Monday, June 25, 2007

The God of Love and Mercy

Ralph Peters today devotes his column to: "Will the god of love and mercy triumph over the god of battles?" Gosh, I don’t know Ralph. But I know where love and mercy is not the way to go- racing Juan Pablo Montoya on a road course. Montoya, right in front of us, is working out years of passive frustration, making sanitary laps in a fragile F-1 car.

Yes, NASCAR took one of its two detours to road courses this weekend. No one dislikes road course racing really. Even David Poole, who cheerleads against in constantly, can’t work up any real venom for it. Yeah, it is different- and this sport is designed for oval racing- but once or twice a year it is sort of fun.

I thought yesterday was a good example of why road racing is, on the whole, a good part of the schedule. The races are quick. The COT shined yesterday- lots of passing, the smaller fuel cell made for lots of strategy, and the finish was interesting and intense. Even the number of caution laps- the interest killer at the big tracks as cars crawl around an interminable amount of time- where kept to a manageable number (although if you blow an engine, get off the track- don’t force NASCAR to throw a caution when you can get off- I’m talking to you Sterling). I don’t want to watch it every week- but if it means adding another cookie-cutter race or Poco-snooze; I’ll take the Glen.

As to the race itself, Juan Pablo Montoya has twice this year climbed into cars in the top strictly stock divisions and whipped all comers. Good on him. Particularly impressive when you consider neither team that fielded those two race cars is known for its road racing prowess. Ganassi Racing has not won anywhere for five years- let alone a road course. Dodge hasn’t won a race this year- forget about the COT. I doubt Juan had the best car either time- but it is hard to argue he ain't the best road racer going right now.

The other point is that for years we've been told by NASCAR that the "quality" of driver in NASCAR is equal to that of Formula One. Boy, that is a hard sell today- as Montoya took our "good" road racers: Stewart, both Gordons, etc. to school yesterday. And that Busch field in Mexico had some ringers too: Boris Said, Hamlin, etc.

A semi-good Formula One road racer, or at least this one, seems much superior to the NASCAR crew touted as road racers. They didn’t seem too good today.

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