Tag: New Hampshire Motor Speedway

Vegas Deal Another Business Decision For NASCAR

It’s never good to see a track lose a race date, but there is a bit of irony woven in New Hampshire Motor Speedway being stripped of its September event. That’s the race was ripped away from North Wilkesboro Speedway in a bully tactic in conjunction with the Texas Motor Speedway folks. Now some 20 years later, some act as if New Hampshire is the victim in all of this.

Well at least New Hampshire gets to hold onto its July date, which was award to it during the 1993 season, rather than bought. Attendance had not been a strong suit and condensing down to one race might help fans be able to prepare better and get to the event. I’ve never understood why tracks have races within months of each other, much less Pocono’s asinine six week turn around. If I’m a fan in the area, I’d want to go to both, but financially I don’t know if I could make both.

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Should NASCAR Allow Shepherd To Keep Running?

A lot of people questioned letting 72-year old Morgan Shepherd out on the track for his second Sprint Cup Series race of the year. After the performance he put on at New Hampshire, his future running races might be in question.

Shepherd spent most of the day running his Joe Falk Racing Chevrolet several miles per hour off the pace and eventually finished the race running, but 22 laps down. He was not very notable until a lap 211 incident with then second place Joey Logano.

It appeared Shepherd let Logano go on the straightaway, then in the corner as Logano went on the outside of Shepherd, Shepherd drifted up the track and hit the left rear of Logano. The contact, spin, and damage left Logano with a 40th place finish, one worse than what Shepherd finished at.

After the wreck, Logano was visibly upset, but as he talked to TNT, he admitted there’s not much that could be done at that point.

“I got taken out by the slowest car out there. You would think there would be some courtesy to the leaders. We were in second place. He gets out of the way on the straightaway and then goes into the corner and slides right up into the lane I was in. Whatever. I don’t know. We will fix it and go at it again. Daytona is Daytona and everyone else crashed but this week – we were doing a good job after having a left rear flat in practice and we were running second with our backup car. I can’t get too mad at ourselves over this. It is just dumb that it happened. I feel like that should be stuff that shouldn’t happen at this level of racing,” commented Logano.

I understand that Shepherd, a four time Sprint Cup Series winner, has the right to race if there’s a car owner willing to put him in the car. The question I have is when you have a driver who is basically a moving road block, why let him continue to run?

I’m also surprised that Shepherd’s team didn’t start and park the event. While I give them credit for running the full distance, obviously his incident with Logano calls into question if NASCAR has to get involved if he wants to race in future events.

Truex To Joe Gibbs Racing?

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There has been much speculation where Martin Truex, Jr. might end up now that NAPA is pulling their sponsorship of his current ride with Michael Waltrip Racing. This weekend team owner Michael Waltrip said he is fully prepared to keep the #56 team going, but if Truex found another deal he wouldn’t stand in his way.

Early rumors connect Truex with Furniture Row Racing and Richard Childress Racing. Furniture Row needs a driver and not necessarily a sponsor, as the team owner also sponsors the car. They also have put forth the impression that they are looking at younger talents to bring up to the Cup Series, but wouldn’t say no to Truex.

Richard Childress Racing would need sponsorship for a fourth team. That reason is why Jeff Burton was cut loose, because they only had funding for half the season on a fourth entry. With NAPA leaving the Waltrip led team many speculate that they might go where Truex goes.

Not so fast, reports are coming out that NAPA might be leaving NASCAR all together after “Spingate,” although nothing official has been announced. Another kink to them staying with another team is NAPA was reportedly paying Waltrip $16 million for full season sponsorship. That number isn’t high enough for other teams to pay for a full-season of sponsorship. NAPA might have to pony up to get with a bigger team or keep paying the same on a partial-sponsorship.

On ESPN’s NASCAR Countdown commentator Rusty Wallace said that Joe Gibbs Racing would be Truex’s destination. That was rebuffed by team owner Joe Gibbs, that nothing has been talked about in regards to Truex or NAPA. They’re a team in the same situation as Childress, wanting a fourth team, but not having the funds to do so.

A lot more dominos will have to fall before this Silly Season will finish being sorted out. Just about everyone should be a player for Truex’s services at this point, it’s just a matter of if he’ll stick it out with Michael Waltrip Racing or go looking for something new.

Was Kahne Injured In New Hampshire Wreck?

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After Kasey Kahne gave what seemed to be one of the most bizarre and awkward interviews of the season, many began to speculate that Kahne might be have been injured in his lap 253 crash.

Representatives for Kahne indicated that he couldn’t hear ESPN’s Dr. Jerry Punch who was interviewing him after he was released from the infield care center. That seems very likely, but at the same time there were some fan accounts on Twitter, who were at the track, that said he looked to be in pain going to the ambulance.

Kahne even admitted a little on Twitter saying “Sore today but you’ll have that when you hit walls. Was racing hard with the 55 and lost it. Feel bad for my guys, will be ready for Dover.”

Watch the video and you be the judge.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HmOaILLgKGw[/youtube]

Joe Gibbs Racing Flying Out Of The Gate

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Don’t let Joe Gibbs Racing know that they haven’t won a title since 2005 with Tony Stewart. That the best they’ve done in the last two years was a sixth place finish in the standings by Denny Hamlin last year. That Hamlin was the only one to make the Chase the since 2011.

No, these facts mean nothing to the team after Matt Kenseth and Kyle Busch finished first and second for the second race in a row Sunday at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. That puts them one/two in the standings with two races down in the Chase.

“Honestly, I just keep taking it one week at a time.  It’s been a great start for JGR (Joe Gibbs Racing) — Kyle (Busch) ran second both races and had real strong cars.  All three teams right now are working really closely together.  I’m not sure where Denny (Hamlin) ended up, but I know he had a real good run today.  I just feel like the luckiest guy in the world to be standing here honestly.  I’m going to enjoy it and then look forward to getting to Dover,” Kenseth said from victory lane Sunday.

Kyle Busch was singing much of the same tone when he exited his Toyota Sunday. “I just have to say thanks to all these guys on this team — everybody at Joe Gibbs Racing.  There’s a reason why we think we’re the best and we’re showing it these first two weeks.  Everybody on this M&M’s team — they never give up and they fought hard today, I fought hard today and tried everything.  The 20 (Matt Kenseth) had a lot more than us this weekend for some reason, we’re not sure why.  Sometimes you get those magical cars, but hopefully there’s a couple for us left this year. I don’t know — that’s all we had and we fought hard.”

The problem with having cars from the same shop is how do you beat a car that supposed to be equal? As Busch as found out the last two weeks, Kenseth has been able to get a little more out of his cars over what he’s been able to do.

“I didn’t have the car.  Matt (Kenseth) was definitely faster than we were — car to car, clean air to clean air.  He was better than us.  I could gain on him and catch him through traffic and I could get through the traffic better than he could, so I can keep my distance that I had gained on him.  He was definitely really good once we got to single-filed out and we had a little bit of a gap he could sorta stretch it out on me a little bit.  It was a great effort for our team — this whole M&M’s Camry team was awesome.  Really appreciate all the guys — they did a good job.  The 20 (Matt Kenseth) just had a special car here this weekend.  We tried everything to get it like theirs — it was just stupid fast.  Hopefully, we have one of those magical cars in the next couple of weeks too,” commented Busch.

While we’re only two races in, they are both the early favorites for the title. Something that you didn’t expect coming in, despite Kenseth having won five times prior to that point. It’s about going to tracks that are weaknesses and delivering a performance you’ve done all year. Sunday was another example of Kenseth and his Joe Gibbs Racing team doing just that.

“I would have never dreamed this, especially here at New Hampshire.  This track has always been such a struggle.  It’s a great track and they have great fans here — I think we have more fans here than anywhere we go and it’s always fun racing in front of a big crowd.  Usually I’m not out front.  I don’t really even have the words to describe it,” said Kenseth.

The Joe Gibbs Racing teams look to keep the momentum up next weekend in the AAA 400 from the Dover International Speedway. Coverage of the event begins at 1 PM EST and can be seen on ESPN.

What Now For NAPA And Truex?

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Here’s what we do know: Once the clock strikes midnight on December 31, 2013, NAPA Auto Parts will no long be the primary sponsor of the #56 Toyota for Michael Waltrip Racing. Michael Waltrip Racing vows to run the #56 Toyota car with or without new sponsorship coming into replace NAPA and their reported $15-20 million dollar a year sponsorship.

What we don’t know is if Martin Truex, Jr., currently driving that #56 Toyota, will still be the driver when the clock strikes midnight.

There’s a whirlwind of activity going on right now for the MWR team and for Truex. News of NAPA leaving came as a shock to most, especially since Truex was at a NAPA store Thursday night promoting the brand.

In their statement on why they’re leaving MWR, NAPA said they would be reevaluating their NASCAR sponsorship. Many took that as a bad sign that the company, who’s been in NASCAR for a very long time in various divisions, would leave NASCAR all together. I take it as they want to figure out if they want to continue to sponsor just one car full-time, or maybe sponsor a whole team, or move to another series, or wilder yet sponsor an entire series.

We’ll start there, with Nationwide leaving after the 2014 season form sponsoring the second tier NASCAR Nationwide Series, so maybe NAPA would move into that direction. They’ve gotten their name out there in the Sprint Cup Series crowd, maybe dipping down and getting the recognition of a series sponsor could be what they want to do next.

Sponsoring a team versus just one driver could have its perks depending on the team you sponsor. They could spend (if money is an issue) just about the same they were spending on one team over three to four drivers. Picture this, if they went to Hendrick they could put their logo on Jimmie Johnson’s car, Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s car, Kasey Kahne’s car, and Jeff Gordon’s car. Then maybe do a few races as full primary sponsor then do all sorts of promotional work with all four drivers.

If you take the same template to Stewart-Haas Racing where you have Tony Stewart, Kevin Harvick, Kurt Busch, and Danica Patrick. Especially Stewart-Haas you could market to four different demographics right there.

My gut says that NAPA stays in as a sponsor for one team, I’m just not sure where that team will be and with what driver. Truex stated after qualifying that he’s committed to MWR and being there for a while. Well, money talks and when it dries up there, he might be tempted to go elsewhere.

Furniture Row Racing needs a driver and wouldn’t mind a sponsor to join him, they could go there. They’ve talked about getting a younger driver to develop, but comments from the team this weekend indicate they’d be open to someone like Turex.

Richard Childress Racing has said they could make a fourth team, provided they could have sponsorship. The interesting part about this scenario is what happens in a few years when Ty Dillon gets promoted to Cup? Who’s the odd driver out with the team?

Other teams with open spots include Joe Gibbs Racing, Roush Fenway Racing, and Earnhardt Ganassi Racing. Gibbs and Earnhardt Ganassi haven’t indicated that they were looking to expand this year. Roush Fenway seems to have a spot left open for Trevor Bayne, if they can find sponsorship.

Immediacy up for Truex and his team is the Sylvania 300 being run Sunday at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Coverage of the race beginning around 1 PM EST on ESPN.