Thursday, 08 December 2022

NASCAR’s bet on a spectacle in L.A. paid off

Many doubted NASCAR when this unprecedented event was announced. But between the amazing and historic venue that looked beautiful on TV (and no doubt in person, too), tremendous on-track action and musical entertainment from Pitbull and Ice Cube, and an impressive crowd, the Clash at the Coliseum is something that exceeded NASCAR’s wildest expectations.

Joey Logano put on a tough battle with Kyle Busch up front to take the inaugural win for the Next Gen car, and in the process NASCAR exposed itself to a California audience largely composed of people who don’t normally follow the sport. Here’s hoping they stick around and remain fans of the sport as we head into the Daytona 500 and beyond.

I can see the Clash coming back to the Coliseum next year, but we need to be careful to make these things special, and not try to do them multiple times a year. Make it a destination every February; and later, once it’s served its purpose, give another stadium a chance. 

One thing is certain. The Clash, which had become an almost forgotten and frankly boring event at Daytona, has been revitalized, and we’re not going to back to the old ways again. Kudos to Ben Kennedy, the future of the sport’s leadership, for pushing the sport in bold, new directions despite some howling from legacy fans.

Published in NASCAR
Sunday, 16 February 2020 13:28

2020 Daytona 500: Storylines to watch

Greetings race fans. It's Daytona 500 day.
When the green flag drops at 3:18 p.m. today at Daytona, here are some storylines to watch. 

Team alliances
How much will teams work together, if situations on track allow for them to do so? I foresee this being a major strategy, once again, for Chevy, Ford and Toyota. But history has shown the best plans usually are interrupted by the reality of plate racing. Those alliances usually don’t last, especially after cars get knocked out after big wrecks. We’ll see how this plays out and how much it determines the outcome of the race.

Blocking
Brad Keselowski and others have expressed concern about blocking and the major wrecks it is causing this Speedweeks. How much will drivers take that into account when they are making decisions as they battle for the lead and through the field? Hopefullly cooler heads will prevail, but when chasing the checkered flag common sense often goes out the window. We’ll learn this afternoon which side wins out.

Published in NASCAR

One thing is clear after this weekend: Ford has hit a home run by bringing Hailie Deegan on board.

The 18-year-old phenom has a strong racing pedigree, talent to spare, and a great attitude overall. Previously, her detractors have critiqued her willingness to use the chrome horn to get a victory. But in Saturday’s ARCA race, she showed she has the patience to go far in this sport, and not make enemies unnecessarily.

Deegan’s efforts landed her a 2ndplace finish, sandwiched between two Venturini cars in 1stand 3rd, and she was happy with her effort.


“Pretty much at the end there, all I wanted to do was finish. My goal for this race was top three to top-five was a victory for me,” Deegan said. “It is a long season and I have to race against these guys week in and week out. It is best to stay on good terms with them. Second is really a win to me this weekend. Winning the first race would have maybe been a little too high of standards for the rest of the season. Everything would have been downhill. This gives me something to still work towards.”

Published in NASCAR

As I watched Joey Logano’s car turned into a lawn mower, Jimmie Johnson take a brutal hit into the wall, and so many other cars losing sheet metal today, part of me was thinking that this Busch Clash crashfest (which came late in the race after mostly single file racing through the early parts) may be an anomaly. It’s a non-points race, first of the season, etc., and won’t carry over to Sunday’s Daytona 500.

But that part of me is probably wrong. My other half, the realistic one, knows that winning the Daytona 500 is probably going to be the biggest win of their career for most of the drivers on the grid. So while I’m somewhat confident we’ll have more than 6 cars finishing the Daytona 500, don’t be surprised if the crazy blocks and big-time wrecks just keep on coming when the field of 40 takes the green on Feb. 16.

Published in NASCAR

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