500 miles in Atlanta makes me want to hurt someone and Mercedes’ 2015 dominance

I had to file these under something, so I came up with Monday Morning Crew Chief. To certain segments of racing, applying that name everywhere is distasteful, but I needed something catchy, so I stole the theme from all those who use Monday Morning Quarterback and applied it to racing. It isn't a big deal.

Does Atlanta really need to be 500 miles?

Two things are very obvious after this weekend in NASCAR: 1. tech inspection is a debacle - and in June no one will remember when it was a debacle. 2. the race at Atlanta needs to move to April, May or June and more importantly needs to be reduced by at least 100 laps.

This is easy: make your car fit through the template

NASCAR announced new procedures for technical inspection months ago, and notified teams, and of course no one cared until Friday. The lines to get through tech were long last week at Daytona, but because of Speedweeks and the expanded schedule many didn't notice its immediate impact. Atlanta, however, was a different story. This weekend's schedule is typical of what the other 35 races will be like. 13 cars failed to get through inspection, and as a result started at the rear. What's more troubling, is that four cars that didn't get through inspection or have a chance to qualify were sent home.

I'm not sure where the blame falls here, but to be certain it's shared by the teams and the sanctioning body. NASCAR held an open test Thursday so teams could go through tech multiple times without penalty to find out exactly what they needed to do for the weekend. How many went through? No one knows for sure, but clearly enough didn't go through. Next, it's going to take time for the officials to transition to this new system. There's no amount of practice that can be done during the off-season to prepare for the live testing of 45ish cars.

Does this really need to be an all-day affair?

What also feels long is the race at Atlanta. I'm of the personal belief only the sports biggest races needs to be 500 miles. Or laps. Or however they try and spin it so we have to sit four hours so broadcasters can fulfill their commercial obligations. I can't imagine how a bad 500 mile race must feel in person. Well, outside of that one time I sat through 500 miles at Pocono and wanted to kill myself.

Look, NASCAR should do everyone a favor and reduce this race by at least 100 miles and find a place on the schedule sometime in Spring or early Summer so Atlanta's only race has decent weather. Despite popular belief, it snows and rains often enough in Atlanta to want to avoid outdoor activities until April or May.

"I'm very frustrated by the fact that there was no SAFER barrier down there... I knew it was a hard hit and I didn't expect it to be that hard. I got out and looked, and I said, 'Oh wow, big surprise, I found the one wall here on the back straightaway that doesn't have a SAFER barrier.'" - Jeff Gordon

Two other things to note here: SAFER barriers need to be installed on all surfaces where cars can make contact with immovable objects, and Jimmie Johnson won his fourth race at Atlanta and his 71st overall. More on the barriers later this week.


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F1 Off-Season testing now complete

Formula 1's off-season testing has concluded and the consensus winner is Mercedes. After the other teams looked great in the first few tests, Mercedes reminded everyone they were still the team to beat in 2015, and according to all involved beating Mercedes will be tougher than it's ever been before.

Once Rosberg and Hamilton switched to the super soft tyres, it was essentially over. What's crazy is that Mercedes had been so close in performance to everyone else the rest of the weekend, that once they went on the super soft compound, they blew the competition away. Is a preview of how the entire season will go, I certainly hope not. I think Formula 1 need to be more competitive in 2015 than it has in any other year.

I can only speak for the American, or at least this American, but when I see the same team dominate the sport - or any sport really - it gets old, quickly. Yes, other teams need to improve, and Williams and Ferrari will certainly keep it competitive, but F1 needs to find a balance its hardcore and casual fans can both enjoy.

Speaking of balance, how did everyone else do? Good, unless you're a McLaren fan. The team turned an average of 25 laps over the four day testing period. Hydraulics, an oil leak and a sensor problem limited their success.

“From a performance point of view, it’s clear that Mercedes is still ahead by quite a way, but right behind there is us [Ferrari], Williams and Red Bull, all very close. We will know more in a couple of weeks." - Sebastian Vettel

That from Sebastian Vettel, the four-time champion, is all you need to know about how good Mercedes will be this year. I for one am not ready to crown them, so we'll just go ahead and run the races to make sure Mercedes is that good.

Formula 1 links:

Red Bull reveals 2015 RB11 race livery Michael Schumacher's son Mick to make car racing debut in Formula 4 Tech Analysis: Camera pod legality

Other links:

IndyCar: Series reconsidering approach to electronics Sepang MotoGP test: Marquez leads Lorenzo and Crutchlow at Sepang Pirelli World Challenge: Cadillac looks ahead to ATS- V.R race debut Nitro Shots: Heroes and Zeroes 2015 BMW 428i xDrive Coupe review notes 2015 Mercedes-AMG C63 / C63 S-Model Sedan

Feature image: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR