It seems like yesterday that I was cruising through January impatiently counting down the days until Daytona and now we are already done with the second race of the season. The Folds of Honor 500 at Atlanta Motor Speedway showcased good side-by-side racing and some pit strategy. This new “aero package” that they are using seems to keep the cars sporty around with each other. (more…)
Denny Hamlin. But it took a lot for him to get there. Including three major accidents within the last ten laps of the race.
So let’s talk about the race. (more…)
The Tony Stewart Foundation is having a promotion this month that will put you in the running to win a prize pack!
Entering is easy! Take a picture of your RACR14 plate (the new sprint car one or the old one) and share it on social media with #RACR14 and don’t forget to tag three friends. After you do that you are entered! Easy peasy right?
If you don’t have a RACR14 plate you can get one at the Tony Stewart Foundation website here. The price of the plate goes directly to support the Tony Stewart Foundation grant programs.
I may write primarily about NASCAR, but would you be surprised to know that the first race I ever attended in person was an Indycar race in the late 1990s? The closest track to my home is Laguna Seca Raceway (now called WeatherTech Raceway at Laguna Seca), and my dad took me to my first in-person race when I was a teenager. He spared no expense and got us paddock passes to go with our seats in the grandstands. It was wandering around that paddock area watching teams work on their cars that my love for motorsports was cemented into my soul. The last Indycar race at Laguna Seca was in 2004. But 15 years later -it’s back. They will now host the 2019 IndyCar final race of the season.
On Friday, February 8th, Indycar held their first spring test- at Laguna Seca and luckily for me I was able to get the day off and attended it, with yes you guessed it, my dad. The weather at the raceway was tenuous. It looked like it would rain most of the day, after having rained on and off the day before. We pulled into the track about 8:30 to the sound of cars already on road course. We drove over them as we made our way to park in the paddock area. The teams were obviously there getting as much out of the day as they could while the weather held out.
It was just so fun for me to walk around the paddock and sit in the stands while the Indycars were running around the track. I couldn’t help but smile- while I have been to various other types of races at the track since the “big boys” as my dad calls them were at Laguna, and there is nothing like the sound of an Indycar. Sadly the test was cut short after the teams brought in the cars for a lunch break, the rain came and didn’t let up at all. Still, it was a fun day, and I can’t wait until September.
Here are some of the sights from the day: (more…)
The 2019 Clash at Daytona always signals the start of the 2019 NASCAR season to me. This year it seems like we were just turning over a new year and BOOM its race season. The thing about the clash is that it’s all about bragging rights. There are no points. It’s also a good time for teams to run in race conditions that will be similar to the Daytona 500 because Thursday’s Duel Races will be run during the evening and will not give the teams any real feedback that would necessarily be useful for the big show on Sunday.
The Clash itself was red flagged twice for rain and once at the end of the race for a major accident involving at least half of the 20 car field. This accident was “one of those racing deals” that happened when Paul Menard came down the track as Jimmie Johnson was coming up the track. Jimmie hit Paul’s left rear fender which sent Paul Menard sideways which collected the field coming up behind him. It put Jimmie in the race. The race was then stopped with a handful of laps left as the rain again descended on the cars that were sitting on pit road.
Jimmie Johnson was in the lead after the collision with Menard and declared the winner when they decided the weather would prohibit them from continuing the race. Ironic that Jimmie won the clash with his new crew chief Meendering when Knaus led Byron to the pole for the Daytona 500. Seems both are doing well after their off-season divorce.
For me- the hardest part of this new season is going to be remembering the driver changes. It seems wrong to me to see MTJ in the 19 and Kurt Busch in the 1. Those are going to be the hardest ones for me to remember. I don’t know about you all, but I am ready for the Daytona 500. Have at it boys!
Of the 2019 package and rules changes, the most exciting new rule on the books this season moves post-race inspection to the track itself instead of the cars being taken to the R&D Center in Concord North Carolina. The first and second place cars and a third, randomly chose car will be pulled for inspection as usual; however, the teardown of the vehicles will take place at the track itself. If a “major” infraction is found the win will be immediately taken away from the driver. Let me repeat that: thewin will be taken away and directly credited to the second place car (providing they pass inspection as well. There are no incumbered wins anymore. If a driver has the win taken away, they will be scored last and receive one point.
This is excited and precisely what fans have been wanting and calling for.
There will also be stiffer penalties for failing pre-qualifying and pre-race inspections. If a car fails pre-qualifying inspection, it will not be allowed to qualify at all. There will also be the removal of team members (I am assuming at least the car chief) from the team and practice time will be docked.
For pre-race inspections, if a car fails twice, it immediate starts at the rear of the field. If it fails three times, the car will suffer a pass-through penalty after the beginning of the race. The result of driving down pit road (at the pit speed limit) while the race is green will be more devastating to the team and put them at a disadvantage of having to make up positions, possibly even a lap depending on the track.
NASCAR is meaning business with these stiffer penalties. Personally, I am a fan of moving the inspections to the track. It means that we don’t have to wait for DAYS to find out if there are any penalties. Stiffing the penalties to pre-qualifying and pre-race inspection means we won’t have any of these cars who can’t get through inspection because they are running through so many times. You fail, you get one chance to make it right without penalty. Then you start to suffer consequences. I like it.
The one thing missing from my December was going to the Champion’s Week festivities in Vegas in celebration of Joey Logano’s 2018 Monster Energy Series NASCAR Cup victory. Previous Champion’s weeks were always fun for me- you can see some of my previous posts about it: Champions Week 2017 and Champions Week 2016 and Champions Week 2015 (there are more- I had previously been to every Champions week since they started having them in Vegas). This year there weren’t enough fan events beyond watching the drivers walk into the awards banquet- and going to the fan viewing of the luncheon. It has been sad to watch Champions Week in Vegas decline as it as. They did move the burnouts to be the weekend of the fall race in Vegas- which I didn’t go to because I frankly had other obligations that weekend that I would instead do- or I would have been there. There was no After The Lap, which was always a favorite. It seems to me that they are likely getting ready to move the banquet over to the Hall of Fame in North Carolina. At least that is what I assume they are doing since the 2018 NASCAR’s Most Popular Driver (Chase Elliott) complained about having to go all the way to Vegas three times a year on the Vegas evening news (I might not have been there…but I know people). It doesn’t ingratiate one with the locals that is for certain. Sad because I have always enjoyed traveling to Vegas to see the different Champion’s Week Events AND I have met people at the various events who traveled way farther than me to get there.
One thing I am excited about for 2019 however, is to see some of the new driver/team combinations. Kurt Busch to Chip Ganassi (which he had stayed at SHR), Martin Truex Jr to Joe Gibbs Racing, and while not a driver/team pairing I am also interested to see how Jimmie Johnson will do with a new crew chief and how William Byron will do under Chad Knaus. It will be an exciting season for certain. What are you looking forward to this season??