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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.

Broken Leg Sidelines Tony Stewart

August 6, 2013 1 comment

Tony Stewart crashes at Southern Iowa Speedway and sustains a broken right leg. He will miss this weekend's Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen. (Credit: OskyNews)

Tony Stewart crashes at Southern Iowa Speedway and sustains a broken right leg. He will miss this weekend’s Sprint Cup race at Watkins Glen. (Credit: OskyNews)

Three-time champion Tony Stewart will miss NASCAR’s upcoming weekend at Watkins Glen International after wrecking a Sprint Car Monday night suffering a broken right leg.

Stewart was transported to a local hospital from Southern Iowa Speedway by ambulance after a four-car wreck in Oskaloosa, Iowa. Sustaining a broken right tibia and fibula forced him to undergo surgery following the accident.

Timing is everything in motorsports, and NASCAR hasn’t seen a detrimental injury toward a championship-caliber driver this late in the season in multiple years. Stewart is 11th in the Sprint Cup standings and has one win this season at Dover in June with five races remaining until the Chase.

Stewart-Hass Racing has not yet announced a driver to replace Stewart for this upcoming weekend in the No. 14, but they did cancel a test scheduled today to take place at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Here is the statement left by SHR regarding Stewart’s sprint car wreck and injuries:

Tony Stewart, driver of the No. 14 Chevrolet for Stewart-Haas Racing in the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series, sustained a broken right tibia and fibula in a Sprint Car crash Monday night at Southern Iowa Speedway in Oskaloosa, Iowa.

Stewart was transported to a local hospital immediately following the accident and underwent surgery. An injury update will be provided later this afternoon.

A scheduled test for today at Atlanta Motor Speedway has been canceled. A replacement driver for this weekend’s NASCAR Sprint Cup Series race at Watkins Glen (N.Y.) International has not been determined. Information regarding the No. 14 team’s driver status at Watkins Glen will be provided once it is known.

Stewart is a five-time winner at Watkins Glen, but will miss his first Sprint Cup race since before 1999. Two weeks ago, Stewart flipped multiple times in a Sprint Car race prior to his fourth-place finish at the Brickyard 400.

tstewartHe has been adamant about sprint car racing after the death of Jason Leffler in June.

“I’d be grateful if you guys would understand that what happened this week wasn’t because somebody didn’t do something right with the race track,” Stewart said days after Leffler’s death. “It was an accident. Just like if you go out and there’s a car crash. It’s an accident.”

“Nobody as a track owner wants to go through what happened, but it’s not due to a lack of effort on their part to try to make their facilities as safe as possible under the conditions they have.”

Friday after Sprint Cup practice at Pocono, he echoed those comments after his accident in Ontario calling it “just another accident.”

“You mortals have got to learn, you guys need to watch more sprint car videos and stuff,” he said. “It was not a big deal. It’s starting to get annoying this week about that. That was just an average sprint car wreck. When they wreck, they get upside down like that.”

Today, and outpour of comments, opinions and get-well wishes have been circulating on Twitter and Facebook pages from drivers, team members, journalists and fans. The hashtag #GetWellSmoke is a popular use to join the conversation with other NASCAR individuals and fans.

Fellow competitors who also race extracurricular events such as Clint Bowyer, Kasey Kahne and Kyle Larson have expressed their thoughts for Stewart via Twitter. Larson finished second in the Sprint Car race Monday night.

From the Marbles: Kahne Will Find Lady Luck

April 6, 2012 1 comment

If there is any driver in the Sprint Cup Series garage who is begging for Lady Luck to find them after the first six races of the season, it is Kasey Kahne.

What we would call Kahne’s situation, sitting 31st in the point standings, is underachievement in an organization capable of big dreams. Zero top-fives, zero top-10s and one top-15 finish (Auto Club Speedway) later, Kahne has his hands behind his head wondering when something is going to come of the ride he waited a year and half to finally get behind the wheel.

Looking for answers, but also trying to see the light in his season of two poles at Las Vegas and Martinsville. Kahne has had two DNFs this season at the Daytona 500 due to a crash and lost an engine last weekend at Martinsville.

Maybe Jimmie Johnson needs to share his “golden horseshoe” Kevin Harvick says he has, and give Kahne a little boost of confidence heading into Texas Motor Speedway on April 14. Maybe the only luck Kahne has right now is the week off comes at a good moment for his No. 5 Hendrick Motorsports team.

The team, and Kahne, will be able to regroup before going to Texas where he has one victory and four top-five finishes. This off week might be the turning point to their season, and a chance for them to start fresh and make a run at some wins to try to solidify their position in the Chase come September.

This team is plenty capable of winning multiple races this season. The speed is there, and there isn’t much a better driver-crew chief pairing than Kahne and Kenny Francis. This tandem is one of the stronger in the garage, and could be capable of winning more races than any team in the Hendrick stable.

I will continue to see this team succeed in the upcoming races, and will win multiple before the Chase begins. They will always be strong at the 1.5 mile cookie cutter races, but I look for them to be extremely strong when they race at Charlotte, Michigan, Kentucky and Indianapolis.

This team could catch red hot in two weeks or could click off solid finishes during the summer as the Chase approaches.

The start to the season is obviously disappointing for Hendrick and Kahne, as they were one of the newer teams to be favorites this season. Through the first six races of the season, this is statistically the worse start of Kahne’s career. An average finish of 28.5 in 2012 is his worse start to the season (through six races) since 2007 (27.2).

In 2012, Kahne has waited long enough to succeed to the level he hasn’t sensed since 2006 when he won six times. His short stint with Red Bull Racing was a success, ending 2011 with a victory, but now the focus is championships. His time to race for Hendrick has been a long time coming – his time is now.

From the Marbles: NASCAR drivers to watch in 2012

January 18, 2012 5 comments

Just over a month away from the Daytona 500 in February. Are you ready?

While the start of the 2012 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series is just over a month away from the start of the Daytona 500, there are many topics, drivers and changes to discuss.

The Daytona 500 is scheduled for Feb. 26 to start the 2012 season. Many drivers could be accounted for as who is to watch closely over the course of 36 races.

Here are my five drivers I will keep an eye on:

Clint Bowyer will begin his new adventure at Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012. Will Bowyer have a bright future?

Clint Bowyer

Driving the No. 15 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing in 2012, Clint Bowyer will attempt to move on from Richard Childress Racing and find more success. The man who made the Chase three times in his six-year tenure at RCR, will become the premiere driver at MWR in 2012.

A new sponsor, crew chief and organization is a lot of non-familiarity Bowyer hasn’t dealt with since he entered the Cup Series in 2005. Moderate success will not be tolerated for Bowyer in the upcoming year. He is one of the top, young talents in NASCAR and will need a team who can put him in victory lane and have a chance at the championship.

Bowyer, 32, has five career victories heading into a new direction with 5-Hour Energy on board.

Joey Logano stands outside his garage at Daytona's testing session held the second week of January.

Joey Logano

Here is a driver who has been nothing more than a disappointment in his short career in the Cup Series. For a driver who can win regularly in the Nationwide Series when he entered the sport, Joey Logano, 21, is on the verge of losing money Joe Gibbs Racing needs.

A poor start to a promising career with one victory in 2009, Logano enters his fifth season hoping to turn around from a year ago where he finished 24th in points. With Home Depot as a sponsor, it is important to keep them happy before they leave for another team, driver or sport all together.

Patience has run its course waiting on the surge of his career. Sometimes the best thing to come along since ‘sliced bread’ can be premature, and I feel like Logano is one of those situations. In the fear of losing Home Depot when Tony Stewart left JGR, Logano was thrown into a situation to fail before maturing in the lower division.

Kurt Busch has to move on from Penske Racing in 2012, and will see his future at Phoenix Racing for one year.

Kurt Busch

Kurt Busch could be one of the sleeper teams in the Cup garage in 2012 for many reasons. One thing fans should not do is count him out because he is with a team who hasn’t succeeded in the form of winning since Brad Keselowski in 2009.

Busch will drive for a team with the technical support of Hendrick Motorsports, which in anyone’s eyes should light them up. Busch is a championship-caliber driver, nearly anywhere he goes, and he will run well this year.

He might be in a new era trying to “find himself” or have fun for year, but he won’t slack off this year, because he is out to prove his personality and driving capabilities to potential sponsors and teams for 2013.

Kasey Kahne might be one to watch in 2012 with his new relationship with Hendrick Motorsports.

Kasey Kahne

Out of all the drivers in this list, Kasey Kahne may be the one to watch the closest. Coming from Richard Petty Motorsports to Red Bull Racing and now Hendrick Motorsports, Kahne becomes one of the early season favorites to be successful.

Kahne came off his one-year stint at RBR, who closed down at the end of the 2011 season, with one victory and having a legitimate shot at making the Chase. While teammate Brian Vickers was not ever in contention, Kahne made noise throughout the season as the frontrunner of his organization.

Kahne, 31, is still considered a young talent in my mind. He has many years ahead of him to succeed and hopefully finish his career in the Hendrick stable. He will have one of the best teams in the NASCAR garage in 2012, sharing a shop with four-time champion Jeff Gordon, and will have plenty of resources around him to be a title contender.

Will Carl Edwards return to his winning form in 2012 after losing the 2011 championship in a tiebreaker?

Carl Edwards

Here is the talk we have all been waiting for. The top Ford driver out of the Roush-Fenway Racing organization, Carl Edwards, comes off a promising season where he tied for first in the championship only to lose in a tiebreaker.

Edwards, 32, will decide if he will be the consistent championship-caliber driver this season. He was my pick, along with Tony Stewart, to win the championship last year, but it always seems like Edwards has those seasons where he lacks consistency. Hopefully, with his decision to not run full-time in the Nationwide Series, it will boost his performance on the Cup program to a level we haven’t seen from him.

2011 came and went as a disappointment in the wins column for Edwards; however, for a guy who won nine times in 2008, his winning ways could be back in 2012. The second in points curse people have talked about is non-existent.

Kahne’s overdue beginning

October 21, 2010 Comments off

Credit: Yahoo! Sports

Kasey Kahne will no longer sport the flashy, unfitting Budweiser Ford Fusion for the remainder of the 2010 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series season, and will move to another non-permanent home at Red Bull Racing.

Yesterday ended a seven year relationship with his original No. 9 racecar where he shared 11 wins in 247 starts. Richard Petty Motorsports released Kahne, after leaving Charlotte Motor Speedway with harsh comments about his team. RPM will allow Aric Almirola to race the Budweiser Fusion this weekend at Martinsville Speedway.

Finally, Kahne is able to join a team giving him his full sponsorship money to his racecar. Joining Red Bull Racing this weekend, he will finish the remaining 2010 season and the full 2011 season with Red Bull. He will race the No. 83 this weekend. Reed Sorenson was rumored to be driving the car this weekend, but Red Bull officially announced Kahne for the rest of the year.

NASCAR’s silly season has been a fun, interesting and confusing year surrounding Kahne. With Brian Vickers, original driver of the No. 83 car, having to take a leave of absence because of blot clots it left Red Bull quickly searching for a new driver for the rest of the year and possibly next year.

Kahne signed a contract with Hendrick Motorsports to drive for Hendrick in 2012. Hendrick promised to find Kahne a ride for 2011 and quickly found Red Bull Racing to be the fit.

Kahne will join a team that finds drivers who are good-looking, marketable and who fit their mentality as a Red Bull driver. Looking at who drove for Red Bull before Kahne joined it is obvious he is a perfect fit: A.J. Allmendinger, Brian Vickers, Scott Speed, Casey Mears, Reed Sorenson and Mattias Ekstrom.

Now that Kahne is out of the silly season talks, it leaves RPM with a fully funded racecar without a full-time driver. Marcos Ambrose will likely leave JTG Daugherty Racing to finish the season in the No. 9 with RPM where he will run the full season in 2011. Leaving the No. 47 unoccupied, it will open the door for Bobby Labonte to pilot his future full-time ride for 2011.

Kahne will finally receive his opportunity he has been looking for since his 2006 season where he racked up six wins and finished a career high 8th in the standings. Red Bull Racing will give him the opportunity for one year to have another chance at the Chase for the Cup and his first NASCAR championship. The No. 83 team made the Chase in 2009, but had a disappointing effort in the final ten races after a rally to clinch a birth.

Kahne is now able to start over with a reliable team who is dedicated to winning. He has one year to show he is championship caliber before moving the dominant team over the past decade: Hendrick Motorsports.

Key Facts for 2011:

  • Kasey Kahne will drive for Red Bull Racing. Car number is to be announced.
  • Kahne will drive for Hendrick Motorsports in 2012.
  • Marcos Ambrose will drive for RPM in the No. 9 in 2011.
  • Bobby Labonte will drive for JTG Daugherty Racing in 2011 in the No. 47.
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