NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Pace Laps: Chase Elliott Chasing NASCAR History While NHRA Debuts

Sprint Cup Series: Could Chase Elliott Be the Spark NASCAR Needs? – For the fourth year in a row, the best possible story came together for NASCAR on Daytona 500 Qualifying Day. 20-year old Chase Elliott grabbed the pole Sunday afternoon for the Great American Race, and in doing so became the youngest pole winner in the history of the event.

The conspiracy-minded may take issue with Elliott’s pole due to the unusual coincidence of him being the third rookie in four years to win the 500, but a logical analysis shows that Elliott’s performance should come as no surprise. The No. 24 team that Elliott is inheriting sat on the pole for three of the four restrictor-plate races in 2015, an impressive accomplishment that just goes to show how strong this team is in qualifying trim on the superspeedways.

Elliott now sits in an interesting position, as his pole run is going to garner him a great deal of media attention from those both inside and outside the NASCAR world, further establishing him as a potential superstar (a la golf’s Jordan Spieth) for a sport desperately in need of successful new faces. Could young Chase truly live up to the impossible expectations set before him and win the sport’s biggest event in only his sixth Cup start? He’ll be starting from the best position to accomplish it, and if he could somehow pull off the upset, it would likely be the spark this sport needs to re-energize it’s downtrodden fan base.

No pressure, right?  Matt Stallknecht

NHRA: Strong Debut in Pomona – The NHRA kicked off the 2016 season with their first live eliminations show for new television partner FOX Sports in style with a fantastic finish to the Circle K NHRA Winternationals. The season opener from sunny Pomona, CA, featured three very close and very competitive final round races for the Pro divisions.

In Top Fuel, Steve Torrence got the win over Doug Kalitta with a run of 3.735 seconds, 326.48 mph to Kalitta’s 3.753 seconds, 324.36 mph. Torrence and his single-car team are receiving consulting help from Alan Johnson this year and have formed an informal alliance with the JFR team of Brittany Force, who is also receiving guidance from Johnson. Johnson’s team won at the Winternationals last year and it appears he shared the secrets to success in Pomona with Torrence.

Torrence got by Steve Faria, Morgan Lucas, and Richie Crampton on his way to the matchup with Kalitta.

Fan favorite Ron Capps took the Don Schumacher Racing organization to victory in Funny Car, defeating reigning Funny Car champion Del Worsham in the finals on a holeshot with a pass at 3.981 seconds, 324.28 mph to Worsham’s quicker but losing 3.962 seconds, 324.36 mph. Capps also defeated Jeff Diehl, Chad Head, and Robert Hight en route to the finals.

“I have the best team in the business, and they gave me a great racecar,” said Capps, driver of the NAPA Funny Car. “All four runs in the 3s in qualifying, I don’t think anyone else did that. I knew we had a good racecar. (Crew chief Rahn) Tobler and I have grown so much together. It’s like a marriage. He really keeps me in line on race day. We had a heckuva day.”

Capps also acknowledged the great day for long-time sponsor NAPA Auto Parts, with a Chase Elliott pole win earlier in the day at Daytona. “I’m like aw, man, I was going to tweet him and say ‘way to put the pressure on, man’ but I didn’t want to jinx ourselves. As we kept going further in the day I thought ‘man, how cool would it be to have the NAPA guys have the pole at the Daytona race and here winning Pomona at the other end of the country.”

Pro Stock kicked off the fuel-injected era (EFI) with Summit Racing leading the way as teammates Greg Anderson and Jason Line faced off in the finals. It’s worth noting that three of the four cars in the semi-finals came out of the KB Racing stable as Bo Butner also made it to the penultimate round, making a case for the team having the jump on the competition in figuring out the new combination.

Anderson took the win over Line on a holeshot with a 6.617 second, 207.85 mph run to Line’s 6.609 seconds, 209.82 mph. He also beat Matt Hartford, Jeg Coughlin, and Drew Skillman on his way to the finals. Toni Montgomery

Camping World Truck Series: Bring on the 2016 Season – This Friday night, the Camping World Truck Series returns to action at Daytona for another 23-race season to determine this year’s champion. Opening up the year alongside the XFINITY and Sprint Cup series, the Truck Series will have multiple new rules, including a Chase format, new points structure, caution clock and overtime line. Drivers will take to the 2.5-mile oval for a pair of practice sessions on Thursday before setting the field Friday afternoon. The NextEra Energy Resources is scheduled for 7:30 p.m. ET on FoxSports 1. Beth Lunkenheimer

IndyCar Series: Veterans Praise Phoenix International Speedway Following Preseason Test – If Monday’s test was any indication, fans might want to mark the April 1-2 Verizon IndyCar Series return to Phoenix International Raceway on their calendars.

Six of the series’ best drivers took to the one-mile oval for an April 8 test session. Included in the session were Ed Carpenter, Josef Newgarden and Team Penske’s Helio Castroneves, Juan Pablo Montoya, Simon Pagenaud and Will Power.

Power, who completed his first laps at the Arizona circuit, showed optimism about the event after the test.

“It has a lot of history and that’s what INDYCAR needs is to go to places that have that history,” Power said in a release. “I really think they will get a big crowd out here. I think fans are interested to see what these cars are like on the track and how fast they are compared to NASCAR. They are a lot faster, which I think fans will enjoy.”

Castroneves, a 2002 winner at the circuit, praised the track’s speed and changes.

“To go around 20 seconds in a mile here, it’s pretty fast,” said Castroneves. “It feels great. The new change (to the track configuration) probably helped a little bit to go even faster, because in the past Turn 1 used to be a little bit sharper and now the outside is open. So it’s kind of cool and, man, this is great.”

The IndyCar paddock will return to Phoenix for another test on Feb. 27, before returning on April 2 for the Phoenix Grand Prix, the series’ first race at PIR in 11 years. Aaron Bearden

XFINITY Series: It’s Go Time for 2016 – There was an abundance of changes in the NASCAR XFINITY Series during the off-season. If there was any expectation that it would be a quiet off-season, it was anything but that. With over 10 driver and team changes, including multiple moves made before the 2015 season ended, 2016 will see many new challenges for the sport’s second-tier division.

The Rookie of the Year race will be quite compelling, with Brandon Jones entering as the pre-season favorite, driving for RCR. However, Ryan Preece and Ray Black, Jr. were late editions to this year’s rookie class, giving Jones some competition heading into his first full season.

With 2014 series champion Chase Elliott moving up to the Sprint Cup level in 2016, it gives Elliott Sadler and Justin Allgaier a chance to compete for a title. Along with the JR Motorsports tandem, expect to see Darrell Wallace, Jr. emerge as a championship favorite after coming off an impressive rookie year.

However, there is one driver that stands out among the rest, and that is Erik Jones. He is expected to win a handful of races this year, and if all goes well like it did in his full-time Truck Series stint in 2015, he will emerge as a champion once again.

Among the new teams in the XFINITY Series are BJ McLeod Motorsports (Nos. 78 and 99 Fords), SS Green Light Racing (No. 07 Chevy), Kaulig Racing (No. 11 Chevy), Wing Nut Racing (No. 27 Ford) and GMS Racing (No. 21 Chevy). Joseph Wolkin

Sports Cars: Level 5 Motorsports Owner Scott Tucker Indicted – Up until early 2014, Scott Tucker was the owner and one of the drivers for Level 5 Motorsports, a mainstay in sports car racing here in the United States. Following the merger of ALMS and Grand-Am, the team moved to the GT-Daytona class, acquiring Ferrari 458 Italias. After winning the class at the 2014 Rolex 24 at Daytona, Level 5 suddenly withdrew from the series under mysterious circumstances. Only now are we learning the sheer scope of Tucker’s business dealings away from the track.

On Wednesday, Tucker was arrested in Kansas and has (along with his former counsel, Timothy Miur) been indicted on a number charges, including conspiracy, collection of unlawful debts and multiple violations of the Truth in Lending Act (TILA). According to the FBI, Tucker is accused of extending loans to up to 4.5 million people, at interest rates at times exceeding 700 percent, via deceptive contracts at a number of payday lending centers operating under names such as One Click Cash, US FastCash, 500 FastCash, Ameriloan and United Cash Loans. In addition, Tucker entered into relationships with three Native American tribes in order to prevent himself and his companies from being sued by those who used his services and states suing on the behalf of consumers due to tribal sovereignty. Tucker’s companies also conducted business in a number of states (such as New York) where payday loans are effectively illegal.

As a result of his scheme, Tucker personally earned hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. Those profits were used to purchase homes, a Learjet and bankroll Level 5 Motorsports.

A number of assets were seized from Tucker at the time of his arrest in an attempt to recoup $2 billion in ill-gotten gains. Assets seized included bank accounts, multiple high performance vehicles, real estate and the Learjet. Tucker, along with Muir could face up to 20 years in federal prison if convicted. Phil Allaway

Share this article

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com
We hate spam. Your email address will not be sold or shared with anyone else.

14 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
kb

Yes Beth, the past four years and other events do very well tell of manipulation to increase awareness outside the normal NASCAR circles that “The Great American Race” is on Fox next Sunday. Come on, seriously? Not that I give a damn about a pole at a RP track or any track for that matter. The issue is with NASCAR, and it is pretty obvious the hype they feel they need to propel and promote. Of course it is not needed, but since when has dishonesty stop them from anything. Call us “tin foil hats” wearers, so what. Can I prove it to be false, no..not from where I sit. Can you prove it is legit, No you can’t either. But sometimes you gotta be practical, and realize when the almighty $$$ is involved, promotion of any kind for profit, human beings, being human beings, it is 100% possible and most likely true.

kb

…And I think it would take a lot more that a Chase Elliott or heavily promoted push letting the world know that he is Bill’s son to rejuvenate what ails NASCAR, and very presumptive that the whole fan base is in love with the components him or his existence in Cup and how it came to be. That line of thinking to me is insulting for the sport and the many positive young and not so young talent that exist well before Chase Elliott. The press and fans are going to make his life difficult if he lets it and nobody would blame him if they did. The burden still exists for Junior today, and it is going to ramp up for him because of the “beloved Bill”. Time will tell, it always does.

Faster Eddie

Chase at 20 handles pressure better than Joonyer at 40. And kb, when will you be completing that English as a Second Language class? Your comments vary from illiterate to pure gibberish.

kb

Well thanks Eddie, nice to hear from you….and appreciate your kind words. You sound like one hell of sweat guy. Any girl is lucky to have you, or guy.

kb

Notice the “sweat” Eddie, instead of “sweet”..can’t wait for my grade. YAHOO!!!!!

J.Smith

BZF reaps what he sows regarding Elliot skeptics.
FS1’s NHRA takeover was obvious minutes into the broadcast. My initial reaction was where are the normal people and I don’t like it. The entire broadcast was marred by technical glitches. Reaction and elapsed times were intermittent along with the winner or holeshot win banner not there the majority of the time. I assume they will fix that by the next race. The format of showing the 16/8 eliminations so fast (no burnouts or fluff between runs or classes) seemed like a highlight reel that went too fast for me. Then there was 30 or 45 minutes of fluff and the 4/2 races. It just never seemed to get into a rhythm. It’s hard for me but I’ll try to be optimistic and give it some time.

ToniM

The quick first two rounds and then “fluff” between the final rounds on the NHRA broadcast is the result of showing the final two rounds live. FS1 had to get through the first two, longer rounds in a set amount of time in order to try to join the action live at round 3. From what I understand, there was a slight delay before they started round 3 at the track–and my guess is that they were still showing the tail end of round 2 of Pro Stock on the broadcast, meaning they had to wait just a few minutes for the broadcast to catch up. The fluff is because they joined live at round 3 and there is a turnaround time between the rounds–so they had to put some filler in there until the live action round 4 finals were due to run. The only answers here if you are not fond of that format are to start the broadcast sooner, allowing a more leisurely pace to the pre-recorded parts. That would result in an overall slightly longer broadcast, or perhaps not if they eliminated the time they allowed at the end for interviews, although I personally liked the interviews. Or we could go back to fully pre-recorded broadcasts airing later on Sunday night. I would rather have it live. I imagine some of the kinks will be ironed out. I think it’s important to remember that FOX is completely new to NHRA. It took them some time to get up to speed on NASCAR too when they first started.

J.Smith

Thanks Toni, that’s a good explanation. I didn’t realize it was live final rounds but personally I haven’t cared about live race broadcasts since VCR days. I can’t imagine having to endure all the commercials. I do enjoy some fluff stuff but would rather have small bits sprinkled throughout. Whether it’s live at the cost of balance or balanced at the cost of live, I’ll keep DVRing and watching.

DoninAjax

The Outlaw Sprints’ and Late Models’ seasons have started and New Smyrna (just down the road from Daytona Speedway) is running their World Series of racing. Real race cars and no fake cautions.

dave in ohio

You said it, real race cars.

DoninAjax

“Could Chase Elliott Be the Spark NASCAR Needs?”

There aren’t enough sparks available to help undo what Brian has done.

Jason

I’ll gladly tell the France family why I stopped watching NASCAR.

It has become a disgusting *JOKE* of a soap opera.

Drama between drivers blown out of proportion by the media.

People that can’t freakin drive! Juan Pablo Montoya? DaniCUNT Patrick? Really?!

Running Jr leagues in Mexico and god knows where else. It’s called NASCAR not INASCAR.

EFI… for Christ’s sake people…

Ethanol. Sure. Let’s just help the oil companies sell this garbage. It kills fuel economy, it ruins fuel systems, and it costs more. So let’s run it in NASCAR to help convince more street drivers to use it.

Race to the chase playoffs. Just one more BULLSHIT attempt to give the talentless Dale Earnhardt Jr. a chance at a championship which he doesn’t deserve. When this garbage came out the first couple years, many people realised Dale Jr. would have won the championship the previous year had this system been in place. Then he loses again so the system is modified AGAIN.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. GO AWAY! YOU SUCK! Can’t win a championship when it’s rigged in your favor. Can’t drive worth a damn.

Jimmy Johnson/Chad Knaus: When I watched NASCAR, I was a Hendrick Motor Sports team fan. Except for Jr. I was also a Jimmy Johnson fan. But 5 championships in a row and then a 6th? I smell cheating. Even if the 48 team isn’t cheating, who wants to watch when you already know who’s gonna win? That’s lame.

DaniCUNT Patrick: OMG why the hell is she even allowed on the racetrack?! She is a threat to the safety of herself, other drivers, crews, officials, and spectators. There’s been plenty of women drivers in NASCAR before and every single one of them was more successful than DaniCUNT. Go away!!!

Sponsorships: How the hell are you gonna pull tobacco sponsors but bring in liquor sponsors? That’s a great message for kids. “Here Billy, put down that cigarette and have some whiskey before hoping into a car and speeding around.” Come on, man.

Car Of Tomorrow mentality: I realize that the horrible COT has been replaced but, it’s that mentality of “we got some shitty drivers here so, we’re going to change all of the cars in order to ‘increase the level of competition’ in NASCAR.” It’s just garbage. Safety is one thing. I realize the COT was supposed to increase safety but many changes were also to affect the way the races are run.

Lastly: The embarassing lack of safety. You can claim to have this that and the other safety improvements but there is no excuse for an entire fucking engine to fly out of a car, *through* a so-called “safety” fence, and into the grandstands.
As a fan, how the hell am I supposed to defend NASCAR when people talk badly about it after shit like this happens?

Those so-called “safety” fences have clearly been an issue waiting to happen since 1948. With all of the advances in safety over the decades, somebody somewhere was completely RECKLESS to overlook spectator safety.

NASCAR has been going downhill ever since they took the Winston out of it. I don’t know what the France family’s agenda is, and I don’t care anymore. NASCAR has become nothing more than a joke and a circus. What’s next? Scripted races and results? Is it going to become madatory for shitty drivers to be handed wins?

dave in ohio

Paint me a fellow conspiracy theorist, but even the guys in the broadcast booth were shocked at the number Chase put up considering the poor line he ran. DW said something like “oooh, that’s gonna really slow him down” at one point during the lap. Just another case of Na$car handing out the “junior” plate for a fourth year in a row.

Broken Arrow

And maybe DW is wrong 9 times out of 10. And when has the TV team’s “right line” ever been the fastest line? Hundreds of poles have been won by guys who purposely skewed the line while laughing out loud at the experts who told them they were wrong. (Chase was already grinning between rounds, knowing he had found the best line for his car. The kid already knows Jaws is an arse.) But if DW says it, Dave in Ohio, bows down in reverence to Motor Mouth. And how does Jolly Old Saint Jeffie qualify for the “rookie plate?” So much work for those tin hats!

Not to mention, NASCAR purposely broke Kyle’s legs last year and tampered with Smoke’s ATV this year. And the suspicious-looking cats on the grassy knoll.

Sign up for the Frontstretch Newsletter

A daily email update (Monday through Friday) providing racing news, commentary, features, and information from Frontstretch.com

Frontstretch