Sunday, 24 September 2023

Saturday’s race at Daytona was an exciting conclusion to a season where we’ve seen everything under the sun, as we finished our second regular season with the Next Gen car.

The three-wide racing for much of the night was downright thrilling and the best of what plate racing has to offer. On the flip side, no pun intended, Ryan Preece went on a terrifying ride when he barrel rolled at least a dozen times before finally landing right-side up. Thankfully he did not sustain any serious injuries, nor did any of the drivers involved in a “big one” at the end of the second stage.

While the extreme tumbling is cause for investigation by NASCAR (and they are examining the Preece car for data on why that happened), the fact that Preece could walk away shows that the Next Gen car has the goods to keep drivers safe even in extreme wreck situations like the one Preece experienced on Saturday.

The big news, of course was Bubba Wallace’s strong run that locked him into the final playoffs spot. Making the playoffs is a big burden off Bubba’s shoulders. And now he just has to perform and try to get as far along in the playoffs as possible. This will be a tough task to execute, with so many strong drivers ahead of him. But if he makes it to at least the round of 12, I would consider that a successful year and a launch pad for further playoff marches in the future.

Hendrick Motorsports’ Chase Elliott and Alex Bowman both missed the playoffs, and it’s been a rough year for Hendrick, which has only 2 cars in the playoffs. William Byron and Kyle Larson qualified and should both be contenders. But to put that in perspective, the Hendrick team only qualified as many cars as RFK Racing and 23XI racing, and one less than Joe Gibbs Racing.

Published in NASCAR

BROOKLYN, Mich. — Beyond RFK Racing stealing the show at Michigan Speedway on Monday, there were a lot of other story lines to talk about, including some that impacted the playoff battle.

Martin Truex Jr. continues hot streak

Truex was the fastest overall car at Michigan on Sunday/Monday, but in the end he fell one position short in second.

But he has no reason to hang his head. Truex has 3 wins, 9 top-5s, 13 top-10s, only 1 DNF and 5 stage wins this season. He has a dominating lead in the Cup series point standings, leading his closest competitor by 57 points. Unless he collapses or wrecks out at the upcoming road courses and Daytona, he should be our regular season Cup champion and get some extra bonus points for the playoffs.

“We are excited. Every week we feel like we have a shot to win, that is all I can ask for,” Truex said. “It’s exciting to come to the track every weekend knowing what these guys are going to bring me. Hopefully, we can keep it up.”

Published in NASCAR

BROOKLYN, Mich. — When this week’s race at MIS is run (could be Sunday, Monday or Tuesday, depending on how the weather cooperates), several drivers jump to the top of the list when we think about possible winners.

The Closer

First and foremost is Kevin Harvick, who has taken home 5 of the last 7 race wins at Michigan Speedway, a difficult feat to accomplish. He also has a 6th Michigan win earlier in his career, and has taken home one Xfinity Series checkered flag and a Truck Series win on top of the 6 Cup wins.

With this being Harvick’s final season before heading into the broadcast booth, it would be fitting it he continued to add to those records with a final win at Michigan. He’ll have to work for the win, as he’s starting from the 11th row, but if you’ve watched Harvick compete for the past 25 years or so, you know that showing up to take the glory at the end of a race is one of his specialties, so I wouldn’t be surprised one bit to see him fighting for the checkered flag.

Harvick talked a bit about his secrets for success at Michigan.

“I think Michigan is one of those places where car placement and just putting yourself in the right position lap after lap after lap, and not making the mistakes that cost you a half-a-second a lap, and just making a half-a-tenth-of-a-second mistake instead of making those big mistakes and losing track position, and just doing all the little things right, is what you need to do at Michigan,” he said.

Published in NASCAR

Now that we’ve reached the seven-race mark, and competed at a variety of different track types, it’s fair to start looking at this year’s winners and losers in the Cup series, to this point. Good fortunes can fade and bad fortunes can disappear, but it’s clear that some in the garage are in better shape than others right now. Here’s a few takes on the current landscape of the competition.

Biggest 2023 success stories


Hendrick Motorsports: 
Not really a surprise that the team that has more wins than anyone ever in NASCAR is leading the series this year, but the consistency this year is hard to ignore. 

William Byron is having a breakout year, and could win a lot of races (he’s already got two in the bag). Alex Bowman has six top-10s (more than anyone else in the Cup series) and leads the points. 

Kyle Larson just pulled out his first win (likely the first of many) this past weekend at Richmond. And while Chase Elliott will have a battle to make the playoffs once he returns from injury, fill-in driver Josh Berry was the runner-up at Richmond. Not too shabby of a start, and the future looks just as bright for HMS. In year two of the Next Gen car, they seemed to have things figured out better than anyone.

Published in NASCAR

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

After the long weekend we experienced at Talladega — with three wild races all ending with first-time winners, and the ultimate capper of Bubba Wallace making history with his first career win after a strong charge to the front before the rains hit — there’s a lot that can be said.

I could talk about all the “firsts” that happened with Bubba’s win at Talladega, and there’s a lot of them, but that’s been covered ad nauseam. 

I could talk about the historical importance of Bubba’s win — but all you have to do is watch Bubba’s emotional interview after the win was announced and you’ll see in his eyes and hear it in his voice as he absorbs the reality of what he’s achieved and why it matters. I couldn’t say it any better than he did in that interview, nor would I try. And if you as a fan can listen to that interview, and still try to claim that this isn’t a significant win, I suggest you learn a little bit about history. 

The two big stories I see coming out of this weekend are that the underdogs can come out on top with enough dedication and hard work over many years, and that our nation still has some work to do until the type of milestone achieved by Bubba on Monday is no longer a newsworthy event.

Published in NASCAR

2020 has been the busiest NASCAR Silly Season in years — Jimmie Johnson and Clint Bowyer wrapping up their Cup careers; the surprise return of Matt Kenseth as a fill-in; Matt DiBenedetto holding on to the Wood Brothers ride by the skin of his teeth for one more year with Austin Cindric taking over in 2022; and much more.

Here’s my breakdown of who gets high marks on their new ride transition, and who has a rockier road ahead.

CUP SERIES:

Grade: A
Driver: Bubba Wallace, 23XI Racing
The biggest announcement of 2020 was a home run move for Bubba Wallace. Bubba did what he could to improve the 43 team, and they had a great relationship with him, but in the end it’s all about getting to the next level. Teaming up with the new 23XI Racing team owned by Denny Hamlin and NBA legend Michael Jordan is the perfect scenario for Bubba to succeed and reach new heights in his career. He’ll no doubt have a bevy of sponsors and funding to help boost the competitive nature of the 23 car, and the Toyota team will be affiliated with Joe Gibbs Racing. With everything he’s done to push forward the social justice movement within NASCAR, Bubba is arguably the sport’s most recognizable name outside the core fan base. And if he can be successful in his new ride and run up front regularly and contend for wins, it will be huge boost to the sport as a whole and draw in new fans. He’ll have a lot of people rooting for him to succeed, both inside and outside the sport. 

Published in NASCAR

 

There’s so much going on in the sport of NASCAR right now, it’s hard to keep up. 

Silly Season is in full effect, with rides being announced. The playoffs are in full swing, with no shortage of controversy, and we got the 2021 schedule announced with more changes that we’ve seen in many years — perhaps ever.

Before anything else pushes these issues off the front page, here are my takes on the hot issues of the day:

Yellow-line rule

This one is easy: Get rid of it, at least on the last lap. The simple fact that NASCAR had to revise its ruling against Chase Elliott after initially ruling against him is proof that it’s too complicated and subjective. It’s deciding too many finishes and that’s not what we need happening in the sport. Let them race to the end.

Published in NASCAR

After all the drama of the last week, Bubba Wallace was his usual candid self when speaking to media ahead of this weekend’s racing at Pocono. Here are some highlights of the press conference: 

THE LAST FEW WEEKS WITH EXTRA DISTRACTIONS, BUT ALSO LOOKED UPON AS A SPOKESPERSON AND SYMBOL. WITH ALL THAT RESPONSIBILITY, HOW ARE YOU NAVIGATING THAT?

“It’s just another day. The clock resets at midnight every night and we’ll go through whatever is on the schedule then and I’m just excited to get back in the race car come tomorrow. But we’ve got media in between then and now, so we’ll see.”

WHEN YOU RAN OVER TO THE FENCE (POST-RACE) ON MONDAY AND THERE WERE A GROUP OF BLACK FANS THERE TO GREET YOU AND IT SEEMED LIKE THEY CAME JUST TO SEE YOU. IT’S ONLY BEEN A SHORT TIME SINCE THE CONFEDERATE FLAG ISSUE HAS COME UP WITH YOU, BUT HAVE YOU FOUND MORE BLACK FANS OR PEOPLE WHO SEEM INTERESTED IN NASCAR THAT WEREN’T BEFORE?

“Yeah, absolutely. I think just from the following standpoint, it’s been pretty big. Before all the chaos and madness started a couple of weeks ago at Atlanta and Martinsville and now this, it was like 180 thousand fans on Instagram and now I’m at 450 thousand, or something like that. I don’t know. A lot of people of color are coming out and saying that they’re going to be watching for the first time and have been watching since; so yeah, I think there’s a huge following that we will see and I’m excited to see when the full racing schedule gets back to normal from COVID to allow fans to come back in full capacity and see a new face there. That was pretty damn cool to see that new crowd there at Talladega with all the support. So, we’ll see how it continues to grow.” 

WHO HAS INSPIRED YOU TO BE A LEADER IN CHANGE? AND CAN WE EXPECT TO SEE ANY NEW COOL CARS FROM YOU LIKE THE ‘BLACK LIVES MATTER’?

“I don’t know if anybody has inspired me. I think it’s just what I feel in my heart and what feels right and finally voicing my opinion on the tough subjects that a lot of people are afraid to touch on. I’m not afraid to speak my mind. I’ve done it and gotten in trouble and learned from it. So, people that know me, I’m 100 percent raw and real. I’ve told you that before, as well. As far as another paint scheme, I’m not sure. That was an unsponsored race where we paid out of pocket for that one and basically took a bet on ourselves and took a chance on ourselves and that was big. I think with all this stuff we’re starting to get some partners involved and who knows if we’ll have another unsponsored race this year. If so, we’ll see what we can do.”

Published in NASCAR

 

The shit has officially hit the fan in terms of how NASCAR takes on the lingering racists in its ranks. Pardon my French, but it’s no time to be polite: This is serious business.

In case you weren’t awake when the story broke late Sunday, the horrific news is that a noose was found in the garage stall of the 43 team at Talladega. The 43 car is driven by Bubba Wallace, the lone black driver in the Cup series. This is, of course, right on the heels of NASCAR banning the Confederate flag after Wallace pushed for a ban. 

It’s a clear case of racist retaliation from an evil remnant of the past squealing their last breath before they are excised from the sport. It also comes on the same day racists flew a Confederate flag over the speedway, with a sign reading “Defund NASCAR”

Published in NASCAR
Page 1 of 2

Search Reviews by Make

AutoTechReviews  is your home for In-depth reviews of the latest cars, trucks, and SUVs; information on all the emerging vehicle technology; and breaking news from the world of NASCAR and other motorsports.