Phillis Carbone

Lowes Motor Speedway, Concord, N.C.

Coca Cola 600 : It certainly was a very interesting Memorial Weekend, racing wise and personally. I was at Lime Rock Park for the Dodge Dealers Grand Prix Weekend, there were the W/C Coke Cola 600, the BGN Car Quest 300, and the Indy 500. Depending on your point of view, there was enough racing to spin your head. AND there were some very interesting race winners to say the least. It's what I love about racing the finishes are so unpredictable.

My semi-annual trek to Lime Rock Park was as usual, a really great time. Got together with other ARC/MSC chatters with the always-looked-for racing venue, camping experience and camaraderie. The race host, Capt'n Zastro, out did himself again. The weather couldn't have been better, and the racing was one of the best. The drivers and team members were as usual, very congenial and pleasant. I talked with Butch Leitzinger who was driving with James Weaver in the Grand Am race. Weaver hit the pace very early on, and when Leitzinger got into the car he had no problem keeping that pace. Weaver put the whole field down at least a lap by the time he turned the car over to Butch. This win put Didier Theys, (who won last year on a late charge pass around Leitzinger/Dyson), on alert. BTW Weaver/Leitzinger had the pole. I also got to talk to Mark Simo who is now racing with SupportNet this season. This was his inaugural in the Grand Am series. He drives with Scott Schubot in a Ford-Lola B2K10. They came in 5th. Not a bad showing for a new team. We also saw the PPG Neon Charity Challenge, a Grand GT, and the Barber Dodge Series races. There is no racing on Sunday but they had the MoparExpo 2000 Car Show that we took a quick look at and then left to go Cap't Z's house for much needed showers. We watched the Indy 500 and the Coke Cola 600, ate some pizza, and headed back to Lime Rock about midnight. So how about that Montoya? Musta put a real crimp in TG's idea of the perfect All American Race... Matt Kenseth sure drove a great race. Showed up in Winner's Circle with nary a scratch on his fenders. This makes the first race since 1981 when two rookies won a Winston Cup race in the same season.

The Coke Cola 600 was a very long race.... 400 laps is long enough, but having a one hour rain delay certainly didn't help. Reminds me of the time I went to the CC 600 a few years back and there was a 2 1/2 hour rain delay. It is brutal for the fans, the teams, and the track employees. But the out-come was a very good one. There has been much talk about the rookie son of a great racer. Yes, there were some who thought he would take the race, and he almost did. But the rookie that won the race was one that didn't have the well-known father, didn't have the wins that the other one had and was a runner up in the Busch title last season. He didn't take the win with a last lap whip-around-the-leader or as the result of a crash that took out the front-runners. What Matt Kenseth did was take the lead on lap 374 and held on to it with the likes of Bobby Labonte, DE Sr and Jr behind him letting him know his lead was tenuous to say the least. He drove a good race, he maneuvered around the back-markers like they were standing still, he made it look so easy. But he is the first to tell you it wasn't and he didn't believe it till he saw the checkered flag. It was a wonderful win for a deservedly great rookie. (Notice I said great rookie, not great driver. He still has a lot to learn and more dues to pay.)

Congrats to the next 9 finishers: Bobby Labonte, Dale Earnhardt, Dale Earnhardt Jr, Dale Jarrett, Jeremy Mayfield, Mike Skinner, Rusty Wallace, Steve Park, Jeff Gordon. So what does this do to Bobby Labonte's points lead? Not much since Bobby finished second...points total right now are 1776, 54 over Ward Burton..

Congrats go to Jeff Burton who won the BGN Car Quest 300 at Lowe's Motor Speedway, Saturday and in the NASCAR Truck series 200, the race was won by Greg Biffle at Pikes Peak International Raceway on May 21st.

The Bonehead Award: There were none for the race, but there are a few out there who think Darrell Waltrip should have given up racing a long time ago. Well that's their opinion. Mine is; he is retiring when it is good for him, no one else. How many people hang onto a job more years than they need to? There are professionals, blue-collar workers, service workers, etc that in some eyes should have given up and retired a long time ago. But this country is not built on giving up. Unless there is a valid medical reason why someone should give up working then the time to do it is when he or she have decided to retire, no one else's. We reconcile in ourselves when it is good for us. So what that Richard Petty drove for 8 years after his last win before retiring, that Darrell Waltrip "bought" his ride? How many have died before they even had the chance to be able to decide. They will do it in their own time. Now, Ernie Irvan needed to retire. His health was dependant on it. Darrell is trying to make his last season racing a good one. Like all of us we do certain things a certain way so that it is memorable for our loved ones and us. How many people have given their kids lavish weddings, bar mitzvahs, and prom parties? For what? To save some memories for the future, that's what. Darrell knows he isn't going to win any more races. But he is enjoying his final season and making memories. The driver that gave up his ride to Darrell should feel very proud that he is contributing to a champ's farewell season. That driver will drive again for many years, but he will always remember that he gave THE Darrell Waltrip his seat at the Coke Cola 600. Talk about memories? You can't beat that. Thank you Darrell, thank you Carl Long.

Next race: MBNA Platinum 400, Dover, DE. Last year's winner: Bobby Labonte.

The racing season is in full swing now. So if you agree, don't agree, or if you wish to comment, you can reach me here. I welcome all comments.

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