I put the Schaefer on ice for another night. Instead, I uncorked a bottle of merlot to celebrate the return of The King to victory lane. Some thoughts on the win as well as a few other items.
I haven't been a big Kasey Kahne fan since he came into Cup. Don't dislike him - but he's a bit like Mark Martin for me. Just...whatever. When the shotgun marriage of Gillett-Evernham's 9 and 19 teams merged with Petty Enterprise's 43 and 44 teams, I really didn't know how to feel. If the King is involved, I want to have my heart in it. But other than Elliott Sadler being a likable guy and A.J. Allmendinger being an underfunded diamond in the rough, I really didn't care either way for Kasey in the 9 or Reed Coldsorenson in the famed 43.
But bottom line, Kasey got it done. He simply did not wither under multiple restarts and pressure from one of the best in Smoke.
And The King returned to his rightful place on the throne of victory lane.
Some other thoughts...
Richard Petty has a long standing philosophy where he refuses alcohol sponsorship on "his" cars. The compromise for the merger was to continue with Bud on the 9 but no beer decals on the 43 or 44. Yet there he was today with Bud colors in victory lane taking a big slug out of the goblet of wine above the winner's trophy.
Red Bull or No?
For the 2nd time this year, Scott Speed's team owner - Red Bull Racing - leased Joe Nemechek's #87 when Speed couldn't qualify his own car into the field. I understand why Joe gave up the seat. He likely made more by leasing his car and getting a portion of Speed's winnings than he would had he driven it himself. But I don't get the Red Bull logic. Both times Scott has driven Joe's car, he's done so with the same plain blue color Joe painted it vs. dropping on Red Bull decals. Seems to me part of why RBR wants Speed in the race is to market their product. So why rent a car if you aren't going to pimp yo stuff?
Boris The Bull
Each year, much is made of the road course specialists or "ringers" hired to replace regular drivers or who enter their own cars. Boris Said is normally mentioned as one of those as a threat to win. He entered the Daytona 500 but failed to make the show. His team retreated and supposedly put all their eggs in the basket to make the Sonoma race. He made it with an excellent qualifying run. But once underway, my gosh - the cat bonzaied every corner and wrecked everyone but the pace car.
Best story I heard this weekend
P.J. Jones, son of famed road racer Parnelli Jones, qualified for this weekend's Cup race. On Speed TV, P.J. was asked about one of his greatest race stories from his dad. He laughed and said Parnelli dusted the field in qualifying at Riverside in 1967. Bill France Sr. was livid that Parnelli showed up his regular guys, deemed Parnelli's tires illegal, and ordered him to start at the rear of the field. Yet, Parnelli came through the field, won the race, found Big Bill Sr., and flipped him the bird.
Big Picture for Montoya
By his own admission, Juan Pablo Montoya and his 42 Target team admitted they would be satisfied with a top 10 vs. going hard for a win. The team wants to be in the top 12, and they accomplished their goal when the day was over. But it should disturb NASCAR deeply when one of the THE great road course racers isn't willing to go all-out on the one course at which he excels simply to build up chips in his corner for 10 races down the road.
Least meaningful stat
Late in the race, Bill Weber piped off that car numbers 5, 9, and 21 were the only ones who had run every Sonoma race without a win. What kind of stupid trivia is that? One, the Wood Brothers car wasn't even running this weekend - so out of the gate he's wrong. Two, the 5 and 9 have had multiple drivers, owners, and car makes over the years. Anyone remember Lake Speed in the Cartoon Network or SPAM #9 Melling Ford? How about hapless Casey Mears in the #5? I've actually enjoyed the TNT broadcast crew this season - especially as compared to the FOX freak show. But that particular piece of trivia was as useless as they come.
Rumors continue to flourish she's on her way to NASCAR. One story has her aligned with Chip-N-Dale (aka Earnhardt-Ganassi Racing) while another story has her signing with Roush with a pre-Cup stint in Nationwide (fat chance). I don't care if she takes over the 48 with Chad Knaus on the pit box, she's in over her head if she comes to Cup. F1 is in a state of turmoil, and her tude won't allow her to ramp up by running ARCA, Trucks, or Nationwide before taking on Cup regulars. So that leaves her right back where she is - leveraging some new deal with an IRL team.
I've been on the hunt for at least the last 2 years for a photo of a Schaefer-sponsored Buick. I know the car owner - D.K. Ulrich. I know the driver - Al Loquasto. I know the race - 1981 Mountain Dew 500. I know the track - Pocono. What I DON'T know (or didn't) if is if picture existed of the car. With the help of some co-super sleuths, we've determined a picture does exist. That's the tease for now. Stay tuned for more info - the pic and an accompanying article.