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

Thoughts as NASCAR leaves Phoenix and heads to Homestead for the 2019 season finale:

— It’s imperative that NASCAR does something with the Cup aero package for shorter tracks before the 2020 season, at least in regard to shorter tracks. They simply can’t have the title race decided by 10 seconds. This was one of the worst races of the season, and we can’t have a repeat of that in 2020 when a championship is being decided at Phoenix. 

— There’s a lot of talk about young guns in NASCAR, and there is definitely lots of young talent in the ranks in all three major series. But look at the top ranks in Cup, and what do we see?: An average age of 38.5 among the final four at Homestead. The lesson: For now, experience rules. Chase Elliott, Ryan Blaney, Kyle Larson, Alex Bowman, William Byron and others will get their shot at the title soon enough. But they’re going to have to get past the veterans to do so, as long as they’re around.

Published in NASCAR

Things were heating up this weekend in Martinsville, both on the track and on pit road afterward. Here are my takeaways on what we learned this week in terms of the championship fight, and what that Logano-Hamlin fight was really all about.

Truex is top dog at Gibbs, Busch in the dumps

There is no more debate to be had. After his thoroughly dominating run to the checkered flag at Martinsville, Martin Truex Jr. and the 19 team are clearly the best chance that Joe Gibbs Racing has to win the Cup title this year.

Even if Truex, Hamlin and Kyle Busch all make it to the Homestead 4 (which at this point is very possible), former team leader Kyle Busch probably has the lowest chance at winning the title of the three. And honestly, the way things are going, he might not even be in the Final Four.

He’s been inching backward toward being a mid-pack car for what seems like a very long time now, he can’t figure out how to drive with this aero package as well as his teammates, and quite frankly doesn’t seem happy most of the time.

Published in NASCAR

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