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The Freshies - Milliseconds, Stages, and Heartbreak at Kansas

Photo Credit: Sean Gardner/Getty Images

By Adam Carabine

Best First Stage

The closest finish in NASCAR history likely overshadowed everything else in this race, but let’s not forget the beauty that was Stage One.  Right off the top, you had polesitter Christopher Bell and Ross Chastain racing like there was 10 to go.  There was a round of clean, green-flag pit stops which shook things up.  There was intrigue throughout the field.  It was awesome.  

Yes, the finish is what people will be talking about for years to come, but there was more greatness to this race than just the 0.001 margin of victory.  In the first stage alone, there were 10 green flag lead changes.  Sometimes it feels like we get less than that in other FULL races.  Texas’ first stage only had 3.  

Does NASCAR’s Short Track package need work? For sure it does - they would be the first ones to tell you that, too.  

Is the Intermediate package working? Hell yes.

Worst Time to be Canadian

Having rain or any sort of weather delay is never a fun time.  You get excited for a race, only to turn on the TV and find that it’s pouring rain and you’ll likely not be seeing cars on the track for a few hours.

Cue the broadcast desperately trying to find things to discuss to fill the time - also not super enjoyable, although the occasional feature can be entertaining.  

However, in Canada, it doesn’t work the same way.

Quick background - NASCAR coverage in Canada is not done the same way as it is in the USA.  For the Americans, they get Fox for half of the year, and then NBC for the second half (at least for the remainder of this year - things are set to change next year).  

In Canada, we get to see the American feeds, but they’re broadcast on the same channels every weekend - TSN (Canada’s version of ESPN).  We get to see the switch to NBC halfway through the season, but it remains on TSN.

Now, TSN has 5 channels, numbered TSN 1 through 5 (original, I know), and it varies from week to week which one will have NASCAR Cup Series racing, but we know it can be found on one of those five on any given week.

The rain delayed the race in Kansas, and TSN decided to put some golf coverage on instead, stating that when the race was ready to be run, we’d get it back.  

Some time passes, the rain stops, and they’re about ready to go racing.  I’m reading on Twitter/X that they’re firing up the engines, etc. and yet still I’m watching golf.  In fact, the exact same golf coverage is being shown on TWO channels at the same time.  

A third TSN channel has started running a pre-recorded clip-style show, something about the Biggest Coach Blowups Ever, and suddenly I see that the race has gone green!

I know there aren’t as many of us fans up here in Canada, but come on, TSN!  You can do better!  We had to watch the final hole of golf, and then some extremely boring post-match interviews with the winner before finally switching over to NASCAR.  We joined the race on lap 15.  

Okay, I’m done ranting, but boy was that frustrating! 

Worst Paint Scheme

Every week I pick on someone new.  This week, the worst paint scheme has to go to Todd Gilliland and his Long John Silver’s 38 Dark Horse Mustang.  To be fair, it was a fairly strong week in paint scheme land, and there have been much worse offerings in the past.  

Photo Credit: Front Row Motorsports

Best Stats

In the last twenty races, dating back to last year - both Chase Elliott and Martin Truex Jr. have only finished outside of the Top 20 once!

They also coincidentally are the only two Cup Series drivers with Average Finishes below 10 this season.

Brad Keselowski had an insane day of passes - his pass differential was +59.  Maybe I’m misremembering, but I can’t seem to recall him making his way back through the field all that often? 

Bonus stat - Corey Heim is having an other-worldly season in Trucks.  Through 7 races, he has an average finish of 3.5 - that is insane.

Closest Finish

I mean, I’d be remiss if I didn’t talk about the closest finish in NASCAR history, right?  That’s kind of a big deal.  One man’s victory is another man’s heartbreak - and Chris Buescher was on the losing end of the closest finish in history.  More on that later.

It is absolutely beyond the human capability to understand what a single millisecond looks like, feels like, etc.  The fact that Larson edged out Buescher by 0.001 seconds, or one millisecond, is INSANE.  

First of all, even the fact that we have the technology to even register that difference is amazing.  How would they even have approached this sort of finish in the years before HD cameras, etc.?  There has never been a tie in NASCAR, though if somehow there had been, there are rules for that too.

The first tiebreaker would be laps led, then to who ran the most laps in 2nd, then 3rd, etc. until the tie was broken.  That would certainly not be a fun way to decide a race, so we’re lucky that Buescher wasn’t a millisecond faster.  

But boy, what a time to be alive.  And what a finish.  

Biggest Heartbreak

Let’s put an F in the chat for Chris Buescher.  I’ve often wondered whether it’s better to lose by a close margin or a huge one.  Before this weekend, when picturing a ‘close margin,’ I didn’t quite have 0.001s in mind, but I think I can definitively say this one must hurt more.

Let’s not even get started on the fact that the official scoring initially said Buescher had won.  So not only does he lose the race, but they likely feel embarrassed celebrating for a few seconds before being told it actually was Larson’s victory.

But even without that, just based on the tone of Buescher’s post-race interview, you could tell he was just beginning his journey through the seven stages of grief.

He was shown a replay that was pretty clear he was a hair behind Larson at the line, and was clearly in denial, saying, “I don’t see it.  I still don’t see it.”  

In the end, Buescher’s crew chief, Scott Graves, met with NASCAR and they showed him their in-depth look at the finish.  Heartbreaking, yes, but indisputably it was Larson across the line first.  

“It is what it is - doesn’t make it any easier to swallow,” Graves said after the meeting with NASCAR.  

Best One-Up


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