Hello, race fans. Sunday saw the fourth weekend of the Cup Series’ Chase for the Sprint Cup at a new location, as the race at Auto Club Speedway moved from Labor Day weekend to Columbus Day weekend as part of three-way switch between Atlanta, Auto Club (Fontana), and Talladega. This was designed to both improve …
10. Inadvertently brought a CoY instead of a CoT.
Saturday’s Budweiser Shootout featured several multi-car crashes that took out some top contenders — including rookie sensation Joey Logano and Cup champions Bobby Labonte and Jimmie Johnson. Was this to be expected in a non-points race, or is it an ominous result of the testing ban — and is there more to come as the ban continues?
Following Saturday’s Bud Shootout and Sunday’s qualifying session, some drivers and teams have already begun to stand out as possible contenders and definite holders of momentum – while others already have chinks in their armor before they can even get a donut on the driver’s side door. Here is this week’s list of Hot, Warm and Cold drivers:
Kevin Harvick assumed the lead milliseconds before the caution flag flew, signaling the end of the race. With the convoluted new format and dearth of attendance and excitement Saturday night, is it time to just call this Shootout silliness off?
On Sunday, Martin Truex Jr., with a lap of 47.872 seconds (188.001 mph), claimed the pole for the 51st running of the Daytona 500, which rolls off on February 15. Truex’s margin over second-place Mark Martin was only 47 thousandths of a second. These two drivers are locked into their starting spots for the Daytona 500. After the nearly three-hour qualifying session ended, Truex was all smiles.
The offseason certainly did not provide any off time for several members of the ARCA circuit, as many of the drivers changed teams, and teams themselves changed names. Perhaps the most notable Silly Season move involved Frank Kimmel, who will no longer pilot Larry Clement’s familiar No. 46 Ford — the team which Kimmel won nine ARCA championships with. Instead, the veteran has partnered with Cunningham Motorsports to form Kimmel Racing, and will now drive the No. 44 Dodge Charger. Taking Kimmel’s place in the vaunted No. 46 is rookie Matt Carter, son of long-time Sprint Cup crew chief Travis Carter.
With that, on the eve of the 50th Daytona 500 the NASCAR brass finds itself in the midst of pondering a change in direction, working on a future that’s based on history they only recently chose to rewrite. The path to reconnect the two won’t be easy – now without the guiding hand of Bill France Jr. to lean on for advice and support, the powers that be will have a far more difficult time figuring out just what those “basics” really are. After all, Brian France has made so many adjustments to the format of how the series works, it’s hard to even tell the NASCAR of 2002 from the one we have just six years later. Sometimes, even the most hardcore of longtime fans forget what that was like, how the sport worked then compared to how it functions now. That’s why it’s important to take a breath, think back, and remember what exactly “getting back to basics” means on the eve of a season critical to halting NASCAR’s decline.
Happy Speedweeks, folks! It’s been a wild one so far and they haven’t even dropped the green on the Gatorade Duels. Manifolds, wheel well vents, suspensions, and revitalization have been the stories of the week; with so much going on, allow me to indulge myself for a bit before we get to your questions.