OPINION: A controversial week

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 23, 2007

What a wild, wild show put on at Daytona last week. If that race is any indication of what is to come, we are in store for a very fun and entertaining season.

After the fines, suspensions, and penalties leading up to the race, NASCAR still couldn’t rid itself of controversy. The fantastic finish, with Kevin Harvick edging perennial second-place finisher Mark Martin, has been a hot topic of discussion over the past week.

Half way through the final lap, all heck broke loose behind the leader at the time, Martin, and Harvick, who was hard-charging to the front. Supposedly, the rule is for the field to be frozen the instance a yellow flag is dropped. If the yellow flag were to have waved when the pile-ups began, Martin would have won his first Daytona 500. That didn’t happen.

NASCAR waited until Harvick and Martin crossed the finish line before bringing out the yellow. Was it the correct call? Mark Martin fans say no. Kevin Harvick fans say yes. If you are a race fan, you had to love the race back to the flag and the close finish. I am afraid NASCAR has set a dangerous precedent with this decision. Sure, it was a bang-bang call and a split second decision, but I can assure you that at some point later in the season this scenario will come up again. It will be interesting to see how it is handled.

At any point, congrats to Harvick for sweeping the weekend with wins on both Saturday and Sunday. Harvick is real threat to the title this season and he couldn’t have asked for a better start to his championship quest.

One thing is for sure, after FOX’s broadcast Sunday; we all should know a lot more about Toyota, thanks to Darrell Waltrip. How many times did DW mention that the Camry was the only car on the track to be built in America? We now know that Toyota has a plant in Kentucky, employs gobs of people, spends gobs of money, and plans to save the planet. I know DW has a vested interest in Toyota’s success, but don’t make it so obvious. Announcers are supposed to be somewhat objective.

One more thing about DW. Why does he always refer to Michael Waltrip’s cars by sponsor and the other cars by number? “There goes the no. 00 Burger King/Dominos Pizza Toyota Camry driven by David Reutimann.” If he refers to another car, it’s “here comes the no. 9 car.” I guess blood is thicker than water.

The 14th cup race in the history of California Speedway is this week. There has been only one multiple winner at this track, Jeff Gordon with three career wins. However, Roush Fenway Racing (going to take a little getting used to the Fenway), has done very well here. With four wins and 18 top-fives, Roush Fenway driver are always a threat to win here.

For some teams, making this race will be imperative. The Red Bull tandem of Brian Vickers and AJ Allmendinger both missed the Daytona race and the pressure will be immense to make this race.

Another Toyota driver, Jeremy Mayfield, a past winner here, must also make the race or his season will be long and painful.

Should be a good race on the two-mile speedway with all the Hollywood stars out and about. My pick to win this race has four top-fives in five career races and will add to the Roush’s dominance at this track. My pick to win is Carl Edwards.