The 2018 edition of NASCAR Silly Season is not disappointing with the number of far fetching rumors that have actually found out to be true. There are still a lot of open seats and plenty of drivers trying to get their plans in line for 2019 and beyond. Here’s a quick look at some of the openings out there and what is rumored to be happening. Continue reading “Silly Season Is Kicking Up A Gear”
The NASCAR Sprint Cup Series finds it way to the final road race of the year one of the most exciting races in recent memory. The famed Watkins Glen International track has set the bar for excitement and drama, and this weekend figures to continue that when the Cheez-It 355 at the Glen is run. Continue reading “5 Questions Going Into Watkins Glen”
The season opening Daytona 500 is over, but there will be many questions to answer in the coming days for the next event on the schedule. Ironically it involves both of the Busch brothers and polar opposite reasons. Continue reading “Question Marks Heading Into Atlanta Over Replacement Drivers”
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.
For the past two years, I have accompanied Mike to the NASCAR race at Watkins Glen with media credentials and cold garage and pit passes. Each year, as we walk around the track and I take in all the sites, Mike explains to me what is like to come to the track strictly as a fan. I have been very spoiled (and thankful) of the opportunities to participate as a member of the media to cover the race, but I also feel like I have missed out on certain passage rights of NASCAR fans.
A few weeks ago, some friends and I came to Watkins Glen to attend their annual Wine Festival; my absolute favorite festival of all time! We decided that the easiest and most responsible way to ensure our safety and continued fun would be to camp at the track. Do not be fooled! I guarantee it was a very comparable experience to camping during race weekend – the late night drinking fests, blaring music until 3 am, toga party, bon fire and fireworks. There was little sleep acquired, which was okay with us since that was not the intent of our stay. My imagination (and from leisurely walking around the track at 8am and seeing all the beer cans strewn about) tells me that race weekend is not much different. So I have checked camping at the track off my list this year.
This weekend (yesterday), Mike was very motivated to be out of the Media Center as much as possible in order to freshen our horizons and spark creativity by experiencing the garages before and during practices. This may sound boring or naïve to some, but for me, it was absolutely amazing!
First, we casually walked past the cars and their appropriate teams working diligently to perfect them for the races. I am accustomed to watching these guys work from my living room couch. I know they work fast and there are constant sounds of power tools and engines, but to smell the exhaust (and other fumes) and feel the rumble of the cars travel through my body as they light up the garage area really brought my attention to how much this is new to me… and I love it!
Mike successfully set up a few interviews yesterday, including Jeremy Clements and Chase Elliott. Normally, I do not attend the interviews. Initially I figured I would be a nervous mess that would rub off onto Mike, so I would just let him go on these adventures by himself. This year he insisted I come along and I am so appreciative. Though I probably did not say more than three words to either driver from what I remember, it was a remarkable experience for me because it yet again reminded me that this is real, these people are real, and it is not as easy as it looks on TV.
Thanks to Can-Am Spyder, Mike and I received Hot Passes this year which has allowed us the freedom of wandering the garage and admiring the atmosphere to my heart’s content. During the Sprint Cup practice, my adrenaline surged as I watched the cars go in and out and crews work speedily from inside the garage area. Because I like paying attention to small details that probably means nothing to anyone else, I was fascinated focusing on when drivers choose to get out of their cars. Jimmie Johnson caught my attention a few times when he jumped out and immediately began working on the car with his crew. Kyle Busch was another one I watched relatively closely and was a little surprised at the speeds he used while literally pulling his car into the actual garage. The roar of the cars was phenomenal; I cannot think of words that truly justify an explanation of exhilaration.
I am excited to see what I experience today and cannot wait to report back!
It’s debatable what was more predictable about last night’s Camping World Truck Series race, that Kyle Busch won, or that as soon as he won Twitter blew up with fans calling for Sprint Cup Series drivers to be banned from the series.
While it is annoying that Busch now has five wins in five Truck Series starts, he isn’t going anywhere. A conversation with NASCAR President Mike Helton laid out that they will not be limiting drivers from participating in any series. Basically it’s a free country, and they can run where ever they want, be it Truck Series, Nationwide Series, IndyCar, or your local race track.
Add to it that Busch’s presence in the series is one to race, but also to provide additional funding for his Kyle Busch Motorsports team. Sponsors are on teammates Darrell Wallace, Jr. and Erik Jones’ trucks because they get a piece of Busch. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a Kyle Busch Motorsports to run 1-2 last night.
This brings this conversation back to something that has been preached before on StartNParkBlog.com, the costs and effectiveness of the Truck Series schedule needs to be adjusted. If star drivers can’t simply own teams without having to run races, there’s an issue. When around 30 teams show up, there’s an issue.
And it is not just isolated to the Truck Series, the Nationwide Series finds itself in the same situation each week. Not only are they short on cars for the field, but the divide between the have’s (Cup affiliated teams) and have not’s (everyone else) is staggering.
This weekend this trend finally hit the Sprint Cup Series, as they will have only 42 cars for Saturday’s race for the first time since 2001. The list will go on, when Roush Fenway Racing struggles to find sponsors, there’s an issue. When stands and ratings are declining, there’s an issue.
Here’s to hoping that the summer stretch makes it painfully obvious that NASCAR has to do something to help teams, lower costs, and put on a better show for the fans.
The newest rumor pegging Carl Edwards to Joe Gibbs Racing has a bit of an interesting twist. Motorsports.com’s Lee Spencer is reporting in order to get the funds to create a fourth team at JGR, they would take M&M’s away from Kyle Busch and put them with Edwards. For Busch, Monster Energy would move up and sponsor his car. Continue reading “Fourth Joe Gibbs Racing Team Could Come At Expense Of Nationwide Team”