The Gaynalysis is just one gay NASCAR fan’s take on the race weekend. You can read the “straight” recap of all the action from Richmond by clicking here.
credit: Kevin R Tengesdal
As anyone who has read the Gaynalysis knows – we at Q4G love us some drama. Well, Richmond was like Christmas morning – more drama than you can shake a gay stick at.
And it wasn’t the drama we were promised. For the past week, we have read countless stories about how the math might work – how driver X might lock into the Chase. “If the race ended now” was an ongoing theme on twitter.
But, as it turned out, in the end, the Top-12 coming into Richmond are your 2011 NASCAR Chase Drivers. Tony and Dale stayed in the top-10 with Brad and Denny taking the Wild Card Spots. We did all that math for nothing! See I told my teachers in 8th grade that math was useless and I would never need to use it.
So, as for who would make The Chase – there really wasn’t any drama. But thankfully the race left us with plenty to discuss for weeks and then there was the most bizarre post-race press conference I’ve seen since I started covering the sport.
There were 15 cautions – and all of them were crashes – there were no debris cautions. That’s surprising because of all the torn up race cars – I figured someone was gonna leave a fender or an engine in turn 2.
NASCAR had planned a wonderful 9/11 tribute during the race. They planned to have the race broadcast and fans in the stands remain silent during laps 9 though 11. Unfortunately, these tribute laps were run under caution as Richmond had a Talladega style “big one.” The wreck caught 13 cars: 33-88-46-11-34-00-13-56-17-9-38-35-7.
Most notable in that batch were Dale Jr. and Denny Hamlin – speculation immediately began that this wreck would cost them a chance to make the chase. To the credit of both teams – they worked hard to repair the damage and get their drivers back on track.
It was an incredible night of racing. The field did not get stretched out and they were three-wide almost from the moment the green flag fell. But it didn’t always work.
On lap 53 Marcos Ambrose decided to take it three wide and try to pass Kasey Kahne and Brian Vickers. He got loose on the bottom and hit Vickers who then was knocked into his teammate. Kasey took the worse hit and they took the #4 to the garage.
The Richmond Big One - credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
CUE THE DRAMA!
Vickers was still running and he went after Ambrose under caution. He hit the #9 and then blocked the track with his car – not letting Marcos get by. It reminded me of Harvick and Kyle Busch earlier this year at Darlington. It was the equivalent of poking someone in the chest with your finger – but Vickers was using a race car.
Vickers had past the entrance to pit road – and then drove the wrong way on the track to get back into the pits. While the #83 team tried to repair the additional damage Brian had done to the car – the word came down from race control that they wanted to have little chat with him after the race in the NASCAR hauler.
We won’t know if NASCAR will penalize Vickers until Tuesday – but I certainly hope they do. Safety first! Caution or not. Vickers blocked a hot race track and drove in the wrong direction. Even at slower caution speeds it was a clear safety violation.
There were simply too many wrecks for me to write about each one – so I will focus on the ones where “pay back” was clearly involved. The next diva that embraced the “Boys Have At It” lifestyle was Dale JR. You would think he could control his temper and focus on getting in the Chase but he let his emotions get the best of him.
Travis Kvapil had gotten into Jr’s bumper in traffic and from my eyes it looked like a byproduct of short-track racing – but Junior didn’t see it that way and simply wrecked Kvapil. If anyone doubted it had been done on purpose, Junior came on the radio and removed all doubt, “that mother fucker got what he deserved and he knows it.”
Then things got interesting with BFF’s Kurt Busch and Jimmie Johnson. Please note in this instance, BFF means the two hate each other so much they want to make the other BarFF.
Kurt Busch got into Jimmie’s bumper and sent the #48 into the wall. It took Jimmie a while to catch back up to the #22 but when he did, he literally went below the yellow line to dump Kurt. Jimmie did more damage to his car than to Kurt’s and we don’t usually see Jimmie putting the 48 into situations like this, but having already locked into the Chase – JJ had nothing to loose. He later said Kurt is done “touching my race car.”
Vickers wrecked Ambrose and Blocked the Track - Credit: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
This feud is long from over and Kurt’s temper carried over to pit road and into the post-race press conference in the media center. (more on that later)
Late in the race things calmed down a little. Of the 15 cautions – ten of them fell before the half-way mark… slow your roll felllas!
Jeff Gordon was way out in front. It looked like the #24 might win two weeks in a row – but then the caution came out with 15 laps to go when Paul Menard had a single car spin. Gordon himself implied after the race that he thought it was suspicious – basically saying Menard spun on purpose so his teammate Kevin Harvick could catch up to the #24.
Jeff wasn’t the only one… after the race, JR’s spotter T.J Majors tweeted: “Pretty disappointed if I saw what I think I saw to bring put last caution. Will have to see replay.”
NASCAR did not immediatly penalize Menard for intentionally bringing out the caution. If it was on purpose, it worked. Not only did Harvick catch the #24 – he ended up winning the race. F1 racing has had several “team orders” scandals…. is it NASACAR’s turn? We will have to wait until Tuesday for any comment or penalty from NASCAR.
Based on what we have seen so far this season – all camera were rolling on pit road when the race ended – hoping to catch drivers “discussing” some of these incidents. Kurt Busch said he had gotten into Jimmie’s head and then called him a five-time chump. Jimmie was calmer saying he expected Kurt to keep running his mouth.
Kurt then verbally assaulted Joe Menzer from NASCAR.com who had asked Kurt if either he or Jimmie could win a championship if they kept wrecking each other. Kurt didn’t like the questions and Jay Penwell at SBNation reported that Kurt’s crew had to restrain him from going after the reporter.
Any other week it would have ended there – both divas would have climbed in their private planes to go home. But this was the week where the Chase was clinched – and both drivers had to walk into the media center and face the press.
The tension was already high in the media center. On Friday, Tony Stewart had ripped into the AP’s Jenna Fryer in a pre-race press conference that was being carried on TV and radio. (you can listen to it here) Basically, Tony didn’t think the media was coming up with original questions for him to answer. Smoke is known for being tough on reporters – but this time he really ripped into the press.
Now, I have explained the existing tension……. but what happened next was one of the most awkward things I’ve ever seen in a press conference. Keep in mind that usually there are no more than two drivers on the stage at any given time – but because of the Chase Ceremony, NASCAR brought five drivers up on stage at the same time.
As Kurt walked onto the stage he once again went after Joe Menzer. NASCAR was smart enough to put Jimmie and Kurt on opposite ends of the table – in fact they could not have been further apart and still been on the same stage.
In between the book-ends that were Kurt and Jimmie – sat Ryan Newman, Kyle Busch and Tony Stewart. AWKWARD! I am not sure if Jenna Fryer was gun-shy from her earlier encounter with Tony – so she asked her first question to Jimmie Johnson.
Fryer was asking JJ for his reaction to Kurt’s pit-road statement that he had gotten into Jimmie’s head. Before Johnson could answer, Kurt interrupted and screamed at Jenna that he had not said that.
this is the transcript Kurt Busch ripped up when the AP's Jenna Fryer tried to point out what he had said
It went back and forth for a few moments as Busch insisted he had never made a comment about getting in Jimmie’s head and Jenna told Kurt it was on TV. As the press conference ended, Jenna presented Kurt with the Dodge-issued transcript that clearly showed Busch had made the comment. Kurt then took the transcript from Jenna’s hands, ripped it up and deposited it back on her desk.
REALLY? REALLY Kurt Busch? YOU ASSHOLE. First of all, you need to remember what you say from one minute to the next. And when you forget what you said, twenty minutes after you said it – don’t take it out on the press who are doing their job when they ask you about it.
Kurt Busch is a walking, talking “action detrimental to stock car racing.” Rest assured, this incident is going to talked about in non-NASCAR circles. Kurt’s actions bring a black-eye to our sport, his sponsors and his team. This will be the “rip heard around the sports world.”
It was an amazing race – what a night for NASCAR…. but no one will want to talk about that… because Kurt Busch acted like an angry drag queen who’s pantyhose were torn.
Jay Busbee at Yahoo.com has done a much better job than I at capturing every moment of this truly weird press conference – including Matt Kenseth who sat on Jimmie Johnson’s lap. You need to read it…. lots of detail.
There was some twitter drama too! Turns out the race sponsor was pistachios – yes that crazy nut producer that hired Snooki as their spokeswoman. (and that Levi kid who knocked up Bristol Palin and posed naked in Playgirl) Snooki was at the race as an honorary starter and from reading her tweets, it seems like she had a great time at her first NASCAR race. But in general, most NASCAR folks on twitter were not happy to have her there and created the hash-tag #WTFSnooki. Oh calm down you drama queens!
So at the end of a long drama filled night, we have a Chase field for 2011 and some ripped up transcripts. Now, it’s onto Chicago for the first race in The Chase.