Five things we learned at Kentucky
Perhaps one day 107,000 fans will claim to have cheered, booed, or gazed down scornfully as Kyle Busch won the first Sprint Cup race at Kentucky Speedway. Some of them may have actually heard it from their cars, still trying to creep into the overwhelmed facility through clogged roads on Saturday night, some from I-71 as they angrily returned home, children weeping, dreams smashed, vacation money wasted. They should be allowed the indulgence of blocking out what by all accounts was one of the most inept debuts of a facility as a big league venue in recent memory.
And they shouldn't see their horrible experience wielded by a billionaire to pay for upgrades he admits were long overdue before he sold them a ticket.
Busch, although he had to hold off late bids by David Reutimann, Brad Keselowski and Jimmie Johnson, was oppressive in his own right, leading 125 of 267 laps to win his third race of the year and assume the points lead. That Busch is capable of such things is not novel. But here are five other things we learned at Kentucky:
"From the fans side, they will not notice anything different," said Jeff Andrews, Hendrick Motorsports director of engine operations. "Maybe one of the biggest things that a fan would notice is a lot of times you get a lot of questions like, 'What's that big blue flame coming out of the right side of the car when the driver gets off the throttle or goes into the corner at Martinsville?' That's just fuel that has spilled out of the carburetor and gone through the engine in an off-throttle condition and is being burned out the exhaust pipe. You won't see that any more. They'll be some good efficiency gains that are being made there with this fuel system in terms of fuel economy. But in terms of performance, the power levels between a carbureted and a fuel-injected engine are very close; so you won't see a dramatic increase in lap times."
The new McLaren Electronic Systems and Freescale Semiconductor system will regulate fuel intake more efficiently than the carburetors currently used. They will not likely obsolete the restrictor plates used at Daytona and Talladega, Darby said.
"The easiest and most economical way for us to accurately -- and across the board in fairness control or restrict the horsepower of the engine -- is with the amount of air that's introduced into it. So we'll continue to do it that way," he said. "Will it be in the form of what we know today's restrictor plate? Maybe, maybe not. We're looking at some other things. We more than likely won't go down the path of trying to restrict the engines through electronics because we have a much higher comfort level doing it in a mechanical way. It's the same for every engine that's on the racetrack type of fashion, which will be through some sort of an air restriction."
"It's been an awful season for us," said Reutimann, who has just two top-10 finishes this season. "At the end of last year it felt like we were making some gains. This year we haven't had the results we've been looking for. With that being said, it's easy to get upset and down when things aren't running well. The guys are trying to figure out why we're not running well, and hence we have a better car this weekend.
"I'm not saying that's the answer, the magic bullet, but it's a step in the right direction."