NASCAR Race Weekend Central

NASCAR Mailbox: Developing Rivalries Creates Positive Vibes for NASCAR

It has been way too long since NASCAR had a rivalry.

You cannot consider Matt Kenseth and Joey Logano’s month-long battle a rivalry. The same can be said about Kenseth and Logano’s teammate, Brad Keselowski, having a duel at Texas Motor Speedway in 2014.

NASCAR’s lack of rivalries has a lot to do with camaraderie within the garage, which isn’t a bad thing. However, the good ‘ol days of drivers disliking each other for a large amount of time are long gone. Why? Well, mainly because NASCAR penalizes drivers for fighting, and rightfully so. But there is nothing like a solid, clean rivalry on the track without fists being thrown to spice things up.

Going overseas to the rest of the world, where Formula 1 is the most popular form of racing, we can see rivalries left and right. They may not be anything like what we see in NASCAR, but it’s the really, really clean version.

The robotic-sounding voices on the radios speak for themselves. But when drivers get mad in F1, the world knows it. That isn’t so much the case in NASCAR because the rivalries die out rather quickly after escalating way too fast. Maybe it has to do with the way Americans perceive the world of auto racing — specifically NASCAR — where fans can’t make up their minds of what they want the on-track product to be.

(Photo: Nigel Kinrade / NKP)
Is there a budding rivalry between Danica Patrick and Kasey Kahne? (Photo: Nigel Kinrade / NKP)

Q: I saw Danica Patrick get really angry at Kasey Kahne on Sunday. Should she be mad? Are they developing a rivalry? – Megan F., Kansas.

A: It certainly is a very interesting situation. The more one watches it, the more you realize that Kahne really wasn’t all to blame.

Patrick appears to move slightly up the track just as Kahne does the opposite, tapping her enough to send her flying into the wall. The wrecked looked like something that happens in a video game, where you don’t have control of what the other person may do.

Evidently, it was a racing incident.

Patrick has every right to be angry. Frankly, if she weren’t I would be concerned about how much heart she is putting into her career. But clearly, the driver of the No. 10 car has the right mind set. Her actions Sunday were no different than that of any other racer that throws their hands up at someone.

Remember in 2005 when Robby Gordon threw his helmet at Michael Waltrip at New Hampshire Motor Speedway? He walked approximately five to 10 feet within the vicinity of Waltrip’s car. Yeah, that was a little too much. But what Patrick did on Sunday should be fine, specifically, walking onto the apron of the track (not on the banking), where she only put her hands up in the air.

As for developing a rivalry, I wouldn’t place your bets on it.

With Kahne’s struggles showing signs of coming to an end, including a 10th-place finish at Las Vegas, he will likely outrun Patrick as the season rolls on. However, say he doesn’t improve and continues to run near Patrick, then we might be in for a show.

But Kahne and Patrick will be fine … eventually.

Q: Haas F1 Team actually did well in its debut race. How did they do so well? Will this continue? – Mike S., Virginia. 

A: Money can do a lot in this world. Just ask Gene Haas.

It’s pretty crazy how Haas went from a mediocre Cup owner to a championship-winning one, and now he owns a Formula 1 team. Making the move to F1 was a bold move for Haas, who is known for making some extreme decisions. However, the partnership with Ferrari appears to be working just fine thus far.

Romain Grosjean, 30, has been racing in the series since 2009, picking up 10 podium finishes for Lotus F1 Team. Coming off two straight seasons without any laps led, it was time for a change. Becoming Haas F1’s lead driver, he had high expectations entering a season in the world’s most expensive format of racing.

(Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)
Esteban Gutierrez is making a name for himself in F1, but made waves in the Australian Grand Prix in ways he would have rather not. He’s pictured here (left) with Carl Edwards back in 2010. (Photo: NASCAR via Getty Images)

Becoming the first American team since 1986 to take the green flag in a F1 race, Haas’ two cars started 17th and 20th, with Esteban Gutierrez in the second vehicle. However, the day ended abruptly for Gutierrez, who was collected in an unbelievable incident with Fernando Alonso. Thankfully, both drivers were unharmed in the incident, but it certainly put a downer to such an outstanding debut for Grosjean.

Grosjean worked methodically through the field, finishing sixth and earning eight manufacturer points.

“A very good day at the office,” Grosjean said. “This feels like a win. For all the guys who worked so hard over the last few weeks, this is unbelievable. We were unlucky yesterday, but got a bit lucky today with the red flag. Still, we were able to hold off the Williams (Valtteri Bottas) and the Force India (Hulkenberg). We didn’t have much set-up (time) on the car. It was a case of, off you go and see what happens. This is an unbelievable feeling. The guys did an amazing job and I told them, this is like a win for all of us. First race and here we are, P6. A happy day.”

The partnership with Ferrari is going to be the ultimate factor in determining how successful Haas’ latest venture will be. The potential billion-dollar project is an experiment more than anything. It is still too early to tell how much success the team will have in its first year, but a points-paying day to start off the season is certainly not what anyone expected.

Have a question? Email me at Joseph.Wolkin@Gmail.com and make sure to check back next week when we’ll answer your questions on all things NASCAR.

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Steven

Danica this and Danica that. I think Biffle said it best: “What a joke!!!”

Budreaux

Yup!

Danica Patrick is much ado about nothing.

Russ

Does anybody really care about these socalled “rivalries”? Most of it is just spin and click bait. If I were a team owner or sponsor, any employee (aka driver) who did that would be my former driver. Just saying.

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