Beam Me Up A Winner Scotty – Fantasy Insight Pocono 2

Martin Truex, Jr

Quite often when you hear other NASCAR fantasy handicappers talk about the second race of the year at a track, you hear them mention the top five or top 10 from the earlier race as a guide to who might do well in the upcoming race.

That makes empirical sense especially since the races at Pocono and Michigan are so close together on the calendar. But in order to understand statistics a handicapper needs to dig into the data to see if there is any correlation. Let’s take a look at the last three years’ worth of data to see how tricky the triangle is to handicap.  

Last year if you would have applied the results from the first race of the year at Pocono to your picks the second time around you would have had one of the worst fantasy race teams of the year.

Only two of the drivers who finished in the top ten in the first Pocono race were able to repeat that performance in the second race. One year does not make a trend so let’s take a look at 2011 and 2010. Six drivers had top 10s in both races in 2011 with five completing the double in 2010.

So what do all of these numbers tell us?

It is apparent from the numbers above over the past three years that despite such a short time span between the first and second race at Pocono, the differences can be quite different.

Changes in NASCAR happen fast and furious and that will be the case heading to Pocono for the second time. Earlier this year Toyota was dealing with engine durability when it headed to Pocono and admitted to cutting back on the horsepower. It borrowed from the old Dick Trickle saying, “In order to finish first you must first finish.”

Heading to Pocono for the second time the Captain Kirk at Toyota has called down to Scotty in the engineering department at Toyota Racing Development and told Scotty he needs more power!

Will the TRD dilithium crystals hold together or will Scotty scream out, “I’m giving her all she’s got Captain. She’s gonna blow!” My top pick to click, Martin Truex Jr., depends on the improved dilithium crystals to power him to victory. Beam up a winner Scotty!

Good luck with your fantasy racing picks this week and don’t forget to send in your pick for “Whiteboard Fantasy Racing” this week for Pocono.      

Send in your pick to win this week’s Cup race to dennis@racetalkradio.com for a chance to win a copy of the National Speedway Directory from SpeedwaysOnline.com. 

National Speedway Directory

Jimmie Johnson

Hot off the press the 2013 edition of the National Speedway Directory is now available. For over 3 decades the NSD has given race fans and teams information about every track in North America. Order your copy today at http://speedwaysonline.com

Weather Report

Partly cloudy and cool with a green flag temperature around 70F

If you have a question about Fantasy Racing send it to dennis@racetalkradio.com and get it answered next week.

NASCAR by the Numbers

Using a proprietary race analysis technique we take the fans inside the numbers every week. DMIC’s rating system has been in use since 2002 and has proven to pick the contenders from the pretenders!

Consistency is King (Last Five Races)

Driver

Last 5

J Johnson

95

C Bowyer

91

K Harvick

90

D Earnhardt Jr

90

J Gordon

89

Ky Busch

88

Ku Busch

88

J McMurray

88

K Kahne

88

M Kenseth

87

Clint Bowyer

Horses for Courses (Track Rating)

Driver

Course

J Johnson

95

R Newman

93

J Gordon

92

T Stewart

91

Ku Busch

90

D Earnhardt Jr

89

K Harvick

88

J Logano

88

B Keselowski

88

C Bowyer

87

Type Casting (Track Type Factor)

Driver

Type

Ky Busch

93

G Biffle

93

R Newman

92

D Earnhardt Jr

91

C Edwards

90

K Harvick

88

J Logano

88

M Kenseth

88

T Stewart

87

M Truex

87

Power Rating (240 Minimum to Qualify as Contender)

Driver

Power

J Johnson

275

R Newman

270

D Earnhardt Jr

269

Ky Busch

267

K Harvick

267

J Gordon

263

C Bowyer

263

T Stewart

262

C Edwards

261

Ku Busch

261

M Truex

260

M Kenseth

259

G Biffle

259

J Logano

259

B Keselowski

253

K Kahne

253

J McMurray

251

P Menard

250

J Burton

246

M Ambrose

245

A Almirola

244

D Hamlin

242

JP Montoya

241

M Martin

240

AJ Allmendinger

230

C Mears

229

D Gilliland

228

R Stenhouse Jr

225

T Kvapil

224

D Ragan

222

D Reutimann

222

D Patrick

221

B Labonte

219

D Stremme

215

D Blaney

215

DMIC’s Fantasy Picks presented by Speedwaysonline.com

Each week we will take you beyond the numbers to handicap the field from top to bottom to help your Fantasy Racing team succeed. You are also invited to join Lori Munro and I on “White Board Fantasy Racing” every Monday night on “Doin’ Donuts” at 8pm ET on RaceTalkRadio.com. Win fun prizes by picking just the race winners in our unique format. Send your picks to info@racetalkradio.com to enter.

Top Pick (Last Week Finished 2nd)

Martin Truex Jr- Solid at the Triangle earlier and consistent on flat speedways this year

(30 to 1 Odds)

Best Long Shot (Odds of 20-1 or More) (Last Week Finished 15th)   

Clint Bowyer- Need some 5 Hour Energy when ya go bowlin’

(30 to 1 Odds)  

Top Dogs (Group A in Yahoo) (Last Week Finished 19th)    

Jimmie Johnson- Best bet for a top five in NASCAR racing every week

(3 to 1 Odds)

Second Class (Group B in Yahoo) (Last Week 24th)       

Joey Logano- Won here last season

(25 to 1 Odds)

Middle Packer (Group C in Yahoo) (Last Week Finished 22nd)        

AJ Allmendinger- Good use for a part timer in this group again this week

(100 to 1 Odds)

Crazy 8s for Pocono 2

Each week Lori Munro and Dennis Michelsen battle in the most unique racing game around! We pick one driver each from each 8 driver group using the current points’ standings. Our picks can help you round out your fantasy racing lineup!

Lori won 5-0 in week 20 and Lori leads the game 13-7 for the year

Group 1: Lori picks Jimmie Johnson and Dennis picks Clint Bowyer

Group 2: Dennis picks Martin Truex Jr and Lori picks Jeff Gordon

Group 3: Lori picks Joey Logano and Dennis picks Paul Menard

Group 4: Dennis picks Denny Hamlin and Lori picks Mark Martin

Group 5: Lori picks AJ Allmendinger  and Dennis picks  JJ Yeley

Do you have what it takes to handicap the races? Join Lori and Dennis every week and play in the Whiteboard Fantasy Racing Series! Send your pick for the Cup race to info@racetalkradio.com to enter. Weekly prize given away! 

 

It’s Pocono, So Do Not Count Jeff Gordon Out

An older Jeff Gordon has priorities that have changed. But to win races is not one of them. Gordon will be a favorite this weekend at Pocono.

It was a year ago at Pocono that Jeff Gordon earned his first win of the 2012 season. The victory helped the No. 24 Hendrick Motorsports team realize a spot in the Chase, which was hard earned in Richmond in September.

Although the end of the race was rain delayed, Gordon was nonetheless excited and relieved to have picked up the win.

I was fortunate to be at Pocono covering the Pennsylvania 400 on that storm-ridden day. Gordon, surrounded by his family, savored the rain-drenched pomp and circumstance of the makeshift victory lane.

He and crew chief Alan Gustafson took their time in the media center, answering each and every question thoughtfully. They were gracious, happy and in no rush to beat it out the door.

I asked Gordon what it was like to get this particular win – his 86th – compared to others in his career.

Gordon was ecstatic that his family was present for the win.

“Today was an amazing victory experience, probably one of the best in my career because with the rain, the lightning, wind blowing sideways, everything going on, you know, I was just so excited to be able to have my family here,” he said. “ It’s the first time I’ve had all of them here for a victory.  I didn’t care if it was under the shed or in the garage.  I didn’t care where it was.

“That experience to me today means so much more than anything else.  And we talk about it.  You know, we have these race wins that you come up short, the family’s there.  My wife said, ‘I so badly wanted to experience that.’

“Even my wife, she’s not been able to experience all those wins, those multiple‑win seasons and stuff.  I want her to be able to feel what it’s like.  I know how much it means to her.

“Ella is getting to the age where it’s exciting.  Leo was able to hold up his finger, ‘No.1,’ that was cool.  But today was a great day for that reason in itself, not to mention all the others.

Gordon said his win at Pocono in 2012 was enjoyable not only because his family was there, but that it was also crew chief Alan Gustafson’s (left) birthday.

 

“And it’s Alan’s birthday.  He has his family here.  This is a cool day.  This is one that I’m not going to forget.”

In his forties, Gordon’s perspective has changed from the boy who raced 20 years ago. Winning is still important, but not the utmost.

It’s clear Gordon is not ready to retire, but family is the priority. Making the Chase and winning races still make the “short list,” but being with his family is what makes Gordon tick.

As the NASCAR Sprint Cup drivers descend on Pocono Raceway, it will be interesting to see how Gordon runs.

Being the defending race winner – and having a total of six wins at the track – means the odds are good for another victory for Gordon.

Gordon is a driver you can never count out at Pocono.

 

 

 

 

Wright, Childress Named K&N Directors

Wright, Childress Named K&N Directors

Glover Joins NASCAR As Touring Series Technical Director

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – NASCAR announced today several moves aimed at continuing to strengthen its touring & weekly series and broaden the level of experience within the competition department.

Former crew chief Chris Wright has been named the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Director, while Kip Childress transitions to become the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Director. In addition, veteran team manager and Daytona 500 winning crew chief Tony Glover has been appointed as the NASCAR Touring Series Technical Director.

Les Westerfield, who has served as the interim NASCAR K&N Pro Series West Director during the first half of the season, will resume his role as NASCAR Touring Series Technical Coordinator and NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Race Director.

“NASCAR is committed to enhancing the competition and organization throughout all of our series,” said Brad Moran, NASCAR Touring Series director. “Kip Childress has provided tremendous leadership and guidance in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East over the last several years. Chris Wright brings a wealth of experience in the garage, and provides us with an opportunity to have a seamless transition.

“Having Tony Glover in the NASCAR Research & Development Center is invaluable,” continued Moran. “Tony will work closely with all of the touring series directors as NASCAR continues to provide a leading role in the advancement of short-track racing. Tony has many years of technological expertise and leadership that he brings to our series.”

As a crew chief, Glover has 24 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series wins, including Daytona 500 victories working with Sterling Marlin (twice) and Ernie Irvan. He also accumulated 45 Coors Light Pole Awards with 11 different drivers and guided two drivers to NASCAR Sprint Cup Series rookie of the year honors.

Childress has been the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East Director since 2008. His tenure has been highlighted by strong competition, diversity and growth in the series. Previously, he served as an official in the NASCAR Camping World Truck Series and is a third-generation NASCAR official with more than 20 years of experience in the sport.

Wright has been a crew chief, shop foreman and consultant for teams in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, NASCAR K&N Pro Series and NASCAR Canadian Tire Series presented by Mobil 1, as well as Late Model teams. The University of South Carolina graduate spent more than five years apiece with Robert Yates Racing and Team Rensi Motorsports.

The NASCAR K&N Pro Series will be at Iowa Speedway on Friday, Aug. 2 for the second of two combination races between the East and West. The race will air on Aug. 25 at 1 p.m. ET on FOXSports1 – the first NASCAR touring series race to air on the network, which will carry the touring series through next year. Beginning in 2015, NBC Sports has exclusive rights to broadcast races from the NASCAR touring series, including the NASCAR K&N Pro Series, as part of the landmark agreement reached by NASCAR and NBC last week.

K&N Pro Series Statistical Advance: Iowa

K&N Pro Series Statistical Advance: Iowa

Analyzing The Pork Be Inspired 150 At Iowa Speedway

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – The NASCAR K&N Pro Series East and NASCAR K&N Pro Series West travel to Iowa Speedway on Friday, Aug. 2, for the second of two East-West combination races on the Newton, Iowa track this year. Below is a statistical look at the recent performance of the series and selected drivers at Iowa, as well as some other statistical trends:

Iowa Race Setup
• Dylan Kwasniewski, the 2012 champion in the K&N Pro Series West, has built up a 23-point lead over Brett Moffitt in the championship standings for the K&N Pro Series East. The 18-year-old from Las Vegas has three wins in the first eight races this season.
• Fueled by two straight wins, Derek Thorn has extended his lead to 13 points in the championship standings in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West. Thorn has three wins this season in the first seven races.

NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West Combination Races At Iowa
• There have been eight previous East-West combination races at Iowa Speedway – one each year from 2007-2011, two in 2012 and one earlier this year.
• Iowa Speedway is located about 30 miles east of Des Moines. It was designed by NASCAR Hall of Fame driver Rusty Wallace. The track opened in September of 2006.
• The eight East-West combination events have resulted in eight different winners – Joey Logano (2007), Brian Ickler (2008), Kyle Busch (2009), Max Gresham (2010), Brett Moffitt (2011), Chase Elliott (May 2012), Corey LaJoie (Aug. 2012) and Michael Self (June 2013).
• The eight events have also produced eight different Coors Light Pole winners – Kevin Harvick (2007), Austin Dillon (2008), Kyle Busch (2009), David Mayhew (2010), Matt DiBenedetto (2011), Brett Moffitt (May 2012), Cale Conley (Aug. 2012) and Anderson Bowen (June 2013).
• Kyle Busch was the only driver to win the E-W race at Iowa from the pole. Chase Elliott started the furthest back and won, coming from 15th on the grid last year.
• Brett Moffitt has the most top-five finishes in E-W action at Iowa, with four, and the most top 10 finishes, with five.
• With an average of 5.33, Elliott and Jesus Hernandez have the best average finish among drivers with at least three starts in E-W competition at Iowa.
• Moffitt has led the most laps of competition in E-W action at Iowa, leading the way for 387 circuits.
• Eric Holmes is the only driver to start all eight E-W combination races at Iowa.
• Three of the eight East-West combination races at Iowa were extended by a late-race caution for a green-white-checkered finish, including the one earlier this year.
• Chevrolet has gone to Victory Lane in four E-W events at Iowa, while Toyota has three wins and Ford has one.
• 158 different drivers have competed in the eight E-W combination events at Iowa.

Iowa Speedway Data
Race: (8/2/13)
East – #9 of 15
West – #8 of 15
Track Layout: .875-mile, paved oval
Banking: 10 degrees in the tri-oval, 4 degrees on the backstretch, 12-14 degrees in the turns
Race Length: 150 laps (131.25 miles)

Overall Records
1-lap Qualifying: Kyle Busch, 23.250 seconds, 135.484 mph, May 17, 2009
150-lap Race: Corey LaJoie, 1 hour 28 minutes 36 seconds, 88.883 mph, Aug. 3, 2012

Overall Comb. Race Winners at Iowa
Kyle Busch, 1
Chase Elliott, 1
Max Gresham, 1
Brian Ickler, 1
Corey LaJoie, 1
Joey Logano, 1
Brett Moffitt, 1
Michael Self, 1

Overall Comb. Pole Winners at Iowa
Anderson Bowen, 1
Kyle Busch, 1
Cale Conley, 1
Matt DiBenedetto, 1
Austin Dillon, 1
Kevin Harvick, 1
David Mayhew, 1
Brett Moffitt, 1

EAST DRIVERS

Mackena Bell (No. 27 Toyota Racing Development Toyota)
• One top five, two top 10s in 14 career series starts
• Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender
• Best career finish of fifth, earlier this season at Richmond
• Average finish this season of 13.4
• Eleventh in K&N East championship standings
• Best overall finish of 22nd (earlier this year) in two E-W starts at Iowa
• Average overall E-W finish at Iowa of 29.0

Cale Conley (No. 47 Tait Towers Toyota)
• One win, two poles, six top fives, seven top 10s in 26 career series starts
• Best finish this season – second
• Average finish this season of 13.0
• Tenth in K&N East championship standings
• One top five, three top 10s in three E-W combination races at Iowa
• Best overall E-W finish of third in May of 2012
• Led four laps at Iowa, while contending for win in May of 2012
• Average overall E-W finish at Iowa of 5.66

Gray Gaulding (No. 20 Krispy Kreme Toyota)
• One pole, one top five and five top 10s in eight career series starts
• Sunoco Rookie of the Year contender
• Became the youngest pole winner in series history at Richmond (15 years, 2 months, 15 days)
• Best career series finish of second, earlier this year at Pensacola
• Average finish this season of 10.9
• Seventh in K&N East championship standings
• Overall finish of ninth in June in only E-W start at Iowa

Brandon Gdovic (No. 46 WindStax.com/Aquis Communications Toyota)
• One win, nine top fives, 19 top 10s in 33 career series starts
• Scored first career series win earlier this year at Greenville
• Average finish this season of 9.1
• Fifth in K&N East championship standings
• Best finish of 11th in four E-W combination races at Iowa
• Average overall E-W finish at Iowa of 22.5

Ryan Gifford (No. 2 Universal Technical Institute/NTI Toyota)
• One win, one pole, 15 top fives, 19 top 10s in 48 career series starts
• Scored first career series win earlier this season at Richmond
• Average finish this season of 8.9
• Fourth in K&N East championship standings
• One top 10 in five E-W combination races at Iowa
• Best overall E-W finish of sixth in 2011
• Average overall E-W finish at Iowa of 23.4

Ben Kennedy (No. 96 Ben Kennedy Racing Chevrolet)
• Two wins, two poles, six top fives, 16 top 10s in 35 career series starts
• First two career series wins came earlier this season
• Average finish this season of 8.5
• Third in K&N East championship standings
• Best overall finish of 12th, earlier this year, in four E-W combination races
• Average overall E-W finish at Iowa of 23.0

Dylan Kwasniewski (No. 98 Royal Purple/Rockstar Chevrolet)
• 2012 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion
• Three wins, one pole, six top fives, eight top 10s in 11 career starts in the K&N East
• All three wins came this season
• Average finish this season of 5.4
• Leads K&N East championship standings
• One top five, three top 10s in four E-W combination races at Iowa, including East & West starts
• Best overall E-W finish of second earlier this year

Eddie MacDonald (No. 71 Grimm Construction Toyota)
• Six wins, two poles, 29 top fives, 80 top 10s in 166 career series starts
• Best finish this season – fourth
• Average finish this season of 9.1
• Sixth in K&N East championship standings
• One top five, four 10s in seven E-W combination races at Iowa
• Best overall E-W finish of third in 2011
• Average overall E-W finish at Iowa of 14.0

Brett Moffitt (No. 11 Aisin Toyota)
• Nine wins, 10 poles, 32 top fives, 40 top 10s in 55 career series starts
• Best finish this season – second, on two occasions
• Average finish this season of 7.4
• Second in K&N East championship standings
• One win, four top fives, five top 10s in six E-W races at Iowa
• Win was in 2011
• Has led 387 laps in E-W competition at Iowa
• Average overall E-W finish at Iowa of 6.16

Bryan Ortiz (No. 4 L&M Ethanol Toyota)
• Two top fives, 13 top 10s in 22 career series starts
• Best career series finish of third
• Best finish this season – sixth
• Average finish this season of 14.4
• Twelfth in K&N East championship standings
• Best finish of 12th (May 2012) in three E-W combination races at Iowa
• Average overall E-W finish at Iowa of 13.0

Kenzie Ruston (No. 34 AccuDoc Solutions Chevrolet)
• Three top fives, four top 10s in eight career series starts in rookie season
• Best career finish of third, earlier this year at Greenville – best finish by a female driver in series history
• Leads the Sunoco Rookie of the Year standings
• Average finish this season of 11.0
• Eighth in K&N East championship standings
• Finished 41st overall in only E-W start at Iowa in May
• This will be her first NKNPS East appearance at Columbus

Daniel Suárez (No. 69 Rev Racing Toyota)
• One win, four top fives, 10 top 10s in 24 career series starts
• Scored first career series win at Columbus, in most recent series event
• Average finish this season of 11.5
• Ninth in K&N East championship standings
• One top 10 in four E-W races at Iowa
• Best overall E-W finish of 10th in August of 2012
• Average overall E-W finish at Iowa of 16.75

WEST DRIVERS

Taylor Cuzick (No. 42 Freightliner of Arizona Chevrolet)
• One top five, seven top 10s in 17 career series starts
• Best career series finish of fourth
• Best finish this season of seventh, on two occasions
• Average finish this season of 15.0
• Seventh in championship standings
• Best finish of 30th overall in two E-W races at Iowa
• Average overall E-W finish at Iowa of 30.5

Carl Harr (No. 02 WestWorld Computers Chevrolet)
• 16 top 10s in 68 career series starts
• Best career series finish of seventh, on three occasions
• Best finish this season – 11th
• Average finish this season of 14.57
• Sixth in K&N West championship standings
• Best finish of 26th overall (Aug. 2012) in two E-W starts at Iowa
• Average overall E-W finish at Iowa of 27.5

Daryl Harr (No. 01 iWorld Connect Chevrolet)
• Six top fives, 33 top 10s in 111 career series starts
• Best career series finish of second, earlier this year at Lebanon
• Average finish this season of 15.86
• Ninth in K&N West championship standings
• Best finish of 16th overall (2010) in seven E-W starts at Iowa
• Average overall E-W finish at Iowa of 23.85

Cameron Hayley (No. 24 Cabinets By Hayley Ford)
• Three poles, 13 top fives, 18 top 10s in 26 career series starts
• Best career series finish of second, on four occasions
• Best finish this season – second, on two occasions
• Average finish this season of 4.28
• Third in K&N West championship standings
• Best finish of eighth overall (June 2013) in three E-W starts at Iowa
• Average overall E-W finish at Iowa of 15.0

Eric Holmes (No. 16 NAPA Toyota)
• NASCAR K&N Pro Series West three-time champion
• 17 wins, 13 poles, 56 top fives, 75 top 10s in 95 career series starts
• Best finish in five starts this season – fifth
• Average finish this season of 8.4
• Fourteenth in K&N West championship standings, with five starts
• One top 10 in eight E-W starts at Iowa
• Best overall E-W finish of 10th in 2010
• Average overall E-W finish at Iowa of 26.37

Dylan Hutchison (No. 5 Karl Kustom/Bay Bio Diesel Chevrolet)
• One top five, five top 10s in 19 career series starts
• Best career series finish of fifth, earlier this season
• Average finish this season of 16.71
• Tenth in championship standings
• Finished 27th overall earlier this year in only E-W start at Iowa

David Mayhew (No. 17 MMI Chevrolet)
• Four wins, eight poles, 32 top fives, 50 top 10s in 69 career series starts
• Best finish in two starts this season – fourth
• Three top fives in seven E-W starts at Iowa
• Best overall E-W finish of third in 2009
• Won overall Coors Light Pole Award in 2010
• Led 86 laps in E-W competition at Iowa, all in 2010
• Average finish in E-W event of 17.28

Greg Pursley (No. 26 GPM/Star Nursery/Real Water Ford)
• 2011 NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion
• 14 wins, 17 poles, 40 top fives, 55 top 10s in 77 career series starts
• One win this season, season opener at Phoenix
• Average finish this season of 7.57
• Fourth in K&N West championship standings
• Two top fives, three top 10s in seven E-W starts at Iowa
• Best overall E-W finish of fourth, on two occasions
• Average finish in E-W events of 18.14

Michael Self (No. 21 RCR/Golden Gate Meat Co. Chevrolet)
• Six wins, 18 top fives, 27 top 10s in 50 career series starts
• Reeled off three consecutive wins earlier this year
• Average finish this season of 4.28
• Second in K&N West championship standings
• One win, two top 10s in five E-W starts at Iowa
• Became first K&N West driver to win overall event, with victory at Iowa in June
• Average finish in E-W events of 16.8

Derek Thorn (No. 9 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/ Eibach Ford)
• Five wins, two poles, 21 top fives, 23 top 10s in 28 career series starts
• Three wins this season
• Average finish this season of 4.42
• Leads K&N West championship standings
• Best finish of 18th overall, earlier this year, in three E-W starts at Iowa
• Average finish in E-W events of 23.66

 

Tony Stewart on Soapbox: Do As I Say, Not As I Do

Tony Stewart finished fourth in this year’s Brickyard 400 but he has won twice at Indianapolis, in 2005 and again in 2007, shown here.

While celebrating Ryan Newman’s Brickyard 400 win on Sunday, Tony Stewart stepped up to the soapbox and lecture everyone about what racing truly is.

Asked how NASCAR or Indianapolis Motor Speedway could increase passing, the three-time Sprint Cup Series champion argued passing does not equal quality racing.

“Look up ‘racing’ in the dictionary and tell me what it says in the dictionary, then look up ‘passing’. We’re racing here,” Stewart said, as he lectured the media.

“This is about racing. This is about cars being fast. It doesn’t have to be two‑ and three‑wide racing all day long to be good racing,” he continued.

Throughout his career, Stewart has made many off-the-cuff and controversial comments, but perhaps none have elicited the amount of reaction as those made at Indy.

Immediately, the media and fans alike criticized Stewart’s comments on social media, while numerous articles countering his point flowed the next day.

This is not the first time Stewart has caused a stir with his comments. From calling out other drivers for blocking, Goodyear on the quality of their product or media members for the quality of their questions, if Stewart has an opinion, he’s not afraid to voice it.

However, Stewart is often contradictory in what he says and what he does on the track.

In 2011 at Sonoma, Stewart grew tired of being blocked by Brian Vickers and wrecked him early in the race. Vickers returned the favor later in the

Austin Dillon won the first NASCAR Craftsman Truck Series race at Eldora, the dirt track Stewart owns. There was plenty of passing in the race.

event and sent Stewart atop the tire barriers.

Following the incident, the former champion made a clear statement to the entire garage, “If they block, they are going to get dumped. It is real simple. I mean, I don’t blame him for dumping us back. But I don’t race guys that way – I never have. If guys want to block then they are going to wrecked every time.

“Until NASCAR makes a rule against it, I am going to dump them every time for it,” he added.

Fast-forward to the Talladega Chase race in 2012 and Stewart throws a block on Michael Waltrip’s last-lap move for the lead. What ensued was a 25-car wreck that will make NASCAR highlights for years.

His response?

“I just screwed up,” he said. “I turned down…and crashed the whole field. It was my fault blocking to try to stay where I was. So, I take 100% of the blame.”

Yet when the roles were reversed earlier this season at Auto Club Speedway, Stewart went after Joey Logano following the race for blocking on the final restart of the race while battling for the lead.

Again, do as I say, not as I do.

While Stewart is entitled to his opinion, and his role as a former champion elevates his perspective above many others in the sport, it is difficult to take it seriously when it proves to be contradictory on many levels.

A dedicated racer, Stewart is the type of driver spends his nights behind the wheel of a Sprint Car at a local dirt track during the week before heading to the track for his NASCAR duties.

Passing and side-by-side action is a staple in most forms of dirt track racing, perhaps no more evident than in last week’s much-anticipated NASCAR Camping World Truck Series event at Eldora Speedway.

The action was intense and filled with passing, slide jobs and hard racing. Fans loved it, drivers loved it and track owner Stewart beamed with pride.

If the short track action – so full of side-by-side action and passing – is what Stewart loves, then is that not racing at its purest?

While Stewart’s resume and accomplishments in racing make him a voice that should be listened to, his often-contradictory actions make it difficult to do just that.

 

 

 

 

 

 

K&N Pro Series News & Notes: Iowa

K&N Pro Series News & Notes: Iowa

Kwasniewski Looks For First Iowa Checkered Flag

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Dylan Kwasniewski is methodically checking off one accomplishment after another in his NASCAR K&N Pro Series career. Next on that list is a checkered flag at Iowa Speedway.

Last year’s NASCAR K&N Pro Series West champion, and this season’s points leader more than half the way through the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East schedule, has twice received credit for wins at Iowa. But both instances have left him without a chance to celebrate in Victory Lane.

In the East-West combination races at Iowa – eight of which have been contested since 2007 – the highest finisher from each series is credited with a win and first place points, but only the driver that’s first to the finish line gets the trophy.

Kwasniewski, from Las Vegas, was the highest finishing K&N West driver in the May 2012 event (eighth overall) to garner one of his three wins en route to the West championship. Then in the current season’s first trip to Newton on June 7 – now as an East representative – he finished second overall behind West driver Michael Self.

“Second place was good last time, and a good points day, but we’re definitely going out there to try to win this time,” Kwasniewski said.

As the K&N Pro Series returns to the .875-mile oval for this week’s Pork Be Inspired 150, Kwasniewski will vie for that trip to Iowa’s Pizza Ranch Victory Lane, and another check mark on the growing list of triumphs.

“I’m excited,” Kwasniewski says of the opportunity before him at Iowa. “It’s a great track and I think our cars will be really good this time. I’m very confident in our cars and our team with Turner Scott Motorsports.

“We’re definitely going out there to try and gun for that win this time.”

EVENT SCHEDULE & ENTRY LIST

FAST FACTS:
The Race:
The Pork Be Inspired 150 will be the ninth all-time NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race at Iowa Speedway, and the second of two at the track in 2013.

The Procedure: The starting field is 36 cars, including provisionals. The first 28 cars will qualify through two-lap time trials. The remaining eight spots will be awarded through the provisional process. The race will be 150 laps (131.25 miles) and will be run in two segments with a midway break at or near the conclusion of Lap 75.

The Track: Iowa Speedway is a .875-mile paved oval with the turns banked 12-14 degrees, four degrees of banking in the backstretch and 10 degrees in the frontstretch.

Race Winners: The eight previous editions of the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East-West combination race have each produced a different overall winner. Cale Conley won this event last year as a representative of the East while West driver Michael Self took the checkered in this season’s first Iowa event.

Pole Winners: As with race winners, each of the first eight Iowa combo races has also produced different overall pole winners. Cale Conley earned the pole for this race last year while the best qualifier in this season’s first Iowa event was Anderson Bowen.

Records: Qualifying: Kyle Busch, May 17, 2009, 135.484 mph, 23.250 sec.; 150-Lap Race: Corey LaJoie, Aug. 3, 2012, 88.883 mph, 1 hour 28 minutes 36 seconds.

IOWA RACE NOTES:
Double Duty for Gifford With Nationwide Debut:
Ryan Gifford will become the third Rev Racing driver to make his NASCAR national series debut when he competes in the U.S. Cellular 250 NASCAR Nationwide Series event at Iowa Speedway. It will be a double-duty weekend for Gifford, who will run in the Pork Be Inspired 150 as part of his normal NASCAR K&N Pro Series schedule with Rev Racing on Friday, then step into the No. 33 Richard Childress Racing Chevrolet on Saturday. Gifford will be the fifth driver from NASCAR’s Drive For Diversity initiative to make a start in one of NASCAR’s three national series following Marc Davis, Paulie Harraka, Kyle Larson and Darrell Wallace Jr. Gifford’s former Rev Racing teammate Wallace also made his national series debut at Iowa – in the May 2012 Nationwide Series race.

Self, West Drivers Look to Continue 2013 Combo Success: In the seven K&N Pro Series East-West combination races at Iowa prior to this season, a representative of the K&N East took home the checkered flag each time. K&N West standout Michael Self finally ended the drought on June 7 when he was the first to the finish line. That performance came on the heels of Cameron Hayley’s victory in the non-points UNOH Battle At The Beach on the short track at Daytona International Speedway in February, which has the West 2-for-2 against the East so far this season.

Moffitt Banking on Some Home Cooking: The last time the K&N Pro Series raced at Iowa in mid-June, Hawkeye State native Brett Moffitt – from Grimes – crossed the finish line third and left with the K&N East championship lead by five points on Dylan Kwasniewski. In the two outings between races at his home track, Moffitt finished 20th at Langley Speedway and seventh at Columbus Motor Speedway, and has fallen 23 points behind Kwasniewski. With his career-long winless streak now at 14 races, Moffitt will look to his home track – where he won in 2011 – as the perfect chance to get back into Victory Lane and gain on the championship points chase.

Thorn Continues Streak: Derek Thorn continues to extend his streak of consistent finishes, with top-fives in all seven K&N West races so far this season. His consistent performance goes beyond just this year, however. He has registered top-five finishes in 10 of the past 11 races, dating back to last season.

Conley Looks to Continue Turnaround: Last year’s Pork Be Inspired 150 pole winner, Cale Conley has had a rough go of it since one of the high watermarks of his career. After finishing seventh in the August 2012 event, Conley suffered nine consecutive finishes outside the top 10, but things have recently turned around. Conley ended his downturn with a seventh-place overall finish in June at Iowa and has backed that up with finishes of fourth at Langley and second last time out at Columbus. The recent momentum, combined with a history of good performances at Iowa, provide a recipe for continued success for Conley this week.

Milestones: Two K&N West drivers will be celebrating career milestones at Iowa. Jack Sellers is set to make his 270th series start, driving the No. 15 Bay Bio Diesel Chevrolet. The 69-year-old Sacramento, Calif., businessman – who holds the record for starts in the modern era of the series – made his first series start at Sonoma, Calif., on April 28, 1985. Meanwhile, David Mayhew is slated to make his 70th career series start in the No. 17 MMI Services/Ron’s Rear Ends Chevrolet. Mayhew of Atascadero, Calif., made his series debut at Central Texas Speedway in Kyle, Texas on March 31, 2007.

Welcome, Fox Sports 1: On Aug. 17 SPEED will become Fox Sports 1, and the Pork Be Inspired 150 will be the first event for the K&N Pro Series to run on the rebranded network. Series fans that have become accustomed to traditional broadcast dates on Thursdays at 3 p.m. ET will need to note that the Iowa combo race is slated to air on Sunday, Aug. 25 at 1 p.m.

HOME TRACKS: O’Brien Out Front in Hawkeye State
As the NASCAR Whelen All-American Series points season heads toward the home stretch, Jason O’Brien remains out in front in the race for the Iowa state title. Competing weekly in the Coors Light Late Model division at the dirt half-mile Adams County Speedway in Corning, O’Brien had earned 220 points through the latest national standings update on July 23. JC Wyman, also from Adams County, is a competitive second in the Hawkeye State standings with 202 tallies.

LAST TIME OUT – EAST: Columbus
Suárez Captures First U.S. Checkers:
A four-time winner in the NASCAR Toyota Series in his native Mexico, Daniel Suárez broke through for his first American victory in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East’s NAPA 150 on July 13 at Columbus (Ohio) Motor Speedway.

Kwasniewski Gets First East Pole: A seven-time top qualifier in his previous two seasons competing in the NASCAR K&N Pro Series West, Dylan Kwasniewski earned his first 21 Means 21 Pole Award by Coors Brewing in East competition at Columbus.

Ruston Ties Female Qualifying Mark: By qualifying a career-best fourth for the NAPA 150, rookie Kenzie Ruston tied fellow competitor Mackena Bell for the best qualifying effort for a female in series history. Bell first set the mark at Iowa Speedway in June.

LAST TIME OUT – WEST: Colorado
Thorn Dominates Colorado:
Derek Thorn scored his third win of the season with a victory in the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Colorado National Speedway on Saturday, July 27. After notching his second career pole with a fast lap in qualifying, the driver of the No. 6 Sunrise Ford/Lucas Oil/Eibach Ford went on to lead 148 of 150 laps en route to the win, the fifth of his career.

High Marks for Rookies: Two Sunoco Rookie of the Year contenders had top five finishes at Colorado. Jamie Krzysik, who is running a schedule of select events this season, finished second in the No. 20 NAPA Filters Toyota in his sixth series start. Giles Thornton finished fourth in the No. 12 TTC Racing Toyota, also making his sixth career start.

Record Pace: The average speed of the race eclipsed the record mark at Colorado National Speedway. The event was slowed by just two cautions for 11 laps.

NEXT TIME OUT – EAST: VIR
Following the Pork Be Inspired 150 at Iowa Speedway, the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East will head to Virginia International Raceway for the Biscuitville 125 on Saturday, Aug. 24. The event will mark the series’ first road course race since July 3, 2010 at Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn. The Biscuitville 125 will be contested on VIR’s 2.25-mile North Course.

NEXT TIME OUT – WEST: Monroe
The NASCAR K&N Pro Series West heads to the Pacific Northwest for its annual visit to Evergreen Speedway in Monroe, Wash., for the NAPA Auto Parts/Evergreen 150 presented by Toyota on Saturday, Aug. 17. Eric Holmes scored the win when the series visited the historic fairgrounds track last year.

Southern Mod News & Notes: Bowman Gray

Southern Mod News & Notes: Bowman Gray

Seuss Ready To Return To Winning Ways

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. – Wins are hard to come by in the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour, but that doesn’t stop Andy Seuss from agonizing over his recent lack of trips to Victory Lane.

Over a 12-race span from Oct. 2008 to Sept. 2009, Seuss of Hampstead, N.H., won five times, but he has just one victory in his last 18 Southern Modified Tour starts. In 73 career Southern Modified starts he has 42 top-five and 55 top-10 finishes and in a bit of a statistical anomaly Seuss’ career average starting position is 7.2 which is identical to his average finishing position.

kp199logo_r.jpgIn his last tour start on July 6 at Caraway Speedway near Asheboro, N.C., the 26-year-old Seuss finished third for his best result of the season, but it could have been more. He tangled with race leader George Brunnhoelzl III while going for the lead on Lap 136 and came out on the short end of the stick.

Despite obviously being disappointed, Seuss was able to look on the bright side following the race.

“I’m happy that we had a winning car. We used to be pretty good (at Caraway), but not recently,” he said. “It’s good to get a podium finish again.”

It’s not for a lack of confidence or faith for the No. 11 Tammie Davis/Phoenix Pre-Owned Motors Chevrolet team.

“Eddie Harvey – car owner and crew chief – and the whole team has been working extremely hard to make the car faster,” Seuss stated. “I have every confidence in them and I thank them for their confidence in me. We are all a hundred percent committed to the program.”

The Southern Modified Tour makes its annual visit to Bowman Gray Stadium in Winston-Salem, N.C., for the Kevin Powell Motorsports 199. The ‘Madhouse’ is always a good for high drama when every driver has to fight and scratch for each inch of track position.

Qualifying at the quarter-mile bullring is tantamount to success. In the five of the previous eight contests there the race winner has started inside the top five and started sixth on two other occasions. The only aberration was Luke Fleming winning in 2009 after starting 19th in his tour debut.

At Bowman Gray, Seuss has three fifth-place finishes – including last year’s race – in five outings. To illustrate the need for laying down a great qualifying lap, his average finishing position is 7.4, but his average starting spot is 10.0. 

Seuss and the rest of the competitors need to come up with a plan to derail George Brunnhoelzl III, who is the defending race champion and winner of the last three tour events. The win streak has powered the three-time champ to a 24-point lead in the season standings.

EVENT SCHEDULE & INFORMATION

FAST FACTS
The Race:
The Kevin Powell Motorsports 199 is the sixth race of the 2013 NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour and the ninth time the southern tour has visited the Stadium.

The Procedure: The maximum starting field will be 26 cars, including provisionals. The first 23 starting positions will be based on two-lap time trials and the remaining three will be filled through the provisional process. The race will be 199 laps (49.75 miles).

The Track: Bowman Gray Stadium was NASCAR’s first weekly track and has a storied history in the sport. The famed quarter-mile has been in continuous operation since 1949. Bowman Gray Stadium has played host to the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour every year since NASCAR began sanctioning the tour in 2005. It also has hosted the NASCAR K&N Pro Series East on three occasions including earlier this season.

The Records: The one-lap qualifying record for the NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour is 13.186 seconds (68.254 mph), set by Tim Brown on Aug. 4, 2008. The 199-lap race record is held by L.W. Miller at 1 hour, 57 seconds (48.975 mph) was set on Aug. 7, 2010.

BOWMAN GRAY RACE NOTES
Another Roll:
Three-time and defending tour champion George Brunnhoelzl III is again at the top of the standings and has taken the checkered flag in each of the last three Southern Modified Tour events. He is also the defending race winner.

Drought Relief: The Myers family is synonymous with Bowman Gray and brothers, Burt and Jason, accounted for the wins in each of the tour’s first three events at the track with Burt winning in 2005 and 2007, and Jason taking the checkered flag in 2006. However, neither has gone to Victory Lane in a SoMod event since. 

North/South Weekend Plans: Three weeks after a trio of Southern Modified Tour drivers went to New Hampshire Motor Speedway to compete in the northern tour event, this week could see the northerners return the favor. If all goes well on Friday in the CARQUEST 150 at Stafford (Conn.) Motor Speedway, NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour drivers Woody Pitkat, Cole Powell and Ryan Preece will head to Bowman Gray. Pitkat and Powell will attempt to do the north-south double in the same race cars while Preece will compete at Bowman Gray in his family-owned Modified instead of the No. 16 he drives in the northern tour.

Short-Track Buffett: In addition to experiencing one of the sport’s greatest short-track venues, a fan will win a pair of tickets to another legendary short-track event – the Irwin Tools Night Race at Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series.

HOME TRACKS: McCaskill Opens Lead
Through the latest NASCAR Whelen All-American Series national points update on July 23, late-model driver Deac McCaskill leads the North Carolina state standings by 42 tallies over Tommy Lemons Jr. followed by a quintet of Bowman Gray modified drivers. Burt Myers with six wins tops that list and he leads the track standings, as well. Jason Myers is second followed by John Smith, Tim Brown and Danny Bohn.

LAST TIME OUT: Caraway
Rain forced a postponement on July 5 and everyone reconvened the next day with the exception of Tim Brown, who missed the make-up date due to a personal conflict. Here are some highlights of the Daggett Schuler Attorneys-at-Law/Rusty Harpe Memorial 150:
• Brunnhoelzl III went wire-to-wire for the win.
• Kyle Ebersole finished a season-best second.
• Andy Seuss tangled with Brunnhoelzl going for the lead on Lap 136 and settled for third place.
• Brunnhoelzl extended his lead in the point standings to 24 over Ebersole

NEXT TIME OUT: Bristol
The NASCAR Whelen Southern Modified Tour heads to Bristol (Tenn.) Motor Speedway for the Titan Roof 150 and its annual head-to-head competition with the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour. The North’s Ron Silk won the race last year while George Brunnhoelzl III was the top-finishing SoMod competitor.

Experience Leads Martínez To Chiapas Win

Experience Leads Martínez To Chiapas Win

Veteran Records 3rd Series Win of 2013, 19th of Career

TUXTLA GUTIÉRREZ, Mexico – Series veteran Rafael Martínez’s experience has been on display all season long in the NASCAR Toyota Series, and on Sunday he used it to secure his third victory of 2013. 

The driver of the No. 18 Canel’s/HDI Seguros Mazda completed 199 laps in two hours and thirty minutes of intense racing at the Súper Óvalo Chiapas for his 19th career victory. He held off fierce challenges from Rubén Pardo and Antonio Pérez, both of whom made a claim to the top spot late in the race before settling for second and third respectively. 

Hugo Oliveras crossed the finish line fourth while Rubén Rovelo finished fifth. Rogelio López, Rubén García Jr, Homero Richards, Abraham Calderón and pole winner José Luis Ramírez rounded out the top 10. 

The RedCo 240 was the ninth race on the docket for the Toyota Series, with the upcoming Mexico Fest 200 in Mexico City marking the 10th, and final race prior to the “Desafío,” a NASCAR Chase-type scenario that will take place over the final five races. The current top eight drivers heading into the final regular season event are Antonio Pérez, Rubén García Jr, Rubén Pardo, Rafael Martínez, Rubén Rovelo, José Luis Ramírez, Hugo Oliveras and Daniel Suárez. The final two spots will be awarded to the two wild-card winners, currently Homero Richards and Héctor Aguirre.

The Toyota Series will next be in action on August 10th and 11th for the Mexico Fest 200, which will decide the group of drivers who will compete for the series championship over the course of the final five races. 

RACE RESULTS

nts_072813_rafael-martinez_and_antonio-perez_battle_late_in_chiapas.jpgRafael Martínez and Antonio Pérez battle for the lead late in the RedCo 240. Courtesy OCESA

 

 

NOTEBOOK: Career Day For Krzysik In Colorado

NOTEBOOK: Career Day For Krzysik In Colorado

K&N Pro Series Rookie Finishes 2nd In Toyota/NAPA 150

DACONO, Colo. – The old racing adage, coupled with the Ricky Bobby character in “Talladega Nights” asserting that if you’re not first you’re last, is that second-place is the first loser.

Try telling that to Alberta native Jamie Krzysik after Krzysik finished second in the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 at Colorado National Speedway Saturday night for the best NASCAR K&N Pro Series West finish of the 23-year-old driver’s young career. Krzysik started sixth in the field, rode there for most of the rain-delayed race, and then turned up the wick when it mattered the most.

Krzysik was closing quickly on race winner and series point leader Derek Thorn as the laps waned.

“We had a wicked, wicked Toyota tonight,” said Krzysik, who had no Top-5 finishes in five previous starts, matching his best finish with a sixth-place run at Iowa Speedway earlier this season. “We just made sure the car stayed together for the first 100 or so laps, kept it underneath us and the tires on it, and then the last 30 or 40 laps we started knocking them down. A couple more laps, I think we would have had something for (Thorn). It just wasn’t meant to be. Maybe next time.”

A restart with 12 laps to go helped pull Krzysik to within striking distance of the race leaders, Thorn and Cameron Hayley. He’d muscled his way past Michael Self in lapped traffic just before the final caution of the race came out, and from there he wasted no time in working past Hayley and setting his sights on Thorn.

The two long green-flag runs that covered the first 138 laps of the event played right into the rookie’s hands.

“It worked on the short run and it worked on the long run, so it was kind of a Catch-22,” Krzysik said of whether more cautions would have helped his cause. “It just kind of depended on what the other guys were doing, and how I could position the car and get going. Basically, it worked out good, so I’m happy with the way it went.

“With more cautions, you never know what’s going to happen – especially when we’re closing in on the end of the race and going for that checkered. You never know who’s going to try and go for it, right? So it worked out pretty well like this, so I’m pretty happy.”

The 2010 IMCA Modified Canadian national champion, Krzysik left feeling a bit conflicted about Colorado National Speedway – a track he’d never visited before Saturday. Naturally, he was thrilled to have his first podium finish in K&N Pro Series competition, but he also realized how close he was to making the left-hand turn into Victory Lane.

“I’m happy and pretty proud of where I finished, but at the same time you want more,” he said. “We want that checkered flag. We want that win.”

Still, Krzysik does’t share Ricky Bobby’s feelings that everything but a win is a last-place finish.

“This feels great, absolutely amazing,” the driver of the Bill McAnally Racing No. 20 NAPA Filters Toyota said. “I’ve had some struggles just learning all the different tracks, but we got a lot better as practice went on and it showed tonight.”

HAYLEY FRUSTRATED: Cameron Hayley knew his chance to win passed him by when he and Derek Thorn ran up on the lapped car of Dylan Hutchison on Lap 92.

Hayley had been battling Thorn for the lead in a side-by-side battle over several laps which ended when Hayley had to check up to avoid wrecking Hutchison’s machine.

“I believe it was (the race for the win),” said Hayley, who ended up finishing third. “When we were inside Thorn there, I think that was our time to win. If I could get ahead of him, I think I could have kept him behind me. Things happen for a reason I guess, and it just didn’t work out for us tonight.”

Hayley said lapped traffic provided an obstacle during many of the key points in the race. It wasn’t a product simply of racing on a short-track, either.

“The beating and banging here was a little bit out of control at some points,” Hayley said. “The lapped cars making it three-wide right in front of us didn’t help, either.

“We’re coming up two-wide racing with Thorn, and somebody pulls up to make it three-wide. Three lapped cars three-wide in front of us – I don’t know if their spotters weren’t telling them anything, but we’re racing for position and they’re racing for three laps down. That’s racing, but it’s just disappointing.”

RAIN DANCE: The start of the Toyota/NAPA Auto Parts 150 was delayed roughly two hours by rain showers passing through the area.

The cars hit the track as originally scheduled and tried in vain to dry it before being parked in the infield for the delay. When they did get back out, Thorn said it didn’t play much of a role in how things ultimately raced out.

“Not too bad. It was tough waiting around. You have anxiety you have to deal with waiting two or three hours to get back in the car, but other than that…,” Thorn said. “These fans for sticking it out – these are probably the best crowds we get. Thanks to them for coming out and checking out what we do.”

Krzysik said he though the delay may have actually improved the on-track product.

“It definitely washed the track. There was not much rubber laid down, and there were a lot of guys searching around when the race got started,” Krzysik said. “I think that brought the track in a lot faster, because everyone was searching. But by the end there, you could run the inside, you could run the outside.

“You could run all over this place, so it was good.”

Newman Wins Brickyard 400, Race Panned on Social Networks by Race Fans

Ryan Newman and his family eagerly kiss the bricks at Indianapolis Motor Speedway after Newman won the Brickyard for the first time in his career.

For the longest time, lap after lap, many who watched or heard the Brickyard 400 at Indianapolis Motor Speedway steadfastly panned it.

Jimmie Johnson, the five-time Sprint Cup champion whose unbending control over his NASCAR competition has alienated many of the sport’s fans, dominated the 160-lap race around the 2.5-mile Indy layout – almost to the end.

There was practically no passing for the lead. Only the two-car restarts following caution periods offered any anticipation, drama or excitement. And in the end, there wasn’t much of anything.

Via the power and speed of the social networks, many fans expressed their disgust:

“This race would be a good cure for insomnia.”

“Well, guess what? Jimmie is in the lead. Have we seen this before (yawn)?”

“This proves again that Indy is more hype than substance.”

“Understand the history and hype at Indy. But is this race really a crown jewel? Should be Daytona, Bristol, Darlington and Talladega.”

That, again, a relatively small crowd by Indy standards attended the race simply fueled the negative reviews.

An individual who had years of experience at the track estimated the crowd for the Brickyard 400 to be around 70,000.

Jimmie Johnson was easily the race’s dominant driver as he lead 73 lap of 160 laps. But a slow late-race pit stop cost him the victory.

Not a bad number by any means, but when compared to the estimated attendance for many past NASCAR events to be in the 300,000 range, it is so low that it is virtually mind-boggling.

Again, the social networks buzzed. Comments ranging from Indy’s poor sight lines to the economics of the day – not helped by Indy’s jacked-up hotel rates – to the lame NASCAR competition were blamed for the loss of attendance.

To be fair, attendance at most NASCAR events has dwindled over the years. Indianapolis is simply a part of it.

Maybe there’s a reason for this – one, I might add, that has been expressed often and was repeated on the social networks:

“Why should I spend good money to go to a race when I can stay home and watch it on TV? No, TV is not perfect. But it is cheap.”

But also expressed was the notion that no matter how dull the race was, it might well become something much more substantial and entertaining in the closing laps.

After all, that has happened many times in NASCAR.

And, indeed, it happened at Indy.

No, the result was not a side-by-side dash for victory, or a late-race crash that set up a green-white-checkered finish.

It was a scenario in which the only competitor who could keep up with Johnson beat the race’s dominant driver.

And for that to happen a mistake made all the difference.

With 27 laps to go Johnson, who had led 73 laps, made his final pit stop. The decision was made to change four tires.

But what appeared to be a problem on the right-rear tire change extended his stop to 16 seconds – four more than was routine.

A lap later Newman pitted. His crew chief, Matt Borland, realized the difficulty experienced by Johnson’s No. 48 Hendrick Motorsports team.

So he directed that Newman pit for two tires and fuel only. He knew Newman would have a distinct advantage.

Although Newman and Johnson emerged in 10th and 11th place, respectively, that would change as those ahead of them made their final pit stops.

By lap 149, Newman was in the lead and his margin was 3.3 seconds over Johnson.

Only a late-race caution offered any chance things could change. But it never happened.

Newman went on to victory over Johnson by 2.657 seconds. It wasn’t close.

“Matt and all these guys did a great job,” Newman said. “It was probably the best race car I have ever driven in my entire life.

“I watched Jimmie, kept quiet. I played the old (David) Pearson role. I knew I had a good car. I didn’t want to have a good car and not win the race.

“Matt’s call gave me the track position I needed, taking the two tires.  I was just counting down the laps from that point on.

“I didn’t know how far back Jimmie was.  I was told it was four seconds at that point.  I knew I had to manage my race car and my tires.

“I knew it was so difficult to pass.  His car was looking looser and looser as I ran behind him.  It was just an exciting day.”

It was Newman’s first victory since he won at Martinsville in the spring of 2012. It was the 17th of his career.

He started from the pole position after he was the last driver to qualify, and ironically, knocked Johnson off the No. 1 spot.

It was Newman’s first win since it was announced earlier this year that he would no longer be part of Stewart Haas Racing next season.

But it’s likely Newman won’t have difficulty getting a good ride. After all, the Brickyard 400 is his second victory among the crown jewel events. He won the 2008 Daytona 500 when he finished ahead of Tony Stewart, presently his team owner.

He is the third Indiana native to win the Brickyard 400. The others are Jeff Gordon, who has won four times and hails from Pittsboro, Ind., and Stewart, a two-time winner from Columbus, Ind.

Newman is an engineer, a Purdue University graduate from South Bend, Ind.

“To me, it’s awesome to be here at Indy,” he said. “It’s awesome because it’s my home state.  I grew up racing around here.  That makes it special.

“Most people don’t know, I lived out in a shop in Jeff Gordon’s old shop before I ever made it in NASCAR.  I slept with the race cars.  That was my summer job, working race cars, sleeping in the shop with them.”

As for Johnson, his ninth finish among the top five not only secured his No. 1 standing in points, it enhanced it. He’s now 75 points ahead of Clint Bowyer with six races remaining before the Chase.

As for Indianapolis, there is no doubt this year’s Brickyard 400 did nothing when it comes to enhancement.

But that can – and might – change.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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