Watching the Watkins Glen race today, I was somewhat put off by the sense of entitlement coming out of Kurt Busch and the 2 crew. Now, I'm not what you'd call a Kurt Busch hater - as much as it's in style these days, but I really think he needs an attitude adjustment.
Kurt seemed to have the car to beat for most of the day, with the majority of the regulars content to wait and the majority of the ringers mired back in traffic. Then he and his crew made a braindead gamble, and complained when it turned around and bit them.
On a normal oval rack, pitting and then having a caution or getting caught on pit road during a caution is a bad break that usually traps you a lap down. You were pitting while everyone was moving fast, and but your competitors now get to pit at their leisure while you are stuck behind the pace car. But at big (slower) road courses like the Glen, it's the reverse. If you pit under green, chances are you will still come out ahead of the leader and not be caught a lap down. Then if a caution comes out, not only do you get to circle around and catch up to those who haven't pitted yet, but when they go in for their stop, you wind up passing them all.
In the past, a few lucky cars have caught the timing just right, and turned their races around. When Kurt Busch's crew chief saw the 01 car spinning on TV, he called his driver into the pits at that moment, hoping to get in before the pit road was officially closed. The pits are closed at the beginning of a caution often for safety reasons, but even when that doesn't come into play, they are usually closed for a lap so everyone has a chance to get lined up in front of the pace car, so nobody gets an unfair advantage.
Busch was shooting for the unfair advantage. If he had managed to get into the pits before they closed (indicated by a red light at the entrance) he would have gotten the pit road all to himself, and would have then been able to pass everyone back when they came in to pit the next lap. Well, he got about 5 feet from the entrance line when the light came flashing on. Obviously by then it was too late to turn out, even if he had noticed the lights come on. They didn't have any confirmation they had or hadn't made it, and serviced his car. When the penalty came down from NASCAR, the radio traffic revealed indignant objections.
Now, if it had just been bad luck, and they were already coming into the pits when the caution waved, I would agree that they shouldn't be penalized for that. But they took a risk, and knew what the price would be if it didn't work. Busch's crew chief called him in BECAUSE he knew the caution was coming out. At that point it became a race between Busch and the pit road lights. He lost. Too bad, but not anything to complain about. The number 2 crew needs to man up and admit that they tried to bend the rules, and went too far.
I wonder what Jamie McMurray's reaction was when that caution came out with 10 laps to go, allowing Robby Gordon to pull up to his back bumper. I know what mine was. "He's going to wind up in the tirewall by the time this race is over." To Robby's credit, that didn't happen. (Or maybe we should merely credit his underperforming engine that didn't allow him to get close enough to Jamie.)
In the spirit of Watkins Glen, here's an entertaining video I found on Youtube. It's apparently of SCCA driver Greg Amy's onboard camera, as he goes from 26th to 4th on the first lap.