By David G. Firestone
Ok, we have a lot of ground to cover this week, so let’s get started. We had races at Fort Worth, Circuit of the Americas, and The Strip at Las Vegas Motor Speedway, and I have things to discuss about all of them, because things off track impact things on track.
The US Grand Prix took place at Circuit of the Americas in Fort Worth. For F1, it was a pretty unremarkable race, Nico Rosberg won the pole and Lewis Hamilton won the race. I did find it interesting that teams are only allowed five power units a year and as a result Sebastian Vettel had to start from pit road as a result. Also, with Caterham and Marussia unable to compete due to financial problems, there were only 18 cars in the field. IT was a decent race, but not exactly earth shattering/
I need to clarify a stance here, because this has been something that has been bothering me for a while. I enjoy F1 but I’m not a fan of it, and I don’t consider myself to be a fan of it. It’s like that old Kyle Busch quote “I’ve got no problem with [Dale Earnhardt] Junior, it’s his fans that are crazy.” Well that’s how I feel. I’ve got no problem with F1, it’s just their fans who are crazy. F1 is the biggest auto racing group in the world. Their broadcasts can attract up to 58 million people at a time. But this has gone to their fans heads, as they view NASCAR and IndyCar and other American racing groups as “beneath” F1. Well, here’s the thing, just because something is popular all over the world does not mean it has to be popular in America.
F1 has been on the bottom of the racing pecking order in America for decades. I’m amazed how much money was sunk into Circuit of the Americas considering that their major event is so irrelevant, no other track wants to host it. Sebring, The Street Circuit in Phoenix, Indianapolis, and Watkins Glen have all hosted the US Grand Prix, and while I don’t agree with how Indianapolis handled the event, , all involved don’t want the race back because they were losing money on it. F1 is as dead in America as anywhere. Now there is talk about moving a race to Las Vegas, and one to New York. I’ve got a better idea, move one to London, and one to Paris, where F1 has a fan base. Give the fans in countries where F1 is king more races, if you are going to expand the schedule.
Moving on to the NHRA, one of my favorite forms of racing. The Toyota Nationals at Las Vegas were last weekend, and they were GREAT! The racing was fun to watch, the points battle is really good this year, and with the championships in a couple of weeks at Ponoma, the end of the season is anyone’s guess. The finals are going to be legendary. John Force is battling Matt Hagan for the funny car championship, Tony Schumacher is leading the top fuel championship, Erica Enders-Stevens is leading the pro stock championship, and Andrew Hines is leading the pro stock motorcycle championship.
I want to discuss something that happened recently in the NHRA that makes no sense to me at all. Jimmy Prock was a long time crew member for John Force Racing. He was John Force’s crew chief, but sometimes we all need a change, so he went and tended his resignation for the end of the year. John Force make the questionable decision to demand his immediate resignation. As such, with two races to go, and still a huge factor in the championship, John Force had to make changes to his routine. I don’t understand this at all. Why would John Force, who himself said that when you change your routine, it sets you up for loss, would change his routine at this point in the year, where is is now, makes no sense to me, nor does it seem to make sense to anyone else. Prock went to Don Schumacher Racing and was hired on the spot. So now the advantage goes to Don Schumacher Racing, because Prock not only understand the technical side of the sport but understand how John Force thinks and prepares. So I think that this will hurt Force’s chances at a 17th championship this season. It was a bone headed move.
Now we move on to the AAA Texas 500 at Fort Worth. The racing was great, it was close, there were a lot of great moves, a lot of great battles, and Jimmie Johnson won, while honoring the Lowes employees with his “red vest” paint scheme. But everyone is talking about what happened with Jeff Gordon, Kevin Harvick and Brad Keselowski, so let me break it down. During one of the green white checker finished, Keselowski and Gordon got together, and Keselowski accidentally cut down Gordon’s rear tire. Gordon spun out and after the race went to confront Keselowski. Harvick shoved Keselowski, Gordon grabs him, and a huge brawl breaks out. NASCAR has said that they will review what happened and I’m willing to bet penalties will be handed out.
Brad Keselowski is brash, and very abrasive at times, but given the footage, I can’t find blame in any move he made. The move that cut Gordon’s tire was just hard racing, and I don’t think there was anything intentionally done there. I also don’t blame Gordon for being upset at what happened. But I do blame him for going over and arguing with Keselowski. What Kevin Harvick did was unacceptable. He had no place going over and shoving Keselowski, which started the brawl, and I think that Gordon was wrong for grabbing Keselowski. Keselowski did not want to get into a discussion with Gordon, and was trying to back down because he saw how mad Gordon was. It was terrible decisions by Gordon and Harvick that started this whole thing, and I think they should be fined AND lose points.
Next weekend, we have the Brazilian Grand Prix, and the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500, which will decide the four drivers racing for the championship at Homestead. So I look forward to those, and I look forward to my upcoming projects…stay tuned!