By; Ashley McCubbin
In the world of respect, contact, and whether the lines are being crossed, another chapter was added to the book on Saturday at Phoenix Raceway. However, both Daniel Hemric and Austin Cindric were within their boundaries.
Although Hemric caught Cindric going into turn three and gave him a nudge, he did not get him so sideways that it sent him out of the track out of the way to easily give him a clear view to victory. The pair also touched coming to the line, leaning against each other, but neither pushed or hooked someone to gain a clear advantage.
Rubbin’ is racin,’ bumps and runs are fair game all applied here, and it’s why this will go down as one of the best races of the season.
It’s the same as the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series battle last weekend at Martinsville Speedway with the leaders three-wide. Denny Hamlin and Alex Bowman started down the same path, but you cannot fault the No. 48 for getting loose underneath and getting in there by-accidently.
People continue to question whether playoffs belong in motorsports with all the variables, and perhaps seeing someone who may not be the “assumed deserving” person as the champion. However, the format continually pushes drivers out of their comfort zone, forcing them to put it all on the line and drive on the edge of control if they want to be successful.
Hemric is the latest victor to come out on top, and deserves the honor for so many different reasons. He’s a guy that could have easily given up when the going got tough. He could have walked away after driving for Richard Childress Racing and JR Motorsports, and not scoring a victory. He could have bowed down to the haters and skeptical individuals questioning his talent, and left the sport. Instead, he dug deep, kept fighting, and now has a championship trophy to show for it.
That said, Cindric showed why he already has the class of a champion in his post-race interview. He could have thrown Hemric under the bus, but instead said he would represent the series well, deserved it, and it was fair racing for the victory. Given the past couple months, maybe some NASCAR Cup Series drivers could learn how to maintain temper from him.
Gragson also showed the heart that we have come to expect, as evident by pushing as hard as he could despite the car not being perfect. Unfortunately, contact with the wall took him out of the running, but you will not forget him quickly having been on the back bumper of Cindric and Hemric with 10 laps to go.
Allmendinger, meanwhile, struggled all weekend, and sees his incredible season of five wins summed up with a fourth-place finish in points. He leaves with a smile, though, still having fun – which is what matters. However, it begs the question whether the venue for the title should move around each year, to give those a chance who may struggle at Phoenix Raceway on a regular basis a different chance.