Sunday , February 14 2016
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Four Burning Questions

Four Burning Questions: New Crew Chiefs and Old Stereotypes

The thing is, I doubt if Norris can really make a difference. With only seven races left until the Chase is set, unless Norris and Edwards have an instantaneous chemistry tantamount to that of Jimmie Johnson and Chad Knaus, we likely won’t see a change. Here’s the thing. Edwards is already 46 points out of the Chase—basically an entire race—and is continuing to slide. With an already uphill battle to climb, and a glaring goose egg in the “wins” column, without a miracle fuel mileage or rain victory, it’s looking less and less likely that we’ll see the 2011 runner-up to the championship in this year’s playoffs. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Military Sponsorships and Chase Hopefuls

*How big of a distraction will the A.J. Allmendinger debacle be for Penske Racing?* Now that we’ve had a few days for the shock of Allmendinger’s suspension to wear off, it’s time to start looking ahead. While we don’t know for sure what is going to happen to Allmendinger long term, we do know that Sam Hornish Jr. is once again filling in this weekend in New Hampshire. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Points, Penalties, and Back Pain

*Is Bruton Smith in his right mind?* Sometimes I wonder if you lose 10 IQ points for every million dollars you make. Bruton Smith’s request to NASCAR this week for mandatory cautions, similar to those that you see in the All-Star Race once a year, had me “SMH” when I heard about it. Now I can’t argue that some good things haven’t come from the All-Star Race. Double file restarts come to mind. While mandatory cautions—halfway through the race or so—might sound good on paper, however, let’s rewind and look at how that impacted this year’s All-Star Race. While the racing itself was pretty exciting, anyone who won a segment automatically dropped to the back for the remaining few segments until the final one. In other words, there was no incentive to race. No reason. There was going to be a caution in a little while anyway. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Traffic Troubles and Busch’s Benevolence

*Can Matt Kenseth _really_ move forward and win a championship following his announcement?* Kenseth’s announcement this week that he would be leaving Roush Fenway Racing at the end of the season came as a shock to most. After all, he’s been with the team for a large majority of his career and has become synonymous with that No. 17 car. Nevertheless, Kenseth is leaving at the end of the year and in his place will be 2010 NASCAR Nationwide Series champion and teammate Ricky Stenhouse, Jr. Following the announcement, Kenseth conducted a plethora of media interviews. Which is weird because he has media availability this weekend at Kentucky, but whatever. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Earnhardt Revenue, Blown Engines, and Rough Road Courses

*If Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s win did so much for the sport, what if he doesn’t keep it up—starting this weekend?* For once, the storyline hasn’t been Kurt Busch, Danica Patrick, or literally anyone else. Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s win set off a storm surge in the world of sports, and was arguably the most anticipated moment in the last four years. Racetracks jumped on the opportunity, with tracks like Texas Motor Speedway and Kentucky Speedway using the win as a marketing tool, and ticket sales and NASCAR merchandise "spiked the Monday following his victory.": Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Busch’s Return, Logano’s Resurgence, and Michigan’s Repave

*What will Kurt Busch’s attitude this weekend mean for his future?* Based upon James Finch’s comments following Kurt Busch’s suspension, it looked like strike three for the driver who has already screwed up opportunities from two of the sport’s top organizations. Whatever happened in the supposed “come to Jesus” meeting that Finch and Busch had this weekend, though, must have been enough for Finch because Busch is back behind the wheel of that No. 51. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Media Snobs, Duel Strategies, and … Twitter!

*Why do drivers feel entitled to tell the media how to do their job?* How ironic that the driver who advocates for the media to focus only on the racing side of the sport does everything in his power to guarantee otherwise. Kurt Busch once again managed to shoot himself in the foot with rather unnecessary comments to _Sporting News_ journalist Bob Pockrass, who was asking him about a topic that Busch himself had just mentioned minutes prior on national television. This topic was Busch’s probation and how it affected his _on-track racing_ with fellow competitor Justin Allgaier in the Nationwide Series. Busch responded by saying that probation was the only thing that kept Busch from “beating the s--- out of [Pockrass]”. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: 600 “Snoozer,” Hendrick Disappointment, and Consistent Teammates

*Is it such a big deal that the longest race of the year isn’t as exciting?* Last week, I made a similar point on how expectations might be too high for the All-Star race and I’m beginning to think the same thing is true for the 600. While I personally thought the racing was good for such a long event, I was in the minority. Many viewers considered it to be dull, especially in comparison to an exciting Indianapolis 500 race earlier in the afternoon. You know, because every single Indianapolis 500 race has been sooo exciting, right? First of all, the comparison is unnecessary. Not every Coke 600 has sucked, and not every Indy 500 has been thrilling. Some races are better than others, and to act like the sport has gone downhill because one crown jewel was better than the other is a complete overreaction. The opposite could be just as true next year. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: All-Star Expectations, Hall of Fame Hubris, and Cup Drivers

*Are expectations for the All-Star Race too high?* Some spectacular racing in last Saturday night’s Sprint All-Star Race was overshadowed by one minor flaw in NASCAR’s new format. This flaw was generated by NASCAR’s reward system for the winners of each of the first four segments. It looked great on paper—and honestly, the racing was spectacular—but the safety net of winning the segments and thus having first dibs during the mandatory final pitstop gave eventual winner Jimmie Johnson and a couple of others the opportunity to “play it safe” through the remainder of the race. Playing it safe in this instance meant sandbagging and hanging out at the back of the pack like a smaller version of Talladega. Read More »

Four Burning Questions: Kurt’s Temper, NASCAR’S Rulings, and All-Star Weekend

*Will Kurt Busch ever learn?* Kurt Busch’s "expletive filled tirade": and pit road scuffle at Darlington Raceway pretty much solidified what I’ve been saying all year: Kurt Busch hasn’t changed at all, and anyone who thought he had was in denial. Busch may have been cheery and grateful for a ride at the beginning of the season, but seriously … who _isn’t_ happy at the beginning of the season?! During SpeedWeeks in Daytona, every driver is just one corporate-laden interview away from skipping down the garage area and throwing out free samples with a rainbow trailing behind them. The beginning of the year is a fresh start for everyone, and thus everyone is optimistic and filled with good intentions. Read More »