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

Thursday was a roller coaster of a day for Xfinity Series driver Brandon Brown and the Brandonbilt Motorsports team.

Unfortunately for them, they’re at the point of the ride where they’re barreling downhill and may be about to throw up. And it’s at least partially their own fault.

It all started Thursday morning when Brandon Brown tweeted: “I’m excited to welcome @LGBcoin_io aboard my No. 68 Chevrolet Camaro as our 2022 NASCAR Xfinity Series full-season primary partner!” and included a link to a press release announcing the news.

“LGBcoin is a new, decentralized meme cryptocurrency similar to other meme coins and tokens such as Dogecoin and Shiba Inu, that has achieved a market capitalization of more than $300 million in less than six months. The patriotic coin dubbed “America’s Coin” aims to inspire positivity and unity, grounded in a strong belief of the American dream,” the press release reads.

“We are proud to support Brandon this season, to help him continue his American dream,” says James Koutoulas, founder of Typhoon Capital Management, in the release. “If we do our job right, when you think of us, and you hear, ‘Let’s Go Brandon,’ you’ll think and feel, ‘Let’s Go America.’”

At first glance, this was great news. Every team wants a full-season primary sponsor, especially a small family team like Brandonbilt. But immediately, the NASCAR community started to raise red flags.

First, how could a meme coin afford to sponsor a race team for a full season? Is this a legit sponsor or just a “pump and dump” scam full of smoke and mirrors where a check will never clear, as we’ve seen in the past?

Published in NASCAR

What a season! What a finale!

No, I’m not talking about NASCAR. I’m talking about Formula One, which wrapped up its 2021 season in Abu Dhabi on Sunday with a race that won’t soon be forgotten.

And everyone who follows the sport should take the time to appreciate what has just happened, regardless of who they root for on the track.

Tied in points entering the season’s final race, Lewis Hamilton and Max Verstappen were in a position where the driver who finished ahead of the other would be the champion.

Very much like the four-car NASCAR finale, except it came about naturally during a season of tight competition between the two best racers in F1.

To say this level of competition in F1 is rare would be an understatement. Most years in F1, there is a dominant driver who wins most of the races, and rarely does the points battle come down to the wire like this. If this season had been written by Hollywood screen writers, they couldn’t have done a better job.

Max and Lewis — who both put in performances this year worth of a champion — were at each other’s throats year-round (and at one point, Max’s Red Bull Racing car was literally on top of Lewis’ Mercedes ride).

While the drivers tend to remain cordial, the team principals (Christian Horner for Red Bull, and Toto Wolff for Mercedes) are generally less friendly, trading barbs on a regular basis throughout the intense battle of 2021.

Sunday’s race at Abu Dhabi brough controversy right from the start. On Lap 1, Verstappen made a move to pass Hamilton for the lead, but Hamilton went off track and kept the lead. Instead of ordering Hamilton to give P1 to Verstappen for exceeding track limits, they let Hamilton keep the position. In my view, this was the wrong move, but all the Red Bull team could do was press on and do their best.

Unfortunately for Red Bull, for most of the race, Mercedes was the class of the field, with Hamilton stretching out his lead. There was a nice assist from Red Bull teammate “Checo” Perez to hold up Hamilton and get Verstappen closer behind Hamilton, but heading into the final laps it was clear that a miracle was needed for Verstappen to pull out the win and the championship.

Of all things, that miracle involved backmarkers, and it happened when Mick Schumacher, son of 7-time F1 champ Michael Schumacher, got into an incident with Williams driver Nicholas Latifi, and Latifi ended up in the fence. The safety car was deployed, allowing Verstappen to pit and get a new set of soft tires and be right next to his title rival for the final restart.

But hold on! Would Verstappen be next to Hamilton? Or would he have several lapped cars between himself and Hamilton? At first, it appeared the lapped cars would be an impediment to Verstappen on the final racing lap, but Race Director Michael Masi decided at the last minute to order the cars between Hamilton and Verstappen to pass the safety car, moving Verstappen alongside his title competitor.

From there, with Verstappen’s new tires, it was almost a foregone conclusion what would happen. Five turns into the final, one-lap shootout, Verstappen passed Hamilton and took home his first F1 title, a title that I’m sure will be the first of many for this young man. At only 24 years old, and driving one of the sport’s dominant cars, there’s a good chance he’ll contend annually and can run off a string of titles like Hamitlon, Michael Schumacher and Sebastian Vettel have done in the past. 

Having competed in Formula One since he was a teenager, Verstappan has the talent and experience of a veteran, and well over a decade left on his driving career at the highest level of motorsport. There’s no doubt he could be rewriting the record books by the time he’s done, just like Hamilton has done this past decade.

But getting back to today’s race: Was the right call made? Should Max have been next to Lewis on that final restart? Despite protests from Mercedes, the stewards are sticking by their decisions. F1 stewards have dismissed both of Mercedes’ protests, upholding that Max Verstappen is the winner and 2021 World Champion

In a quote that will be long remembered, after hearing complaints from Mercedes’ Wolff about the decision making at the end of the race, Masi replied: “Toto, it’s called a motor race. We went car racing.”

I couldn’t agree more with that statement.

There are the purists who will say that according the F1 rules, once the lapped cars has passed the safety car, it legally had to wait another lap to come in. But had that been allowed to happen, the race would have finished under the safety car, with no final lap run at all.

I can’t think of a worse way to decide a Formula One world championship  — especially one this hard-fought all year long — than finishing under a safety car, so I applaud the decision to have it decided on the track in a one-lap shootout.

There will be further protests and lawsuits, and perhaps some monetary damages assessed if Mercedes can plead its case to the right people. But make no mistake, Max Verstappen and Red Bull Racing won this race, and they are the champions. That is not going to change, and I’m willing to bet this marks the end of Mercedes recent dynasty in the sport of F1, and the dawn of a new one starring Red Bull.

I applaud Lewis Hamilton for a great season. He put on some spectacular drives, and did everything he could to try to win a record 8th title. He’s a classy individual, who uses his position to advocate for important causes, and as long as he races will be continue to be a leader in the sport of F1 and beyond.

But the Red Bull Racing team has established itself as the dominant car in 2021, and I see that trend continuing in the years to come.

This season and the tight competition it brought was a dream for racing fans at the highest level, and one that I don’t think we’ll see equaled for many years. Which is OK, because the next time it happens it will be that much more special.

Kudos to everyone on both Mercedes and Red Bull on an awesome season.

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Matt Myftiu can be reached via email at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..



Published in NASCAR

The schedules for the ARCA Menards Series East and ARCA Menards Series West have been finalized, with seven races slated for the East and eleven set for the West.

The ARCA Menards East season will commence with the series’ ninth visit to New Smyrna Speedway on Tuesday, February 15. The ARCA Menards West season kicks off a month later with a combination race with the ARCA Menards Series at Phoenix Raceway on Friday, March 11.  

Published in NASCAR
Sunday, 24 October 2021 05:30

Is it Ty Gibbs, or is it the 54 car?

There’s something about the 54 car this year in the Xfinity Series. The car has taken an amazing 11 checkered flags in the 2021 season: 5 courtesy of Cup champion Kyle Busch (who thankfully has moved on from Xfinity racing, allegedly); 1 from Truck Series regular John Hunter Nemechek, 1 from Cup racer Christopher Bell, and — most curiously — four from the young man they call Ty Gibbs (aka the team owner’s grandson). Gibbs had an amazing Saturday at Kansas, winning the Xfinity race, taking the ARCA pole, and nearly winning the ARCA race (he lost on the final restart). Oh, and he also claimed the ARCA championship.

Did I mention Ty Gibbs is only 19 years old (yes, he was born in October of 2002, in case you didn’t already feel old).

The hype around him is unlike anything we’ve seen about a young driver like this since, perhaps, Joey Logano in his “sliced bread” days. (Of note: The team Logano drove as a teen — Joe Gibbs Racing)

Published in NASCAR

How does NASCAR follow up a historic weekend at Talladega?


With a weekend full of drama at the Charlotte Motor Speedway Roval, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite tracks in all of NASCAR (The track’s been so much fun since it’s arrival, I honestly feel like sending Marcus Smith a thank-you card for coming up with the idea in the first place).

It was a very newsworthy weekend, both on the track and off. Here are my initial reactions to some of the big news that we got to take in this weekend.

Harvick vs. Elliott

Well, this rivalry certainly came to a head this weekend. After several weeks of openly holding a grudge against Elliott for the way Elliott raced him at Bristol, Harvick acted on those feelings at the Roval, punting Elliott during Sunday’s race. Unfortunately for Happy Harvick, Elliott was able to continue on (despite a flapping bumper cover that should have gotten him black-flagged), eventually securing a place in the next round of the playoffs while Harvick ultimately did not. Harvick’s day, perhaps in a bit of karma, ended when he wrecked himself while Chase was lurking in the background and no doubt ready to give payback. Before he could get there, Harvick froze up and did the job himself. 

After the race, Harvick basically confirmed he had spun Elliott on purpose, but Elliott had the ultimate last wor, saying he wished Harvick a “Merry Offseason and Happy Christmas”. My first thought after hearing the comment was the “Y’all wanna see a dead body?” meme, as Harvick’s got nothing he can say in response.

As a fan, it was great drama, and I’m pretty sure that puts an end to their on-track battles for this year. I don’t expect any more shunts between the two, but you can bet Harvick will do his best to hold up Chase and prevent him from winning the title, if they are ever near each other in the final races.

Either way, whether you like Chase or Harvick or neither one of them, the fans are the ones who are coming out on top here, as we’re seeing genuine rivalries play out in a sport where those are mostly a thing of the past.

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

BROOKLYN, Mich. — They say every lap counts in racing, but most importantly the last lap counts.

Team Penske’s Ryan Blaney proved that to be the case on Sunday at Michigan International Speedway, when he led the final 8 laps to take the victory in his Ford after the race was dominated by Chevy drivers Kyle Larson and William Byron.

A strong push by Kyle Busch on the last restart, reminiscent of the type of push needed to win at superspeedway tracks, helped Blaney’s cause as he battled for the win.

“Yeah, got a great push by the 18 on the restart, was able to get clear there. Michigan is a matter of pretty much running wide open and trying to play the air game. I hate you have to race that way. That's how you have to run. Worked out for us,” Blaney said.

Published in NASCAR

BROOKLYN, Mich. — In a sport like NASCAR, where it generally takes many years to establish yourself as a competitive team, it’s rare to see a new team break through as a serious contender for race wins and championships. That’s especially true at the Cup level, but also at the Xfinity level, where a few teams have dominated wins for years (Joe Gibbs Racing, Jr. Motorsports, Team Penske, etc.).

That’s what makes the rise of Kaulig Racing over the past few years a truly inspiring story that fans should embrace. It reminds me of how Furniture Row Racing grew from a small, upstart team based in Denver to winning a title with Martin Truex Jr., before eventually shutting down.

Hopefully, Kaulig doesn’t follow the last part of that blueprint, as they’re a team on the rise (entering Cup full-time in 2022, in addition to maintaining its Xfinity teams) that would be a strong addition to the garage for decades to come.

Published in NASCAR

It was an eventful Friday night at Gateway for the start of the Truck Series playoffs, including an extended power outage that caused a long red flag, but in the end Sheldon Creed won yet again at arguably his best track, and advanced in the playoffs.

Also of note, rookie Hailie Deegan, 20, who is not a playoff contender, scored the first Truck Series top-10 of her career.

Deegan became the fourth female competitor in the series to achieve a top-10, but was the first to do it at a non-superspeedway track. Previously, Jennifer Jo Cobb, Angela Ruch and Natalie Decker have achieved this feat in superspeedway competition.

Published in NASCAR
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