minutes after the conclusion of the race."
So, Busch did give media members the opportunity to speak with him. I support the theory that those who work out of the infield media center were preoccupied with Chasers.
Optimism at Pocono
Since attendance at many Izod IndyCar series races the past several years has been sparse, I'm not sure why the folks at Pocono Raceway are so confident the crowd for next year's July 7 return of open-wheel cars will be reasonably large.
Open-wheel cars haven't raced at Pocono since 1989. The last such race at Nazareth Speedway was in 2001. My sense is, fans of IndyCar racing in the East have aged and aren't attending races anymore. But I could be wrong.
Pocono and IndyCar are counting on a sizeable number of NASCAR fans finding their way to Long Pond, Pa., next July and thereafter.
On Monday's conference call confirming the new, 3-year deal bringing IndyCars back to Pocono, I asked Brandon Igdalsky, the track's president and CEO, whether this would be happening if his grandfather were still alive. Dr. Joseph Mattioli, the force behind the building of the 2.5-mile tri-oval and its passionate, dominating leader until his death in January at age 86, had resisted the return of IndyCars to Pocono.
"I think it would be," Igdalsky said. "He softened up in his latter years, and my grandmother [Rose] has always been a huge supporter of IndyCars. The two of them always went at it in regard to IndyCars being here."
I'll say 30,000 fans for next year's Pocono/IndyCar 400 will be a good start. That's less than half the NASCAR crowds at Pocono. If fans like what they see, they will return and bring more fans with them.
This week's race
Good Sam Roadside Assistance 500
When: Sunday, 2 p.m.
Race course: 2.66-mile oval
Race distance: 188 laps/500 miles
Race forecast: partly cloudy, high 60s
Last year's winner: Clint Bowyer
Last year's pole winner: Mark Martin, 181.367 mph
Track qualifying record: (without restrictor plates) Bill Elliott, 212.809 mph (April 1987); (with plates) Elliott, 199.388 mph (May 1990).
Track facts: There were 72 lead changes among 26 drivers in last year's race. Clint Bowyer led eight times for 25 laps. Jeff Burton was runner-up; Dave Blaney was third, tying his career best. The 72 lead changes is not a record; there were 88 lead changes in two previous Talladega races . . . Brad Keselowski won this year's spring race at the track. Kyle Busch was second, Matt Kenseth third . . . The points leader after three Chase races has won the title five of eight times.
Wins: Denny Hamlin and Brad Keselowski, 5 each; Tony Stewart and Jimmie Johnson, 3 each; Kasey Kahne, Greg Biffle, Clint Bowyer, 2 each; Matt Kenseth, Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch, Joey Logano, Dale Earnhardt Jr., Jeff Gordon, Marcos Ambrose, 1 each.
NASCAR SPRINT CUP CHASE
1. Brad Keselowski (2 last week), 2,142 -
2. Jimmie Johnson (1 last week), 2,137 -5
3. Denny Hamlin (3 last week), 2,126 -16
4. Clint Bowyer (t5 last week), 2,117 -25
t5. Tony Stewart (4 last week), 2,110 -32
t5. Kasey Kahne (t5 last week), 2,110 -32
7. Dale Earnhardt Jr. (7 last week), 2,103 -39
8. Martin Truex Jr. (10 last week), 2,100 -42
9. Kevin Harvick (8 last week), 2,096 -46
10. Jeff Gordon (12 last week), 2,094 -48
11. Greg Biffle (9 last week), 2,091 -51
12. Matt Kenseth (11 last week), 2,070 -72
Sept. 16: Chicagoland (winner: Brad Keselowski)
Sept. 23: New Hampshire M.S. (Denny Hamlin)
Sept. 30: Dover Int'l Speedway (Brad Keselowski)
Oct. 7: Talladega Superspeedway (1 p.m., ESPN)
Oct. 13: Charlotte Motor Speedway (7 p.m., ABC)
Oct. 21: Kansas Speedway (1 p.m., ESPN)
Oct. 28: Martinsville Speedway (1 p.m., ESPN)
Nov. 4: Texas Motor Speedway (2 p.m., ESPN)
Nov. 11: Phoenix Int'l Raceway (2 p.m., ESPN)
Nov. 18: Homestead-Miami Speedway (2 p.m., ESPN)