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NASCAR Race Weekend Central

The Big 6: Questions Answered During the 2011 Summer Off-Week

Who… gets my shoutout of the weekend?

I’m enjoying the off week in New Hampshire, and on Friday night saw a rookie driver put down one of the best pieces of driving I’ve ever seen in a dirt race. Allan Hammond came from the back to lead the late model feature at Canaan Fair Speedway, got spun intentionally, and charged back to second, racing clean every step of the way despite being turned in both his heat and the feature by the same driver.

What… was THAT?

When NASCAR stripped the win from Ryan Newman after an illegal carburetor spacer was found on his Modified after Newman won the F.W. Webb 100, my first reaction was, wait, WTF? Not because NASCAR did the wrong thing, because they didn’t, but because, well, I thought NASCAR’s stance has been that taking away wins is too confusing for the fans and therefore, they won’t do it. So, does that mean that Modified fans are smarter than other fans (perhaps not a bad assumption sometimes), or do they think that fans don’t care because it was “only” a Modified race?

Or does the sanctioning body really believe fans are just that stupid? Note to NASCAR: You made the right call, 100%, by stripping the win for a seriously illegal car. So take note, grow a pair, and do that across the board. I’m not talking about something like a .0002″ height violation or something (unless there was obvious doctoring of the car to produce it), but for a flagrant violation of the rules? Heck yeah, take the win away! Fans will probably be able to figure out why you did it.

Where… will Carl Edwards wind up?

The way they are running, it certainly seems like Edwards would be best served staying with Roush Fenway Racing. After all, he’s leading the points and the RFR cars have been excellent to date. While Joe Gibbs Racing can offer up a two-time champion crew chief to Edwards, that’s no guarantee of success. However, it appears that even Edwards isn’t sure where he will drive next year. And while he waits, drivers like Joey Logano and Trevor Bayne are stuck waiting as well, as it’s likely Edwards’s decision will have a serious impact on where they race in 2012. If Edwards has decided, it’s time to cowboy up and say so, so that others may begin to shape their 2012 plans as well.

When… will Kyle Busch face a judge on speeding and reckless driving charges?

After a continuance was granted, Busch will face the charges on August 23. Busch was charged with reckless driving after driving at 128 mph on a rural road with a posted speed limit of 45. If convicted, Busch could face up to 60 days in jail along with having his North Carolina driver’s license revoked for up to one year. NASCAR does not require a valid driver’s license to compete, so such a suspension would not affect Busch’s ability to race.

Why… are ticket sales at Indianapolis down?

NASCAR has gone as far as a rare Sprint Cup driver autograph session to try and boost ticket sales for next week’s Brickyard 400, a sure sign that the sanctioning body is worried about advance sales. The economy and the price of hotels and gas is probably a factor in the soft sales, but the bottom line? The racing at Indy is boring. The track was not designed for stock cars, they do not race well on it, and really, does NASCAR need to be there at all? I think not. Race fans would be better served by a race at a track where the racing is good. It’s not about prestige; the Southern 500 (back when it was the REAL one) had as much prestige as the Brickyard 400. If NASCAR wanted to make a race hold that kind of meaning, the media machine could do it. My guess is that the fans would certainly be on board.

How… is Kasey Kahne doing after a nasty off-weekend sprint car crash?

Although Kahne is probably a bit sore after flipping his sprint car over the turn 4 berm and down a hill, but the short answer is fine. Kahne climbed from the car under his own power and climbed back to the track to wave to race fans at Williams Grove Speedway before being treated and released. Kahne will race his Sprint Cup car as usual this week in Indianapolis.

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