1. Are They Baaack? – Television ratings for NASCAR have seen resurgence this race season after experiencing at least two years of declines. The Memorial Day weekend Coca-Cola 600 tallied a 4% boost over last season’s telecast, and posted the first increase in viewer numbers in three years. But the 4% improvement, though noteworthy, is less than the 5% increase that FOX TV has seen in its race broadcasts for the season to date.
Kyle Busch emerged from the pits with the lead after a green flag sequence of stops and drove off into the sunset.
I might as well write a template for this portion of the Nationwide Series Breakdown. This Saturday, Joe Gibbs Racing dominated the NASCAR Nationwide Series X (Heluva Good! 200). Driver X (Denny Hamlin) smoked the field, leading X (131) of X laps (200). Joe Gibbs Racing has now won X (nine) of X (14) races in the Nationwide Series this season.
Today’s Question: Joey Logano makes his long-anticipated debut in the Nationwide Series this weekend, just one week after he turned 18. Is he being brought up too fast, too soon, or is this kid being rewarded for his unprecedented success in the lower ranks — with the knowledge he can handle the pressure?
The Coca-Cola 600 produced long green-flag runs, tire and fuel strategy, and 17 on-track green-flag passes for the lead. Why was it so much better then the rest of the races on the cookie-cutter tracks this year?
1. Rumba, Anyone? – Two-time Indy 500 winner Helio Castroneves — better known to the general public as last year’s winner of the mega hit TV show “Dancing With The Stars” — seems to be interested in following such open-wheel standouts as Juan Pablo Montoya, Sam Hornish Jr., Dario Franchitti, Patrick Carpentier, and AJ Allmendinger into the NASCAR ranks. However, the Brazilian initially refuted a Los Angeles Times story published last week that reported he was interested in talking to Penske Racing, whom he drives for in the IRL, about a move to their NASCAR operation. “I did not understand much,” Castroneves said of the journalist writing the story. “I found my English is apparently getting worse. [They] definitely took it out of context.”
Ken Schrader in a way, WAS Rockingham Speedway on Sunday, or perhaps Rockingham Speedway was Ken Schrader. Coming from a 31st-place starting spot to finish second, Schrader passed cars by using the track to his advantage. It was a brilliant performance by the veteran driver with the reputation of being one who will race anything, anytime. At one point late in the race, Schrader took the lead and proceeded to school Logano in the finer points of holding a lead-switching from the bottom-hugging low line in the turns to the high line, the only place where Logano was really able to make his best moves. It didn’t work forever, but it was great, clean racing, the way Schrader has run for most of his 53 years.
1. Maybe Some Trash Talkin’? – The National Football League’s record-setting but controversial wide receiver Randy Moss of the New England Patriots has announced that he is forming a NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series team. Moss expects his Moss Motorsports operation to enter selected races later this season, then compete in the full schedule of CTS events in 2009.
In an article at That’s Racin’ some time ago, Kyle was quoted as saying that “I think a lot of this might have to do with just the off-track stuff, the way – I don’t know if I brought it on, which is going to be the Kyle Busch rule again for others again, I’m sorry.” Most of us know what he means. Certainly his name enters the minds of many fans when NASCAR talks about ensuring that drivers reach a certain level of maturity before racing at the Cup level. Not because Kyle is immature necessarily, but that is the public perception of him.
Last week we talked about the new series sponsor, “buschwhacking,” and the future of the series. This week, we examine the champ, the contenders and the 2008 rookie class.