Every story has two sides. That’s one of life’s truths — along with the truth itself, generally lying somewhere between those two sides. Often, one side makes itself heard before the other, and opinions get formed without knowing the rebuttal. Or, speculation and empty rumors abound until both sides are heard, and then there’s a judgment call about whom to side with on the issue. It’s a little like a court of law: the prosecutor outlines the case and the defense gives their version of events before the jury gets to decide which one is more accurate, and to choose who’s right and who’s wrong.
Keepin’ it Short – Kicking off the K&N West Season The K&N drivers were the last feature during the Battle at the Beach at Daytona International Speedway last week. This coming Saturday will be the start of their points paying season. This will be the 60th season of the K&N West Series, formerly the Winston …
Sure, Daytona is a great way to start the season and there always seems to be some kind of drama going on there. But do not fear, fantasy players who may have failed in week one. There are 35 other points races on the schedule and while winning at Daytona is obviously the best way to start a season, it’s not necessarily an indicator of how a driver or team will do the rest of the way. Case in point: the last Daytona 500 winner to win the Sprint Cup title was Jimmie Johnson in 2006, looking to repeat the feat after winning this year.
And while the mainstream media will likely tone down its NASCAR coverage after Daytona, we who follow the sport know that the other races can’t be ignored, so it’s off to Phoenix we go. There was actually snow in the Phoenix area last week, so be careful with those predictions, such as, “it will have to snow in Phoenix before (insert your least favorite driver’s name) wins.”
Whew… so, a lot has happened since the last time we talked. It seems like there are a million different storylines with a million different perspectives, and thanks to social media, we’re all talking about them at the same time. Say the words, “Danica”, “Catchfence,” or “Gen-6” and you know exactly what I’m talking about. No doubt, you also have an opinion.
While we can’t possibly cover every single topic there is to tackle in this column, there was no doubt what was on everyone’s minds when I looked at the questions that readers were sending in.
So let’s get started, with your running themes…
_Phoenix International Raceway has been a challenging place for Jeff Gordon during his 20-year career. It was where he was able to break through and end a winless drought nearly two years in the making, back in 2011 and where he scored win No. 76, tying Dale Earnhardt in career victories in 2007. Now, the track will pose a different type of challenge for Gordon and others, hosting the first race for the new Generation-6 Cup car with an unrestricted engine. The series heads to the desert Southwest with so many unanswered questions surrounding how the new chassis will handle on those types of speedways. Frontstretch got a few minutes with Alan Gustafson, Gordon’s crew chief to talk about the challenges faced by teams heading into the race, along with a quick look back at Daytona._
_Welcome back to Side By Side. There are always two sides to every story, and we’re going to bring them both, right here, every week. Two of our staff writers will face off on an important racing question… feel free to tell us what you think in the weekly poll and also in the comments section below!_
*This Week’s Question: In the wake of Saturday’s fan injuries and ongoing complaints about the racing, is it time for NASCAR to reassess whether restrictor plate racing still belongs in the sport?*
*10.* Wear a multi-colored wig in Victory Lane –oh, wait, already did that.
*9.* Surf on a golf cart–no, damn it, did that, too.
*8.* Surf on the hauler—what do you mean ‘oh, hell, no, not after the golf cart incident?!’
*7.* Do lots of donuts—what do you mean, ‘Jimmie, don’t tear up the car?!’ Um, oops…
Now that the checkered flag has flown over an eventful final weekend at the “World Center of Racing,” the Sprint Cup Series season is finally kicking into high gear.
Jimmie Johnson finds himself in a familiar position atop the standings after Race 1 of 36, leading NASCAR’s premier drivers westward towards the desert oasis of Phoenix International Raceway.
While defending champion Brad Keselowski managed to maintain the blistering pace, other perennial favorites must now pick up the pieces after faltering early. Here’s the rundown on where they presently stand in this post-Daytona 500 edition of Who’s Hot and Who’s Not.
Right after Danica Patrick posted a lap of 196.434 mph to sit on the pole for the Daytona 500, a team in the Frontstretch fantasy league popped up named, “DanicasBackstretchTurboButton.”
I laughed — less because of how funny the name was, and more because I couldn’t believe somebody had even taken a shot at Patrick for winning the pole. That was only the beginning. Leading up to the 500, a story that a number of media outlets put out was whether or not Danica had an unfair advantage because of her weight.
In 1982, the Daytona 500 was run at the very beginning of the NASCAR Cup season, rather than as its second event. The date stuck, and the Great American Race has been run as the first points race of the year ever since.
For all drivers running a full season (which is to say most), the 500 is the first etching on an otherwise clean slate. And when the eventual winner rolls into Victory Lane, things only look up for him or her. The points lead, a jump on the competition, a potential early favorite for the title – what could go wrong?
Numbers Game: Daytona 500 0 Laps led by Carl Edwards in his last 13 Cup races, compared to 5 wrecks he’d been involved in with both January testing and Daytona Speedweeks. 1 The number of start-and-parkers combined in NASCAR’s top three series this weekend, including zero in Sunday’s Daytona 500. TriStar’s No. 10 (Driver: Jeff …
=After all the hype of what was ultimately a pretty disappointing Great American Race, it’s back to the start of the “real” unrestricted regular season with a trip to the desert and the one-mile flat track of Phoenix International Raceway, which is exactly where I’ll start this week’s edition of Five Points to Ponder.
*ONE: A Return To The Scene Of The Crime: Round Two*
For Clint Bowyer and Jeff Gordon, in particular, the trip to the desert is a return to an ugly/entertaining flashback – depending on your point of view. “Rewind back with me to the unforgettable penultimate race of last season when Gordon took out Bowyer”:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jxAEnmOLXdQ – who still had an outside shot at the championship – in a bush league move.