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Did You Notice?

Did You Notice?… The Mark Martin Effect, A Quiet Ending And The Danger of NASCAR Hype

Did You Notice?… The Mark Martin Effect, A Quiet Ending And The Danger of NASCAR Hype

*Did You Notice?...* The difference Mark Martin makes with a new team? Yes, Michael Waltrip Racing went through an extensive personnel overhaul and expansion this offseason. But perhaps the best asset they’ve had, in this age of engineering parity is a driver who brings experience, enthusiasm, and that all-important confidence to the table. Don’t believe me? Let’s look at the last two times Mark Martin made a move and his first year with a different organization. Read More »

Did You Notice? … No News Is Bad News, NASCAR’s Hall Future And Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?* … No news is bad news? That’s the theme in NASCAR Nation this week, where some of the quietest off time we’ve ever seen has kept the sport out of the national consciousness. Baseball, with Opening Day festivities and beyond has gripped the headlines, along with the start of the NHL Playoffs and the upcoming push for the NBA’s. Football, too, despite being in its offseason continues to make the rounds atop _SportsCenter_ and keep fans focused on anything but cars going in circles. Read More »

Did You Notice? … NASCAR’s Chronic Underachiever, No Laps Up Front & Quick Hits

Did You Notice? … NASCAR’s Chronic Underachiever, No Laps Up Front & Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?...* Ryan Newman’s wacky pattern of “upset” victories? In the last seven years, he has won only four times, with three of those the result of passes caused by circumstance, by luck tilting his way within the last five laps of a race. Consider… *Daytona, February 2008.* Heading into the final restart, with three laps left Newman was fourth and a clear underdog with Joe Gibbs Racing teammates Tony Stewart and Kyle Busch up ahead. Those two had combined to lead 102 of 200 laps, but a move as the cars came up to speed "left them separated.":http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LcbNUA7x8P8 As Busch went low, Dale Earnhardt, Jr. went with him which allowed the teammates of Newman and Kurt Busch, not the JGR duo, to pair up. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Jeremy’s Junked Case, All-Star Ignorance And NASCAR Conservatism Kills

Did You Notice? … Jeremy’s Junked Case, All-Star Ignorance And NASCAR Conservatism Kills

*Did You Notice?...* The emphasis placed on winning with the All-Star Race… sort of? On Tuesday, Sprint announced the 2012 version now consists of four segments, 20 laps apiece, followed by the traditional 10-lap Shootout that will give a $1 million payout to the race winner. Here’s the catch: the winners of each segment, one through four, will automatically be shuttled to the front of the field _before the final pit stop._ That’s right. Even though the teams won a segment, they won’t be guaranteed track position - that's based on how each car performs on pit road. So how big an advantage will that even be? Admittedly, not much if you guess four tires when everyone else takes two. Sounds like nothing more than a giant publicity stunt to me. Read More »

Did You Notice? … A New 2013 Sprint Cup Idea, Drivers In Danger And “C-Post” Hits

Did You Notice? … A New 2013 Sprint Cup Idea, Drivers In Danger And “C-Post” Hits

*Did You Notice?...* The quirkiness of the 2012 Sprint Cup schedule? This weekend marks the third time in the first five weeks of the season that NASCAR is within the Las Vegas – Phoenix – Los Angeles area. Just 321 miles separates Auto Club Speedway from Phoenix, a five-hour drive and a little over six hours from L.A. Las Vegas, which just held a Cup race in mid-March is even closer to ACS: 239 miles and four hours. Considering the proximity of those events, if you were living in that triangle why would you spend the money to go to all three, within a month of each other? Yes, the absolute diehards might consider it, but even most normal NASCAR fans would limit their attendance, especially in this economy. Add in that Auto Club Speedway has the worst racing of the three, by a landslide, and that puts their attendance figures in unnecessary peril for the coming weekend. Read More »

Did You Notice?… New Teams “Drive” Pressure, Know Your Judges & Quirky Stats

Did You Notice?… New Teams “Drive” Pressure, Know Your Judges & Quirky Stats

*Did You Notice?* … The pressure to perform is getting to drivers, _not_ crew chiefs early this season? Take a look at the top 3 in the series standings. Each driver: Greg Biffle, Kevin Harvick, and Denny Hamlin have been working with their head wrench for less than one year. With Biffle and Matt Puccia, their marriage was formed in Loudon last July; the other two have well-publicized new partnerships with Shane Wilson and Darian Grubb, respectively, that started at the beginning of 2012. Add in Steve Addington, whose 12-Step Recovery Program from the Busch Brothers took just three races with Smoke and there’s a clear case to be made that changing chemistry on top of the pit box can work. Read More »

Did You Notice? … Great Gambles Already, Sadler’s Sudden Consequences And Quick Hits

Did You Notice? … Great Gambles Already, Sadler’s Sudden Consequences And Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?...* That as we transition from Phoenix to Sin City, there’s no need for some teams to play craps in Vegas. The 2012 season is just a few weeks old, but their combination of winter personnel changes and in-race strategy have already left them cashing in the dough of a strong start. Who’s outwitted the casino of NASCAR luck? Consider… *Chad Johnston.* This head wrench reminds me of the guy at the blackjack table who’ll hit on 17, just to do something different when the rest of the table is playing by the book. The crew chief of the mild-mannered, conservative Martin Truex, Jr. has played the role of a raging liberal, going against convention almost weekly since inheriting the position last June. When everyone pits for tires midrace, he’ll randomly leave the No. 56 on the racetrack. When other cars don’t think they can make it on fuel, well, they’ll be the ones to try and stretch. It’s a different approach, aimed at keeping the Toyota team on its toes and energizing them in what amounts to a contract year for Truex. Read More »

Did You Notice?…Wreckage Recovery, Why Rookies Return And “Juan” Bad Reputation

Did You Notice?…Wreckage Recovery, Why Rookies Return And “Juan” Bad Reputation

*Did You Notice?...* The alliteration for 2012 Daytona Speedweeks was Demolition Derby? From the drop of the green in the exhibition Bud Shootout, an 82-lap race that saw roughly half of its 25-car field fail to finish the return of pack racing brought with it a propensity to wreck. Here were the official DNF counts due to crashes for the four biggest events: *Shootout* - *12* of 25 cars *(48%)* *Truck Series* - *18* of 36 cars *(50%)* *Nationwide* - *14* of 43 cars *(33%)* … plus several others which straggled across the finish line after a vicious, last-lap wreck that handed the win to the 11th-place runner coming off Turn 4, James Buescher *Sprint Cup* - *8* of 43 cars *(19%)* … plus about a half-dozen others running with serious, car-is-totaled damage at the finish Read More »

Did You Notice? … Playing Cinderella, Buying Super Bowls And Keeping It Real

Did You Notice? … Playing Cinderella, Buying Super Bowls And Keeping It Real

*Did You Notice?...* The last two 500 winners have been Cinderella stories? Jamie McMurray, in 2010 was all but unemployed after a disastrous tenure at Roush Fenway; former boss Chip Ganassi picked him up at the last minute. And who can forget Trevor Bayne’s run last year, the youngest 500 winner in history for a team in the Wood Brothers that hasn’t run in over a decade? Well, you know what they say about how these things always come in threes (or maybe that’s just celebrity deaths… oops). But there’s plenty of other longshots this year that could turn into Victory Lane surprises in a hurry under the new rules. Let’s check them out… Read More »

Did You Notice? … Buying A Super Bowl Spot, Tweaking The Shootout And Quick Hits

*Did You Notice?...* The Bud Shootout has lost its sense of importance? It’s a topic beaten to death the last couple of years, but retaining steam after the latest, 2012 rule change allowed entry to the top 25 finishers in last year’s driver points. That means we’re going to have the majority of this year’s “locked in” Daytona 500 field, plus one or two “randoms” (Michael Waltrip, for one) that will combine for a bloated, 75-lap, increase-their-advantage test session prior to next week’s Great American Race. I know, I know; the conflict with Coors, who sponsors NASCAR’s pole award makes it impossible to associate this race with qualifying speeds anymore. In the past, though, this event was a true sprint, just 20 laps and had a small enough starting grid (the past year’s polesitters and previous Shootout winners only) it stood out as an exemplary exhibition. Now? Drivers like Jeff Burton, who will tell you himself last year was a nightmare NASCAR season not worth living are getting the gift of entry as if those stats were special. Read More »