Tue May 21 11:29pm EDT
It's time for Power Rankings! After every race, we opine about who we think is at the top of the Sprint Cup heap and how and why they got there. But this week, it's different! The All-Star Race wasn't for points, so there's no point (pun!) in ranking the Sprint Cup field again. Besides we'd just put Jimmie Johnson back at the top.
Instead, let's stick with the All-Star theme. There's been some fantastic fodder for Happy Hour in the email inbox this week; people are incredibly passionate about the All-Star Race. So what if the All-Star Race was going to go to another track? Where would it go? Let's answer that question.
P.S. -- We're inverting the field this week. Why? Because we can. And we're dreaming big, too.
12. Rockingham: Let's start off with a fan favorite. Rockingham has produced some great racing since the Truck Series has returned to it, and given the multiple grooves through the corners and the tire wear, there would be no shortage of side-by-side racing. Of course, the size of the grandstands and the accessibility to the track would be a drawback, but this is a dream list, right? Let's not worry about stuff like that.
11. Texas World Speedway: The last NASCAR race at TWS was in 1981, but the two-mile track has been a testing site for some teams. It's got steeper banking than Michigan and older pavement, plus a road course if the oval (where Greg Biffle hit 218 in 2009) is too fast.
10. Daytona Road Course: If you're looking for a great test of both driver and car, you can't go wrong with the Daytona Road Course. Drivers would have to be able to navigate the road course turns in the Daytona infield with aplomb, hit the chicane on the backstretch perfectly, and then hope they have enough horsepower to pull away from the field through turns three and four and the tri-oval. Sounds fun, don't you think?
9. O'Reilly Raceway Park: The Nationwide Series should never have left this short track for the Brickyard, so the Cup Series should come back, if only for an exhibition race. How cool would it be to see half the field in the preferred high groove and half the field diving down as low as possible to attempt a slide job at the beginning of the final 10 lap sprint?
8. Talladega: Yes, anything can happen at Talladega, and it usually does. And yes, Talladega is on here because of its popularity amongst the NASCAR fanbase. Can you imagine the infield All-Star parties? That being said, is a restrictor plate track really the best venue?
7. Circuit of the Americas: Catch any of the V-8 Supercars race on Sunday at Austin? The Circuit of the Americas would be a fine host and the mad dash into the tight left-hand turn one after the field storms up the hill on a restart would be a hold-your-breath moment.
6. Circuit Gilles Villeneuve: The track that's produced some of the most compelling Nationwide Series races in recent memory is unfortunately not on the schedule any longer. And given how awesome those races were, can you imagine watching a Cup race there? If this were to happen, there'd have to be a way to guarantee Robby Gordon's inclusion.
5. Bristol, Martinsville and Richmond: The current Cup Series short tracks are all here because each of them would make fine venues for an All-Star Race. But like Talladega, do we really want to see three races a year at each track? Because there's no way we should take away a points race from any of the three.
4. Laguna Seca: Cup cars in the Corkscrew. Need I say more? If you haven't seen it before, take a moment and watch Alex Zanardi's pass of Bryan Herta in 1996.
3. Eldora: Yeah, we've had a version of this with Tony Stewart's annual Prelude to the Dream dirt late-model race, but let's divide the field up into heats and run Cup cars minus the front splitters. Would anyone complain about that?
2. Monaco: Of all the farfetched ideas in this week's edition of Power Rankings, this is the one that's the most out there. Hell no, it ain't happening, but it's fun to dream about, right? Instead of luxury suites, team and series VIPs could be stationed on yachts and everyone would have a great time at the Monte Carlo Casino. This is also a great time to let you know that we're having a live chat for Sunday's F1 race at Monaco. The chat triple!
1. Iowa Speedway: You've likely noticed that most of the tracks on this list don't currently host a Cup Series race. That's by design. If the race is going to change venues, the ideal place is a new track. Iowa gets rave reviews from drivers, has multiple grooves and provides a unique short track to the schedule. Plus, of all of these possibilities on the list, it could be the one that has the best chance of happening, don't you think?
Mon May 20 08:52am EDT
In the last Warped Wednesday feature, I asked the (not-so serious) question of what the point of the All-Star Race was. After all, it's not like NASCAR drivers race against each other 38 times a year or anything.
After watching the reaction after Jimmie Johnson's runaway victory in the final segment of Saturday night's race, allow me to be serious for a moment: Why was the race such a letdown for so many?
I'll be blunt. If you're one of those people, you've allowed yourself to be manipulated by the hype and promotion surrounding the All-Star Race. Last night's race wasn't certainly one of the ones that will be shown on the glossy teaser package to be played 10,000 times before next year's race. But let's not undersell it either.
This is NASCAR. In 2013. On an intermediate track. If you watched – and were disappointed – on Saturday night, you've likely seen one or three or fifty intermediate track races over the last few years. If this was a points race, would anything that happened Saturday night have merited such a disappointing reaction?
Hell, after restarts, the racing was pretty damn good, especially by our intermediate track standards. The racing that Johnson and Kahne carried on for two laps before Johnson checked out was compelling, Clint Bowyer's three-wide move for the lead was daring and Ryan Newman's charge on the high side of 1 and 2 seemed inexplicable.
Yes, ultimately, clean air was the order of the evening. But that's no different than what we'll see Sunday night in the 600. Just because it was "no-holds barred" and not for points, did you expect clean air not to be a factor?
There have been 29 All-Star Races. And there have been, what, five or six truly memorable moments? After the Pass in the Grass, the first race under the lights (and Davey Allison and Kyle Petty's crash), Jeff Gordon's T-Rex car, Rusty Wallace and Darrell Waltrip crashing and Dale Earnhardt Jr. winning, are there any other races that really stand out?
Yet we're conditioned to think that every All-Star Race is exceptional, given the excitement in the booth and those glitzy promotional videos. I get that it's the job of the sport and Fox, the network that broadcasts it, to get viewers to tune in for a non-points race on a spring Saturday night. But at the same time, those promotions fuel the cries to change the race's format yet again or make significant location and structure changes every time each race doesn't have a signature moment.
Johnson has something to do with that too, though, especially given the tinfoil-hat wearing that blew up Twitter shortly after the race thanks to an inaccurate in-race graphic. Not only has he won the most All-Star Races of any driver, but he and Chad Knaus have won back-to-back races under completely different formats. If the All-Star Race is about showcasing NASCAR's best, isn't it fitting that perhaps the best crew chief and driver combination in NASCAR is proving their excellence?
The All-Star Race isn't untouchable; the discussion whether or not it should be moved around is a worthy one. The easiest way to try to create a signature moment would be to add a track wrinkle that's only seen at the race. But until that actually happens and the race is still staged at a 1.5 mile track and intermediate track racing continues to be ruled by clean air, treat it just like you would a points race. Don't expect to be exhilarated every year.
Sun May 19 01:02am EDT
Where the heck did Ryan Newman come from?
On a restart in the middle of the fourth segment of Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race, Newman dashed to the outside in turns one and two like his car suddenly got a boost of nitrous oxide and made a pair of three-wide passes before he had even gotten to the backstretch.
He wasn't done there. His crazy momentum off the high side of turn two had him on the back bumper of Dale Earnhardt Jr. in a flash and after giving Junior a bump, Newman moved to the inside to pass him.
However, Kyle Busch was there, because unlike Newman, he hadn't gotten through turns one and two very well and lost positions. As Newman came down, Busch drifted up and the two made contact with Busch suffering some right front fender damage and Newman acquiring a tire rub.
And with that tire rub, the headway that Newman made that lap stalled out. He ended up 13th while Busch maintained his position near the front of the field and finished third.
Sun May 19 12:34am EDT
The five-time Sprint Cup Series champ is now a four-time All-Star Race winner.
Jimmie Johnson bolted away from Kasey Kahne after a spirited battle for the lead at the beginning of the final 10 lap segment of Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race to win by more than a second over Joey Logano.
It was Johnson's second straight All-Star Race win, and this time, he did it – with the help of redesigned rules – considerably differently than last year. In last year's race, Johnson won the first segment, which guaranteed his position at the front of the field before the race's final mandatory pit stop. Since his spot was assured so early, he and Chad Knaus used the middle segments as a glorified test session to make adjustments on the car for the final sprint.
This year, perhaps in response to Johnson's winning strategy in 2012, the race was divided into four 20 lap segments and a final 10 lap sprint, with the average finish of each driver in the first four segments determining the order in which the field entered pit road before those final 10 laps. After starting 18th, Johnson wasn't in a position to win the first segment, but meticulously worked his way through the field and finished third in the final two 20 lap segments.
Those third place finishes helped Johnson enter pit road fourth after Kurt Busch, Kyle Busch and Kasey Kahne, and thanks to some quick pit work by his team, Johnson exited pit road second to Kahne.
After Kahne restarted on the outside for the sprint to the finish, Johnson stayed glued to Kahne's inside and prevented his teammate from clearing him on the high side. As the two sailed through turn four approaching eight laps to go, Johnson moved in front of Kahne and it was over from there.
Of course, this being NASCAR and this being Jimmie Johnson, the result wasn't without an obligatory post-race spell of tinfoil-hat wearing amongst the conspiracy theorist set. Those new Johnson-inspired rules meant that math was involved in determining who was lined up where after the fourth segment. And in Fox Sports' attempt to calculate the average finishes of each driver before the field hit pit road, the on-screen graphic displaying what the lineup should be was horribly incorrect. Kyle Busch was listed as the leader (he would be second), and Johnson wasn't even listed in the top 10. Johnson's average segment finish was 6.5. There was no question he was legitimately fourth.
Before Johnson took over the race's final eight laps, the first eighty were a main course of the Busch brothers with a side of Kahne. Kurt Busch won the first and third segments while Kyle took the second and Kahne the fourth. After those four segments, the Busch brothers were tied for the best average finish, and by virtue of his higher finish in the fourth segment, Kurt Busch led the field onto pit road. However, he exited fifth and that's where he finished.
In the Sprint Showdown for drivers not qualified for the All-Star race, Jamie McMurray led all 40 laps for the win and Ricky Stenhouse Jr. finished second. And in a surprise to no one, Danica Patrick won the fan vote to qualify. She finished 20th.More popular NASCAR content on Yahoo! Sports
Sat May 18 06:44pm EDT
NASCAR is a sport full of double-entendres and this one in Charmin's is one of the better ones we've ever seen.
This is the billboard that's on the grandstands at Charlotte Motor Speedway this weekend. According to AutoWeek, it's a two race deal between the track and the company, which also has a "Stop Skidmarks" banner on the pit wall. Will it prevent drivers from peeling out of their pit stalls and laying rubber on the track?
Charmin is also handing out free samples. No word if CMS took the giveaways as an opportunity to save some money and not stock the track bathrooms.
Fri May 17 07:23pm EDT
Carl Edwards will start first in Saturday night's Sprint All-Star Race at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
All-Star qualifying is always different than a standard best of two laps run for a points race with each driver's run including three laps and a four tire pit stop. This year, NASCAR added a new wrinkle (that was previously an old one) and eliminated the pit road speed limit. That meant that many drivers were flying off the turns 3 and 4 banking onto pit road at over 150 MPH. That included Edwards, who had the second best lap one time and the best time entering the pits on his second lap.
Edwards won the race in 2011.
Dale Earnhardt Jr. starts second and Kurt Busch will start third. 19 drivers are already qualified for the All-Star Race and three will move on from the Sprint Showdown on Saturday night.
In the Showdown, Martin Truex Jr. is on the pole and Jamie McMurray will start second.
Thu May 16 10:08pm EDT
Throughout the week you can send us your best questions, jokes, rants and just plain miscellaneous thoughts to email@example.com or @NickBromberg. We'll post them here, have a good time and everyone's happy. Right? Oh who are we kidding, this is NASCAR. No one is ever happy.
We open this week's mailbag with a heavy heart after Thursday afternoon's news of Dick Trickle's death. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, and if you're unfamiliar with the legend of the man who was never seen without a cigarette and a cup of coffee, read this.
The news of Trickle's passing is certainly a sad and sudden departure from the craziness that's been the Jennifer Jo Cobb and Mike Harmon kerfluffle. Cobb said she didn't want the publicity that came with the incident, but it's important to note that she issued the statement that put the coverage of the incident in motion.
Let's get to the questions, shall we?
Do you think the added stress of taking on a third car team has suffocated the performance of SHR? I've noticed they seem to "recycle their chassis" and "clip" their cars much more often than PRM, RCR, and even FRR? Personal stretched to thin? Lose of Grubb and the HMS connection catching up to them? Did Smoke find some "dead weight" again?
From Tim Flock campgrounds at CMS.
- Ricky Bobby
Allow me to channel my inner baseball nerd for a second: At what point do we determine we have a large enough sample size for an accurate representation and is it causation or correlation. I'm not sure we're there just yet. But we're getting close.
During Danica Patrick's starts last season, TonyStewart had finishes of 16th, 3rd, 25th, 27th, 22nd, 6th, 20th, 5th, 5th and 19th. That's an average finish of 15.8. In the other 26 non-Danica races, his average finish was 12.75. This year, his average finish is 21.1.
That's 21 races. Is that enough to start drawing conclusions? And does the fact that essentially half of those races have been with one car body and half with another factor in? If so, how much? (In case you were wondering, the worst season average finish for Stewart was 14.9 in 2008.)
There's no denying that Stewart-Haas has struggled this season, and if it is related to a third car, well, they're going to have at least three cars for the foreseeable future with Kevin Harvick's arrival in 2014.
Watching Matt Kenseth this year has got me thinking about Jeff Gordon. Their the same age (41) and Jeff has had the more impressive career clearly. Jeff has raced longer but I don't know if they is what is holding him back. Maybe it's Hendrick and the organization he signed a lifetime contract with. Matt moved to a new team and seem revitalized. Maybe next year Kenseth will drop back off, but maybe Gordon needs to find a new organization. But how does he do that when he is already at the best? Should he talk to Childress and consider a move from the 24 to the 29? That would be one heck of a silly season rumor.
Gordon has a lifetime contract with Hendrick Motorsports and would be foolish to look anywhere else. Yes, I know the same could be said for Kenseth at Roush, but there were only two (arguably) better places he could go, and one was Joe Gibbs Racing. The other was Hendrick. Or also known as the two teams that at one point owned the top seven positions late at Darlington Saturday night.
Gordon has nowhere to go. It'd be a lateral move at best to Hendrick or Roush and he's not leaving the Chevrolet camp. While RCR is still a very good team, they're probably fourth at best right now in the pecking order. And besides, if you're one of the people that believes Kurt Busch is headed to RCR in 2014, with Paul Menard close to a contract extension and the Dillons close to the Cup Series, there's not much room there.
Hey Nick, I don't think your Warped Wednesday was warped enough. You actually make some very valid arguments as to why the All Star Race isn't anything special. I'm a big fan of NASCAR and look forward to every race (except maybe Pocono) but the All Star Race really isn't much different than the 600 the following week, just with mandatory cations to keep the field bunched up.
They need to get crazy, take these guys out of their comfort zone. Perhaps incorporate some eliminations at the end of segments or even the last car every lap in the final segment. Eldora is coming up in July for the trucks, why not put these guys on the dirt across the parking lot. Maybe some head to head shootout style bracket racing? How about some cars like the old IROC series where they are all essentially the same, but completely different from the current Gen 6 car?
Show me who is the better driver, not who has the most money, resources, and best strategy.
I will admit that this week's satirical column might have been the closest it's ever been to my true feelings. (Well, I take that back, I did try to make a point with the post about Ryan Newman two weeks ago.) Geoffrey Miller and I were debating the merits of the All-Star Race on the Chrome Horn podcast and it got my brain swirling about it.
I'm not anti-All-Star Race by any stretch of the imagination, but I could do without the forced glitz and glamour and do think the ASR has lost some luster with the glut of night races.
When asked about ASR format tweaks, Mike Helton said that it was because the sanctioning body could make those changes. And I don't mind that sentiment at all. I'd really like it if they extended it and made some changes like the IROC one you mentioned above. As a kid, I adored the IROC Series because it gave Al Unser Jr., my favorite driver in elementary school, the chance to compete against NASCAR drivers in equal cars. Can we get someone like Warren Buffett to finance it and bring it back?
When did NASCAR become such a wussified sport? 10 years ago at Darlington, Kurt and Ricky were beating and banging, practically spinning each other out the last couple of laps coming to the checkers. After the race, Kurt did not go on a whiny rampage about how Ricky was trying to dump him. He was disappointed at not winning but said it was just good hard racing.
Fast forward 10 years and you have Kasey whining that Kyle spun him out costing him a chance at the win. The typical he has wrecked me two weeks in a row blame game ensued.
Why is it that in those 10 short years NASCAR has gone from guys expecting to race hard and be raced hard to drivers complaining that another driver may have made slight contact costing them a win?
I will say that sometimes the unwritten rules of racing can seem perplexing. Like, for example, when, exactly, does it become acceptable to race hard and not give an inch? I think if you asked 43 drivers that question you'd get at least 25 different answers and the most popular one would be "It depends."
I have no problem with Kasey Kahne being frustrated in that situation, however. It had much more to do with the accumulation of events with Kyle Busch rather than that specific incident. Had Kahne not gone spinning off Busch's bumper the week before (for the second time this year), his frustration is likely muted and it's simply chalked up to the close racing Kahne mentioned. Instead, because this was the third incident between the two in 11 races, it's fair to ask what the heck is going on.
Thu May 16 04:28pm EDT
Former NASCAR driver Dick Trickle is dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, according to Lincoln County (N.C.) police.
At about noon on Thursday, the Lincoln County Communications Center received a call indicating that there would be a dead body at the Forest Lawn Cemetery in Boger City, and it would be the speaker's. Return calls to the number went unanswered. Crews arriving at the scene found Trickle's body lying near his pickup truck.
Trickle ran in 303 races in the Sprint Cup series over the course of 24 years, finally retiring in 2002. His best year was 1989, where he notched six top-5s, including three third-place finishes, driving the #84 Miller High Life Buick. He ended that year ranked 15th, ahead of Michael Waltrip, Brett Bodine and Richard Petty, among others.
Look, we all know where the conversation about Mr. Trickle is headed. The guy's name was a punch line his entire career. But he was a hard-nosed racer in his day, and this is how we prefer to remember him best:
The racing world took to Twitter almost immediately to mourn Trickle's passing. Here are a few of the reactions:
I just read about Dick Trickle, met him during my season doing IROC series. He was a true Racer and will be missed. #RIP
— JJ Yeley (@jjyeley1) May 16, 2013
RIP Dick Trickle. Thoughts and prayers to his family and friends.
— Brian Scott (@bscottracing) May 16, 2013
Just want to say its a sad day. Dick trickle is a legend. RIP.
— David Stremme (@DavidStremme) May 16, 2013
Thoughts and prayers to the Dick Trickle family.
— Max Gresham (@MaxGresham) May 16, 2013
So sad to hear.RT @bobpockrass: Dick Trickle, 71, has died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
— Kelley Earnhardt (@EarnhardtKelley) May 16, 2013
wow...I am , I don't know what, I just heard Dick Trickle died today...He was a good friend and mentor
— ray evernham (@RayEvernham) May 16, 2013
I remember when Dick Trickle finally won a #NASCAR Busch race, Hickory '97. In Victory Lane he says "I get free beer, right?"
— Ryan McGee (@ESPNMcGee) May 16, 2013
Wed May 15 10:17pm EDT
NASCAR driver Mike Harmon is out on bond after a warrant was issued for his arrest in connection with stealing Jennifer Jo Cobb's race hauler on May 11.
Yes, this is a tale involving two NASCAR drivers, and one is accused of stealing the other's hauler.
Cobb, who is competing in the Camping World Truck Series this year for her own Jennifer Jo Cobb Racing team, said that her hauler was stolen on May 11. The Rowan County, (N.C.) Sheriff's Office issued warrants for the arrest of Harmon and his sister Sheila Rae Rice on Wednesday for felony larceny of the trailer and breaking and entering of a motor vehicle. Harmon was Cobb's team manager when she previously ran in the Nationwide Series. Harmon, who also has his own team, has made five Nationwide Series starts and two Truck Series starts this year.
Harmon was arrested Wednesday afternoon and posted bond. He took to Twitter Wednesday evening to profess his innocence, saying in two tweets that "I want it known that I have never stolen so much as a piece of bubble gum in my life. I did not take JJC hauler, there is no video of me any where near her shop. Today she was the windshield & I was the bug, but when we get in FEDERAL court in a couple wks there's a boulder coming."
Cobb posted to Facebook Thursday morning that, contradictory to Wednesday reports, she did not accuse Harmon of stealing her hauler, but that the warrant was issued because of "evidence and eye witness accounts."
Just a hunch, but I'm guessing that control of assets is a central part of the impending court date that Harmon mentions. (In an interview with Charlotte TV station WBTV Wednesday evening, Harmon again said he didn't take Cobb's hauler and that he was in Darlington on May 11.)
Video posted on the WBTV.com YouTube account shows Cobb's trailer slowly driving away from the camera, but there's no way to tell who is behind the wheel of the truck or how they entered.
Cobb said the contents of the hauler were valued at over $250,000.
“It is my sole concern to get the transporter back so that we can make Friday night’s NASCAR Camping World Truck Series race at the Charlotte Motor Speedway,” Cobb said in a statemet. “We are working with other teams right now to borrow the necessary items in the event our hauler and its contents are not returned. We are pleased with the diligent work that the Rowan County Sheriff’s Department has shown in solving this crime.”
This isn't the first time this year that a vehicle has been at the center of a disagreement between Cobb and someone formerly involved with her team. During Speedweeks at Daytona, the van that Cobb's team drove to a restaurant was taken when it was parked in the lot.
Cobb initially reported the van as stolen, but shortly after its disappearance, David Novak contacted the Ponce Inlet Police Department and said he was the owner of the vehicle. Novak, who according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal was in litigation with Cobb about the ownership of her team after he cut ties "personally and professionally" with Cobb in December, told police that he was the van's owner and supplied proof.
Other popular content on Yahoo! Sports:
• Power Rankings: It's Matt Kenseth's turn at the top
• What's the point of NASCAR's All-Star race?
Wed May 15 09:24pm EDT
New Chrome Horn, new intro! Join yours truly and Geoffrey Miller as we were slated to talk Darlington but ended up talking a lot about the All-Star Race.
Got any questions for us to use in the mailbag or the podcast? Hit us at HappyHourMailbag@Yahoo.com.
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Posted Jun 24 2012
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