Column By: JOHN DOUGLAS / RPW – BROOKLYN, MI – This past weekend, Michigan International Speedway hosted both the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series.
Though both series competed just a stone’s throw from the “Motor City,” the racing couldn’t have been any different. Let’s take a look at the highlights and low lights of NASCAR’s trip to the Irish Hills.
As we’ve come to expect from the Truck Series, Saturday’s race gave fans just about everything they wanted. Close competition and a photo finish. The duel to the checkered flag between Johnny Sauter and Brett Moffitt is one of many highlights from this season especially with Moffitt’s team’s financial situation.
Moffitt has struggled to keep his truck on the track each week as the Hattori Racing team searches endlessly for sponsorship. This has not stopped them from competing among the top teams in the series as they picked up their fourth victory of the 2018 season to date. If the team manages to make the playoffs by making each event of the regular season, they will undoubtedly be a big contender for the series championship.
NASCAR needs to reign in themselves when it comes to the rule books. As a writer I am required to be an unbiased observer of the racing action each week and report on it in the same fashion. I fully admit to personally supporting certain drivers on my personal twitter account, however this topic comes from an unbiased place and has nothing to do with personal preference in drivers or teams.
Saturday’s penalty against Stewart Friesen during his final pit stop where the gas man placed his hands on the tailgate of the truck as he left the pit left more than just myself absolutely flabbergasted. While it is true that the gas man can only fuel the vehicle and can not do other work to a vehicle during a stop, I find it hard to believe any race fan of any driver or team would consider what the Halmar-Friesen Racing team’s gas man did on Saturday as “work.”
NASCAR is constantly looking for new and fresh faces to grace its victory lanes in hopes of building fan support from new areas. NASCAR shot itself dead in the foot Saturday. Friesen clearly was the class of the field, yet a simple hand being placed on the truck garnered not only a penalty, but a penalty that put him behind every single truck on the track thus nullifying any chance of victory. No changes were made by the gas man yet NASCAR threw the book at them.
As you can see, the first two topics of this week’s column reference the truck series and not NASCAR top division. Why? Because there just isn’t much to talk about. Whereas the Truck Series put on a great show on Saturday, Sunday’s race was a snoozer.
Kevin Harvick’s domination left little for fans to be excited about competition-wise. Harvick and his team displayed all the things that have brought them their seven wins this season and they should be rightfully commended for the job they did. However, once again, Michigan did not provide the type of racing it did for so many years.
The racing groove never widened out. The “new” is gone from the racing surface. It’s much more seasoned than it was when repaved, yet we have seen no signs of improvement in the competition, or the ability to move around the surface in search of grip and a faster lap time. Something has to give. Michigan is now on my list of top three tracks that deserve to lose a date to allow a new venue such as a short track, dirt track or a new road course (that isn’t some thrown together joke roval) to the series.