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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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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.

Allmendinger’s Next Opportunity

June 1, 2013 Comments off

A.J. Allmendinger finished seventh in Sunday's Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. His next opportunity will be racing for Penske in NASCAR. (Credit:  USA Today)

A.J. Allmendinger finished seventh in Sunday’s Indianapolis 500 as a rookie. His next opportunity will be racing for Penske in NASCAR. (Credit: USA Today)

A.J. Allmendinger steps out of a Roger Penske machine after finishing seventh Sunday in the 97th running of the Indianapolis 500 wondering what will be his next opportunity in racing.

The 31-year-old Allmendinger has dipped his helmet in different series throughout his 2013 racing season including the IZOD IndyCar Series and NASCAR Sprint Cup Series. An offering he was not positive he would ever receive after his NASCAR suspension due to the use of banned substances, Adderall, in 2012 while driving for Penske.

Opportunities materialized for Allmendinger this season in open-wheel and stockcar racing. In NASCAR’s premier series, he has made the most of his chances in James Finch’s No. 51 Chevrolet with an average finish of 13.5 and worst finish of 16th.

His IndyCar performance is highly anticipated after his successful finishes of five wins in 2006 in Champ Car, but his best finish was at Indianapolis after leading 23 laps.

The rookie’s first race at Indianapolis was impressive on many accounts. He was forced to pit twice off-sequence mid-race due to a possible flat tire, and later in the race due to his racing-belts coming loose. Rallying to a seventh place finish was a success.

“With seven or eight laps to go, I thought we still had a shot to win it,” Allmendinger said. “We had just passed three or four cars the lap before and I thought we were right there. But we just didn’t have enough at the end. It was a great experience, but I really thought our car was good enough all day.”

It was not until earlier this morning that it was announced of Allmendinger’s future plans for Penske. Prior to the Indianapolis 500, he noted this could be his “last chance” and needing to make the most of it. But Penske released today Allmendinger will drive the No.22 Nationwide Series car at the road course events at Road America and Mid-Ohio Sport Car Course.

”There’s nothing I could do to come even close to repaying him,” Allmendinger said. ”So, I just try to give everything I’ve got and hopefully it’s enough.”

Allmendinger is not in a car this weekend at Dover in NASCAR, but is racing in Detroit’s grand prix in IndyCar, but look for him to only accept a competitive ride in IndyCar or NASCAR. His best option is to have a chance to win, but he has a different opinion.

“I’ve always really enjoyed the road course racing in NASCAR, so to get the opportunity to compete in two events in the Nationwide Series with Penske Racing is amazing,” Allmendinger said. ”I’m just happy to have the opportunity to drive something.”

Preview: 55th Running Of The Daytona 500

February 24, 2013 1 comment

Daytona 500

In American sports, there are three single-day sporting events that take precedent over all other forms of entertainment including the Super Bowl, Indianapolis 500 and, the biggest of all today, Daytona 500.

NASCAR’s most respected venue and largest valued race in any season will take place on FOX at 1:29 p.m. as the green flag will be dropped by two-time NFL champion, and recently retired, Ray Lewis.

Headlines have been countless over the last week since Sprint Cup Series rookie Danica Patrick took pole and became the first woman to record the fastest qualifying lap in NASCAR’s premier series. Four-time champion Jeff Gordon will start outside Patrick to start The Great American Race.

The debut of the Generation 6 has been talked about in Speedweeks and has been the most important focus of all teams and media throughout the last week. With the style of the bodies looking like the cars you would see on the showroom floor, teams and manufacturers are happy to see a racy, brand identity machine that brings the stock, back in stockcar racing.

Throughout the races and practices held so far with these new cars, we still don’t know the type of racing we will see. Besides the two-car tandem now being inexistent, we know the pack racing will be back in full-force, but there seems to be new complications with the draft drivers are still trying to figure out.

kyle larsonHaving a pack of 43 cars will be something we all should look forward to in finding out what the racing environment will be like.

After a stunning race, in multiple ways, Saturday in the Nationwide Series, it left double-digits of cars wrecked crossing the finish line and 28 fans injured, some critically. All fans that were taken to the hospitals in the area of Daytona International Speedway were listed as stable this morning and some were released.

Fan safety is an area that is not talked about much when it comes to racing. The unfortunate reality that is motorsports is cars running near 200 miles per hour can become airborne leaving the possibility of flying into the catchfence where debris can become part of the grandstands.

Here is to a successful day where storylines are plentiful during the timeframe of 500 miles on a 2.5-mile high-banked oval. Speeds will be close to 200 mph and competitors will fight inches apart, sometimes three-wide, for the coveted Harley J. Earl Trophy.

danica gordonWill it be a former Daytona 500 champion, with nine of those drivers in the field, to win again? Will it be Tony Stewart to win his first 500 in his 15th try? Drivers to win their first Daytona 500 in their 15th try were Bobby Allison, David Pearson and Michael Waltrip. Will it be Danica Patrick? She will be the only female in the field, and will become the fourth woman driver to compete in the Daytona 500. Or will it be a first time winner?

The unknowns are great for the 55th running of the Daytona 500, and I know I will be glued to my TV for the entirety. Are you ready?

Danica Patrick, Husband End Marriage

November 20, 2012 Comments off

Danica Patrick and husband will end marriage after seven years.

Former IndyCar Series and now NASCAR driver Danica Patrick shared with her fans Tuesday via Facebook of the ending of her marriage with husband Paul Hospenthal after seven years.

The couple married in 2005 after Hospenthal, a physical therapist, treated Patrick for a non-racing injury. He is 17 years older than 30-year-old Patrick.

“I am sad to inform my fans that after seven years, Paul and I have decided to amicably end our marriage,” Patrick said. “This isn’t easy for either of us, but mutually it has come to this. He has been an important person and friend in my life and that’s how we will remain moving forward.”

Patrick recently completed her first full season on the NASCAR side in the Nationwide Series since leaving IndyCar in 2011.

Monday, Patrick was awarded Most Popular Driver in the Nationwide Series after finishing 10th in points with one pole and four top-10s.

Patrick will race her first full Sprint Cup season in 2013 for Stewart-Haas Racing with Go Daddy as a sponsor.

Keselowski and Penske Win First Sprint Cup Championship

November 18, 2012 Comments off

After 400 miles Sunday and 35 prior races during the 2012 season, Brad Keselowski won his first NASCAR Sprint Cup championship by 39 points over Clint Bowyer.

A final race leading by 20 points, Keselowski was the underdog of the year to beat five-time champion Jimmie Johnson. Johnson would finish 36th after a drivetrain issue with under 50 laps remaining.
Jeff Gordon would win the season finale while Bowyer would finish second.

Keselowski’s average finish at Homestead was 20.2, but he needed to finish 15th or better to clinch for his and team owner Roger Penske’s first Cup championship. The No. 2 Miller Lite Dodge would finish 15th.
Dodge’s final race wins the championship before the manufacturer leaves the NASCAR as Chevrolet, Toyota and Ford will remain as the three manufacturers in 2013.

Penske Racing will make the transition to Ford next season and use Roush-Fenway engines despite using their own engine program for years. Dodge retains its championship form since Richard Petty’s title in 1975.

Dale Jr. To Miss With Concussion; Silly Season Starts At Charlotte

October 12, 2012 Comments off

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. will miss races at Charlotte and Kansas with a concussion suffered at test at Kansas and wreck at Talladega. Earnhardt sits 11th in NASCAR’s Chase playoffs.

Dale Earnhardt, Jr. was diagnosed with a concussion following the 21-car wreck at Talladega Superspeedway on Oct. 7 and will miss NASCAR’s Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte and Kansas.

Earnhardt’s press conference came Thursday, while Regan Smith assumed duties of the Hendrick Motorsports No. 88 car for the weekend. Symptoms led Earnhardt to go to neurosurgeon Dr. Jerry Petty, where they came to the conclusion it was best to sit out a few weeks until headaches disappeared.

The championship run in the Chase is now over for Earnhardt, but after a Kansas wreck during a test, he knew something was wrong immediately.

“We had a test at Kansas about five weeks ago, and we blew a right front tire going into Turn 1,” Earnhardt said, “and I remember everything about that accident and everything after that accident, but I knew that I didn’t feel — you know your body, and you know how your mind works, and I knew something was just not quite right.”

After seeing Dr. Petty on Tuesday, they analyzed the forces he took at the wreck at Kansas (40 Gs) and Talladega (20 Gs) before making a decision to stay out of the car.

“I needed to go see somebody regardless of whether I wanted to get out of the car or not,” Earnhardt said. “For my own well-being, I couldn’t — if I didn’t need to go get in a race car and get hit again, I needed somebody to tell me that because I was going to have a hard time making that decision for myself. I feel perfectly fine, but I don’t want to keep getting hit in the head.”

The MRI Earnhardt had on Wednesday came back normal, a good sign there was no brain bruising or damage. Leaving it optimistic he only needs rest before climbing into the racecar again in a few weeks.

“I would love to race this weekend, and I feel perfectly normal and feel like I could compete if I were allowed to compete this weekend,” Earnhardt said. “But I think that the basis of this whole deal is that I’ve had two concussions in the last four to five weeks, and you can’t layer concussions. It gets extremely dangerous.”

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AJ Allmendinger returns to the Sprint Cup Series this weekend driving for the No. 51 owned by James Finch. First race back for Allmendinger since Kentucky in June.

Drivers have begun switching rides this weekend at Charlotte Motor Speedway, and a few have swapped rides.

Last weekend at Talladega, Kurt Busch and Regan Smith finished their final weekend with their teams for James Finch and Furniture Row Racing. Busch will pilot the No. 78 for FRR this weekend, and the plan was for Smith to drive the No. 51 prior to the announcement of driving the No. 88 for Rick Hendrick.

A face returns to the Cup Series this weekend piloting Finch’s No. 51 machine. AJ Allmendinger returns for his first race since July when he was suspended for violating NASCAR substance abuse policy. He successfully completed NASCAR’s Road to Recovery Program, and he will return at Charlotte.

Allmendinger starts 38th Saturday night, Smith starts 26th, and Busch will begin highest in 21st.

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