So is BMW coming to NASCAR?
For years now, one of NASCAR’s stated goals with the next generation racecar (to be fully implemented in 2022) has been to attract new car manufacturers to the sport.
This week, that desire finally seemed to be reciprocated.
Better with BMW.
— BMW USA (@BMWUSA) September 3, 2020
This is pretty huge news. A car manufacturer with a storied history of racing outside of stock cars just tweeted to a guy pretending to be a traffic cone on Twitter that they might be getting into stock cars.
To be fair, however, this is just a tweet to a guy pretending to be a traffic cone. Maybe there’s something to it, maybe there isn’t. But hey, blindly speculating about things sounds like a fun idea anyway!
BMW isn’t a terrible guess as far as new manufacturers to NASCAR. It already has a long history of fielding cars in endurance racing and support a team competing in NASCAR’s sister sanctioning body, IMSA. It would be the first European car manufacturer to actively support a NASCAR team, but if a BMW can find victory lane, it wouldn’t be the first European make to win; a Jaguar of all things won a NASCAR Cup Series race back in 1954.
If the German car manufacturer is even more serious about entering NASCAR than geographic rival Volkswagen reportedly was, it could only mean good things for the sport. Another car manufacturer means more money being piped directly into race teams, meaning potentially more/better jobs and more competitive cars on the racetrack.
How would BMW enter NASCAR?
As for who BMW would look into teaming up with, there are some obvious candidates (Richard Childress Racing, Chip Ganassi Racing), some not so obvious candidates (JTG Daugherty Racing, Spire Motorsports) and some off-the-wall choices (Stewart Haas Racing).
The best choice for BMW may be to just field its own race team and hire an industry veteran such as Cole Pearn to ease the transition. There would be a big risk to it because it sounds like a thing Red Bull Racing, which left NASCAR after five seasons and just two wins, would do. BMW, however, has decades of experience as far as entering motorsports series and isn’t going to make the same mistakes coming in as the energy drink people.
By taking everything in-house, BMW wouldn’t have a big hurdle that has befell Toyota. Toyota has had problems keeping more than just Joe Gibbs Racing in its wheelhouse, with the outgoing Bob Leavine quote-tweeting that he agreed with a very negative JGR comment this past week. BMW removing the middle man would make that problem go away if it wants to expand factory support beyond its own team.
Owning its own team would require a crazy amount of start-up costs, as it would need a race shop, an engine shop, a wind tunnel and the top-of-the-line simulators the other manufacturers have in order to be competitive. And that’s without even going into how much money it would take to poach the best and the brightest personnel from other teams. But the potential upsides of such an arrangement could be just as crazy for the brand.
Who’s safe and who isn’t in the first round of the NASCAR playoffs?
During these Cup playoffs, at the start of every round, this column will have a chart of playoff drivers who I consider to be safe and not safe from elimination.
While nobody is truly safe from elimination in any sport’s playoffs, there definitely are a few gimme drivers in NASCAR where it’s obvious that they’re probably not going away in a given round. While luck plays a larger factor in motorsports compared to any other sport — just wait until the next playoff round — it’s still only a part of a championship-winning team’s overall package.
Here are the drivers safe and not safe from elimination in the Round of 16, which the series will begin at Darlington Raceway, head north to Richmond Raceway and then finish things off at Bristol Motor Speedway:
|Kevin Harvick (+53)
|Ryan Blaney (+9)
|Denny Hamlin (+43)
|Alex Bowman (+5)
|Brad Keselowski (+25)
|William Byron (+3)
|Joey Logano (+18)
|Aric Almirola (+1)
|Chase Elliott (+16)
|Cole Custer (+1)
|Martin Truex Jr. (+10)
|Austin Dillon (+1)
|Kyle Busch (-2)
|Clint Bowyer (-1)
|Kurt Busch (-3)
Matt DiBenedetto (-4)
Probably the most notable safe drivers are the Busch brothers, as both are actually in small point holes to begin the round. While both have had off-seasons, both are also experienced champions who know how to perform under pressure. Kyle Busch’s best two racetracks, Richmond and Bristol, end this round, while Kurt Busch is a proven winner at Bristol.
Meanwhile, Blaney and Bowman have both had mediocre summers after beginning the season as arguably the best Ford driver (Blaney) and the best Chevrolet driver (Bowman). Blaney is going to three of his absolute worst racetracks on the circuit in this round, with just three top-10 finishes at Bristol, two top-15 finishes at Darlington and one Monopoly Man with turned-out pockets at Richmond. Bowman has had decent runs at Darlington and Bristol in the past, but he’s been fairly iffy at all three tracks in this round.
Byron just screams first-round elimination. He isn’t consistent and really just struggled all summer until the closing weeks of the regular season. He has a lot of momentum heading in thanks to that first win last weekend at Daytona International Speedway, but so did Erik Jones last year after his Darlington win and he had undoubtedly the worst playoff round in the six-year history of this format.
Who wins at Darlington, and who has the best paint scheme?
As for who could win at Darlington this weekend, well, it’s going to be interesting to see. Really just about anybody in the playoffs outside of Custer has a solid chance at a win, but the favorite will probably be Hamlin, due to just how great he’s been for years now at the Lady in Black.
This Southern 500 is the 71st running of the granddaddy of all speedway races,and marks 70 years of stock cars racing at purpose-built, paved racetracks. It also marks six seasons since the start of the throwback paint scheme tradition at this event, something that really seems to be beginning to wear out its welcome.
The problem with these schemes is that, at the end of the day, sponsors have got to sign off on them. This means teams have but so many schemes they can work with and leads to some really middling paint schemes. Oh, so Christopher Bell is throwing all the way back to his Truck win back in ye olden days of 2017? Even the No. 11 Toyota seems like a pretty big dud after years of some top notch paint schemes at this race.
There are like 50 Elliott Sadler paint schemes running this weekend. Why? Nothing against Sadler, but there are some much more notable NASCAR drivers who should be represented this weekend but are not. Where are Benny Parsons or Darrell Waltrip at this year?
I’m not going to do a big awards section this year. Almost a quarter of the Cup field isn’t participating. The No. 3 Chevrolet and No. 4 Ford are the best in show of the weekend, and whatever the No. 00 Chevrolet is supposed to be is the worst.
About the author
Michael has watched NASCAR for 20 years and regularly covered the sport from 2013-2021. He moved on to Formula 1, IndyCar, and SRX coverage for the site, while still putting a toe in the water from time-to-time back into the NASCAR pool.
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