Friday, April 26, 2013

Of Engine Parts, Heavy Fines and Waiting For Kyle To Exhale

Yes... it had been a bit since I had started posting again this week.  After the Denny Hamlin affair where he was fined for a benign comment comparing the gen-6 to the COT car learning curve, I had lost a bit of mojo for the sport.

It seemed over-reactive. Sure, NASCAR wants to distance itself from the COT era, but that will happen with time, not with penalties that bring it more to light. And if Denny Hamlin never again gives a colorful answer to any question, I don't blame him.

Me and 90% of the fan base say shame on you NASCAR.  Now just let it be and back off.  You don't have to draw that line in the sand just because you started something you don't want to back off from.

Over the last few weeks I sat back and just watched some great racing.

I saw a race on a racetrack with some personality in the NASCAR Truck series (Rockingham) that was fun to watch.  And Kansas surprised me this year too.

But this week the news is pretty big, especially in the fine department.

Matt Kenseth's team got nailed pretty hard for having an engine component (connecting rod) that was just over 2 grams too light from its allowable 525 gram minimum weight.  And after winning a race to boot.


The fines/penalties were

  • Crew chief Jason Ratcliff has been fined $200,000 and suspended from NASCAR until the completion of the next six NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship points events
  • Car owner Joe Gibbs has lost 50 championship car owner points (The Kansas win will not have bonus points attached)
  • Owner's license for the No. 20 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series car suspended until the completion of the next six championship points events (No owners points to be earned)
  • Matt Kenseth lost 50 championship driver points
  • The loss of five NASCAR Sprint Cup Series Manufacturer Championship points.


The message is clear, even if the NASCAR world was already fully aware, to not mess with the engine.  (Or tires or the fuel.)

This brings up the issue of having wins removed from illegal cars.  I'm all in favor of such, when the situation warrants it.  Other wise, the car/driver/team still benefit from an ill-begotten win.

That's not fair to the rest of the field.  But that's just me and we know what NASCAR's practice is on the issue, so this is a moot opinion.


Toyota has taken full blame for the Kenseth penalty.  And we can all talk till we're blue in the face about this issue, but the bottom line was that they were caught with ONE connecting rod that was too light, and it did not create any kind of advantage, that anyone knows of.  But the fine is there, to let the world know that messing with the engine is not a pretty thing to do.

Some have said that they feel it was an honest mistake while others have questioned why a light component was even in the garage area to begin with.


What a season, with major players taking hits this early in the race season.  Denny Hamlin is out with back issues, Matt Kenseth and team will be in a huge deficit of a points hole, and other fun.  It's been a wild and whacky season indeed.


So!  My past observations have been that Kurt Busch tends to blow up on average, about once every 14 to 18 months.  If this tendency holds true, I'm wondering when the next Kyle Busch blow up is coming?

Last week at Kansas, after he exited the race early, he was doing that walk.  You know the one.  He's totally pissed, but the small, mature corner of his brain is screaming:  "Just walk boyo!  Keep your mouth shut and walk!"  And he did, only stopping for the major media folks to answer a question or two, with the obvious and patented short answers that Kyle tends to give...  pragmatic, to the point, and almost spilling over into nasty time.

So good job Kyle, on last weekend.

But did that push him to being just a little bit closer to that inner boiling point we all know he has?  And being at Richmond just isn't going to help.  This is an emotional track!

I'm hoping he retains his composure.  But we'll see.


Speaking of Richmond, remember the joke... ESPN coverage of the Nationwide race at Richmond will be on ESPNEWS channel, if you get that channel.


That's all that's on my mind (that's printable) folks.  Chat with you later!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

New Road Course Qualifying Rules for NASCAR Sprint Cup

I'm sure you've all seen the news, that NASCAR Cup qualifying at Road Courses has a new look/procedure.

Looking over the press release, what I'm seeing is that this will do a few things for the fan.  It will make the qualifying sessions go a bit quicker than running one car at a time, and it just might make qualifying a wee bit more exciting.

If you think about it, though their starting spots will be determined by their lap times, they have to play it smart and not over-drive the car at all during these sessions.

Or...  do they do a few smart laps, then start taking chances?

It will be pretty interesting to see.  That's for sure.  But one other thing is for sure.  For the Cup Series Only Fans... this is not new to NASCAR.  They've been qualifying like this under the Nationwide banner for a while, so NASCAR has experience at managing this new process. 

The process for road course qualifying includes:

·      Cars attempting to qualify will be divided into groups. The number of groups, and amount of cars in each, will depend on the number of cars that practice for the event.

·      Group assignments will be based on final practice times.

·      Each qualifying group will be on-track for a set period of time, determined by the Series Director.

·      A car's best lap time during the group session will be the qualifying lap time of record.

·      A group's time begins when the first car receives the green flag at the start/finish line.


The new format will debut with the Toyota Save-Mart 350 at Sonoma Raceway on June 23 and will return at Watkins Glen for the Cheez-ItTM 355 at the Glen on August 11.


Richmond Nationwide Race TV Coverage

NASCAR race fans have always been accustomed to taking the back seat to other programming.  Specifically, when ABC/ESPN covers our sport.  From being booted by America's Funniest Videos with less then 20 laps to go, to being delayed by televised little league games, we're used to it.

So don't freak out when you start looking for the Nationwide race in your TV listings.

With other big name sports having events this weekend, and ESPN covering the Friday Night race, keep your eyes peeled and look for race coverage over on the ESPNEWS channel.

Yep... even I have to go figure this channel # out.

Bruce E. Simmons,  Owner/Editor/Writer:
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Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Eldora Speedway Truck Series Qualifying Explained

If you've ever seen a race from Tony Stewart's Eldora Speedway, you know how much fun this dirt track oval can be with the right drivers on the surface, duking it out.  If you haven't, and you're a NASCAR Camping World Truck Series fan, boy are you in for a treat, coming up on Wednesday, July 24th, 2013 as the Truck Series visits this stories facility for a scheduled stop on their schedule.
But being a dirt track, qualifying at Eldora is a bit different than an asphalt track.  And having NASCAR coming back to dirt in the first time in 40 years doesn't change that.   And this is going to be the track's 60th race season.  My bet is that this telecast will break records for the racing series...  this is going to be fun!
THIS, is how qualifying for the Mudsummer Classic will be handled at Eldora Speedway, via this press release from NASCAR:

The race will feature a traditional two-lap qualifying session, five qualifying races, one last-chance race and a champion’s provisional to determine the 30-truck starting field. The top-20 in owners’ points entering the race event will have a guaranteed starting position.

 Here are additional details for each round of qualifying: 

Two-lap qualifying determines starting position for the qualifying races

Qualifying Races
·         Five qualifying races
o    Eight laps each; only green flag laps count
o    Five trucks transfer from each qualifying race
·         Lineup for the qualifying races will be based on qualifying speeds with four locked-in trucks (trucks in the top 20)
·         The top-five trucks in qualifying will start on the pole for their respective qualifying race
·         Highest finishing non-locked-in truck will transfer to race from each qualifying race
·         At the completion of the qualifying races, 25 trucks will have earned spots into the feature.

Last Chance Race
·         15 laps; only green flag laps count
·         The top-four finishers will transfer to the feature and start in positions 26-29
·         The lineup will be based on the finish from the qualifying races 
Starting position No. 30 will go to the most recent past series’ champion who has not already qualified. If the 30th starting position is not filled by an eligible champion, it will be assigned to the next highest finishing truck in the Last Chance Race. 

NASCAR and Eldora Speedway have collectively worked together to come up with a format that embraces the history of dirt track racing while also ensuring that full-time competitors have an opportunity to be a part of this special event,” said Chad Little, NASCAR Camping World Truck Series director. “This will also add an exciting element for the fans and we look forward to putting on a great show at this unique venue. 

The race length and format are also new for the series. The race will be 150 laps divided into three segments. The segments will be 60, 50 and 40 laps.

There will be pit stops between each segment, with teams having the opportunity to change tires and work on their trucks. 

More details on the event schedule will be released later this spring. 

The “Mudsummer Classic” will be the first NASCAR national touring series event held on dirt since NASCAR’s premiere series competed on September 30, 1970 in Raleigh, N.C. Richard Petty won the Home State 200 at the one-mile State Fairgrounds Speedway.


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Friday, April 5, 2013

Blocking In NASCAR Should Be A Non-Issue, Welcome to Parity Boys and Girls

The last race we had, Tony Stewart made a move to pass Joey Logano on a restart, but Logano made his own move to block Stewart.  After the race, Stewart was all fired up about Logano doing to him, exactly what he himself would have done.  I'm guessing Tony forgot this was NASCAR and not some other racing league that has banned blocking.

And needless to say, Tony was pissed.  He wanted a piece of Joey's ass after the race.  But almost every fan and reporter, to a tee, made mention how this is something Tony himself has done and all those folks also reminded us of a huge wreck at a restrictor plate race that was caused by Stewart himself making a move to block someone.

So be it.  The goose, the gander, the kettle and the pot.

But I'm a bit surprised this debate about blocking is still going on two weeks later.  Or, then again, maybe not since there's been no new news to capture our attention.  Kurt hasn't mouthed off at anyone, Kyle hasn't called the Gen-6 any foul expletive, Mr. "5-Hour Energy" hasn't chased anyone new down.  So this is the latest headline that's still glowing brightest in the aftermath of the last race from two weeks ago.

But the question remains of whether blocking should be allowed in NASCAR?  Should blocking be a valid or allowed part of the sport?


NASCAR has worked hard to get all the cars/teams on as equal footing as possible.  And now that they are, we are going to start seeing this tactic more and more.

And yes, blocking should be allowed.  It's a valid maneuver that's deployed within most events that involve tactics.  Period.

Honestly, with Logano's move, that meant his eye was on the prize, that first-place trophy.  And if he didn't block, how would his fans and sponsors feel?

In chess, you make moves to block attacks on the king.  In boxing, you block punches from landing valuable points.  In football, you block the pass-rush and defend your quarterback. In war, you make moves to keep the opponent from making their own successful moves.
Blocking is a valid tactic, no matter what.  Not blocking is like seeing the opponent coming, and laying down. And in this day, when teams are more equal in car,  blocking is going to come to the forefront of our attentions.