NASCAR Race Weekend Central

Happiness Is…Lawsuits, Consistency & Rumors

Another weekend, another wild finish, and another Jimmie Johnson win.  In some ways, the race and result brought a collective yawn.  Johnson racking up another win is about as surprising as the sun rising in the morning (at least that’s how it seems sometimes).  That Kevin Harvick ruled three-quarters of the race may have also been part of the overall reaction.

Johnson’s win, as he earned his second of the season, broke the pattern of drivers claiming a spot in the Chase field.  If you’re a Johnson fan you’re now free to check out on the regular season – though it wouldn’t be surprising to see the No. 48 team rip off a few more wins now that they have no pressure and are free to tinker at will.  

For Harvick, the second-place finish continued his habit of not winning.  For a driver nicknamed “The Closer,” one that has always seemed more media contrived than one of truth, Harvick should be racking up wins on a better basis, especially with the fast cars he’s had.  Instead, a quick glance at the wins list shows that Kyle Busch has more wins than Harvick, besting him 34-32.  

The Johnson-Harvick dynamic is an interesting one considering that it often looks like Harvick controls 90% of a race only to have Johnson sweep by and ostensibly steal the win.  But it’s not like those two are the only ones running up front.  And perhaps the biggest issue with some of the racing is how late cautions, manufactured or not, have been the thing to influence the outcome of the races.  

What once was the green-white-checkered is now overtime, but the name change has changed little.  Running 99% of the race only to watch all the strategy get compromised for a two-lap battle that is hardly indicative of the preceding events has become a norm in a way.  Go figure.  

While bunching up the field is entertaining, maybe it’s time to look at everything surrounding overtime – from pit regulations, to how many laps the overtime should have, to whether or not there should be one at all.  

Yeah, that’s not going to happen.  Just like the Chase isn’t going to go away.  

Let’s get happy.

Happiness Is…Lawsuits.  Perhaps one of the more intriguing storylines that has come about this season is Mike Hillman’s lawsuit against Circle Sport-Leavine Family Racing.  Our Sean Fesko covered it here.  Basically, Hillman was left out of the deal that brought a charter to CSLFR.  There are a number of things surrounding this story that provide insight into the inner workings of NASCAR and how the charter system is part of it.  

First, the lawsuit itself shows how important the new charter medallions are.  These medallions are the new currency, something that, for now, holds massive value.  That value will likely fluctuate but for now it brings guaranteed money and that is what really matters.  For the teams struggling in the 37-40 overall points standings, their return on investment is speculative, but a charter medallions is solid.  

A second aspect that the lawsuit shows is the money involved in buying owner’s points as well as the cost of running a one-off for a given race.  While the new system makes for a switch from owner’s points to renting a medallion, the cost seems to start at $25,000 a race, provided that race is not Daytona.  

Though NASCAR indicated that they will publish the cost of medallion sales in the future, as an organization they cannot be happy that these figures are making their way to the public.  The lawsuit has the potential to show many of the workings of the sport and should be fascinating to follow.  

2016 Fontana NXS Kyle Busch vertical Nigel Kinrade NKP
No word yet on penalties for Kyle Busch – but everyone knows he’s not smiling (credit: Nigel Kinrade – NKP)

Happiness Is…Consistency.  Cup series champion Kyle Busch had quite a weekend at Fontana.  He made a mockery of the field in the XFINITY race at Auto Club Speedway, only to watch it slip away when his left front tire blew out and he limped his car to the finish.  The brash Busch rejected all media obligations owing much of it to his frustration in losing, but also in the fact that NASCAR failed to throw a caution as his car spewed debris around the track.

The next day Busch found himself on the other end of the questionable caution call when he blew his right front tire with a couple laps left.  This time NASCAR threw the yellow, though Busch wondered why it hadn’t been thrown much earlier.  

The issue that comes to the front is something that has been a problem for quite a while: just what brings out a caution?  Much like the National Football League seems to have difficulty determining what a catch is, NASCAR hasn’t quite settled on what is and what is not a caution.  For the weekend, and to Busch’s chagrin, both instances made for rather entertaining endings.  

Happiness Is…Rumors.  Silly season isn’t what it used to be.  Hasn’t been that way for a while.  The one rumor that has circled about is the one involving Kevin Harvick replacing Kasey Kahne at Hendrick Motorsports.  This rumor is one that makes too much sense to actually happen.  Harvick not happy driving a Ford next year.  Kasey Kahne struggling to be even a mediocre driver.  Hendrick with money.  It’s not likely to happen, but the mystery surrounding the possibility is at least enjoyable as drama.  

The other rumor that surrounds the sport is the possible inclusion of a new manufacturer.  This one seems to come about every four or five years with little happening.  But Brian France threw this one out last week and one wonders whether or not there’s any validity to it.  Matt Dillner, however, dropped a note stating that Audi (of all companies) may be the one looking to join – a move that would be a good deal cheaper than trying to get into F1.   Either way, both rumors are worth some attention.

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Russ

Another interesting tidbit in the lawsuit was that Nascar notified the teams in Oct which of the two cars would get a charter and which wouldn’t. And the fans weren’t informed until months later. Just surprising it was that much of a lag.

Russ

Forgot> Audi would make sense in this way. Both Audi and Porsche are owned by VW. Yet for the last couple of years they have competed against each other for the overall win at LeMans, and other venues in Europe. From the corporate standpoint that makes no sense. So it would make sense, assuming you let both continue in racing to separate their efforts.

DoninAjax

Maybe the lawsuit will show what a scam the charter system is.

Upstate24fan

A European manufacturer coming to NASCAR would be really interesting. Even as a NASCAR fan, I prefer German cars.

Al

Happiness Is…Lawsuits. Not!

Unless you’re
1. a mouthpiece with an Ivory Tower law school degree who continually collects $1,000/hr. and up from fat-cat clients for burying other Ivory Tower lawyers with letters and pleading paper in civil cases [civil litigation isn’t civil]; for drafting adhesion contracts with words and phrases that would make the world’s top English-language scholar toss their lunch; and for regularly staring down nasty-A bench officers with lifetime tenures.

2. a well-heeled lobyist who gets a kickback from his lawyer brother-in-law for referring a constant stream of fat-cat clients with legal problems.

3. the owner(s) of the paper mill that produces Crane’s Bond for all of the Ivory Tower law firms, well-heeled lobbyists, and nasty-A bench officers.

Echo

Your right, Jimmie Johnson is ” the real closer” not Harvick who has racked up 21 second place finishes out of 78 races while at SHR. The media, the lame ones at least like the FOX crew keep calling Harvick that.
Jimmie and Harvick have finished first and second 15 times with Jimmie winning 13 of those, including 10 straight now I believe, that really must burn Harvick up since he thinks Jimmie has a golden horshoe. Sorry Kevin, but to burst your bubble, Jimmie is just that much better than you at all times, as the above stats prove.
Sadly for Kevin, he has to read about losing for two solid weeks because of the off weekend. lol And it sure must make for a rough time around him right now with his temper and everything. lol lol

Don in CT

Good letter, Echo. Couldn’t agree more.

Ken

I find it very humorous every time Brian comes out with another manufacturer wanting to enter NASCAR. This time, he pointed out the success Toyota has had. Well, if any automobile company researched NASCAR, and found out the stands are empty, the television ratings are dropping every year, the old fans are walking away, and there are no new fans, they should have their heads read. NASCAR would not be a worth while endeavor, nor would they see any good return on their investment. And you can bet Brian requires a huge investment in his “product”. Most of all, I cannot see the shareholders of any car company going for this. They would turf out the management and board of directors in a second for wasting the corporation’s money for such a worthless endeavor.

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