NASCAR Texas Preview

Are we talking racing? or Silly Season?

4/16/10 in NASCAR   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

Both the Sprint Cup cars and the Nationwide cars race at Texas this weekend, and Kyle Busch seems to be in great shape to win his fifth Nationwide race in a row at the track. 

As I write this, the Sprint Cup cars are on the track and Dale Jr is the fastest car in this session.  Yes, the boys in the booth are talking about the track, the car set ups and the fastest cars, but they just can't stay away from the Kasey Kahne story.

So, let's get some of the facts out of the way.

1.  Kasey Kahne has signed with Hendrick Motorsports to drive the number 5 in 2012 and beyond.

2.  Mark Martin is contracted in the number 5 car through to the end of 2011.

3.  Every other HMS driver is contracted through multiple seasons, so there is no other HMS ride available for Kasey in 2011.

4.  Stewart-Haas Racing is currently a two car operation, but has made no secret of the fact that they intend to become a four car operation in the future.

5.  Stewart-Haas Racing has, in the past couple of weeks, been hiring pit crew members.

6.  Mark Martin has said he WILL be racing past 2011.

From the facts above, one could connect the dots and come to a logical conclusion - that Kasey will drive for Stewart-Haas Racing in 2011, then moving to HMS while Mark moves to the third SHR car.  However, nothing has been decided yet, and probably won't in the next few days.  Everyone anticipates it will happen over the next 6 weeks.

But, there are more than just these players in the mix.  Dale Earnhardt Jr has a contract, minimally, through to the end of 2011 with HMS.  Danica Patrick drives for JR Motorsports in the Nationwide Series and did well in the car in the races she ran, although she didn't get the desired finishes.  So far this year, she isn't doing as well in the IRL.  Kelly Bires was recently released by JR Motorsports and Jamie McMurray will run the 88 for nine races the rest of this year.  Landon Cassill is in the number 7 when Danica isn't, but all of this driver shuffling is a little confusing. 

Will Danica make the jump to NASCAR?  Undoubtedly.  When?  Well, as we can see there are a lot of factors to be considered.  Would she want to move directly to Sprint Cup?  One would hope not, running well in Nationwide just isn't the same as running well in Sprint Cup.  Will JR Motorsports remain primarily a Nationwide operation until the end of Jr's contract with HMS and then move up to Cup, presumably with Jr and Danica as the drivers?  That is certainly a possibility.  After all, Jr would continue his affiliation with HMS, we would think.  Whether an affiliation with HMS would be enough for Danica would be another question.

The only thing we can conclued right now is that the possibilities are almost endless.

So, back to racing at Texas for this weekend.  As I indicated above, Kyle Busch has had a monopoly on Texas in the Nationwide series.   And in the time it took me to post the Kasey Kahne bits, he became the fastest in the Cup practice.  If he wins his fifth in a row, he will joining Dale Earnhardt, who won five in a row at Daytona, and Jack Ingram, who won five in a row at South Boston Speedway.  Kyle won the last Nationwide race, at Phoenix, in a finish that could almost be described as unbelievable.  He will definitely be the favorite for tomorrow's race.

Jimmie Johnson has shown he has the strength to become a five time Sprint Cup Champion - in a row - and it is up to the rest of the teams to shut him down. So far, no one has shown consistent strength enough to do so, but the season is early and there are those who have shown promise.  Our leaderboard from a couple of weeks ago has changed drastically, with Paul Menard falling out of the top 12.  He currently sits back in 15th, having lost four positions last week.  The top twelve looks a little more like what one would expect at this point, with a few notable exceptions.  But for each driver in the top twelve that is expected, we have consider someone who is out that we think should be in. 

Wait...did that even make sense?  Let's put it this way, the announcers on SIRIUS have said more than once that they could make up two completely different groups of top twelves, and I have to agree.  Every driver who is currently in the top twelve deserves to be there.  However, Mark Martin, Kurt Busch, Ryan Newman, Brian Vickers, Denny Hamlin, Jamie McMurray, Juan Montoya, David Reutimann, Brad Keselowski and Kasey Kahne are all drivers who were predicted to be in the top twelve.  So who of those who are in should be out, to make room for someone who is out? 

I guess that's why they call it competition.

The spoiler will get a chance to show if it really is a good move this weekend.  We've seen it on the short tracks, but Texas, at 1.5 miles is an intermediate track, and speeds are much higher than at the short tracks.  NASCAR has made a modification to the spoiler, adding what announcers have called a Shark Fin.  It runs down the rear deck lid and is said to stop the car from turning around, by allowing the teams to adjust the rear sideforce. 

Practice can show the teams what they have, and how they can use it, but only when they start racing will they really find out how the car handles.

My picks for the weekend are probably kind of obvious.  I'll take Kyle for the Nationwide race with my dark horse being newcomer to the 09 car, Chad McCumbee.  Again, not for any specific reason, just cuz I like him, and being in a new ride, he will not doubtedly be trying to show him what he has.

My pick for the Sprint Cup race is Mark Martin.  Mark has said his car is really good and when Mark says that, well, he is usually understating the obvious.

What about you?
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4/22/10   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

LoriDbl18fan wrote:
I thought this was Jr's third year with HMS?  I'm just going off Kyle, so I maybe wrong... however I thought Jr and Kyle started with HMS/JGR the same year.  This is Kyle's third year with JGR... 8 win, Bristol sweep, new CC.  I know odd way for me to remember them, but I had to find something.  If that is the case and Jr's contract is at least 3 years... he could be gone after this year.

Yep, you are right, it's his third year - not sure what the hell I was thinking - trying to fit the years to the SIRIUS Comments, I guess.  They all seem to think Dale Jr is still in the 88 for 2011 though, so I'm now on a mission to find something concrete on an official site (ie: not msn, yahoo, nascar.com, etc) to actualy show what his contract is.  Wikipedia says it is a 5 year contract.

4/22/10   |   LoriDbl18fan   |   138 respect

Debi_L wrote:

He has a three year or MORE contract is what they said on SPEED as I was writing this - in other words, this being his second year at HMS he has - minimally - to the end of 2011.  That's what they were reporting as I was writing, so if it is incorrect, I'll blame the SPEED crew

I thought this was Jr's third year with HMS?  I'm just going off Kyle, so I maybe wrong... however I thought Jr and Kyle started with HMS/JGR the same year.  This is Kyle's third year with JGR... 8 win, Bristol sweep, new CC.  I know odd way for me to remember them, but I had to find something.  If that is the case and Jr's contract is at least 3 years... he could be gone after this year.

4/19/10   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

And Denny Hamlin JUST wins - beating JJ by inches.  3rd on back are Kyle Busch, Kurt Busch, Kasey Kahne, Mark, Jr......

4/19/10   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

The BIG ONE with 17 laps to go brings out the Red Flag - Jeff Gordon (who led the most laps), Tony Stewart, Jamie McMurray, Juan Pablo Montoya, Clint Bowyer, Carl Edwards all involved.

Top five to the finsh - Burton, Hamlin, Jr. Kyle Busch, and Biffle, with Johnson and Kenseth lurking.  Kurt , Kasey and Kevin round out the top ten.  And it's now just about anyone's race.

4/19/10   |   bwfc2good4u   |   327 respect

I guess its never too early to start talking about the next season but surely shows like NASCAR now should be focussing on this w/e racing rather than what Kasey Kahne will be doing next year and the year after. I know Tony Stewart relies on the HMS equiptment but really, if he didn't want Kasey in his 3rd car surely he could put his foot down. HMS already has somewhat of a monopoly on the sport as in all liklihood they'll have 5 or 6 cars in the chase this season, and lets say for argument sake Stewart-Haas extended to 3 teams (4 by 2012 maybe), Hendrick has 4 teams (presumably Johnson, Gordon, Kahne, Jr in 2011 with Jr bringing JRms up in 2012 with he and Danica...we're talking 8 cars under the Hedrick flag with-maybe 7 cars in the chase??? This is getting ridiculous for me. I don't know how this could be stopped but if HMS keeps growing like this we'll be getting to the stage where they're winning title after title unchallenged by anyone other than themselves...oh wait...

4/18/10   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

Cup race at noon ET, Nationwide race will follow at 5:00 ET.

4/17/10   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

and the N'wide race has been postponed to Sunday at 9pm - after the Sprint Cup race.

4/17/10   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

wrote:
Debi..I may need to research but I believe Junyah's contract runs thru 2012.
(Edited by Debi_L)

He has a three year or MORE contract is what they said on SPEED as I was writing this - in other words, this being his second year at HMS he has - minimally - to the end of 2011.  That's what they were reporting as I was writing, so if it is incorrect, I'll blame the SPEED crew

4/17/10   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

Nationwide race has been postponed to..........later this afternoon? Tomorrow?  Right now it's wait and see......