It was abundantly clear that Tony Stewart was NOT happy with Joey Logano after the checkered flag dropped to signal the end of the Auto Club 400 yesterday. After his wreck with Hamlin, Logano limped his battered car back to pit lane only to be blocked in by Stewart’s No. 14. It was then where complete chaos overtook our TV screens.
This drama all started after Logano blocked Stewart’s attempted pass on the last restart of the race. The block caused Stewart to lose momentum and turned what looked to be a top-5 to top-10 finish into a P22 final result. Stewart was not happy with Logano’s move and decided to let the young driver know after the race. Stewart nosed his race car up next to Logano’s on pit lane, climbed out, and all hell broke loose.
Stewart exchanged words and a few hard shoves before the altercation escalated and the pit crews became involved, including the GoDaddy crew and the Crew Chief of Danica Patrick. Logano got his two senses in during the scuffle by throwing a water bottle at Stewart.
“It’s time he learns a lesson,” Stewart said during a later interview. “He’s run his mouth long enough and done this double standard, but he’s nothing but a little rich kid who has never had to work in his life.”
Calling Logano out on a double standard caused quite the stir in the twitter universe. Let me take you back to Talladega 2012. On a G-W-C finish, Stewart, Matt Kenseth, Mark Martin, and a dozen or so other drivers were battling for the lead when Stewart throws a block on the No. 55 of Martin coming to the checkers. That said block caused a massive pile up before the start-finish line. Stewart’s block in Talladega was not a lot different than what Logano did on Stewart other than it was a different race track and different final outcome. Stewart took full blame for the chaos in Talladega and that was basically the end of it. (Watch the Dega wreck here )
Logano’s block on Sunday was small compared to Stewarts and Logano thinks he did nothing wrong.
“I had to throw the block there. That was a race for the lead.” Logano said after the race. “I felt if the 14 got underneath me that was going to be the end of my opportunity to win the race, so I was just trying to protect the spot I had.”
Logano was doing exactly what Stewart would have done if roles were reversed, but in the heat of the moment, and because of his final race standing, Stewart was not happy. NASCAR had its second brawl of the season and we are just five races into the schedule.
NASCAR fans shouldn’t complain about the entertainment on the track this weekend. Even Rookie driver Danica Patrick was impressed with the scenario and asked if she could to pull over on pit lane and watch the action involving her boss and pit crew unfold (I was tuned in to her radio for the entire race, she is quite a funny lady!).
Heading into a weekend break, there is only one thing that we can almost guarantee about Martinsville; bring on the drama. There will be no shortage of on and off-track action at The Paperclip and look for retaliation to come in many forms. Take note race fans, this is just the beginning of what is looking like a very eventful season.
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As the camera follows the lead car as he or she comes across the front stretch, you can't help but notice the empty seats in the stands. When the camera pans the crowd, the outline of the colored seat patterns can be clearly seen. Attendance on race weekends have been dipping for years and that was clearly evident this past weekend at Bristol Motor Speedway.
During Sunday's race broadcast, all around the track, you could see empty seats. It almost looked like there were more empty seats than there were seats filled. Bristol Motor Speedway is one of the most iconic tracks on the schedule and if they are struggling to fill seats, then something needs to be done.
Looking at various ticket prices for racetracks across the country, the dollar amount isn't unreasonable. The average ticket package is under $100 for the weekend. Most tracks allow you to bring in your own coolers and some, like Kansas Speedway, even offer free parking at their venue. Once you get to the track, you definitely get what you pay for, if not more. There is always something you can do and things to see and as a race fan, you couldn't ask for more.
The biggest disadvantage to attending a race weekend is not the time you spend at the track, but your time away from the track. Hotels and campgrounds bump their prices sky high on race weekends knowing they will be booked to capacity. Doubling, even tripling their original nightly rates means that the average race fan could end up paying more for one night in a hotel then they are paying for an entire weekend of race tickets. Raising hotel prices doesn't affect local race fans as much as those who travel hundreds of miles to watch their favorite driver.
Attendance at the track isn't the only thing that has dropped in recent years. TV viewership has also been at a steady decline each weekend. When Danica Patrick won the pole position for the Daytona 500 this season, NASCAR and Fox shoved her name into any broadcast they could. She was in hundreds of magazine and newspaper articles. She did interviews with dozens of different news organization ranging from local to national. Her name and face were everywhere. Danica Patrick is a marketing teams dream. With her pole win alone, attendance and viewership during NASCAR's biggest race jumped up immensely. Many people complain about the number of times they hear her name during a broadcast, and they do tend to go overboard, but in the end, all her name is doing is bring new eyes to our beloved sport.
The biggest complaint that seems to arise from the TV broadcasts is the amount of commercial breaks the network takes during the race. There are a few instances where they go side-by-side and that is what fans like to see. It seems like more often than not, whenever the broadcast goes to commercial break, a caution flag is thrown. Ask any race fan, that is what annoys them the most.
If attendance at the track and TV viewership continues to drop, who knows what will happen to NASCAR. Scanning tweets, Facebook posts and article comments, one thing is abundantly clear; the problem is price. Between hotel costs and tickets for the race, the average weekend can cost well over $1,000 and in this economy that is a lot of money. Increasing TV viewership is a little trickier. Commercials are needed but I think NASCAR and the respective broadcast stations need to lean more towards side-by-side coverage.
Race fans will never give up on the sport they love, no matter what goes on, but something needs to be done about the drop in attendance at the track. NASCAR cant really regulate what hotels and camp grounds charge on race weekends but I do believe that that is a reason for all of the empty seats. What are some changes that NASCAR fans want to see made in order to improve attendance? Comment below and let us know!
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He is off to the best start of his career and it’s not looking like he is slowing down any time soon. Dale Earnhardt Jr made the Chase in 2012 but lost the hope of winning the Championship when he was sidelined for two races due to a concussion. You could say that Earnhardt Jr has some unfinished business this season and he is well on his way to making his dreams of being a Sprint Cup Series Champion come true.
We may only be four races into the season, but Dale Earnhardt Jr is on a mission. He came out of the gate hot with this new Gen-6 car by just barely missing out on a Daytona 500 win. That second place finish, along with three other top-10 finishes leaves him 2nd in points going into Fontana, just nine points behind leader Brad Keselowski.
Earnhardt finished fifth in Phoenix after leading 47 laps in the Subway Fresh Fit 500. The next weekend at Las Vegas, he finished seventh followed by a sixth place finish on Sunday at Bristol. Dale Earnhardt Jr is known for being shy and quiet outside of the car; his on-air interviews are filled with “ums” and long pauses (which is what makes people fall in love with him), but when he is behind the wheel of his No.88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet, you better not underestimate him.
So the real question is, can Dale Earnhardt Jr win the Chase in 2013? My opinion is, yes he can. He is in some of the best equipment out on the track and has some of the smartest teammates to feed off of and learn from. Add that in with his own undeniable talent and skill and Dale Jr is definitely a Championship contender. He is off to one of the best starts of his racing career and he and Crew Chief Steve Letarte show no signs of slowing down any time soon.
As the series heads to Auto Club Speedway, it isn’t known to be one of his best tracks. He has only three top-10 finishes there in fourteen starts but if he continues to perform like he has been, then I wouldn’t be too worried. Dale Earnhardt Jr may be quiet and reserved away from the car, but he might just be the one to watch for in 2013 as a favorite for the Sprint Cup Series Championship.
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The NASCAR Series visits its first short track this weekend as the Nationwide and Sprint Cup Series drivers take on Bristol Motor Speedway. Bristol is known to be one of the best tracks on the circuit and race fans LOVE it. There is always drama, excitement, and energy packed into this half-mile track and it is one of the few that many are proud hosts two race weekends a year. There are a few drivers who are going to run well and there are also some who NEED to run well this weekend.
Jimmie Johnson is one of the few drivers who are good at any track, whether it be a short track, intermediate and yes, even a super speedway. Johnson and his No. 48 crew have been unstoppable so far this season. With a win at Daytona, a second place finish at Phoenix and a 6th place at Las Vegas, Johnson is looking to continue that streak this weekend. With a victory at Bristol in 2010 and many top-10 finishes, Johnson has mastered the patience side of Bristol. He often lies in wait, protects his car, and comes in to fight for the finish. Definitely don’t count out Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus this weekend.
With 6 top-5 finishes to round out the season in 2012, Kyle Busch is looking for a win. Since 2008, he has won 4 events at Bristol Motor Speedway. After a tough season in 2012, especially missing the Chase, Busch is more than ready to get back to his winning ways. Toyota has had some engine troubles in recent races, including last season and that will be one thing to watch for, not only in Bristol but the season in general.
Tony Stewart hasn’t run well at Bristol since he started Stewart-Haas Racing. Although he did finish 2nd in 2010, his average finish is below Top-20. Many of you might remember his famous helmet toss last season during the Irwin Tools Night Race. Stewart had a rough start to 2013 after getting wrecked out of the Daytona 500. He needs to get back up to the front of the pack in because the reality of it is; the Chase starts from race number one.
She may have only one start at Bristol in the Cup car but her run there was pretty impressive. Danica Patrick started 43rd in the night race last season but quickly made her way into the top 20 all while staying on the lead lap. She was hit on lap 435 which ultimately took her out of the race. After a whirlwind week in Daytona to start off the season, her last two appearances have been less than spectacular. Bristol should play well into her skillset. She tends to run well on tracks with a lot of grip and a lot of banking. She needs to come out and run well here at Bristol to prove to herself and her critics that she can hang with the boys in the Sprint Cup Series.
Bristol Motor Speedway will be the first short track these new Gen-6 cars have run on. It will be interesting to see how these new cars and their aero packages run on this track. Bristol is always full of excitement and NASCAR fans shouldn’t expect anything less this weekend.
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Ricky Stenhouse Jr is already a winner. He has two NASCAR Nationwide Series Championship wins, he drives for Roush Fenway Racing and recently took over the No. 17 Ford in the Sprint Cup Series, and he is dating the most popular woman in racing, Danica Patrick. Stenhouse Jr dominated the Nationwide Series in 2011 and 2012 and he is already taking the Sprint Cup Series by storm.
In his first start in the Great American Race, Stenhouse started 28th and finished 12th. Stepping into the car the won the Daytona 500 last season would have been daunting to an average driver, but not Stenhouse Jr, he drove like he had been there for years and that didn't change as he took on both Phoenix and Las Vegas as well.
The second race of the season, the Subway Fresh Fit 500, took place at Phoenix International Raceway. Qualifying 12th and finishing 16th, Stenhouse ran a great race. By finishing well in both the Daytona 500 and the Subway Fresh Fit 500, Stenhouse earned him a 9th place points standing and also the current leader in the Rookie of the Year battle (against girlfriend Danica Patrick). Stenhouse ran in the top 5 for a good portion of the day until being shuffled back late in the race. Stenhouse was quite pleased with the No. 17 team's performance saying, “You have to look at the positives and learn from the things we need to make better, but for the second weekend together I think we’re definitely heading in the right direction.”
Stenhouse came out hot again for the Kobalt Tools 400 at Las Vegan Motor Speedway. Although he dropped to 11th in point standings, Stenhouse still ended the weekend with another top 20 finish. He had some ups and downs during the 400 miles. He led the first lap of his NASCAR Sprint Cup Series career but he also made some contact with the wall. He dropped off of the lead lap but a late caution in the race did allow him to finish on the lead lap. "We were running in the top 10 no problem but then we were way too tight for some reason," he said. "Every pit stop we made we got tighter and tighter." In the end, Stenhouse and his team ran a very respectable race.
As the Sprint Cup Series heads to Bristol this weekend, Stenhouse has a lot on his plate. He has no starts at this track in the Cup car but he has 1 pole and 2 top-10 finishes, including a 2nd place last spring, in the Nationwide Series. Although the cars are very different, Stenhouse knows the track and he has a great team behind him.
Ricky Stenhouse Jr isn't quite used to all of the attention he has been getting that's to his new girlfriend but that all may change. If he continues to perform well and possibly compete for a win this season, he will be getting more attention for his skills on the track then his skills that captured the girl. Well on his way to capturing the Rookie of the Year Award, it wouldn't surprise me one bit if, in a few years, the name Ricky Stenhouse Jr is followed by Sprint Cup Series Champion.
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He may be a 5-time Sprint Cup Series Champion and a 2-time Daytona 500 winner, but Jimmie Johnson is much more than a racecar driver, he is an all-around athlete. Many people don’t consider divers athletes. The phrase “it doesn’t take much effort to turn left” seems to be brought up a lot. What they don’t know is that it takes much more than a little arm movement to compete in NASCAR.
Jimmie Johnson is one of NASCARs most successful drivers and more recently, one of its fittest. Before qualifying for the Daytona 500, the most important race of the season, Johnson, along with many other drivers, crew members and media staff, ran the Daytona Beach half-marathon. Many called them crazy, but for Johnson, this was nothing new.
After taking up running just a few years ago, Johnson is also known for his cycling efforts. There have been weekends where he has biked more than 60 miles before jumping into his No. 48 Lowes/Kobalt Tools Chevrolet and racing hundreds of miles. The morning after the Sprint Cup Series Awards in November, Johnson competed in a triathlon in Palm Springs, California.
Johnson has been sticking to a routine saying “I’ve always ran but just kind of slow and run long distances. I’ve worked hard to get some pace.” Chasing after his 2 year old daughter Genevieve also helps keep him in shape.
After winning the Daytona 500 for the second time just a few weeks ago, Johnson has been on a nationwide media tour. He spent some time in his home state of California this week and took advantage of his free time both on the ski slopes and riding the waves. If that doesn’t spell out athlete, I don’t know what does.
Jimmie Johnson is one of the favorites to win this weekend at Las Vegas. With 4 wins and an average finish above 10, this is definitely one of Johnson’s best tracks. He finished second here last year. So prepare to see this all-around athlete take to Vegas this weekend like a gambler takes to the Vegas Strip.
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Right front tires seemed to cause a lot of problems for many drivers this weekend at Phoenix. Multiple Sprint Cup Drivers hit the wall hard, including two Stewart-Haas Racing competitors, during the Subway Fresh-Fit 500 on Sunday.
Stewart-Haas Racing’s Ryan Newman, driver of the No. 39 Quicken Loans Chevy, slapped the wall twice during Sunday’s race. Around lap 100, Newman’s Chevy headed straight for the wall in turn 4 when a melted bead sent his car careening up the track. About 40 laps later he hit it again, but this time, it ended his day. He wasn’t the only Stewart-Hass car to be sent to the garage early.
Danica Patrick’s weekend went from bad to worse then she slapped the wall on lap 185. Coming around turn 4, she blew a right front tire which sent her car straight into the safer barrier then back down into traffic. Patrick’s car hit the outside wall hard enough to dislodge the safer-barrier foam and spread it out over the track. After her No. 10 GoDaddy Chevy hit the wall, it ricocheted into traffic, colliding with David Regan. Regan’s car pounded Patrick’s door, littering the track with neon green sheet metal. This is being called the hardest crash of her Stock Car career but thankfully Patrick was released from the infield care center without injury.
“Obviously I blew a right-front,” Patrick said. “No real warning. … It was a little unexpected. I took a hard hit to the right, and then on the left (but) I’m fine.”
Patrick and Newman finished the day 39th and 40th respectively.
The 1-mile track in Arizona is notoriously hard on tires and brakes. In the second to last race of 2012, right before the Homestead-Miami finale, five-time Champion Jimmie Johnson was well on his way to winning his 6th Championship when his No.48 Lowes Chevy hit the wall after blowing a right front tire. Many NASCAR analysts say that that unfortunate crash was the one that lost him the Championship.
All-in-all, about half a dozen drivers blew right front tires on Sunday. So the question is, does NASCAR need to make a change to the right side of the cars and go with a different tire? We have roughly nine months until the cars are back on the track at Phoenix and roughly nine months for NASCAR to figure something out to keep these drivers off the wall.
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