Tuesday is generally fine day in NASCAR and this week was no exception. The hammer that is the the sanctioning body’s fine machine was swift and forceful on the heads of Michael Waltrip racing and JTG-Daugherty racing. The crew chiefs and car chiefs for David Reutimann’s No. 00, Martin Truex, Jr.’s No. 56 and Bobby …
Hello, race fans. Welcome back to Talking NASCAR TV, where dissection of race broadcasts is the name of the game. This past weekend, the Sprint Cup and Camping World Truck Series returned to Talladega Superspeedway for their final shots at restrictor plate glory for 2011. Meanwhile, the V8 Supercar Championship Series was in Surfer’s Paradise, Queensland for the Armor All Gold Coast 600k.
Talladega. The great equalizer, in addition to being cursed, dangerous, and depending on who you ask, built on an Indian burial ground. Sunday was one of the tamest events seen on the high banks in recent memory, but just as with any plate race, the finishing order was jumbled…and the usual suspects didn’t dominate the proceedings at the front of the field. Part-timers in the top-10. Cars outside the top-35 leading laps. And NEMCO Motorsports busted out a second start-and-park car. The wrecks were less plentiful, and NASCAR’s rule changes didn’t do a damn thing to discourage the much-maligned (and deservedly so) tandem racing, but when 500 miles were done, plate racing came to the underdog’s grace once again.
@danwheldon: Green!!!! @Riceman61 (Doug Rice): The ABC team is doing a strong job under tremendous stress. @ClaireBLang: Nothing is louder than engines roaring — nothing quieter than the absence of cars racing and teams waiting in silence at a moment like this @DeLanaHarvick: It horrifies me when ppl cheer when drivers wreck. whether u like …
NASCAR announced in February that the Sprint Cup series would be going to electronic fuel injection as of Daytona in February 2012. In anticipation of that change the series is conducting several testing sessions for teams to wrap their arms around the new technology. The latest of those sessions was Monday at Charlotte Motor Speedway …
From David Reutimann’s rain-shortened win the 2009 Coca-Cola 600, to Casey Mears’ fuel mileage win in 2007, to Dave Blaney’s first career Nationwide Series win in the fall of 2006, Charlotte Motor Speedway has seen its share of unexpected, if not underdog, winners in recent seasons.
This weekend’s 500-miler was not one of those times. The only unexpected event that occurred, in fact within a boring race was the hard crash and seeming demise of Jimmie Johnson’s drive for six consecutive titles. In a race that proved to be the ultimate exercise in track position, those that started at the back ended up staying there as the cream rose to the top in NASCAR’s hometown race.
Danica Patrick is a brand. So is Dale Earnhardt, Jr. What about Greg Biffle or Marcos Ambrose or Kyle Busch? Do they qualify as “brands?” Lowe’s Home Improvement Warehouse is a brand, and so is Jimmie Johnson. The No. 48 Chevrolet is a brand, as well. The No. 24 DuPont Chevy has been considered a brand, but can the No. 24 AARP “Drive to End Hunger” Chevy be considered one, too? During last Friday’s press conference at Kansas – when it was announced that Clint Bowyer had been named to drive for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012 – it seemed as though everything in-and-around the deal was deemed to be “a brand.” Bowyer was called a brand, and so was MWR. 5-Hour Energy, the company backing from 20 to as many as 24 races for Bowyer and his No. 15 Toyota, was referred to as a brand, as was Toyota itself. By the time Clint Bowyer’s press conference ended, reporters had heard the word “brand” more than they did the word “NASCAR.” Come to think if it… NASCAR is a brand, too. So what gives? What’s the big deal regarding this notion of what (or who?) is a brand?
*Did You Notice?…* All the panic when Toyota entered the Sprint Cup ranks? Within five years, American patriots feared a foreign automaker would be dominating the NASCAR circuit, piling up championships while running Ford, Chevy, and Dodge out of town. If you believed some prognosticators, right now we’d have a grid of 25 Toyotas, a rundown 1995 Ford Taurus, some Chevy Luminas and, well, that’s about it.
Except that hasn’t happened. Chevy collected their ninth straight manufacturer title Sunday, making Toyota 0-for-5 in their bid to reach the top of the NASCAR ladder. They also have yet to win a single Cup Series championship – Jimmie Johnson controls that hardware – and have just two drivers in this year’s Chase, Kyle Busch and Denny Hamlin, with neither one looking capable of breaking that ugly streak.
It’s the homestretch of the 2011 season, meaning that the cookie cutter intermediate track is taking center-stage. Kansas Speedway marks the first of four 1.5 mile oval races that will ultimately determine the 2011 champion, as well as setting much of the field for the 2012 Daytona 500. And as could be expected, it was a play date up front for the horsepower of Hendrick Motorsports and Roush Fenway Racing. But even as the big guns were busy at work for 400 miles, it was a surprisingly solid day for those at the back end of the garage.
One shouldn’t be fooled by the nine lead changes that show up on the scoresheet. Or that the pass for the win occurred inside 15 laps to go. In reality, this race was over almost as soon as it began. In leading 173 laps, Brad Keselowski delivered the most dominating performance the Nationwide Series has seen in recent memory, winning at Kansas Saturday after passing Carl Edwards (who was on four fresh tires) despite having only scuffs for the final run. Keselowski averaged a lead between eight and 11 seconds for much of the afternoon, with Edwards, Elliott Sadler, Paul Menard and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. rounding out the top 5.