Race Weekend Central

5 Points to Ponder: 2009 NAPA Auto Parts 200 at Montreal Edition

One of the worst races of the year?

Yesterday’s Nationwide fiasco in Montreal had its share of memorable moments, from the final stage of the race being run on a wet track to a record number of cautions and a last-lap pass for the win. Normally, those are three key variables that make a race “exciting,” but aside from the drama in the final stages, the rest of the demolition derby just didn’t sit right with me. With that said, I like the track, I thought the series had a much better approach to racing in the rain this time around and I thought the race overall was pretty competitive.

See also
Carl Edwards Takes Advantage of Marcos Ambrose's Error to Win in Montreal

But there comes a point when there are too many wrecks, and the fact that there was such little racing – especially in the closing laps – combined with the nonstop carnage totally ruined the day in my eyes. Man, if I had to see another crash involving Antonio Perez or Steve Wallace, I had one finger on the remote ready to turn the broadcast off. I’m a big supporter of road courses in NASCAR, but if I had to grade yesterday’s event, I’d give it a C-, leaning towards a D… and that includes the great finish.

Impressed with Edwards

Speaking of yesterday’s finish, how smooth was Carl Edwards in those closing laps while chasing down Marcos Ambrose? He hit his marks, didn’t overdrive the car, and when all was said and done, forced the No. 1 road-course driver in the country into his one and only mistake of the day. Edwards could have tried to outbrake Ambrose in one of the final corners, but most likely would have driven in so deep that both would have likely joined the majority of the field in the junkyard.

Instead, Edwards saw Ambrose’s defensive line and didn’t show his hand – whether he was looking outside or inside – until the last possible second, and in turn distracted him enough for his rival to blow the corner. Edwards’s brief run in the Grand-Am race Saturday drew criticism (he wrecked the car on the pace laps), but as Tom Bowles said today, the truth is the guy is a much stronger road-course driver now than he was earlier in his career.

Ironically, much of that is due to guys like Ambrose and Boris Said who have taken oval-track vets like Edwards under their wing and shown them some of the secrets of road-course racing.

Ranger surprises

Has there ever been a driver so completely off the radar who comes in and earns the respect of the field in just one race? Andrew Ranger may not be well known in NASCAR circles, but he is a mainstay in the NASCAR Canadian Tire Series and in 2005 was the youngest driver to ever place on a Champ Car podium. Some of the sport’s biggest stars may not have known his name, but the way he raced the series regulars throughout the day may very well have earned him a shot at a decent Truck or Nationwide ride down the line.

Indy 500 start time moved up?

It was reported this weekend that IndyCar team owners have tossed around the idea of an 11 a.m. start time for the Indianapolis 500, making it possible for NASCAR drivers to double dip with the prestigious open-wheel race and Sprint Cup’s Coca-Cola 600 later that night. This move is a no-brainer and should definitely be implemented next season. TV ratings would soar if one of NASCAR’s elite could get a top ride, and of course permission from their Cup owners (something that may be very difficult).

But on top of that, an earlier start time would also help combat the rain showers that seemingly come through Indiana every afternoon that time of year. Get it done, IRL.

Keselowski leaving JRM a sign of his future plans

When Brad Keselowski said this week that he would not be returning to JR Motorsports in 2010, he subtly hinted at his future ride – presumably with Penske Racing. As was reported in the Sporting News article, if Keselowski were to drive anything other than a Chevrolet in the Cup Series, he would not be allowed to drive for JRM.

With Penske fielding Dodges, the dots are starting to add up towards an announcement that’ll likely be sooner rather than later. All signs now point to Kelly Bires taking over Keselowski’s No. 88 ride next season, either in a full-time or part-time role, giving one of the sport’s more underrated young talents an opportunity to showcase his skills.

The Frontstretch live blog, and thus the regular format of Points to Ponder returns next week as the Cup Series travels to Atlanta.

About the author

The Frontstretch Staff is made up of a group of talented men and women spread out all over the United States and Canada. Residing in 15 states throughout the country, plus Ontario, and widely ranging in age, the staff showcases a wide variety of diverse opinions that will keep you coming back for more week in and week out.

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