Race Weekend Central

Turning Right: Not Something We See Everyday in NASCAR

It’s not every day that we see the No. 19 exit a corner, become airborne, and fly directly into the door of the No. 55. That’s probably a good thing when we stop and think about it. A stock car has no stabilizers or rudders that deploy when they take flight. There’s just no knowing what might happen when all four tires leave the ground.


Then again, we don’t often see a car sail into the tire barrier and literally knock down the wall, much like the No. 38 managed on Sunday. I guess the saying has been around for quite a while, but in our world of left-hand turns and progressive banking, the walls tend to be held up by tons of earth, not backed by a couple Jersey barriers. However, when the Sprint Cup Series visits Sonoma we are not in for your average cookie-cutter afternoon.


Part of the entertainment value that is part and partial of NASCAR is the variety of tracks. We hear the road course detractors moan every summer when we head off to the wine country of California and a few weeks later as the big boys visit the Finger Lakes Region of New York. There’s mumbling about how we’re an oval series. The cars turn left. Why should the teams be asked to engineer the little changes that a car required to turn left and right will need?


Because this isn’t your weekly meet at your local dirt track. Look, there’s only one half-mile high banked coliseum on our calendar. One 2.66 tri-oval. One flat track outside of Phoenix. The list goes on.


When we spend our summer saying, “Well, you don’t see that every day,” there’s a very good reason for that. Our schedule is built such that the cookie-cutter tracks don’t get a firm hold on the season.   Drivers like AJ Allmendinger get a chance to leap out of the shadows of the 20th place cars and shine when they go back to their road course roots. Watching drivers use both their fenders while they navigate tight s-turns is one of the best things to be seen on our circuit. Let’s face it, IndyCar can’t beat fenders with fellow competitors—they’d break!


If you think the days of the road race ringers is gone, you’d be right. However each of the 43 superstars on our tour came from a different background. Some raced dirt, others used those little Legends cars, others did the weekly grind with late models. Yet, a few more were challenged to turn both ways at their neighborhood track.


No, it’s not every day that a rear axle slips free of its car and heads off toward the fence complete with tire, wheel, and brakes attached. But that might have something to do with it’s not often that we visit tracks where Gilligan’s Island used to be part of the landscape.


Next week we drive South to Florida, ignore Mickey Mouse and set up shop in spitting distance of Daytona Beach. We’re returning to our roots. When ESPN shows stock footage of our sport, they will air a snippet of the Great American Race. However, this past week reaffirmed the fact that racers come from all over our nation, and know how to compete in some of the most challenging tracks on the planet.


It’s not every day we turn left and right. But thank goodness there are times that we do.


Sonya’s Scrapbook



For the longest time, the July race in Daytona was the Pepsi 400, prior to the invasion of its competitor. As Pepsi was a longtime sponsor of Jeff Gordon, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to revisit possibly Jeff’s greatest TV moment: The Pepsi Max Test Drive commercials. Enjoy! (Much better than watching snippets of a plate race.)


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