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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.

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Kyle Busch ousted by team and sponsors?

November 10, 2011 1 comment

Kyle Busch was parked last weekend by NASCAR at the Texas Motor Speedway. Rumors have it that sponsors are suspending him for the season. Credit: Star-Telegram.com

As if missing two races, including the Sprint Cup Series, wasn’t enough punishment for Kyle Busch, Joe Gibbs Racing and some of “Rowdy’s” sponsors are, possibly, taking him out of rides for the remaining 2011 season.

A possible press conference will be held at JGR headquarters today at noon.

Rumors have been floating around the garage and social media about bad news coming for Busch. As of right now, they are just that – rumors. However, as every moment passes, it seems like it will be more fact.

Aric Almirola has been heard to finish the remaining races for the No. 18 in the Cup Series, while Z-Line Designs has asked that Denny Hamlin replace Busch in the No. 18 in the Nationwide Series.

Busch sat on top of the pit box last weekend while Michael McDowell raced his Cup car to a finish of 33rd at Texas Motor Speedway. Apparently, that wasn’t enough for sponsors, after his NASCAR punishment came down Saturday morning to suspend him for his actions in the Friday night Camping World Truck Series race.

This could possibly be the most punishment given by a sponsor in NASCAR history. The last time this occasion occurred was in 2002 when Home Depot fined Tony Stewart $50,000 and put him on probation for the rest of the season for punching a photographer at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway.

Maybe it is just Joe Gibbs Racing … Just kidding.

BAJA Sports will continue to update as the day and news progresses.

LAST UPDATE: Nov. 10 9:41 a.m.

Kyle Busch parked for weekend at Texas

November 5, 2011 2 comments

The retaliation from Kyle Busch will allow him to watch the remaining races at Texas from his hauler. NASCAR suspends after wreck with Hornaday Friday night. Credit: Getty Images

After last night’s surprising end to Ron Hornaday’s championship title hopes in the Camping World Truck Series, Kyle Busch will be benched for the remainder of the Texas weekend.

On lap 14 Busch retaliated under caution, wrecking himself and Hornaday after a short scuffle off of Turn 2. The wreck ended both race teams’ nights in Turn 3 as Busch deliberately put the No. 33 truck in the outside retaining wall. (Video at the bottom)

NASCAR’s President Mike Helton announced this morning Busch would be suspended for the Nationwide Series today and Sprint Cup Series race Sunday.

“This speaks to the uniqueness and severity of the topic,” Helton said. “We take our responsibility to control the event very seriously.”

Denny Hamlin will fill the role for the Nationwide race in the No. 18 car, while Michael McDowell was fitted for Busch’s Cup car this morning.

This is not the first time NASCAR has penalized a driver for causing accidents on purpose for the top-tier series. However, it is the first time NASCAR has suspended a driver for the Nationwide Series and Cup Series on the same weekend.

Kevin Harvick’s suspension came in 2002 for wrecking Coy Gibbs in a truck race at Martinsville. Robby Gordon was suspended after the escapade in 2008 at the Montreal Nationwide race with Marcos Ambrose.

It comes as a surprise the heavy suspension for Busch. It is his first time being suspended in the Cup Series, but it comes at the worst time – during the Chase for the Sprint Cup.

Not that he was in the hunt for the title hopes (like Hornaday was).

It is the first time a Chase driver has been suspended during the final 10 races, and it might take away his chances at being inside the top-10 in points to attend the banquet in Las Vegas at the end of the season.

Busch is paying a heavy price for his actions Friday night, and thoughts about the “new” Kyle Busch should disintegrate.

Even though Hornaday being in the points battle was said to have little reaction to the penalty, Helton said it is about keeping control.

“This is not an easy step to take,” he said. “It’s not something we enjoy doing or want to do. But we take responsibility to control garage very seriously.”

Childress fined by NASCAR for fight with Busch

June 7, 2011 Comments off

Think Kyle Busch will catch flack from his buddies and peers for letting a 65 year old Richard Childress knock him down from a few punches?

Busch is not the only person feeling the pain, as NASCAR let down their second biggest fine Monday to Childress of $150,000. Also, Childress was placed on probation until the end of the year.

Apparently it is acceptable in the “Boys, have at it” era for drivers to fight with drivers, but it is in the “no-no” area for owners to fight with drivers. NASCAR did leave out the part out of “Men, have at it with the boys.”

Childress issued a statement Monday about the incident after Friday’s Camping World Truck Series race at Kansas Speedway:

“I’m responsible for my actions, plain and simple. I am a very principled person and have a passion for what we do at Richard Childress Racing. I believe passionately in defending my race teams and my sponsor partners. In this instance, I let that passion and my emotions get the best of me. I accept the penalty NASCAR announced today and, as a company, we will now focus on this week’s races at Pocono Raceway and Texas Motor Speedway.”

There seems to be something missing from his statement. Yeah, go ahead and read that one more time. Yes, that is correct, there is no apology. What is there to apologize for?

Busch had an incident in the truck race with Richard Childress Racing driver Joey Coulter on the final laps where Busch felt angry with the actions in the last corner. Busch rubbed Coulter’s truck on the backstretch. Enough was enough for Childress, taking action by Busch’s hauler inside the track.

The fine and probation really is irrelevant in this situation. Obviously, it is a large amount of money, but for the car owner of RCR, he will hopefully save money in the future by handling the issue of Shrub. The owner, who made $5.9 million last year, is not going to be hurting with the fine.

All that needs to be said, is thank goodness there are still athletes in the spotlight who are not afraid to show their true emotions, whether on the track, off the track or on camera. NASCAR provides the excitement most athletes nowadays cannot show.

Hoping one of these days a camera will be around and fans can see it.

BAJA Sports: To ‘The Birthplace of Speed’ for 53rd running of the Daytona 500

February 18, 2011 Comments off

The Daytona 500 will be ran at 1 p.m. on FOX. Credit: visitwestvolusa.com

BAJA Sports bloggers Thomas Hitch, Jeremy Lukaszka and C.J. Bowe will discuss topics of “The Great American Race” at Daytona International Speedway coming this weekend. NASCAR’s top-three series will visit the Florida track, where drivers will attempt to win the 53rd running of the Daytona 500.

1. The 53rd Daytona 500 being run Sunday will mark the 10th anniversary of the race since Dale Earnhardt’s death in 2001. How much do you think NASCAR has changed over the past decade? Overall, has NASCAR succeeded since his tragic death?

Thomas Hitch: Since Earnhardt’s death in 2001 a lot has changed for NASCAR over the past 10 years. The biggest improvement would be to the safety features around the track such as the SAFER Barrier, HANS device and the tighter drivers’ seats. I might be one of the believers of if Earnhardt was still here today, I do believe NASCAR would have made the same changes to the points system and we would have seen the same champions.

Jeremy Lukaszka: As a person that didn’t truly become a NASCAR fan until 2004, I never experienced the impact of Earnhardt’s death and the effect he and his death really had on the sport. If the events on the last lap of the 2001 Daytona 500 never happened, I honestly believe the sport would be just as safe as it is now but with the consequences of somebody else’s life. The only way I know NASCAR racing is the way the sport is today, in which case I believe every change the organization has made since then has been a successful one.

C.J. Bowe: NASCAR has changed quite a bit since the passing of  Dale Earnhardt.  The best thing that came out of everything was the obvious dangers in the sport and what could be done to fix it.  At this day in age its hard to even imagine NASCAR drivers without the HANS device or SAFER barriers.  There was a streak of tragedies in NASCAR back in the early 2000’s with Kenny Irwin, Adam Petty and Dale Earnhardt and if it was not for Earnhardt’s passing who knows when or if these safety precautions would have ever been put into effect.

Thomas Hitch: Now drivers and teams are driving the Car of Tomorrow, which has been attributed as being a major safety change from NASCAR. When you guys look at the COT, do you see it as NASCAR’s way of adding to the safety improvements or trying to improve the overall racing?

C.J. Bowe: I think of the COT as another safety precaution.  The racing was just fine with the old car, but the safety of the old car could be improved. I think looking at the changes they’ve been making to the COT to make it more like the old car is a sign that COT was meant to make racing more safe.

Jeremy Lukaszka: The Car of Tomorrow is safer without a doubt. However, I don’t believe NASCAR intended on making it safer as much as they did to build a better car for racing and to look different from what we’re accustomed to seeing. Think about it, if they were really worried about safety at the time, then the Nationwide Series would have switched to the COT as well since the cars used to be completely identical.

2. Fans have already witnessed the change in racing after Daytona’s new pavement. Will it change the outcome of who has a chance to win the 500-mile race?

Jeremy Lukaszka: Before I saw more than one car hit the track at a single time, I was predicting the 2011 Daytona 500 to be the best ever and see three-wide racing throughout the entire race. After seeing the Budweiser Shootout, I am almost positive this will be the worst Daytona 500 in history. The “two-car tango” is not what any fan expects at Daytona and the fact that we are not going to see pack racing will definitely hurt some drivers’ shot at victory.

C.J. Bowe: I think it definitely changes the outcome.  It was hard to predict before who would win the 500, but now it is down right impossible.  With the two car draft I would say anybody within the top 15 on the last two laps has a shot, it all depends on if one car gets hooked up with another car at the right time.

Thomas Hitch: After watching the Budweiser Shootout, fans had to be in complete disarray in the stands of what they were seeing. The fact is: Daytona is a different race track now, and if it provides different racing we, as fans, will learn to like what we see until NASCAR bunches the cars back together.

3. What drivers will visit victory lane in NASCAR’s top-three series Camping World Truck Series, Nationwide Series and the Sprint Cup Series this weekend?

C.J. Bowe: For Friday nights truck race I’m going to have to go with Kyle Busch although I will be pulling for Austin Dillon. I have high hopes for a good race on Saturday and would love to see Jr. get a win, but when Tony Stewart comes to Daytona in a Kevin Harvick Inc. Nationwide car my money has to be on him.  Then we get to the main event, thee Daytona 500.  I am really hoping it is exciting and we get to see some pack racing with three-wide racing, but at the end of the day the guy sitting in victory lane will be Dale Earnhardt Jr. Nobody in sports needs a win as bad as this guy, he NEEDS this one.

Thomas Hitch: When I look at the entry lists for these three races there are a lot of names who could be racing in all three series this weekend. I will be pushing for Aric Almirola driving the No. 51 Toyota in the Truck Series. In the Nationwide side of the garage, it is obviously February at Daytona and Tony Stewart is piloting a KHI vehicle, which puts him to the top of the leaderboard as my favorite. Not only because of his past record at the 300-mile race, but he is driving a racecar sponsored by Oreo. In the Cup garage it will be a tough choice to pick one driver. I believe it will come out of the Hendrick or Childress stable, and I will be pushing for the green and white AMP Energy Chevrolet piloted by, no other than, Dale Earnhardt Jr.

Jeremy Lukaszka: The Truck Series race is going to be the best race of Speedweeks 2011, and the man in victory lane will be Todd Bodine just like it usually is at the superspeedways. The Nationwide Series race is so unpredictable with the new track surface and the new car which many drivers have never driven. However, with the driving similarities it has compared to the Cup car I can only expect a Cup Series driver to win the Drive4COPD 300. The Daytona 500, NASCAR’s most prestigious race, will undoubtedly be the most difficult to predict. I cannot guarantee a winner, but I am almost positive I can guarantee the car leading the race out of turn four will be spinning backwards across the start-finish line coming to take the checkered flag.

Thomas Hitch: Obviously the Truck Series will provide the most action-packed racing throughout the race Friday, and I agree it could be the most exciting to watch as fan of superspeedway racing. I am not too sure about a Todd Bodine selection though, unless his shiney forehead blinds the other drivers toward the end.

C.J. Bowe: I’m not going to be a flip flop on my pick, but looking at the Duels today it proves the only thing we as race fans already knew, this race is impossible to pick a winner for. I personally dislike the two car draft and think it has ruined plate racing.  Still hoping to see some kind of pack racing finish, but if I had to guess how the 500 will end, it will be two guys breaking away on a green-white-checker, putting the gap between second and third to about 1.5 seconds.  I am sure it will be a photo finish, but where is the excitement in two cars completely breaking away from the pack?

Jeremy Lukaszka: After watching the Gatorade Duel at Daytona on Thursday I am neither for or against the two car draft. I certainly miss the pack racing we used to get, but I believe with 43 cars on the track Sunday afternoon the race will be beyond exciting. As long as the Daytona 500 does not go flag-t0-flag (which I highly doubt it will) I think the field will finish in one pack, assuming there are cars left to have a pack toward the end of the race.

History is fading. NASCAR seeing the light.

November 9, 2010 Comments off

Credit: Rubbin's Racin'

Implemented in 2004, the NASCAR Chase for the Sprint Cup is their version of end of the season playoffs, and many have criticized its intentions to help the sport.

The Chase has had only three different champions crowned over the seven years of its existence, because of Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus’ dominance the past four seasons. They have won the most Chase races with 19, leading Carl Edwards and the 2005 champion Tony Stewart who have six.

The intentions to have a playoff system was to keep fan interest and raise television ratings beause the National Football League’s season begins near the end of the NASCAR season. With Johnson’s dominance and the economy taking a downturn, ratings and fan attendance drastically dropped.

Due to high ticket prices, fan attendance has declined considerably at tracks that are used to sell outs such as Bristol, Daytona, Richmond and Darlington. Auto Club Speedway lost a race due to low attendance and Pocono Raceway is under a fine microscope of losing one date as well.

For the past three seasons all fans are asked is who is going to take down Johnson? In 2007 it was Jeff Gordon but it turned out to be Clint Bowyer who showed in the picture. In 2008, it was all about Carl Edwards and Greg Biffle. In 2009, it was Kyle Busch and Edwards. This year it is all about Denny Hamlin.

Hamlin said last season his team is capable of winning multiple championships, and they should be the favorite to take down the No. 48 Chevrolet in 2010. Hamlin talks a lot of trash toward other teams, but there is one difference that separates him from his teammate Busch; he produces wins when it counts.

Hamlin has won the most this season with eight while Johnson has only won six.  The surprise of the season has been Kevin Harvick who led the points coming into the Chase before the points were reset. The top three in points are separated by 53 points making this year’s Chase the closest ever with two races remaining.

Johnson is not the lead of the point anymore as Hamlin took a commanding lead leaving Texas Motor Speedway Sunday night. The No. 11 Joe Gibbs Racing Toyota will head to Phoenix International Raceway with a slim margin of 33 points over the 48 team.

Who says the Chase is boring? We saw Jeff Burton, yes, Jeff Burton, get into a shoving match with Gordon Sunday. Busch throw the middle-finger salute at officials on camera. This is what everyone has been wanting. Let’s watch Johnson and Gordon’s pit crew see history run from their dashboard into the sunset at Homestead in two weeks at the finale. That is what everyone wants to see, right?

Harvick can still steal the championship en route to his first championship at the Sprint Cup level as well as Hamlin.

There are only two more weekends of head-to-head-to-head battling left before we wait until Speedweeks. So, what will we see?

Exactly what NASCAR has wanted for seven years.

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