Nascar: Loose and Looser In Las Vegas

When the green flag dropped on The Kobalt Tools 400 on Sunday afternoon, there’s one thing everyone knew, the race track was going to be loose. All of the rain in the Las Vegas prior to the start of the Sprint Cup race at The Las Vegas Motor Speedway was successful in accomplishing two things, Brad Keselowski would get the pole based on finishing first in the 2012 points standings, and all of the rain had washed away any rubber that had been previously laid down on the track.

Feb 24, 2013; Daytona Beach, FL, USA; NASCAR Sprint Cup Series driver Jimmie Johnson (48) races Matt Kenseth (20) and Danica Patrick (10) during the 2013 Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Liles-USA TODAY Sports

And loose they were. The first 15 laps saw cars that were setup incorrectly, go from front to back a in hurry. Clint Bowyer was an example of this problem. He dropped like a rock after starting second, and was in 20th place and falling after five laps.

The first 25 laps saw some of the afternoon’s best racing as Kasey Kahne, who without a doubt, had the best car all day, raced Brad Keselowski for the lead. One of the problems with the new Gen 6 Car on 1.5 mile tracks with two racing grooves was blatantly apparent as time after time, Kahne would bring the Farmers Insurance Chevrolet along side of Keselowski down the straight , and was unable to complete the pass in the corner.

As the two cars approach the corner, the wind flow off of the leader changes to a side draft, that knocks the down-force off the front of the inside car, making him very loose. For Kasey to actually complete the pass on the Miller Lite Ford, he had to take his car below the line, and away from the side draft. Once he did that, he was able to take the lead.

This problem was also visible again late in the race, as Kasey was again trying to catch race winner, Matt Kenseth, Kyle Busch was battling Keselowski for third place. As he would draft the #2 down the straight, and pull out to pass as they went into the corner, you could see Kyle loose the front end of the car, and wriggle.

After the race, Kyle said “I was fine in clean air, but when trailing a fast car, I was wrecking loose, especially when I tried to pass”. Carl Edwards even made jokes, saying “clean air was like an extra tire”. The only place to get clean air, is out front.

Matt Kenseth gets his first win for his new boss, and new race team at Joe Gibbs Racing on his 41st birthday. Tony Stewart gave him his birthday present, with some confusion on the last pit stop, causing Kasy Khane to loose enough time that gave Matt the lead off of pit road during the last caution. With the outside groove, and the lead, there was no way for Kasey Kahne to catch and pass the Home Depot Toyota in the final 20 laps.

I was thoroughly entertained Sunday afternoon, as Las Vegas produced good two car racing, on a two groove race-track. Although the cars were at time strung out, the individual racing was good around the race track. We got a good chance to see the drivers Mano a Mano as they battled each other during the entire race.

As a fan, watching from my Laz-y-boy, I did notice when Fox went to the side by side broadcast, the Subway Footlong  screen on the left, was considerably larger than the race screen on the right. That was probably the most aggravating thing on the afternoon. Next week, we get to see how the new car does at Bristol. Down-force is never a problem at Bristol, and since the track has eliminated the progressive banking, I am looking forward to see how they do in a demolition derby. I sure hope they have laid in plenty of sheetmetal parts for Sunday, because they are going to need them.

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Tags: Brad Keselowski Kasey Kahne Kyle Busch Matt Kenseth NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Tony Stewart

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