Race Weekend Central

Open Wheel Wednesday: Reasons To Be Optimistic About 2013

Now that we are officially underway on the 2013 IZOD IndyCar Series season, there are several early indicators that there is a lot to look forward to this year. A number of things went very well in St. Petersburg, and if they continue the same way, they would be good for the IndyCar Series in the long run.

As noted in “Pace Laps”:https://frontstretch.com/tbowles/42693/ on Monday, ratings were up for the season opener on NBC Sports Network. Part of it could be momentum from last season, but whatever the reason it’s great that there were more eyes than usual on the broadcast. NBC Sports Network is setting a great standard for not just IndyCar broadcasts, but for anyone doing motorsports television. The broadcast crew is knowledgeable and interesting and they know how to keep viewers interested, giving a good mix of facts and statistics and color commentary.

Did You Notice? … Five Teams Looking To Save Their Season Five Races In

*Did You Notice?…* For every team in contention for this year’s Chase, there’s another dangerously close to early elimination? You’d think, five races in, that wouldn’t be the case, considering debates surrounding whether Denny Hamlin can miss that period of time and still charge back into the playoffs.

But, by and large, as has been widely reported in recent years, strong starts in the point standings, even this early, typically hold up come September. Here’s a quick look at how many drivers eligible for the Chase, five races in went on to earn a bid once the regular season was complete…

Racing To The Point: NASCAR Penalizing Itself For Inconsistent Rulings

Five expletives in one sentence. I wasn’t sure if the NASCAR race was still on or if FOX was showing an early presentation of “Hell’s Kitchen,” one where Chef Gordon Ramsey — Tony Stewart in this case — found out Joey Logano’s beef ravioli wasn’t fully cooked.

Stewart sure put on a post-race show at Fontana. It had all the same ingredients of the boxing match I watched on HBO on Friday night. Punches were thrown — or at least a water bottle — trash was talked and, in the end, the sore loser went on a profanity-laced tirade vowing for revenge.

Going By The Numbers: NASCAR’s Sub Story – Do They Win When Filling In?

The back injury Denny Hamlin sustained at Auto Club Speedway after a last-lap, last-corner tangle with Joey Logano is not necessarily anything new to NASCAR, but an injury that flips a driver’s season upside down with multiple races missed? That’s a bit rarer these days.

Think about it; aside from Hamlin’s accident a week ago and Dale Earnhardt, Jr.’s concussion, one that caused him to sit out two races in 2012, how many debilitating injuries, to the point of having to miss a race or more in the seat, can you remember in the Sprint Cup Series over the past, say, five years?

Who’s Hot / Who’s Not To Start 2013: NASCAR’s Nationwide & Truck Series

The Easter weekend gives drivers an opportunity to climb out of the car and spend time with their family and friends.

Because of the momentary pause, Sprint Cup competition – the primary focus of Who’s Hot and Who’s Not – will also get a break. While this blessing is nice for drivers and teams who have struggled in stock car racing’s premier series, it moves the spotlight onto those involved in NASCAR’s more developmental divisions.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at who has performed well in the Nationwide and Camping World Truck Series this season, along with who might need more off time after encountering slow starts…

Five Points to Ponder: Anger Management, NASCAR Ads And Martinsville Mayhem

*ONE: The Shortest, The Oldest And Still The Best*

In NASCAR’s inaugural season of 1949, the sixth race of an eight-race season was held at Martinsville Speedway. Some 64 years later, the sixth race of the season will still be held at Martinsville Speedway. It’s a tribute to a glittering gem of a race track, the only one to have been on every single NASCAR schedule. That’s remarkable stuff, however you want to look at it. Sure, other ovals like Daytona, Talladega, Darlington and Bristol might get the more lurid headlines, the splashier stories and better nicknames, but the truth is no venue has illuminated the stock car circuit quite like the li’l ol’ paperclip.

April Fool’s Turned Tragic: Alan Kulwicki’s Death, 20 Years Later

Though it was not all that long ago in the grand scheme of things, the Winston Cup circuit was very different back in the late 1970s and early ’80s. Back then, almost all the star drivers were still Southern-born and bred, most of them having started their careers racing late models on one of those storied old bullrings south of the Mason-Dixon line. A driver who showed promise might hope one day to land a ride with one of the “Good ol’ boy” teams, like Junior Johnson’s, Bud Moore’s, or Richard Childress’. Certainly, if that driver ever expected to have a chance at running for the championship, it was thought he needed to land a ride with an established team.

April Fool’s Folly: The One Where Everybody Loses

As you read this article, half the world is popping up with internet stories that may or may not be true. Your best friend may be pulling a prank, as we speak, moving your car across the street and then waiting for your frantic call, thinking it was stolen (yes, that’s happened to someone I know). All across the country, this day is a time for creating fools.

But Joe Gibbs Racing doesn’t need that type of aggravation today: all across the wires, too many of their people appear as one. The company still reels this Monday, adjusting to life without Denny Hamlin and a series of whoops! announcements from one of the sport’s professional companies that makes you think whether Chuckles the Clown mistakenly jumped in as head of PR.

The Joke’s On Them This April Fool’s: Time For Money To Match These Mouths

We’ve heard this song before. The verses might be a little different, but the refrain is the same. I’ll set it up for you: NASCAR has left one of its historical tracks (we’ll say Track A) and it has been empty for a period of time. Now, someone has come in to revive the track, they’ve brought racing back and NASCAR has watched and listened. We’re here once again with that story, except it’s gotten farther than any previous one. The track in question, Rockingham, has even been thrown a bone, receiving a Camping World Truck Series race last season. That means now is the time where fans can decide its fate, the moment they’ve essentially asked for. If they don’t show up in substantial numbers, supporting it NASCAR will be able to point to the lack of success and use it as evidence that they were correct in leaving the track behind for the riches of bigger television markets.

April Fool’s First Mistake: Waking Up To No NASCAR Race Recap

Let’s be honest. Holidays are great. Most holidays mean time off work, time with family, and the best part – at least for me – good food!

However, for those of us who devote much of our time to racing, it also means there is a slight void. The afternoons we usually devote to watching side-by-side competition are now wide open. This past weekend was especially empty seeing as almost no major racing series was on track for our enjoyment. There’s just … nothing.

It’s especially troubling for the select few, like myself, who don’t have many (ahem … any) interest in sports outside of this one. To me, the “Final Four” is the last four tire pit stop of the day and the only “Shockers” I know of are when Paul Menard gets back to Victory Lane. Also, a “Bracket” reminds me of the days when I had braces and I’d really rather not think about that. I still can’t look at rubber bands the same way…