Tag: Austin Dillon

Post Daytona Thoughts

Before I jump into what I thought about the action is past weekend at Daytona, I have to do some house cleaning first. With this site I’ve admittedly neglected it over the past year. Without diving too  much into, I needed a break and needed to re-find my focus on what I wanted to do with Start ‘N’ Park Blog. When I started this many years ago the mission was simple, give unfiltered opinions. Then I tried to be an information hub re-posting press releases, which was fine but a lot of work. These teams put out a lot of press releases beyond the news. Then I became unfocused and drifted around until taking a break last year. Continue reading “Post Daytona Thoughts”

The Number 3

When Austin Dillon crossed the finish line to capture the Coca-Cola 600 on Sunday/Monday evening he became the 13th different driver to win in a car number 3. That might come as a shock to some people as all of the commentary post-race left the impression that only Dale Earnhardt EVER drove a car numbered 3. Turns out 78 other drivers have driven with the number 3 on their car, it just is that Earnhardt has the most starts and wins with the number. Continue reading “The Number 3”

2015 Rules Will Lead To More Cup Drivers Doing Double Duty

As Kyle Busch crossed the finish line yesterday in the O’Reilly Auto Parts Challenge, many fans let out a collective sigh of disappointment. Once again a Sprint Cup Series regular won a Nationwide Series race. Add to that Busch just won the night prior in the Camping World Truck Series.

Based on new rules for the Sprint Cup Series, this should be a sight to see in each Nationwide (soon to be XFINITY) Series and Camping World Truck Series races, Cup drivers dominating. Starting in 2015, the Sprint Cup Series cars will have less horsepower, putting them in line with the Nationwide Series cars. Add to that talk about a ban on testing and many teams will be putting in work on Saturdays for use on Sundays.

To underscore the point of Cup Series drivers dominating the Nationwide Series, Joe Gibbs Racing got their 100th win with Busch’s triumph in the series. Of those 100 wins, 94 have been Cup drivers winning for them. Only Mike McLaughlin (2001), Mike Bliss (2004), Aric Almirola (2007 big asterisk on this because Denny Hamlin relived Almirola for this race), Joey Logano (2008 before he went to Cup in 2009), Elliott Sadler (2014), and Sam Hornish, Jr. (2014) have been the lone exceptions. And even then some have question marks on how to count them.

If fans thought it was bad before, it is going to get a lot worse. The only silver lining is NASCAR’s rule about getting points for one series will keep the Cup drivers from winning the championship, but we should be seeing more no win champions like Austin Dillon last season.

The Paradigm Shift In NASCAR

Much was made last November about a changing of the guard in NASCAR when we ran the season finale at the Homestead-Miami Speedway. Mark Martin and Ken Schrader made it be known it would be their final Sprint Cup Series race. For Jeff Burton and Bobby Labonte it represented their final full-time race in the series, although Labonte did not make the trip south as his finale was a week prior at Phoenix. Continue reading “The Paradigm Shift In NASCAR”

Nationwide Battle Comes Down To Homestead

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After 32 races it all comes down to this. At the conclusion of Saturday’s Ford 300 there will be a new Nationwide Series champion. Will it be current point leader Austin Dillon or second place Sam Hornish, Jr.?

After this weekend’s ServiceMaster 200, Dillon got a little bit more breathing room by adding two points to his lead. Hornish showed signs of not giving up, as a poor handling car made his team roll the dice to get him back up near the front. That move worked and showed that they will be a factor in the season finale.

Taking a look at both drivers history at the Homestead-Miami Speedway Hornish has the advantage when it comes to experience. His stat line is five career starts, one top-5 finish, two top-10 finishes, and he’s led nine laps total. Dillon has one start to his credit, but it was a good one. He started third, finished fifth, and led 66 laps.

Comparing last year’s Ford 300, Hornish finish fourth in that race to Dillon’s above mentioned fifth place run. Both led a lap, so using that as a guide, it would still be Dillon’s day. Judging by how their run was at Phoenix, it will be close, but I would give the advantage to the man coming into the race leading, Dillon.

For Dillon to win the championship regardless of what Hornish does he needs to finish third or better. At worst fourth with a lap led and at worst fifth with leading the most laps.

The best part about this is we can forecast what will happen, but that is why they run the races. Anything can happen. The Ford 300 gets underway at 4:30 PM EST and can be seen on ESPN2.

Harvick’s Perception The Indicator Of Why He’s Leaving

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One day after having a dust up with his boss’ grandson, Kevin Harvick apologized for comments made after Saturday’s Camping World Truck Series race. He chalked it up to emotions getting the best of him in the heat of battle.

“There was just a lot of emotion involved,” Harvick told FOX Sports 1 before the Sprint Cup Series race on Sunday. “I hate it for everybody at RCR. You go back and look at the things that happened, and sometimes you regret the things that you say for sure. Yesterday was definitely one of them. I hate it for my guys, and everybody working on the cars. Obviously, when those emotional situations come about, you say things that you really don’t want to say. I just want to apologize to all of those guys, work hard today and try and do everything we can to win the race.”

While he backed away from the comments, there has to be some sort  of truth in Harvick’s original comments. At least the perception of what he believed the situation was at Richard Childress Racing and exactly why he will step away after this season.

Obviously apologizing is the correct course of action considering he’s still got three (at the time four) more races to run and a championship to try and win. You don’t want the team to sabotage his efforts out of spite, which you’d think they’re above that, but you never know.

To Austin and Ty Dillon’s credit they’ve worked hard and won while moving up the NASCAR ladder. It’s not like they are buried in the low 20s and are getting moved along because of who their grandfather is. Austin has won the Truck title and is on his way to a Nationwide title this season. Ty has a couple of wins, but wasn’t consistent enough this year to contend for the Truck title.

This is NASCAR in 2013, it’s more about who you know than your driving talent. I just believe the Dillons have shown enough talent to warrant what they’ve been given so far. It’s just the perception their being handed everything gets under the skin of certain people, like Harvick, who perceive they’ve had to work hard for what they have gotten.

Cooler heads will prevail at Richard Childress Racing, it’s just another example of why it is time for Harvick and the team to go down separate paths after this year.

Column: Two Horse Battles A Top Both Standings After Kansas

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This week’s column takes a look at the driver standings battles in the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series after a weekend of racing at the Kansas Speedway. In both the Sprint Cup Series and Nationwide Series you could make the argument that it’s down to two drivers in each.

It is officially a two man race for the Nationwide Series title in 2013, down to Austin Dillon and Sam Hornish, Jr. You could make an argument for Regan Smith (-35), who finished third at Kansas or even a very long shot for Elliott Sadler (43), who finished 10th at Kansas, but it is surely down to Dillon and Hornish.

Dillon gained some breathing room when he came home sixth versus Hornish’s 17th. The difference is now eight points in Dillon’s favor, and I don’t see him slowing down. The remaining schedule is Charlotte, Texas, Phoenix, and Homestead. I give Dillon Charlotte and Texas, Hornish is usually a bit better at Phoenix, and Homestead I lean towards Dillon again.

That could be what’s holding up announcing Dillon to the Cup Series in 2014, maybe they want that championship to serve as their press conference to tell the world the worst kept secret.

Moving the Sprint Cup Series you have Matt Kenseth atop the standings by three points over Jimmie Johnson. Kansas winner Kevin Harvick is third 25 points behind. Now I’m saying a two man race here because Kenseth had a “bad race” and still finished 12th. Johnson had issues late, but still finished 6th.

They need Kyle Busch like bad races, where he finished 34th at Kansas. Now, with Talladega still being out there it’s a big wildcard, but I can’t see either Kenseth or Johnson doing anything to jeopardize their positioning.

Harvick and others have to go all out, like Harvick at Kansas, and lead as many laps as possible and win. Can they do it? Yes, absolutely, but I don’t think they can do it every week.

Kenseth versus Johnson will be a battle of the ages like when Carl Edwards and Tony Stewart had in 2011.