Is it just me or has the 2015 NASCAR season gotten off to a strange start? Sunday marks race two of the 36-race schedule with the running of the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway, so it’s still early. But still, has anything gone normally yet this season? There have been so many oddities, that really, race winners are being kind of overshadowed, if you ask me.
By the way, in case you missed it, Joey Logano won the Daytona 500.
Daytona 500 group qualifying didn’t go so well. There were cars parking at pit exit and then there was that wreck in the first round. Okay, maybe we could’ve seen that qualifying disaster coming, considering qualifying at Talladega last fall.
Then there was the whole Kurt Busch thing. After qualifying for the Daytona 500, Busch became the first driver indefinitely suspended by NASCAR because of domestic abuse allegations.
Then, there was the Kyle Busch wreck.
I get it; wrecks happen, and sometimes drivers are sidelined by them. But after Busch wrecked in the Xfinity Series race at Daytona, he joined brother Kurt on the sidelines. What kind of freaking coincidence was it that Kyle Busch was the driver taken out of competition by a wreck just a day after his brother was suspended? The Daytona 500 was the first Cup level race without at least one of the Busch brothers in the field since 2000.
And, oh yeah, in case you missed it, Logano won the Daytona 500.
Things just got weirder on stop two of this NASCAR circus — Atlanta Motor Speedway.
Team Xtreme sent its hauler to Atlanta without the race car, because it wasn’t ready. The car hitched a ride in an enclosed trailer pulled by a black Ford F-350. The car, trailer and truck were stolen from a hotel parking lot in Georgia on Friday morning, so Team Xtreme and Travis Kvapil withdrew from the race. The car, sans truck and trailer, was found Saturday morning in the woods off the side of a road.
And that stolen car is just the tip of the iceburg of the Friday craziness. Denny Hamlin’s motorhome was struck and damaged at AMS by a unmanned car that rolled down a hill.
Then there was the whole Sprint Cup qualifying debacle. Preparing for the first race with this new 2015 rules package, 13 of the 47 cars remaining after Kvapil’s withdrawal failed to get through inspection in time to make a qualifying run. That was after NASCAR had already delayed the start of qualifying by 15 minutes to allow everyone to make at least one attempt at getting through inspection. After the smoke cleard (and by the way “Smoke,” a.k.a. Tony Stewart, was one of the drivers who didn’t make a qualifying attempt). Drivers starting in the back after failing to make qualifying laps include Stewart, Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson and Matt Kenseth.
Qualifying didn’t go much better for the Truck Series at Atlanta the next stay. Apparently, the truck guys, specifically most of the 12 that advanced to round three of qualifying, didn’t get the memo they weren’t in Daytona anymore. During the final round of truck qualifying on Saturday, 10 of the 12 waited too long to get out on the track, and their lap times didn’t count.
Only Brad Keselowski and Ben Kennedy managed to post lap times, and Keselowski’s time was the fastest of the two, giving him the pole.
Oh wait; that’s not right. After Keselowski posed for his pole photos, NASCAR reviewed video footage and determined that he didn’t post his lap in time after all. Forget those photos of of Keselowski posing with his pole award, Kennedy was the named the Atlanta pole winner.
Is the Xfinity Series the only one of NASCAR’s three national divisions that can consistently pull off a qualifying session without much of a hiccup? I’m beginning to think so.
The Atlanta weirdness even started before teams arrived in the ATL. Joe Gibbs Racing opted to go with David Ragan to drive its No. 18 Toyota in Busch’s place for the time being. But, didn’t Ragan already have a full-time in a Ford for Front Row Motorsports? Why yes, he did. Joe Nemechek has joined Front Row Motorsports as a fill-in in Ragan’s absense.
Is it “silly season” already, and somebody just forgot to tell me?
I’m blaming all the craziness on those annoying narwhals Sprint has introduced us to via commercial. According to that song they sing, they’re “causing a commotion.” You could definitely say that again.
By the way, in looking for a photo of those annoying animated creatures, I kind of got a science lesson. There really is a species of whale named narwhal (also spelled narwhale). Here’s a link to information about the real life narwhal/narwhale, if you’re interested.
To those of you with that annoying Sprint narwhal jingle in your head now, you’re welcome.