Race Weekend Central

Small Track, Big Storylines: Bristol Made Its Comeback

Let’s be honest. Most of us don’t tune into the race or trek into the tracks with high expectations. High _hopes_, maybe, but certainly not high expectations. After all, why should we? These may be the best drivers in the world, but that also means they know how to conserve, preserve, and basically ride around for the time being. Only with 20 laps to go these days do we see some hard-charging, balls-to-the-wall racing that makes us hold our breath longer than we knew was humanly possible. Either that, or we leave claw marks on the edges of our seats.

But, with Bristol, we allow those expectations to drift ever so higher. The highlight reels, of a generation of hard-fought finishes tell the tale. Bristol is a world where sheet metal has wrinkles, tires leave trails, and helmets grow wings. Drivers may get ticked, but the on track racing is spectacular. It’s fun to watch throughout.

NASCAR Mailbox: Bristol, Trucks, And Weather Gone Nuts

I have a confession to make: I’m addicted to social media. Even when I’m not posting and updating my various blogs, pages, and, of course, tweeting, I’m usually perusing through the latest updates from friends, family, and just about anyone who will let me view their page. I love knowing what’s going on in the world and, probably more so, hate feeling left out. So when I’m quietly browsing Twitter and suddenly I see non-NASCAR or sports related accounts tweeting about Jeff Gordon, I have to take a closer look. This week, a video with the four-time champion was sweeping the Internet, and everyone seemed to be getting quite a kick out of it. The video featured Jeff Gordon going to a used car lot while undercover, and taking a test drive in a Chevy Camaro. He then proceeds to give this supposed used car salesman the ride of his life by making all kinds of crazy maneuvers. It’s hilarious to watch the salesman’s reaction and, let’s be honest, the moves are awesome! But, perhaps _too_ awesome. After all, Gordon may be a four time NASCAR champion, but that’s not the same thing as being a skilled stunt driver. Also, the way they immediately jumped in the Camaro even when Gordon said he didn’t want it was odd. As funny as it was, it just seemed too, well staged. Turns out it was. The driving was done mostly by a stunt driver and around 75 people were involved in the project. It was staged. However, it was still freaking hilarious and Pepsi did a great job by generating some buzz. If you still haven’t seen it, you can watch it \"here.\":https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=video&cd=1&cad=rja&ved=0CEIQtwIwAA&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.youtube.com%2Fwatch%3Fv%3Dq02BXGDSDkE&ei=EihBUaHuHeTh2QXy_oGACA&usg=AFQjCNGDgwxrb6ykUddXHjz8DpcObwP4WA&sig2=wYjcdXK2N9h3XoUboU8_2Q&bvm=bv.43828540,d.b2I Now, onto your questions: _“What is the best thing and worst thing you like about racing at Bristol?”_ _Brian_ That’s hard to answer. Personally, I enjoy the fact that the cars are so close together. Bristol is about as close as you can get to a flushing toilet bowl. They can’t get “spread out” or have large gaps between cars. Even if the first place car is much faster than the second place car, he’ll still have lapped traffic to deal with. It makes the race fun to watch, and you never know what is going to happen. However, the downside of that little racing room is that it’s extremely difficult to pass. It’s difficult to pass in the generation of cars that they had previously been racing as it was - though with this car, it remains to be seen. Add in a half-mile racetrack and very little racing room from the apron to the wall and suddenly you have a recipe for single-file racing. Though some reconfigurations to both the track and the car at times changed that, it’s still harder to pass at Bristol than, say, Texas, Kansas, or Atlanta. <div style=\"float:right; width:275px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/10474.jpg\" width=\"275\" height=\"174\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">Will a new car coupled with the reconfiguration from 2012 have an effect at the track that prides itself on \"Racin' the Way it Oughta Be\"?</p></div> In fact, for the longest time, the only way to pass was with a technique known as the “bump and run”—which I hate. If the only way for you to pass is to knock the other guy out of the way, maybe you shouldn’t be passing. I’d rather see the drivers race based on skill than playing bumper cars. It just feels like we’re being cheated when that’s all that is happening. Still, I prefer Bristol to mile-and-a-half racetracks and I’m really looking forward to this weekend. What about you? _“Is NASCAR trying to fix the break between truck races? 6 weeks is far too long of a gap.”_ _Brian_ Yes, for those wondering, we did have two Brian’s with questions this week. I agree that it’s too long, but right now even adding Eldora and Canadian Tire Motorsports Park was a complete shock. NASCAR really isn’t focused on giving the development series a full schedule when the other two series are racing all but two months of the year. I’m not saying they wouldn’t _like_ to, but it’s certainly not at the top of their to-do list. Based on their recent changes, it appears that adding diversity to the series and test driving ideas like dirt track racing and going across the border is more along their lines of interest. Part of the gaps that we see in the schedule are NASCAR’s attempt to line up the beginning and the end of the season. Because there are so few races in the Truck Series as opposed to the others, there are bound to be gaps. However, I think it would be much more productive to maybe have an on again, off again schedule rather than “race, _gap, gap, gap, gap, gap_, race, _gap, gap_….” kind of schedule that we have now. <div style=\"float:right; width:275px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/15437.jpg\" width=\"275\" height=\"183\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">After intense superspeedway racing, the Truck Series puts it in park for almost two months. Time to tighten up the schedule!</p></div> Hopefully this season goes well for the series and it eventually becomes a priority to add more races. “Is it going to snow in Bristol on Thursday and over the weekend?” _Jeff_ Well I can’t say this for sure, but, no, the forecast shows it’s supposed to be sunny and in the mid-40s. It’s supposed to have snowed on Wednesday night, but otherwise there is no snow during the rest of the week or weekend. The only day there is a threat to on-track racing is Saturday, when the chance of rain is 40%. However, it wouldn’t be a NASCAR weekend without a little bit of a threat from Mother Nature now would it? *Connect with Summer!* <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/summerbedgood\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6502.jpg\"></a><a href=\"https://www.facebook.com/summerdreyer\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6501.jpg\"></a><br> \"Contact Summer Bedgood\":http://www.frontstretch.com/contact/28526/

Silence! NASCAR's Unspoken Cry To Opinionated Drivers Needs To Stop

“Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” It’s a mantra that was repeated on the school playground, a lesson taught to us by our parents, and a phrase we have to repeat inwardly to ourselves when the boss is in an especially critical mood on a Monday morning. It is, however, a foreign concept to NASCAR—a lesson that Denny Hamlin learned the hard way. After making what NASCAR called a disparaging—or, what most of it would call it, honest—statement about the Gen 6 racecar, it was announced that Hamlin had been fined $25,000. Though Hamlin stated on Twitter that he would appeal, NASCAR never balked at the prospect of shutting up the drivers when they say something negative. It wasn’t but a couple of weeks ago that Keselowski was called to the NASCAR hauler for comments that, too, were made with an honest assessment of NASCAR’s product, though this was about their business model rather than the product of the on-track racing. Still, for some reason, NASCAR is bearing their teeth to any driver who dares gives negative feedback. The worst part, however, is that it seems to be working. Not only were drivers cordial in expressing their opinions about the new car following the checkered flag yesterday in Las Vegas. From the way it sounded, they were simply delighted in the way it drove! It’s never been better! In their mandatory post-race press conferences for the top three drivers, Kasey Kahne and Brad Keselowski were about two seconds from doing rock-paper-scissors to determine who had to answer the question “How did the car drive today?” Now, to be fair, the race really wasn’t _that_ bad. I felt like it was a decent race considering the kind of “show” intermediate tracks usually put up. While there wasn’t a ton of passing, it looked like the faster cars generally _could_ pass and tire wear played more of a roll than they had in a while. Still, though, clean air and track position was the most important aspect of the race, which has been a complaint with the car for a long time. Why can’t the drivers talk about that? Why shouldn’t they? Here’s what I’m concerned about. Right now, NASCAR has a little bit of breathing room because drivers and their crews are still learning the ins and outs of the new car. That can be the excuse for a good while. They can silence the drivers for a good while and fans will probably believe that to be that problem. But what happens afterwards? This car has its problems. I’m sure anyone could have guessed that it wouldn’t be perfect and that there would be an adjustment period. But after a while, people are going to get sick of waiting around for some of the little quirks and mannerisms to fix itself. Who better, then, to give the feedback on areas of improvement than the ones who are behind the wheel every weekend? I know NASCAR’s preference would be that the drivers deliver this feedback behind closed doors and not to the media. That’s not realistic, though, either. First of all, NASCAR wouldn’t have its reach, appeal, or popularity without the media. Also, who is right there in the drivers’ face first thing after they exit their racecar on pit road? Who do the fans turn to when they want to hear their drivers’ thoughts after a hard wreck? You can’t shut the drivers up about everything except for the rainbows and lollipops of the sport. First of all, fans are smarter than that. The drivers can get out of a single-file race at Daytona, say “What a great race!” and the fans will cry foul. Secondly, it’s completely unfair. If NASCAR is working on a solution to alleviate the issues that the sport is facing, I think the fans deserve to know about it. Simply put, this whole “don’t talk about our sport unless it’s positive” needs to stop. Like I said, fans are smart enough to see right through it and you can’t be in damage control over damage control. In other words, you can’t try and protect the image of the sport by not letting the drivers say what they feel. They are human beings and many are very opinionated. Let them do so! After all, negative feedback is only negative if you don’t listen. *Connect with Summer!* <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/summerbedgood\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6502.jpg\"></a><a href=\"https://www.facebook.com/summerdreyer\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6501.jpg\"></a><br> \"Contact Summer Bedgood\":http://www.frontstretch.com/contact/28526/

NASCAR Mailbox: New Viewership, Start-And-Park, and Public Perceptions

Well, we’re headed to Las Vegas, and it’s the first time in a while that I can remember anyone placing a special importance on this race. However, with the new Gen-6 car and Las Vegas Motor Speedway being one of the many mile-and-a-half racetracks on the schedule, this weekend may finally give us a true assessment of what to expect from the Gen 6 car for the rest of the season. However, with an underwhelming performance at Daytona and a so-so grade at Phoenix, expectations are cautiously optimistic heading into Sin City. However, I can’t help but think that no matter what, it will be impossible for the race to receive “good” reviews. After all, regardless of how well the car races, this race is still 400 miles. I don’t care if passing is flawless and perfectly executed. You just won’t see passing and three-wide racing from green flag to checkered flag because most of the drivers know the value of the phrase, “to finish first, you must first finish.” Do I really think anyone reading this feels like it will be a thriller of the race all the way through? No, but I do think there are some who will find any reason to be critical. Let’s let this car run its course before we give it a failing grade. Now, on to your questions… — *So is SPEED Channel just going to be a separate entity or die?? FOX Sports 1 will carry the races and what else is intended here for this new channel??* _Arthur_ To put it simply, Fox Sports 1 is going to be the new name of SPEED. It will look much different than what most of us have come to know of SPEED throughout the years. Honestly, I think the new name makes it pretty obvious that it’s going to be a broad-based sports network rather than focused specifically on motorsports and other car related programming. In other words, it’s an alternative to ESPN. The various sporting events it is scheduled to cover are NCAA College Football and Basketball, UEFA Soccer, UFC, and of course, NASCAR. <div style=\"float:right; width:240px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/15506.jpg\" width=\"240\" height=\"139\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">FOX Sports 1 will replace SPEED as the channel that will carry what was the staple of NASCAR programing, as well as UEFA Soccer and UFC. If there is any justice in this world, though it will not carry Unique Whips or Pass Time…</p></div> NASCAR fans won’t really be missing much though when it comes to NASCAR coverage. FOX Sports 1 will still carry the Camping World Truck Series races, the All-Star Race, SpeedWeeks, Daytona 500 qualifying, the Budweiser Duels, as well aspractice, and qualifying sessions. Additionally, shows like _Race Hub_, _RaceDay_, and _NASCAR Victory Lane_ are also going to stay with this network though Race Hub will be moved from evening to midday. In fact, the only area that I see where fans will lose coverage is in regards to other motorsports. The announcement really only mentions NASCAR, which means that shows like _SPEED Center_ and _Wind Tunnel_ are likely, and sadly, going to go by the wayside. Though there will be 24/7 sports coverage on the network, as well as original programming like talk shows and special documentaries, I think the coverage of other motorsports is where SPEED Channel has proven itself to be unique to viewers who are looking for just that. I’m afraid other racing series will get buried if they are washed out of the programming lineup on SPEED. That could be an overreaction, though. After all, series like ARCA and the Rolex Series have renewed their contracts with SPEED and that should still carry through with the rebranding. However, I hope FOX Sports 1 still offers SPEED viewers what they’ve always known the network to be about: racing. — *“Why doesn’t NASCAR do something about these start-and-park teams? It’s making the sport a joke! I think they need to go back to the old days of starting 36 on short tracks and the fastest 40 on a mile and over. My suggestion to stop the stat-and-parkers is to cut the race money if they don’t make a legitimate attempt to race and if they do retire give them an inspection of the car. If there is no issue, they lose half of their money.”* _Jamie_ Jamie, that’s hardly fair. After all, most of the drivers and the teams as a whole don’t genuinely _want_ to start and park. If they want to race at all, that’s the only way they can afford to. Should they simply just decide to give up their dream because they don’t have the deep pockets or multi-million dollar sponsorships that the other teams have? Again, that’s not fair. <div style=\"float:right; width:275px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/14913.jpg\" width=\"275\" height=\"183\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">Some fans want to stop the start and parkers from entering the field since they aren't \"really trying.\" Contractual obligations and a free market economy dictate that they will remain.</p></div> If start and park teams really bother you that much, there isn’t much NASCAR can do beyond controlling the money the other teams can spend which I’m totally against. Money drives this sport more so than any other, and any “dreamers” wanting to get in the sport can’t just go to a scouting location and prove their worth. Basically, the start and park teams are doing the best they can with what they have and hoping beyond all hope that someone will give them an opportunity to shine. Honestly, though, what are they really hurting? Almost no one notices them, and the only people who do are the ones looking for something to complain about. If those teams weren’t there, the field would be much shorter and NASCAR would be cursed out for that too. Simply put, unless you’re funding that team, leave them alone. They’re just doing what they can. — *Why is NASCAR trying to profit off of negative press? At least that seems like what they are doing, to attempt to reel in fans, not the right way to do it.* _Matt_ Matt, the negative press I think you are referring to are the stories that came from the Nationwide Series crash at Daytona and the NRA sponsorship of Texas Motor Speedway. One was negative because of sympathy, the other because of (ugh) politics. The rest of my answer will depend on this assumption, though I can’t think of any other topics that would be described as “negative” by mainstream consumers. First off, I’m not sure I understand your use of the word “profit”. It’s not like they’re selling merchandise that say “get well, fans” for Daytona or guns emblazoned with the NASCAR logo. Are they trying to use this new-found mainstream attention to get more butts both on the couch and in the grandstands? Um … yeah. Why shouldn’t they? Listen, for the first time in years, NASCAR has been in the mainstream media for weeks. They’ve been discussed on talk shows, newsroom panels, and stirred up debates amongst people who would otherwise never pay attention. That’s better publicity than another public relations firm could ever muster up. In other words, it’s relevant. Honestly, the only story that has received mainstream coverage that I would describe as “negative” was the Daytona crash. But what was NASCAR to do? Say, “Don’t watch our sport, because bad things happen.” No, they should say, “Yes this was scary and we wish it had never happened. What you missed was the racing before it, which was great! You should tune in!” <div style=\"float:right; width:250px; margin: 20px; border: black solid 1px; padding: 3px;\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/15440.jpg\" width=\"250\" height=\"302\"/><p style=\"margin: 3px; text-align: left; font-weight:bold;\">Profiting off the misery of others? NASCAR has been in the news for two straight weeks not by their own design, but more so the morbid fascination of the media at large.</p></div> I wouldn’t call the NRA story “negative” just because it’s controversial. The only place it’s being portrayed as negative are left-leaning “news” websites which skews stories to fit its own agenda anyway. Even if the name “NRA 500” furthers a stereotype, the people who are laughing about that are never _ever_ going to watch anyway. If NASCAR is “profiting” from it, it’s from people who are already watching or just don’t care. NASCAR is doing the right thing by trying to generate more viewers for the sport that was brought on by all the attention. They’d be stupid not to, and I hope it works. *Connect with Summer!* <a href=\"http://www.twitter.com/summerbedgood\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6502.jpg\"></a><a href=\"https://www.facebook.com/summerdreyer\"><img src=\"http://www.frontstretch.com/images/6501.jpg\"></a><br> \"Contact Summer Bedgood\":http://www.frontstretch.com/contact/28526/

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2012 Coke Zero 400 at Daytona

Was Tony Stewart’s victory-lane vitriol worth a few first-place votes? Or did Matt Kenseth’s dominant run impress our writers? Keep reading to find out.

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2012 Quaker State 400 at Kentucky

Did Brad Keselowski’s win propel him atop our Power Rankings? Did Kyle Busch get any sympathy votes for his string of bad luck? Keep reading to find out.

Frontstretch NASCAR Power Rankings: Top 15 After the 2012 Toyota/Save Mart 350 at Sonoma

Sonoma was vindication for Clint Bowyer’s move from Richard Childress Racing to Michael Waltrip Racing.