Race Weekend Central

Going By the Numbers: How Much To Make Of A NASCAR Debut

One was already known well before he debuted, the benefactor of a last name beloved by many in NASCAR circles. The other, though not part of the conversation in NASCAR just yet, has rattled off impressive statistics in multiple racing series, including four top-five finishes in the 2012 ARCA Racing Series as a 15- and 16-year-old.

When it comes to NASCAR, both can lay claim to the same thing: a top-10 in their first Camping World Truck Series race.

Chase Elliott and Erik Jones, two up-and-coming youngsters who have made waves in stock cars even before their 18th birthdays, made their NASCAR debuts last Saturday in the Kroger 250 at Martinsville, joining fellow rookies Devin Jones, Robert Bruce and Grant Galloway.

Is NASCAR Suffering From A Diva Complex?

Sometimes NASCAR drivers are just impossible to understand. One minute they’re burning rubber on track, making three wide passes and proving why they’re in NASCAR in the first place. The next, they’re bitching on pit road about another driver racing them too hard with 10 laps to go. They go from zero to hero, shining to whining, in a matter of moments, and it’s disheartening.

Take the post-race … er … “scuffle” on pit road between Kevin Harvick and Brian Vickers last Sunday at Martinsville (though it’s hardly a scuffle when they use their cars). I’ve watched the replay of the last few laps and, frankly, I just don’t get it. With just a few laps left, Vickers, Harvick, and Danica Patrick (!) were battling for right around the 12th position. Vickers blamed Patrick for blocking (which she was), and Harvick got upset with the way Vickers was blocking him (which he was). Nobody did anything _wrong_, but they were racing. It was Martinsville. It happens. width=”132″ height=”129″/>

Tearing Apart the Trucks: Young Guns Excel at Martinsville

After taking six weeks off between the season opener and Saturday afternoon’s Kroger 250 at Martinsville Speedway, the Camping World Truck Series didn’t disappoint and showed up in spectacular fashion. From beating and banging to tempers flaring, there are so many things to take away from this race, but perhaps the most important is the influx of young talent the sport continues to see.

It all began Friday afternoon when Jeb Burton snagged his first career pole, posting a lap of 96.666 mph (19.589), barely edging the track record set by Timothy Peters last fall, and fellow rookie Darrell “Bubba” Wallace, Jr. managed a lap quick enough to start on the outside front row. Think about it–that means the pair of rookies beat out guys like Johnny Sauter and Kevin Harvick who have dominated the last few years at the track.

As One Rivalry Simmers, Another Boils… Forgotten Foes At Martinsville

Rivalries are like a witch’s brew; they tend to be volatile at first, then simmer for a while before coming to a full boil. Some of them then cool off into a harmless mixtures, while others never seem to end. In any case, they’re colorful, exciting, and sometimes a little disconcerting… but definitely attention-grabbing!

The initial mix of one such rivalry happened at Martinsville one year ago, when Clint Bowyer got into Jeff Gordon in the closing laps, putting Gordon in the wall. The DuPont Chevy driver had badly wanted the win that day; it would have been Rick Hendrick’s 200th as a car owner, and Gordon, who is third on the all-time Sprint Cup wins list, owns the lion’s share of those.

Jeb Burton Wins First Career Pole At Martinsville

MARTINSVILLE COVERAGE See pictures, links and more on our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter as well as Amy Henderson, who’s serving as our at-track reporter this weekend. Martinsville Truck qualifying is over, and an emotional Jeb Burton took the pole. Burton, just 20 years old and the son of former Daytona 500 winner Ward, …

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Jeb Burton Driver Diary: Filling the Down Time and Short Track Excitement

We’ve been stuck in the middle of this long stretch of down time since Daytona, but I’ve done plenty to keep busy while we’re not racing. We tested a couple weeks ago at Martinsville in the truck, and we learned a lot from it. We’ve got a good package and the guys have been working really hard. We feel like we’ve got a good truck to perform well this weekend. Last time we talked, I mentioned that I would be racing my late model at South Boston Speedway. Unfortunately, that race didn’t go exactly as planned. We were good in practice and had a good game plan. But when the race started, around lap three, a guy in front of me broke an oil line or something and dripped some oil out. Of course, I hit it and we hit the wall, and it bent some stuff and we didn’t run too hot.

Let the Good Times Roll: What NASCAR Must Do To Keep The Momentum

NASCAR has enjoyed a resurgence of sorts in 2013. Ratings are up, and, perhaps of equal importance, people are talking about the sport even during an off week. But we’re just five weeks into what is a very long season. NASCAR will have to compete with other sports; racing will go up against three of four major sports’ playoffs and championships as well as much of the NFL’s regular season. Can the sport hold its momentum all the way until the end?

Well, maybe. Can people, and especially those checking out the sport for the first time on the wave of publicity it’s enjoyed, expect the excitement we’ve seen in 2013 so far every single week? Probably not; the nature of the sport is such that there won’t always be a thrilling finish. The sport’s history tells us that. But that doesn’t mean that NASCAR can’t capitalize on some of the things we’ve seen so far in 2013. What the sanctioning body needs to do going forward is to not rely on any one aspect to keep fans’ interest, because if they do, it almost certainly will fail; we live in a society where people get bored easily.

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.

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?