Welcome to the twelfth edition of Katie’s Komment’s, a place to find the latest NASCAR news and my opinion on it! All comments are my views only but feel free to leave your own!
Martin Truex Jr: How can I not Komment on this?! I have been watching this man each and every weekend, just WAITING for him to take the checkered flag. He made the Chase last season and was a decent contender throughout the Chase and came back even stronger this season. He has seven top-10 finishes and has led multiple laps throughout the first 13 races, most notably, at Texas. Truex led 134 laps at Texas and many had him pegged at halfway to break his multiple season winless streak. Truex though, finished second. The following week at Kansas, Truex led laps again, 46 to be exact, but went on to finish fourth. Some, including myself, were starting to wonder if he was ever going to catch a break after his third place finish in Michigan. Then came Sonoma. In his eight starts at the road track, he had only one top-10 finish leading into this weekend. Was Truex on my fantasy list? Not even close, but when he took the lead, it was all but over. Truex took that lead and had lead on second place that was over seconds. Truex fought hard for this win and he and his team deserve it! With the momentum from this win, Truex and the No.56 will be hotter than ever going into the summer months.
Dinger Does It: After a rough road last season and losing his seat in the No.22 Penske ride, AJ Allmendinger finally made his comeback. There weren’t too many people who thought the Dinger would get a second chance at a ride, especially with one of the best teams in racing. Almost a year after testing positive for a banned substance, Allmendinger found himself in Victory Lane in the NASCAR Nationwide Series, in a ride given to him by Roger Penske. Even after everything that happened with Allmendinger in the last year, one person was by his side the entire time; Roger Penske. Penske kept his faith in his driver and even put him in an IndyCar ride for the Indy500. Allmendinger has made a few starts in the Sprint Cup Series for other teams but Penske Racing is where his home is. He drove his heart out for his first Nationwide Victory, and his first victory since losing his ride in the No.22 Cup Car. I would love to see Allmendinger get a full time ride, either in NASCAR or IndyCar, and I would love to see him succeed.
Bobby Labonte: Well, his streak of more than 700 straight starts in the Sprint Cup Series will end this week as AJ Allmendinger will pilot the No.47 at Kentucky. The 2000 Cup Champion is a fan favorite no matter where he finishes in the race or the final standing and has been a familiar face around the track since starting his full-time Cup career in 1993. JTG-Daugherty Racing, for which Labonte has piloted their No.47 full-time since 2011, wants to see where their equipment and team is compared to others. Their solution to this is to put another driver, AJ Allmendinger, in the car. The first time this switch occurred was two weeks ago in Michigan. Allmendinger drove the No.47 and Labonte drove the No.51 for James Finch. So if Allmendinger is in the No.47 this weekend then why doesn’t Labonte drive the No.51 again? Nationwide Series driver Austin Dillon is scheduled to drive for James Finch this weekend, leaving Labonte without a ride. So, unfortunately, Labonte’s streak of 700+ straight starts in the Cup Series will indeed come to an end at Kentucky.
That will be it for the twelfth edition of Katie’s Komments and remember, if you don’t like mine, feel free to leave your own!
Brad Keselowski’s Comments: Earlier in the week, reigning Sprint Cup Series Champion Brad Keselowski made some comments about Hendrick Motorsports and Joe Gibbs Racing that weren’t taken lightly by, well, anyone. Keselowski accused HMS and JGR of stealing Penske Racing’s top employees, which is why the two teams are so much better. His comments drew out statements from all three major organizations, including Roger Penske himself. Keselowski was called out on his misguided and misjudged comments and even fellow drivers were taken aback by his remarks. I only have one thought on this matter; when will Bad Brad learn to keep some of his opinions to himself? They are bound to get him in major trouble someday.
Tony Stewart’s Win: Well, he did it. Tony Stewart broke his early season slump and came out on top at Dover just a few weeks ago. Stewart led only three laps the entire race; the last three. But, that’s all that matters, right? The real question is, what does Stewart’s win mean for his organization and teammates? Ryan Newman has been out-performing his two teammates most of the season but has quite a few DNFs on his plate. Danica Patrick is struggling in her first season in the Sprint Cup Series and has only finished in the top-20 twice. Hopefully this win at Dover is enough to light a fire under the entire Stewart-Haas organization and we can really see some great finishes out of all of their drivers this summer.
5-Time: He won 5 consecutive Sprint Cup Series Championships and it looks like he may just add a sixth title on top of that this season. Jimmie Johnson added a third win at Pocono to his season statistics and is now more than a full race ahead of second place Carl Edwards in points standings. Although the points will reset once the Chase starts, is this all an indicator of what is to come for the last ten races in the season? Can anyone contend with the No.48 team? The only other driver with three wins this season is Matt Kenseth, but with his unreliable Toyota engine, he is more than 100 points behind Johnson with three DNF’s to Johnson’s zero. Mr. 5-Time is looking to complete his six-pack, and he just might do that in 2013.
The Loss of a Racer: Earlier this week, the racing community lost one of their own when Jason Leffler was involved in a horrific crash at a dirt track in New Jersey. Leffler was rushed to the hospital where he was pronounced dead. Following Twitter and Facebook that night as the event unfolded, I was taken aback by the amount of people sending thoughts and well wishes to Leffler and his family. Racing, no matter what form or level, is one big family and when that family is hurt or loses someone, they band together to make something so strong, nothing can penetrate it. When is was announced that Leffler had to life insurance, leaving his 5-year old boy Charlie with little, two charity funds were set up in Charlie’s name. NASCAR and IndyCar drivers alike came together to start a charity to raise money for Charlie and Leffler’s family, donating items to be auctioned off. Hats and memorial stickers are being made and proudly worn this weekend at Michigan and Milwaukee and fans are even asking where they can purchase them. In light of this awful tragedy, one thing became perfectly clear, the racing community may have its flaws and fights, but we stand as one when it really counts. We will miss you LEFturn.
The Sprint Cup Series head to Pocono this weekend to take on the Tricky Triangle and fans are in for a good show. Since 1974, NASCAR has been racing on the banks for Pocono Raceway and with two races per season, the drivers can’t get enough. With turns modeled after Indianapolis and Daytona, Pocono is one of the toughest tracks on the circuit.
Many teams took to the Pocono pavement a few weeks ago to test out the new Gen-6 cars and after many laps around the track, one thing was clear; speeds are down. Last season, Joey Logano ran a lap time of 50.112 seconds (179.598 mph) and single car runs during the Pocono test were over a second slower than Logano’s qualifying speed.
With new pavement, Pocono has added even more unique characteristics to this famed track. Last season’s races saw drivers struggling to pass and made track position extremely important. Joey Logano started from the Pole in the June race and went on to win it after being up towards the front most of the day. Track position also came in handy for Jeff Gordon during the August race after rain forced NASCAR Officials to call the race early.
As teams prepare to hit the track today for practice, it looks like rain may come into play again. Look for qualifying to be set from the current point’s standings which will put Jimmie Johnson and Carl Edwards on the front row.
Denny Hamlin will be one to watch this weekend at Pocono. Hamlin has four wins at this track and after missing a good portion of the beginning of the season, Hamlin is more determined than ever to make the Chase. Since his return, he has captured two Poles and two top-5 finishes. If qualifying is set from points standings, Hamlin will be sitting 26th.
Another one to watch this weekend will be Jeff Gordon. Gordon hasn’t had the best of luck this season but Pocono is one where luck has been on his side. Last season, Gordon secured himself a wild card spot into the Chase at Pocono thanks to a rain out. He finished 3rd last weekend at Dover so he and his Hendrick Motorsports team definitely have momentum on their side. If qualifying is set from points standings, Gordon will be starting 11th.
There is also one Rookie to keep an eye on at Pocono. Danica Patrick has never been to Pocono before, but the Tricky Triangle usually treats first-timers pretty well. Pocono’s turns resemble the turns of two of Patrick’s best tracks, Daytona and Indianapolis. She and her team were also part of the test held a few weeks ago. With the momentum of Tony Stewart’s win last weekend at Dover, Patrick and the rest of the Stewart-Haas Racing teams have great momentum heading into the weekend. Keep an eye on her; she just might surprise you. If qualifying is set from points standings, Patrick will be starting 30th.
Pocono is a track with a lot of character and unpredictability. With rain forecasted all weekend, until race day that is, teams could very well hit the track for the first time during the pace laps on Sunday. One driver that everyone should keep an eye on that was not mentioned above is current point’s leader Jimmie Johnson. He has won at this track before and will be starting from the pole if qualifying is rained out. One thing is for certain, no matter where he starts, Mr. 5-Time will always be a factor.