Frontstretch Staff · Monday August 26, 2013
Did you miss an event during this busy week in racing? How about a late-night press release, an important sponsorship rumor, or a juicy piece of news? If you did, you’ve come to the right place! Each week, The Frontstretch will break down the racing, series by series, to bring you the biggest stories that you need to watch going forward for the week ahead. Let our experts help you get up to speed, no matter what series you might have missed, all in this edition of Pace Laps!
Sprint Cup: Wild Card Race Gets Wild Brad Keselowski out. Joey Logano in. Jeff Gordon out. Ryan Newman in. The twists and turns of the Chase only got crazier after Bristol’s Saturday night thriller led to wrecked race cars, frayed tempers, and wild swings in the points. 10th through 16th are now separated by just 38 markers; anyone from 17th-place Paul Menard on up could be “Chase eligible” after next race at Atlanta.
So where do we go from here? Nobody knows, and that’s the fun of it all. Three of the eight drivers, from Logano through Menard will in all likelihood make the postseason field. You can make some sort of case for each one. But we’ve never seen this much chaos before, towards the back of the field where each person, to some degree controls their own destiny. If they all get aggressive, well… let’s just say the next two weeks will be the best racing we’ll have all year. Tom Bowles
Nationwide: Vickers Struck By Thunder Valley Crazy what one race can do.
Brian Vickers was finally coming on strong after a slow start. In fact, if he kept up his string of top finishes, chances were he’d be the championship leader before long.
Then came Bristol.
After climbing within 18 points of the points lead, Vickers’ tear came crashing down — literally. Though he was able to get back on track after an early accident, his 34th-place finish was not what he needed by any means, especially considering strong runs by many of his closest title contenders.
The finish booted Vickers down to sixth in points, 40 out of the lead.
Sure, he may not care given his Cup ride next year that’s already a lock, but do you think he might be kicking into high gear from here on out? Time’s running out. Kevin Rutherford
IndyCar: Right Turns At Indy? Derrick Walker, the new head of IndyCar competition, let on that the series is investigating using the Indianapolis Motor Speedway road course. The race would be set for the beginning of May and serve to bring more attention to the track while also adding another, much needed, race to the schedule. For all the optimism, however, Walker didn’t seem optimistic.
The idea of running the race to open the month is a welcome one, but Walker believes that the road course tracks needs some significant upgrades to make it a workable idea. For IndyCar, making such a move would be a smart decision for a number of reasons, the question is whether or not they can make it happen in the short time frame that exists between now and the 2014 season. Huston Ladner
Short Tracks: Young Talent Blossoms BMany people have been asking where the future talent in racing is coming from. There are plenty of young drivers across the country, it is just a matter of paying attention and you can see them. While the ARCA series isn’t what it used to be, it is still one of the preeminent series in the country for up and coming drivers to showcase their talent. One of the brightest stars on the racing horizon set a new mark this weekend by scoring the win at Madison International Speedway as the youngest winner in the history of the ARCA series. Kyle Benjamin will not be 16 years old until November, but he schooled the ARCA series in the Herr’s Live Life With Flavor 200 like a well seasoned veteran.
Benjamin took the lead on lap 70 and never looked back to claim his first ARCA series win. It was the third consecutive win for the Venturini Motorsports No. 15 and further drew attention to Benjamin’s already impressive talents. Benjamin has been on the radar for a couple of years thanks to some strong runs and impressive wins in Pro Late Model and Super Late Model races around the Southeast. This year he was voted the number one prospect in the Speed51 driver draft. While some people might argue with the names selected and the ranking of some drivers, there is no doubt that Benjamin is poised to be the next big prospect in stock car racing. Now it is just up to one of the big teams in NASCAR to reward him with a driver development contract. Mike Neff
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