During one of the NASCAR Cup Series’ two races at Pocono Raceway last weekend, Ricky Stenhouse Jr. was penalized for laying back on a restart, but race winner Kyle Busch purposely pitted to fall back and get momentum built up. Is there a difference between the two and should NASCAR implement a penalty for such tactics going forward?
Josh Roller: I view the two situations as different. Ricky Stenhouse Jr. is bunched up within the field and tries to get a run on the car ahead. Whether you like it or not, that should be a penalty. The rule is in place not only to keep the restart as fair as possible but to prevent accidents. Kyle Busch had a mechanical issue that prevented him from getting up to speed. Laying back on pit road was not his team’s first choice but was necessary if it was going to remain relevant in the race. NASCAR shouldn’t pay any attention to this move. I can’t imagine any team wanting to give up track position, such as a top-10 position, to pit, lay back and gas it up on the one-to-go lap and pass a bunch of cars. Unless this becomes a regular thing, which again I don’t expect, NASCAR shouldn’t worry.
Luken Glover: They appear to be two different situations. While Stenhouse was using it to get a run (which is nothing new), Busch was practically required to. With his broken shifter and difficulty getting up to speed, Busch would have caused a Dover International Speedway 2016 2.0 had he stayed in the pack. There weren’t a lot of options, and it happened to work out that way.
Joy Tomlinson: There’s absolutely a difference between the two scenarios. If I recall correctly, Busch pitted again because of something that was done on the last stop that NASCAR wanted fixed. He was stuck in fourth gear and could hardly get off of pit road as it was. I don’t see how this was an issue.
With Jeff Gordon moving on, who will likely take over for Gordon on the NASCAR on FOX broadcasts?
Glover: I would like to see Jamie McMurray come in the booth. McMurray’s calmness matches the excitement Clint Bowyer brings to the booth. I always enjoyed the broadcaster, driver and crew chief combination FOX brought from 2001-2015, but with McReynolds in the control center, another driver would be good to see. Plus, McMurray doesn’t have the other racing obligations that guys like Chad Knaus, Andy Petree or Bobby Labonte do. Kevin Harvick is someone who could be ready for the booth when he retires, but McMurray would be a great fit for now.
Roller: I’ve enjoyed the Xfinity Series broadcasts that included McMurray. I’d like to see him get the call to the Cup booth, because he’d balance Clint Bowyer’s excitement with a calmer tone. Some are going to want to see McReynolds return to the booth, but FOX spent too much money on the control center that we’ve seen him use since 2019. It helps McReynolds analyze the race strategy better compared to having to worry about contributing to the broadcast nonstop, and I like having two drivers up in the booth. As a viewer you may get the same opinion but two different ways of getting there or two completely different opinions.
Tomlinson: McMurray would be great in the booth. He has a lot of experience in the booth already and has been great as a broadcaster. He offers insight that adds to the broadcast and can help explain things on the track. Kurt Busch would also be an option later down the road, as he has done very well during his stints in the booth. He’s very knowledgeable and explains exactly what is going on during the race.
Rick Hendrick and Jack Roush are making moves to set up an heir apparent for their organizations. Do Joe Gibbs and Roger Penske need to start looking for successors, and who should they consider?
Glover: Both Gibbs and Penske seem ageless sometimes, and it is hard to see the sport without them. However, we all grow older and they will pass the reins down eventually. Gibbs is 80 years old while Penske is 84, so lining up heirs would be wise, even if they don’t plan on leaving soon. Coy Gibbs seems like the plausible option at Joe Gibbs Racing, as he already does a lot within the organization. Team Penske has a couple of options, such as Tim Cindric, Austin Cindric’s father, or Greg Penske, Roger’s son. Penske would bring a great business knowledge, while Cindric has the performance knowledge to form a strong duo.
Tomlinson: Neither team owner is getting any younger, so yes, they should start considering who might continue leading the teams. Coy Gibbs would be a great choice to fill the role; he already is in leadership with JGR. As far as Penske, Cindric seems most logical to help run things. Penske runs several different racing teams and needs at least one person who can manage both NASCAR and the NTT IndyCar Series, and Cindric would probably be the one to oversee the whole organization.
Roller: For JGR, I see no reason that Coy Gibbs couldn’t slot in as the overall manager and delegate tasks to those already present. One day when his driving car is over, a long time from now, I can see Ty Gibbs running the show. At Penske, Cindric seems to be the person who will one day steer the motorsports ship. On top of that, I can’t see Penske not having some sort of a committee or group of directors in place to take over each individual sector of the Penske empire.
Road America is the last new track introduced to the Cup schedule this season (teams have run on the Indianapolis Motor Speedway oval since 1994). What’s the next track you’d like to see added for 2022?
Tomlinson: Iowa Speedway. I know the venue doesn’t appear to be on the market for a NASCAR date anytime soon, but both the Xfinity and Camping World Truck series have put on great races at the .875-mile track. I miss seeing the action there. Instead of turning Auto Club Speedway into a short track, NASCAR should return to Iowa and group it together on the schedule with Kansas Speedway. Unfortunately, it feels like just wishful thinking.
Roller: I’m high on Nashville Fairgrounds Speedway getting its opportunity to return to the Cup Series, but if I’m looking strictly at a track that has never hosted a Cup event, I’m going to go out on a limb and say Pikes Peak International Raceway. The easy answer for the question is Iowa. My opinions on Iowa being a Cup track have changed in the past 18 months, and if a Cup race saves Iowa, get it on the Cup schedule. But as markets go, Colorado has been straight-up ignored by NASCAR on a national level since the Xfinity Series last raced at Pikes Peak in 2005. NASCAR had a golden opportunity to go racing there when Furniture Row Racing was still in existence and no attempts were ever made to broker a deal. Granted, that was a different time in NASCAR, with different leadership, and with the lack of working together among the sanctioning body, tracks and teams compared to present day. Like Nashville Superspeedway, temporary stands would need to be assembled, but other than the installation of SAFER barriers, the track is good to go. Let’s shift a Kansas Speedway date (sorry, Kansas) to Pikes Peak.
Glover: Nashville Fairgrounds and North Wilkesboro Speedway have been making some noise recently. Rockingham Speedway is a track I have advocated a return to. It is unique and the last image we have of a Cup race there was then-defending champion Matt Kenseth edging a rookie Kasey Kahne for the win. Rockingham has gained steam on returning and may just be a repave away from doing so. A longshot I would like to see is Lucas Oil Raceway. It would need more seating, but it fits that short track stereotype many fans enjoy.