ONE: Tweet of the Year
I have to start out this week with a comment on what might already be the tweet of the 2016 season and given the likely volume of 140-character missives to come over the next nine months from the NASCAR community that’s quite the statement at this early stage. “I guess @joeylogano can’t see through his squinty douchy eyes.” Tweeted Cole Pearn, crew chief for Martin Truex, Jr., after an ill-advised passing attempt from Joey Logano saw Truex’s strong day end in disappointing manner. It was a tweet that reverberated around the NASCAR world being “favorited” and retweeted by thousands of folks before it was finally removed. “It was completely my fault. I was going to go on the outside of him, and he was going to go on the top as well, and I just ended up being right on him,” Logano said of the incident. “We never touched each other, but just taking the air off these cars makes them uncontrollable.” Fair play to Logano for his prompt apology (and also for his restraint in not replying to Pearn’s irate tweet) but once again it is Sliced Bread up to his neck in controversy. This is becoming something of theme, isn’t it?
TWO: Kyle’s happy to head East
How about that finish to the NASCAR Xfinity race at Auto Club Speedway this past Saturday? Ridic – as the cool kids might put it. Actually the proverbial cool kid would probably send a snap or use some other achingly cool social media platform instead, but you get my drift. Wow, in a word. Even Brad Keselowski was amazed and he’s seen one or two things in his career. What is even more remarkable is that Kyle Busch drove nearly a full lap of two miles on essentially three wheels. The champ can flat out wheel a race car in case that was in any doubt. I actually watched quite a bit of the race this weekend, which I don’t typically do, and I was nearly at the point where I was going to turn off – it all felt so processional. So I’m super glad I didn’t. You might have thought the finishes we saw at the Daytona 500 and Phoenix were good – this one topped those for sure. Plus, you also got the patented storm off to the garage from Kyle Busch. It’s a shame we didn’t get some form of interview – that would have been an all time high fine I reckon. We did get some amusing Busch Twitter responses, though, which are well worth checking out if you haven’t already. And for those who complained about his attitude after, well I’m sorry, but I respectfully disagree. I love Kyle Busch’s talent and passion and if he wears his heart on his sleeve in a way you deem inappropriate maybe you should follow a different sport. Long may the Busch fire continue. It’s compelling viewing no doubt.
THREE: Veteran Racer
So far, so good in 2016 for Elliott Sadler who has opened the season with five straight top-10 finishes (4th, 9th, 8th, 8th and 5th) for his new team: JR Motorsports. “Absolutely. I thought @Elliott_Sadler did well this weekend too. We have all year but I’m excited.” Tweeted them owner Dale Earnhardt, Jr. about Sadler’s good weekend at Auto Club Speedway. Since making the switch to the second series at the start of the 2011 season, Sadler has been somewhat peripatetic running for five different teams in that timespan. He ran a full season for the now defunct KHI team in 2011 before moving to Richard Childress Racing for 2012. In 2013 and 2014, he ran for Joe Gibbs Racing, whilst in 2015 he spent the season with Roush Fenway Racing. Speaking after his fourth-place effort at Daytona, Sadler was clear about how happy he was to be running full-time with JRM: “I’m in a great situation. A lot of people don’t know the history of Dale Jr. and Kelley and myself. We’ve known each other since we were teenagers,” noted Sadler. “For our relationship to come full circle and be at this race team, to see how much effort they have put into the program this winter…. I feel like we have some good stuff coming down the road.” In his 19-year career at the second echelon Sadler has run 301 races, winning 10 and picking up 68 top-5s and 153 top-10s – good for an average finish of 13.7. Sadler finished second overall in both 2011 and 2012 and you can be sure he’s looking to go one step better in 2016. Let’s hope it happens for one of the sport’s truly good guys.
FOUR: Next Up – A Week Off
This weekend represents an extremely rare commodity in the NASCAR season: a whole weekend off to celebrate Easter. Now whilst I love the fact that the sport takes the time off to celebrate the most important date in the Christian calendar, it is in some senses a shame not to be racing this weekend after what has been a pretty good start to the new season. The new package is racy and passing is actually possible. It’s a point that was reinforced on Twitter (where else) in a Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Q&A session. When asked “When was the last time you could actually pass like this in a race car, Dale?” Junior’s response was unequivocal: “Before the CoT. 2004ish.” So for those mathematically challenged, that is a full twelve years, which, in a way, is quite sobering. All that being said, we’ll be headed to the oldest and most venerable track in NASCAR, Martinsville Speedway, before we know it and the racing at the li’l old paper clip that could is nearly always five-star stuff. Can’t wait.
FIVE: Quite the Start for Haas in F1
And finally this week, a quick word about what was an incredibly eventful weekend for Gene Haas in his first race as a Formula One principal. On a positive note, Romain Grosjean’s sixth place finish meant that Haas became the first brand new team to score debut Grand Prix points since Mika Salo’s sixth place run for Toyota in 2002. It may not sound like much but in the Formula One world where races are often decided in the first corner this represents a stunning effort. Haas’s second driver Esteban Guttierez was involved in a huge, early wreck when Fernando Alonso – a wreck I’d note that was not his fault.
What is remarkable about this is the fact that Alonso walked away essentially unscathed. It is a massive testament to just how far we’ve come with safety. That wreck ten years ago would have been a very different story.
Happy Easter, everyone!
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