The 2016 presidential election season has been quite different from the past. Candidates always bash each other, but this year, the vulgar language and criticism both major party candidates have delivered is making headlines world-wide.
However, come Nov. 8, 2016, America will vote in a new president.
NASCAR drivers and executives have been voicing who they want to win the election for a while. The overwhelming majority of drivers and those inside the garage area are Donald Trump (Rep.) supporters. With the elections coming up, it is prompting sponsorless teams to have a little fun with the campaign, putting candidates — well, specifically one candidate — on racecars.
As the team receives praises and criticism for the scheme, the NASCAR world is anything but new to having political campaigns on racecars.
Q: Reed Sorenson has a Donald Trump scheme this weekend. What’s the deal with that and why is it allowed? – Jake L., Ohio.
A: NASCAR received plenty of criticism for allowing the NRA to be the title sponsor of races. However, as that died down, it appears that the criticism is shifting over to race teams.
When Forrister first put out his Trump scheme in 2015, it was received as a joke. Seriously, who would listen to a southern 22-year-old, who was arrested as a teenager, telling you who to vote for? It’s not to say that Forrister isn’t politically informed, because he might be incredibly wise in terms of politics. However, placing Trump logos on his truck were nothing more than a publicity stunt to get attention for a small, underfunded race team.
The same can be said about Self, who is only 20. His “Make America Great Again” paint scheme took the sport by storm at Talladega Superspeedway in October, and it certainly got him plenty of publicity. Self even appeared on several political-based shows. Is he Fox’s latest presidential race correspondent? No. He’s a racecar driver who should probably stick to his day job.
But then there’s Sorenson, a highly-respected Sprint Cup Series veteran, who is just making ends meet with Premium Motorsports. His owner, Jay Robinson, unveiled on Facebook a fresh new paint scheme for the No. 55 car. Soaked in red, white and blue rather than the team’s usually dull black scheme, Sorenson’s racecar for Texas Motor Speedway will certainly grab people’s attention.
— Joseph Wolkin יוסף וולקין (@JoeWolkin) November 2, 2016
Trump’s campaign has not funded any of the teams that have had his name on them. Instead, those organizations are supporting candidates rather than just having blank paint schemes.
It isn’t the first time a NASCAR team has slapped a presidential candidate’s logos on a car, either. In 2012, Front Row Motorsports and Tony Raines qualified for the Daytona 500 with a Rick Santorum paint scheme. But until this last wave of schemes, there haven’t been many teams associating themselves with any political campaigns.
NASCAR is a big believer in First Amendment rights, and nothing in the rulebook prohibits teams from supporting political campaigns. All paint schemes must be approved by NASCAR before they get onto the racetrack.
Q: Through the first few races, how would you evaluate the XFINITY Series Chase? – Jessica R., Daytona Beach, Fla.
A: Once again, I believe a motorsports playoff without so many eliminations is better than what is on the table as of now. If NASCAR utilized the old playoff system from the Cup Series, with 12 drivers and in this case eight races, it would be much better for the sport.
The first round of eliminations took out two potential title contenders in Ty Dillon and Brennan Poole, essentially being replaced by two drivers who have stepped up to the plate — Blake Koch and Ryan Reed. The two have a combined 10 top 10s this year, but each have been avoiding wrecks, the downfall of their counterparts.
Say what you want about the emphasis on winning in this format, but let’s face it, you can’t get to Victory Lane without being consistent.
Sadler has a series-high 27 top 10s, which is also a career-high for the two-time runner-up (2011 and 2012). And his No. 1 squad is on a roll; finished second in back-to-back races at Charlotte and Kansas, along with a Kentucky triumph that has sent momentum in his direction.
However, the championship battle will be an intense one, with Suarez and Sadler tied at the top spot entering Texas. The improvement for Suarez in 2016 has been a dramatic one, featuring wins at Michigan and Dover. Entering Texas, he’s finished in the top 5 in seven of the last eight contests as he looks to bring Joe Gibbs Racing a championship.
But the real winner of this playoff system could be Erik Jones, who exited the regular season 99 points out of the top spot in sixth. With a rejuvenated effort to compete for a title, the No. 20 was looking forward to the Chase. However, Jones’ rookie mistakes continue to bite him. He has three finishes of 15th or worse in the Chase thus far, and he’s barely holding on, tied for fourth with Justin Allgaier.
Overall, the Chase is bringing excitement to the XFINITY Series, something that has been missing for quite some time. Before, it appeared as if Sadler would run away with the title. Suddenly, it will be a four-car duel to the championship at Homestead.
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