Race Weekend Central

The Big 6: Questions Answered After the 2009 Shelby 427 at Las Vegas

Who… gets my shoutout of the race?

How about former champion and fan favorite Bobby Labonte? Labonte looked like he might be able to challenge for a win before a pit-stop shuffle relegated him to racing for fifth place instead. If this is a preview of coming attractions for the No. 96, Labonte could be looking for victory lane before the season is out.

What… was NASCAR thinking not throwing the red flag after Paul Menard wrecked with 17 to go?

I don’t know, but there was no excuse for it. At least five laps of what could have been green-flag racing was lost, taking away a couple of teams’ shot at a top-five finish and possibly even a win. I didn’t want to believe, as some fans did, that it was because the media darling was in the lead with the fastest car in 10th and gaining. I didn’t want to believe it was because NASCAR was proving a point after fans complained about the red flags and mayhem in the Nationwide race and risking ruining this race in the process.

So what was it? Whatever the reason, NASCAR robbed the fans of a better race, and the sanctioning body should be ashamed.

Where… did the polesitter wind up?

After being relegated to the back of the field after an engine change, Kyle Busch found victory lane anyway. Busch had a fast car and ran a smart, clean race until he shoved Clint Bowyer out of the way to take the lead with 17 laps to go. It was a perfectly executed bump-and-run that would have been textbook perfect on the last lap, but was unnecessary when Busch clearly had a faster car and plenty of time to pass Bowyer cleanly. He got great restarts when it counted to take the checkers.

When… will I be loved?

The drivers were mostly well-behaved, but the engine gremlin who has plagued the garage this week is not a popular guy. He might not be lip synching the Everly Brothers, but he surely caused headaches for several competitors, among them points leader Matt Kenseth and his Roush Fenway teammate David Ragan, as well as Mark Martin. There was not a lot of love for the little monster.

Why… was there still Speedy-Dry on the track from the Nationwide race?

Granted, it didn’t cause trouble until Jimmie Johnson went sky high in the outside lane on a late-race restart, but it cost Johnson dearly in finishing position and points, not to mention he could have been hurt in a hard crash. Sure, the stuff was way up high, but why was it there at all? After nearly 24 hours, the track couldn’t get it cleaned up? There’s no excuse for something that is easy to clean up to still be on the track for the next race. Somebody at LVMS really dropped the ball on that one.

How… does this track sell out and then some in this economy?

How about the fact that Bruton Smith listened to the fans and added variable banking to make the racing more exciting? The finish left a lot to be desired, but there was a lot of good racing throughout the event, and behind the No. 18 they were still mixing it up right to the checkers; if the battle between Jamie McMurray and Brian Vickers had been for the win instead of eighth place, it would have made highlight reels for years to come.

Add the Neon Garage to the mix, put the track in a city where there is a ton to do besides hitting the racetrack, and it’s easy to see why LVMS is so sure a bet that the Vegas oddsmakers wouldn’t touch it. THIS should be the west coast track with two races a year.

About the author

Amy is an 20-year veteran NASCAR writer and a six-time National Motorsports Press Association (NMPA) writing award winner, including first place awards for both columns and race coverage. As well as serving as Photo Editor, Amy writes The Big 6 (Mondays) after every NASCAR Cup Series race. She can also be found working on her bi-weekly columns Holding A Pretty Wheel (Tuesdays) and Only Yesterday (Wednesdays). A New Hampshire native whose heart is in North Carolina, Amy’s work credits have extended everywhere from driver Kenny Wallace’s website to Athlon Sports. She can also be heard weekly as a panelist on the Hard Left Turn podcast that can be found on AccessWDUN.com's Around the Track page.

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