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Have a NASCAR fan in your life and struggling to find the perfect gift? Let me give you a few suggestions!

  1. Memorabilia (the gift of Christmas Past): Do you know your fan’s favorite driver? Maybe get them some memorabilia! You can check their driver’s website because if they have their own shop sometimes you can fine unique or autographed memorabilia that way. Or check the Fanatics NASCAR shop and get everything from socks to jackets to license plate frames. Us NASCAR fans love to rep our favorite drivers. Help your favorite fan support their driver with the gift of merchandise!
  2. Donate to their driver’s foundation (the gift of Christmas Present): Many drivers have charitable foundations that support organizations near and dear to the driver’s heart. These organizations are as diverse as the drivers are and support a wide variety of needs on our community now!  For instance The Kyle Busch Foundation focuses on empowering children, families and communities to overcome hardship, The Jimmie Johnson foundation focuses on supporting K-12 public education, and Ryan Newman supports his Rescue Ranch.
  3. Race Tickets (the gift of Christmas Future): Give the gift of race tickets! NASCAR races are likely your favorite NASCAR fan’s happy place. Go large and get them some tickets!  Check the nearest track (or their favorite track)’s website and speak with the box office about purchasing tickets or giftcards that can be used for tickets if tickets are not yet available. I find that when I am going to a track I have never been to before my favorite way to buy tickets is to talk to the box office- the ticketing agents can work with you to get you the best tickets in your price range and may have suggestions for visiting their track if you never have been there before. Better yet go with your favorite race fan TO the race! If your not a fan yet you might find out at the track that NASCAR is much more that just driving in circles! If you want to go really big make it a destination race- remember that Vegas will have a second race this coming year – the usual Spring race in March and the new Fall chase race!
  4. Books! Who doesn’t love books? Do you have a NASCAR fan who is a bookworm on your list? (Maybe that is just me). If so check out my NASCAR Reading list for suggestions of books your motorsports loving fan may enjoy!

So tell me NASCAR fans- what gift are you hoping for this season?

Well since it’s officially the off season for us NASCAR fans. What does that mean? It means that on Sunday afternoons we are now left with a gaping hole in our schedules. Before I get into the looking forward to next year part of this post though- I do want to talk about the awards show. I think I might be the only one who liked that they actually shortened the banquet to 90 minutes. Then again it could be because I didn’t have a favorite driver really this season.  I always found the banquet long with all the comedy and music acts and the long speeches. Keep it short, celebrate the championship drivers and the champion and then wind it up with a quick bow. That is my thought.  And I know I have said this before and I will say it again- I LOVE the design of the new Monster Cup Series trophy. LOVE IT.

What I can tell you is that when you don’t have a definite favorite driver, one that you pull for (and have pulled for for years and years) it is a lot easier to not sit there riveted to the television.  I admittedly skipped a few of the races this year when usually I was watching. And there were even a couple that I just watched the last half of the race.  My cheering this year was more about who I didn’t want to win than who I did want to win.  It was a weird place for me to be as a fan. Although I admit wholeheartedly that my little speed loving heart perked up when I heard mention that Tony Stewart might be wanting to drive some Xfinity series races on the road courses next year (I think he wants to run the roval at Charlotte mostly).  So there is that for me.

I am still not that big of a fan of the stage racing. It seems to me that we have reverted back to racing for points only now the points are on steroids because you get more of them throughout specific spots during the race. I thought the whole idea was to move away from points racing?  What I will say about the stage racing is that it DOES make the races more exciting overall because the drivers feel a sense of urgency throughout the race and not just looking at the big picture of the final checkered flag.I am not sure that this necessarily translates to more excitement on TV or in the stands but I guess an argument could be made that it does. (more…)

This will be the first time since NASCAR’s Championship Week Celebration was in Vegas that I will not be attending.  There is a personal reason I am not attending, but even without that I had not planned to attend this year but instead going to Disneyland this year (postponed Disneyland too for that personal reason).  Mostly because it seems that After The Lap which was always my favorite part of the weekend- has turned more into a concert and less of a driver Q&A. Based on what I see from the schedule of events there aren’t many events for Champions week where all the drivers are together- which kind of bums me out. This year, After The Lap, starts much later, is located in the middle of the Las Vegas Strip and according to everything is scheduled to run a full three hours.  I have also heard that the fees on tickets for the event now cost more then the tickets to the event- so there is that. This part disappoints me greatly. Don’t let me disuade you from going. After The Lap is held at The Cosmo on Wednesday Nov 29th at 8:00 PM: Tickets for After The Lap.

There are improvements to the week long festivities especially over recent years when it was quite obvious to this fan that SPRINT’s support of the series was waning. Last year’s event was minimum and paltry. One of my favorite new events that is part of the champion festivities is that the championship drivers are having scheduled autograph sessions which I think is a great idea. However- you can only attend one of the autograph sessions (although if you a stealthy pair of fans you could have one fan sign up for two tickets to one session and the other friend sign up for another session) so you are limited to the four drivers in the session you sign up for.  A majority of these sessions have already reached their cap for this year unfortunately but there are a few sessions with tickets left so I wouldn’t wait much longer to sign up for one- at Driver Autograph Sessions (best I can tell these are free but you need tickets).

Dale Jr Fans will be especially treated to an event just to celebrate him (I assume that he won Most Popular Driver again). There appear to be tickets left for this event but be warned- these tickets appear to range in price from $188 to over $400 a ticket (YOWZER) tickets to appear to come with a drink voucher (Still YOWZER). This will be held at the Cosmo on Tuesday Nov 28th.  Dale Jr Appreci88tion Event.

There are some other free events- including a the victory lap and fan headquarters at THE PARK (which is located outside of New York, New York)…but if you are going to champion’s week be prepared to shell out some dough to see your favorite drivers (unless you happen to be lucky enough to bump into them in their hotel). For more information on NASCAR Champion’s Week in Vegas visit: Champion’s Week at NASCAR.COM

Martin Truex Jr.

Homestead-Miami Speedway on November 19, 2017 in Homestead, Florida.

Sometimes publishers bring books to my attention or offer me a copy to review and other times when I am reviewing books it’s because I found a book that I had come across that fits with this column. This is the case with Start Your Engines by Jim Cangany.  I am not to proud or too embarrassed to say that while I read a lot of different genres (pretty much everything except SciFi/Fantasy because for some reason I just can’t get into those kind of books). This book falls into the romance genre which I have been reading a lot more of lately for whatever reason.

Start Your Engines by James Cangany

Start Your Engines is what would be called a second chance romance within the racing world. Ten years ago Brad Thomas and Gabrielle Marquez were friends who were just starting to explore the beginnings of a romance while also being fierce competitors on the track, when a crash killed a mutual best friend, and injured Brad bad enough that his career as a driver was over. Gabrielle left the United States to pursue driving in European series while the guilt that she caused the wreck that killed one and ruined a career ate at her.  Fast forward ten years and Brad Thomas is a race director for a smaller struggling team with a driver that just doesn’t seem to be working out.  When the owner of the team hires Gabrielle as a replacement driver will the two be able to work together for the sake of the team? And will the budding romance between the two rekindle?  Add in some possible sabotage into the book and you have the story. Will Gabrielle end up staying in the States or taking the offer of a lifetime in Europe to drive with an elite team?  You will have to read the book to find out what happens.  This isn’t a smutty romance- more along the sweet lines.  With some awesome racing action that I think drives the story along with it.  You will like this story if you are a racing fan, a sweet contemporary romance fan or both.  I enjoyed this story and I think you will too. It looks like this might be a first of a series of books- I can only hope that is the case because I would definitely be interested in reading more of these racing romances.

About The Author: Jim Cangany is a Hoosier through and through. He works in the legal field while looking for ideas for his next book.  You can find him online at JimCangany.Com or on Twitter @JimCangany.

For Full-Disclosure purposes (I am looking at you FTC):

I purchased my copy of Start Your Engines by Jim Cangany for Kindle- it was not provided to me by any entity. As with all my reviews on BadGroove, the words and opinions on this book are my own.

Click here for other installments of Amy’s #NASCAR Reading List

It seems that everywhere I look everyone is in a rage about Matt Kenseth being parked after the wreck towards the end of the Hollywood Casinos 400 at Kansas last weekend.  There seems to be much confusion over WHY did they park him when NASCAR seems to look the other way when other drivers seem to regularly have seven men over the wall during a pitstop and not get penalized.

I am going to say right here and right now- I totally agree with NASCAR’s call. Does it suck for Matt Kenseth? Hell yes. I am not saying that it doesn’t. I am not saying that I don’t like Matt Kenseth. When they showed the crew working on Matt Kenseth’s car I said WAIT I THINK I SEE SEVEN MEN over the wall.  I said this BEFORE they mentioned it on the national broadcast, before they put up the graphic where they super imposed a number over each crew member. The seventh man- whomever he was actually called attention to himself because he hesitated, sat back down on the wall and then decided to go back towards the car.  This hesitation is what drew my eye to him in the first place. It’s like he knew he wasn’t suppose to be over the wall but he just couldn’t help himself.

The thing that most people don’t seem to be understanding is that Matt Kenseth wasn’t making a pit stop at this point. He was pulling into his pit to repair crash damage, thus putting him and his team on the 5 minute clock.  When the cars come in for crash damage the rules clearly state that only 6 men can be over the wall at any one time to assist in the repair of the vehicle or the car is automatically done for the day. Why? They explained it on the national broadcast…because without this rule the crew chiefs could send 10 people over the wall to help fix the car and gladly take the penalty. They even stated on the national broadcast that this was a rule that the OWNERS asked for- not NASCAR. That was something I didn’t know.

A regular six person pit stop performed by Brad Keselowski’s crew at Kansas Speedway. (photo source: 352494Photo by Sarah Crabill/Getty Images)

During a regular pit stop six members are allowed over the wall to service the car and teams CAN have a seventh man who comes across the wall to service the DRIVER. What that means is that the seventh man is there to pull a tear off, give water or ice to the driver, etc.  This is during a pit stop NOT during the 5 minute crash damage clock.  The penalty for too many men over the wall is end of the longest line or a pass through (I think).  Even IF Matt Kenseth had been performing a regular pitstop and not on the crash damage clock they would have at the least seen a penalty. Why? Because the seventh man wasn’t servicing the driver with a sawsall in his hand- which video clearly shows.

I do not understand why this is unclear. Matt Kenseth wasn’t on a regular pit stop he was on the crash damage clock. The seventh man over the wall wasn’t there to service the driver he clearly had a sawsall in his hand and when he decided to go to the can he went right to the wheel well- not to pull a tear off or give the driver water.  Yes it totally ruined his play off hopes and yes that sucks but there is the rule there for a reason. There is a clear difference between being on a pit stop and being on the playoff clock. I am sure the person who ruined the playoff hopes for his driver feels terrible. This is not a new rule- it was quite clear by crew chief Jason Radcliffe’s comments he understood the rule.  Play-off’s require everyone to be on the top of their game- and one person who either wasn’t paying attention or just really thought he could slide past the rule made a mistake and at this point in the NASCAR Monster Energy Cup Series play-off’s mistakes mean mean the difference between making a cut off and falling below the cut.

Two races into the playoffs and I am just now making my predictions as to who will win the cup.

Speaking of the cup- surely by now you have seen the new trophy? I have seen and heard both positive and negative comments about the trophy. Personally I like it- I love the section at the top that at a glance to the non-NASCAR trained eye just looks like a random squirrelly design but is really comprised of the outline of the tracks. I LOVE that part of the trophy the most.  I have no problem with the new series sponsor making a new series trophy.

Back to my predictions though. I am going to say that Martin Truex Jr is going to win the championship. I feel that is pretty safe bet to take don’t you? He has all those championship stage win points to carry him through to the final four so unless he has a pretty disastrous stage two I do not see a “final four” in Homestead-Miami without Martin Truex Jr in it.  So since my bet on Martin Truex Jr is so safe- who should I say will be the other drivers he is up against in that last race? I would put my money on Kyle Busch for sure but who else? As much as I would love to see Ryan Blaney or Kasey Kahne or one of the other one win underdogs in the final four I think the other two drivers will be Kevin Harvick and Jimmie Johnson.

The Stewart-Haas Racing fan in me would love to see Harvick take home the cup but I really think that the Toyotas have something that the Fords just do not seem to have under the hood. Not sure what it is not being a technical person with my nose under the hood of either car but it is quite obvious to this race fan that there is something that is favoring the Toyotas this season while leaving the Chevys and Fords in the dust. I also wouldn’t mine seeing Kyle win the Championship- I have always liked Kyle as a driver. He’s got a certain something. And I wouldn’t mind seeing Jimmie Johnson win- if only to get that mythical championship number 8. You can say what you want about Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus and that Lowes 48 team but this is a legacy in the making.  (more…)

It’s not often I can tell you that I heard about a book from a racer. Books for this column come to me by various ways. Some are by authors I already love. Some books are ones that are recommended to me by friends who know I like to read and have a thing for motorsports books. Some are offered up by publishers or publishing companies who think that they are something I will enjoy and would like to review here on the Reading List. But then there are the ones I find on my own. This one can kind of be categorized like that. I follow racer Pippa Mann on Instagram (and twitter) because I love her positivity in her posts.  She posted a photo several months ago of a book called “Chasing Checkers” that she was reading poolside and I admit that I was curious about the novel especially when the last name of the author caught my eye so I decided to look it up on Amazon. After reading the synopsis I one-clicked it immediately however I didn’t get to read it until last week. I figured at the least it would provide good fodder for the Reading List. But I am pleased to say that I am excited to bring you the review of this book.

Chasing Checkers by Christopher Hinchcliffe is a young adult novel that tells us the story of Teddy “Chex” Clark- a teen who has been racing since he was 7 years old. Teddy has always dreamed of being a racer. The book details young Teddy’s racing career in GoKarts, through a racing school series, to what will be the biggest race of his career. A race that brings with it the opportunity of a seat in the series the next year and purse money that would make paying for races much easier for Teddy and his family.  However just like real life, it’s not all about racing.  Teddy is faced having to deal with life beyond racing while staying focused on the task at hand. Teddy learns to deal not just with issues that race up in the cockpit but out of the cockpit as he balances expectations, family drama, and friends (old and new) along with his chosen passion of racing. All while learning the ins and outs of new car and a more competitive series than he’s ever been in before.

Readers don’t need to have motorsports knowledge to enjoy this book. It’s definitely an easy read for an adult and would likely be appropriate for children ready to jump from beginning chapter books to regular chapter books. The language is pretty easy and would probably work for newish chapter book readers. As an adult I enjoyed this novel and hope that we will hear more about Teddy. I recommend this book for young and old race fans who want a good novel about a young driver working his way through the motorsports world.

About the author: Christopher Hinchcliffe is a Canadian author from Ontario Canada who teaches legal and political philosophy on the side. He also happens to be the brother of INDYCAR driver James Hinchcliffe. You can find out more about him on his website: ChasingCheckersBook.com or twitter handle @CMHinchcliffe.

For Full-Disclosure purposes (I am looking at you FTC):

I purchased my copy of Chasing Checkers for Kindle- it was not provided to me by any entity. As with all my reviews on BadGroove, the words and opinions on this book are my own.

Click here for other installments of Amy’s #NASCAR Reading List