Larry Mac laments Hendrick cars' lack of speed, pit calls for Stewart
I wasn't disappointed in Sunday's Brickyard 400. Actually it was one of the better races I have seen there in the last few years. Now with that said, that wasn't a very high bar to jump over, because we've struggled at Indianapolis for a number of years at having a good race.
We've been going there since 1994 and it's just hard no matter what generation of car we are running or rules package we use at a flat two-and-a-half mile track with little to no banking and a ton of grip, to put on a great race time after time. I'm not saying it's impossible to put on a great race, it's just really hard right now to do that.
I think I was more disappointed that this package they brought to Indy didn't live up to what everyone hoped it would. Thank goodness for restarts, be them at Indy or anywhere else, because that's where a lot of action is taking place really quickly. I'll be the first to admit I cringe when I hear them say "caution for debris," but then I quickly remember it does create another restart. Restarts are what we are hanging our hat on right now and it's what's creating some really exciting racing.
I have to say I like this, but thank goodness Kyle Busch is on fire and doing what he is doing right now, because if he wasn't, I'm really not sure what we'd be talking about right now in our sport. What Kyle is doing is truly unbelievable. We've run 20 races now this season. Joe Gibbs Racing as a whole has won seven of them. To take it even a step further, JGR has won seven of our last 15 races.
Back in February and late March, we were all going, "Oh boy, what's wrong over there at JGR?" Well, obviously there's not a damn thing wrong there now. Whatever was ailing them, well, they sure got their arms around it and then some.
Hendrick Motorsports has won nine races at Indianapolis Motor Speedway in the past, yet Sunday the top finishing HMS driver was Jimmie Johnson at 15th. Honestly, I never would have thought we'd ever see that. I know Jeff Gordon and Dale Earnhardt Jr. had their own separate issues, but the bottom line was I didn't see any speed out of those cars prior to their issues.
Everyone knows that being a former crew chief I never try to second-guess a pit call in the heat of battle. I just have to say I don't understand the pit strategy for Tony Stewart on Sunday. The strategy destroyed his chances. Now I can't sit here and tell you that he had a car that could win that race, but that man was looking at having one of his best races and finishes in a long, long time. I simply have no idea what they were thinking on the strategy they tried. It made no sense whatsoever. I honestly hated it for Tony. I watched his confidence growing over the weekend both in practice and how he qualified. But after the race Sunday he doesn't even walk away with a top-20 finish, simply because of bonehead moves on his strategy.
To win at Indy takes every element of a race team. I'm talking horsepower, aero, handling, the driver, the pit crew and the strategy involved. If you look at the top five finishers from Sunday, it's not a lot of surprises if you look at how they have all been running lately.