Kobalt Tools 500: Great stories marred by controversy

John Doublin@CoachJayDeeSenior Writer IMarch 10, 2010

DAYTONA BEACH, FL - FEBRUARY 05:  Greg Biffle drives the #16 3M Ford during practice for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Daytona 500 at Daytona International Speedway on February 5, 2010 in Daytona Beach, Florida.  (Photo by Todd Warshaw/Getty Images)
Todd Warshaw/Getty Images

Contrary to the buzz, there were 43 drivers racing on Sunday, not just two.

As pointed out by my good friend Kelly Crandall in her article, "Carl Edwards may have escaped NASCAR's court, but the real jury still awaits", there has been a lot of talk about what happened on lap 323 of the Kobalt Tools 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway between Carl Edwards and Brad Keselowski.

What is getting lost is the fact that there was an actual race that took place that day as well. And a pretty darn good race at that! Guys that no one expected to do well, did. Guys that were expected to excel, didn't. Teams that are fixtures in the top 10 were no where to be found. 

I will not be talking about "the incident" any further.

Let's first look at the performance of some of the drivers that are not known to run up front that had break out days. Guys like Paul Menard and Scott Speed.

These are guys that had great days well above the expectations of fans and "experts."

Paul Menard is known as a perennial back marker that usually finishes out of the top 15.  His career average finish coming into this season is 25th. Last Sunday, however, he came from the 23rd starting position to get his second career top five. He bounded up eight spots in the points. Why aren't we talking about this?

Scott Speed has had only one top five and two top 10s in his career. His career average finish is 27th. On Sunday, he made up 22 places coming from 32nd starting spot to finish with his second career top 10. He made up four places in the points. Why isn't this being talked about?

Now on to the teams and drivers that were expected to compete for the win, but failed to do so.

Hendrick Motorsports is obviously the strongest team in NASCAR over the last several years. They employ two four-time champions, a legacy driver, and a guy that all NASCAR fans love. Unfortunately, none of these drivers cracked the top 10.

Plagued by tire issues all day, the Hendricks crew suffered their worst average outing of the season as a group. Why is no one commenting on that?

How about the teams that overcame adversity to have strong finishes?

Greg Biffle, Tony Stewart, and Ryan Newman were all forced to the back of the pack.  Biffle had to go to a back-up car after a crash in practice and the Stewart-Haas drivers had to change engines.

Stewart started 42nd and finished 13th. Newman started dead last and finished 17th.  Biffle had the best day of any of these drivers. He was relegated to the 41st starting spot, avoided wrecks, had great pit stops and made up 33 places to finish in the top 10...again. He jumped three places in the points and now sits in third.

Why aren't any of these the top story of the week? This is NASCAR "racing" isn't it? Or did we some how go from "racing" to  "demolition derby?"

Let's make a pact to talk about the good stuff for a change, rather than focusing only on the grudges, stupidity, and politics of the sport. 

While NASCAR sorts things out and hands out punishments, whether I agree with them or not, I'll be looking at the RACING that takes place.