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What We Learn From Bristol

August 28, 2013 Comments off

kenseth

The NASCAR racing we saw at Bristol Motor Speedway on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday turned out to be very entertaining throughout the top-three series. Usual for the high-banks of Bristol, but did we see the type of racing we expect?

Kyle Busch made it clear the high lane by the wall was the quickest, yet treacherous, way around the .533-mile short track. It was obvious this turned to be true throughout all races during the weekend. Busch would attempt another chance at the “triple crown” and neared closure after winning the Camping World Truck Series and Nationwide Series races on Wednesday and Friday night.

Though wrecking in qualifying for the Sprint Cup race, Busch would start 43rd and finished 11th after never leading a lap.

And honestly, it is better for the sport to have Busch continue to be short in sweeping the weekend at Bristol. It is news and good vibes leading up to the events and growth for the sport when he is racing in all three series.

Matt Kenseth would come out on top Saturday evening after leading a race high 149 laps and now leads the garage with the most wins with five. After a late charge with fresh tires, Kasey Kahne would come up short as he and Kenseth raced side-by-side over the final 7-10 laps.

Kahne made it a point during his post-race interviews that he would not wreck Kenseth or a driver to win a race. Though, the drama the media and Kahne has instilled since their Watkins Glen incident, it was believed Kahne would do anything to make sure Kenseth did not win at Bristol. Besides a straightaway of beating and banging against each other, Kahne was clean as could be when attempting to pass Kenseth in the closing laps.

“I just wanted to pass him,” Kahne said post-race. “And after I took the checkered flag, I wanted to wreck him. At the end of the day, I don’t wreck people.”

kahnekensethAs my roommate can concur, my actions toward Kahne in the final 10 laps consisted many “Rattle his cage!” “Wreck him!” “Do something!” Then followed the rest of the broadcast frustrated, disappointed, but gratified at the action we were able to witness at Bristol. In the final 10 laps, I wasn’t thinking about how often ESPN talks about Danica, how many commercials took place, whether I was seeing enough action from the camera views or if the stands were full.

I was fully engaged in the competition on the track, something we rarely see in this series outside of Martinsville, Richmond, Bristol, Daytona and Talladega. The race itself was entertaining, as I expected. We had wrecks, tempers, passing and a fight for the win at the end of the race. All things mentioned before, was not on my mind in the final 25-30 laps.

This type of racing is something we all are begging for on a weekly basis, and it is not realistic to expect. As fans, we picture what it would be like to have the racing and tempers we saw Saturday night every week on the NASCAR circuit.

As one of those fans expecting those types of results, I can say I am looking forward to Richmond in a few weeks as the opportunity to be in the 2013 Chase closes.

Two-car tandems here to stay for plate races

July 5, 2011 Comments off

Two-car tandems now dominate plate racing in NASCAR. Whether drivers enjoy the new style or not, it is here to stay. Credit: UPI.com

This past weekend at Daytona International Speedway, David Ragan proved his performance at the Daytona 500 was not a fluke as he redeemed himself with a victory Saturday night.

Ragan, driver of the No. 6 UPS Ford Fusion, was not one complaining in victory lane about the two-car tandems like NASCAR’s most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr. was in the garage area after 400 miles.

Earnhardt sat outside his hauler and sounded off to reporters about his disgust with the way plate racing has turned into.

“I am really ticked off. It was a foolish freakin’ race. I don’t know what to tell you,” he said.

Earnhardt, who has finished 24th, fourth and 19th this season at plate tracks, openly prefers the old style of drafting with cars in a large pack where you can control your fate.

“I’d rather have control of my own destiny and be able to go out there and race and just do my own work and worry about my own self,” Earnhardt said on Thursday. “Been growing up all these years racin’ for No. 1, lookin’ out for No. 1, doing my job. This is what I need to do, I need to do this to get up through the pack. This is how my car drives. Now you are doing it so different. Your thought process and everything you think about during the race is nothing near that.”

He may be the only one sharing his true emotion for the new style, and don’t think it will change any time soon.

Dale Earnhardt Jr. is one of the most iconic figures in NASCAR today. Is his opinion enough to change NASCAR's way of plate racing? Credit: Jerry Markland/Getty Images for NASCAR

“I don’t see anything changing until there is reason to lift, and I don’t think they want to send us out in cars that don’t meet well [nose to bumper] and create accidents,” Jimmie Johnson, five-time defending Sprint Cup champion, said. “So I think we are going to see [two-car hookups] for a while.”

Some believe the change to the new Car of Tomorrow allowed the drivers to this new style of racing due to the front and rear-end bumpers lining up. This allows drivers to push each other around the entire track.

Kevin Harvick shared his view of repaving the tracks could be the issue at hand instead of the bumpers of the cars lining up.

“The worst thing in the world that happens to this sport is repaving race tracks,” Harvick said. “You look at some of the race tracks that have been paved for five or six years now and I don’t know if it’s the type of asphalt or whatever they’re doing, but the racing isn’t the same that it was and the race tracks just don’t get bad.”

Mark Martin enjoys the new aspect of drafting and was considerably against the old style.

“I can honestly say that I like this style of racing way better than those big 35-car packs that we used to race in,” Martin said. “It’s tough. It’s mentally tough. That’s one of the reasons I like it so much. There is a huge challenge that goes into this style of racing that we don’t typically see every weekend.”

Over time this style will fade from its dominance, and the racing will return to its form of the past where plate racing brought the cars together. Drivers may have to deal with the new style for the coming years, but as the track’s surface undergoes its normal wear and tear, the cars will no longer be able to push in the corners.

Luckily the fans have seen close, exciting finishes in the past races at Daytona and Talladega, but nobody can argue with any driver still has a chance of winning. Out of the past 11 plate races there have been nine different drivers ending up in victory circle.

The term “chess match” is still in play.

Dodge returns to the grounds of Robby Gordon Motorsports in 2011

February 10, 2011 Comments off

Robby Gordon will pilot the No. 7 SPEED Energy Dodge Charger in the 2011 Sprint Cup Series with engines supplied from Penske Racing. Credit: PlanetRobby.com

Today at NASCAR’s media day at Daytona International Speedway, owner and driver Robby Gordon announced Robby Gordon Motorsports will make a return to the manufacturer of Dodge with engine support from Penske Racing.

Gordon previously drove for Dodge in the Sprint Cup Series in 2008 when he had a technical-manufacturing-marketing alliance with, at the time, Gillette-Evernham Motorsports. He finished that season 33rd in the points standings.

When looking back at his decision to make the quick decision to switch from Ford to Dodge weeks before the 2008 season it had pros and cons.

A pro that came from the merger was he was able to support his race team with extra sponsorship that did not come from Jim Beam, Menards and Camping World. Being able to have other sponsors such as Valvoline and Charter Communications only enhanced his opportunities to race every week without spending money straight from Robby Gordon Motorsports.

Many cons came from the quick switch in manufactures, and one included a major penalty to RGM at Daytona for having an unapproved nose. A penalty that later was overturned, only set back RGM’s 2008 year further behind as an organization.

Before the NASCAR season began, Gordon’s offroad effort at the Dakar Rally was cancelled due to terrorist activity in the area. RGM as a company was struggling to find sponsorship after putting countless hours of work and resources toward a race that could have enhanced the company as a whole in the terms of marketing.

Now the company has driven for every manufacturer in NASCAR today, and will be returning to a company with an owner in Roger Penske who will keep Gordon’s company afloat through these tough times. Penske will be able to provide Gordon’s No. 7 SPEED Energy Dodge Charger reliable engines which will in turn provide improving results.

For fans of Gordon, the best outlook for the future could be in the hands of Penske. With Gordon’s efforts to race in many outlets outside of the NASCAR spectrum, he could race in many series including IndyCar, SCORE Off-Road, possibly the X-Games and Monster Truck rallies.

For more information, photos and live-updates about Robby Gordon, visit SPEED Energy’s website and join PlanetRobby.com. Both SPEED Energy and Planet Robby give live-updates via Twitter.

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