Start Your Engines - Viva Las Vegas

3/6/13 in NASCAR   |   Scott   |   51941 respect

Welcome to this week's edition of Start Your Engines.  This week our panel of racing fans, Eric , DebiJennifer and myself will give our thoughts on all the happenings in the world of racing as well as look ahead to next weekend's race in Las Vegas.

Let's get to the discussion

This past week, the Sprint Cup and Nationwide races were held in Phoenix.  Sprint Cup regular Kyle Busch dominated the Nationwide field and raced away with the win.  The first place finish gives Busch 106 career wins combined in all 3 of Nascar's top series (Truck, Nationwide, Sprint).

We briefly touched on this last week about Sprint Cup drivers racing in the Nationwide series and how it gives the Sprint Cup regulars a slight advantage over their competition.

Do you think that Nascar should limit the amount of races a Sprint Cup regular can drive in the Nationwide Series?

DebiI have ALWAYS thought the lesser series should be for the drivers making their way into the major leagues.  I have never been in favor of the Cup regulars participating in these races.  I think NASCAR should limit the number of Cup drivers in both series to under 5.  If you want to compete in Nationwide, and you are a Cup driver, you need to state that intention before the season begins, and the first five who state that intention get in, the rest are SOL.

Jen I don't think Cup drivers should be allowed to race in Nationwide. Period. The next: Bill Elliott, Terry Labonte, Jeff Gordon might be, being overlooked. Since Nascar instituted choosing which series you were seeking a championship in, they should institute, the, "I want to drive in" and have the drivers choose which series. 

Eric - I've been wondering about why Cup regulars drop down to Nationwide for years now.  I assume it is to please sponsors, because I'm skeptical it's that beneficial to their Cup careers.  So yeah, I'm with the rest of you.  Stop letting the Cup guys drive in the lower series, save a few times a year at most.

Scott - I've never been a fan of the Sprint Cup regulars driving in the Nationwide Series and I suppose if Nascar is going to continue to allow it, they need to put a limit of 2 or 3 races for each Sprint Cup driver.


Kyle Busch has taken a lot of heat in recent years for his attitude and aggressive driver.  With his 106th win, is it time for people to start giving credit where credit is due and recognize Busch as one of Nascar's best young drivers?

DebiI already recognize his talent.  I think most people do, but like his brother, it is his anger issues that are problematic

JenI have always thought Kyle was a better than average driver. Honestly, his attitude really doesn't bother me much either. He seems so tame, not so "rowdy" anymore. I miss that about him. Answering your question: everyone should appreciate his talent on the track whether they like him or not.

Eric - I thought people did, but are just turned off by his attitude and some of his on-track incidents.  It will also help if he finally put it all together and won a championship, or at least contended for one up til the end.

Scott - I've always thought Busch has received some what of a bad rep.  Sure, he's had his moments that have soured some people but the reality is, a lot of drivers do.  At this point, Busch has to be one of the most dangerous drivers in the Series, capable of winning on any track at any time.  He truly is one of those racers that can drive any car at any time and have success.

The other big Nationwide news occurred off the track.  Jeremy Clements was suspended by Nascar for 2 races for making an "intolerable and insensitive" remark that violated Nascar's Code of Conduct.  Clements has refused to disclose the exact comment but has admitted to the mistake.  The comment in question wasn't recorded and the only people present were Clements, a MTV reporter and a rep for Nascar.  

Is Nascar over-reacting or do they have a valid claim in suspending Clements?

DebiIt was posted today that he used the N word while walking past a motorcoach.  He was apparently not speaking of anyone in particular, but I find that hard to believe.  The reporter who he spoke to is the person who approached NASCAR with the news.  I applaud that reporter.  There is no room for that language in this sport, or any other.

JenYep, I have no clue about this incident, only heard after Debi mentioned it. Was he walking and having a private conversation? Who lurks about like that anyway? I really need to know more before I can give an informed answer. I'm just speculating.

Eric - This whole situation is strange.  On one hand, while we all have freedom of speech, we're not free from the consequences of said speech.  On the other hand, we still don't know what Clements said or what the context was.  It was probably the right call, but it's another case of a strange lack of transparency from NASCAR.

Scott - 50-Cent's comments before Daytona about there "being no blacks" at the race really shone a light on just how few minorities watch the sport.  If it's true Clements used the N word, Nascar really had no choice but to make some sort of statement with this suspension.

Blog Photo - Start Your Engines - Viva Las Vegas


In the Sprint Cup race, we got to see the new gen 6 car in action on a smaller track.  The race saw a couple of drivers struggle, more engine trouble for Joe Gibbs Racing and a host of drivers experienced right tire trouble 
that ended their day prematurely.  After all the back and forth action, which included at one point the Ford's, Chevy's and Toyota's all finding themselves leading the race, it was Carl Edwards driving the Subway Ford that took home the win.  The victory snapped Edwards 70+ race winless streak.

Have your thoughts on the new car changed after the Subway Fresh Fit 500?

 Debi - They are still getting the car figured out.  It is going to take time.  Not every team practiced at all the sessions that were available.  Also, they were practice sessions.  It is so different to practice than it is to race.  I wasn't surprised at anything today, except possibly the camber issues.  I am so happy to see this car on the track.  As has been said time and again, the COT was at its limit.  They couldn't do anything more to it.  This car is such a positive move on NASCAR's part, in my opinion and I am happy with the racing I've seen.  I don't expect to see them racing exactly like they did in the 90's immediately, but I definitely think they have made a step in the right direction.

Jen
I didn't see the whole race. Hoping to get the Vegas one in and I will need to see it at Bristol or Dover before I can say one way or the other.

Eric - I was underwhelmed with what I saw until the last lap when Hamlin made his move (as an aside, I had no clue you could cut the dogleg like that and now add wanting to see TK try that to my list of reasons I want to see Indy back at Phoenix).  All I've heard is the new's car performance and raciness on 1.5 mile cookie cutters is the key, so Vegas will be important for it.

Scott - After Daytona, I gave the Gen 6 car a thumbs down.  After this weekend in Phoenix, I started to warm up to the car.  In this race, we saw all 3 car makes as serious contenders, something I've wanted to see for a long time. Was that a by product of the new car?  Perhaps.  The next couple of weeks will really tell us just how competitive this season will really be.


In the first two races, both on different types of tracks with different type of engine packages, Joe Gibbs Racing has experienced engine troubles.  If you are a fan of a driver from this team, are you concerned by what you've seen so far?

Debi - 
It seems every year one manufacturer has early issues with engines.  I have no doubt they will get things figured out.

Jen
I don't think so. It is only 2 races, and it has to be someone. If they continue to have trouble, say, these next 2 races. I would be worried. I love Coach Gibbs! 

Eric - Multiple engine problems on two very different tracks is not a good sign.  They have time to figure it out still but they better do it quick or they'll fall behind.

Scott - I'm definitely concerned, especially knowing that it happens on a smaller track where you don't have the horsepower that you do on a super speed way.  Like Eric said, they better figure this thing out quickly or it could spell disaster for 3 drivers who figure to be in the running for a title.


Nascar also introduced a new tire package for this race and as we all saw, a number of drivers had their days ended early due to a right tire blow out.  

With more short tracks on the horizon, are we in for more tire troubles or is that just a direct result of a poor handling car putting too much wear and tear on the wheels?

Debi
I don't think it was the tires at all.  The camber on these cars, by every account I saw, was more likely the cause of the "bead" issues.  Like I said, they will get it figured out.  I'm not expecting miracles in the first races.

Jen
Probably a little of both. I am sure they will get it worked out.

Eric - That was a new package?  Well, new or old, tires blowing out and overall tire quality has been a problem for years.  You would think it would be a top priority given the safety hazard of a tire blowing out and a car heading straight for the wall because of it.  Is it just that hard to make a reliable tire for these cars, or is there not enough pressure being put on Goodyear to do so?

Scott - I'm going to guess that if we see more problems at Vegas and Bristol that lead to drivers smacking the wall as hard as Danica Patrick did, we'll see a different type of tire compound sooner then later.


One of my pet peeves is a driver being able to get the Lucky Dog on more then one or two occasions.  Should Nascar set a limit on how many times a driver like Joe Nemechek can win the "Lucky Dog"?

Debi
I understand that the Lucky Dog rule was implemented to give drivers a chance to get a lap back, rather than racing back to the yellow, which proved to be rather dangerous.  I agree with you though, Scott, that a limit needs to be put in place. I'm not sure exactly how I would determine it.  Need to think on this a little bit, and perhaps come back to see what others thought.

Jen
The "lucky dog" should be thrown out.

Eric - The Lucky Dog is a gimmick that has helped turn me off of stock car racing over the years.  If you go down a lap, figure it out yourself how to get it back.

Scott - There is no way in hell a driver like Joe Nemechek should be allowed to win 3 Lucky Dog passes in one race.  Sign me up for a limit.


As we head to Sin City, which drivers are you looking for to rebound?  Do you expect more of what we saw at Phoenix?

Debi
I really think Kyle is always a threat, no matter the track or the time of year.  He had some crappy luck this weekend, possibly due to his lack of familiarity with the new car, or the new tire, or almost anything.  Don't think he is going to just shrug his shoulders and give up.  Unfortunately, I'm not sure Ryan Newman is going to have much of a comeback.  He worries me.  I LOVE Ryan, I really do, and I think he is talented, but I'm not sure if he is going to have a good season.  I don't know how he fits into the scheme of things at SHR.  Kevin is moving there next year, so are they going to a four car team?  We know "the girl" will still be there, so is Ryan remaining? Or is Kevin taking over his spot?  I also think Kasey Kahne is going to be a front runner this year.  Don't look for him to finish 19th every week.  And Martin Truex Jr.  WTH?? a Broken rear axle.  That sucked! He won't be back there long.

Jen
Tony and Kevin of course!

Eric - I'm guessing Kahne and Harvick will start getting some better luck soon.  I really don't know

Scott - Kyle Busch is from Vegas so I expect Shrub to be going all out to try and shake off the bad results from these first two races.  I also expect the Ford Fusion's to really have a big day at Vegas.  Edwards, Biffle and Keselowski could all be big time players on Sunday.

With all these unknown variables, it's fitting that the next race is in Las Vegas, where it'll be a crap shoot when it comes to what to expect.

See ya Sunday race fans.
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3/9/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

I agree with you.. Until they temper the marketing at every interview the sport will not grow.... It get old watching Gordon or someone make sure the camera catches them drinking the bottle of coke...One driver even put the coke in front of her face,,, They just follow directions..

Just got back and the NNS is on.. These cars are fast...Must be fun to be at this track today...Of course the cup drivers have the best equipment and will win, But here its just about the race,,, Harnish Jr. could not win cup races but he is doing fine here...

3/8/13   |   Debi_L   |   11778 respect

orangemen90 wrote:
as a non writer someone who's career has forced him to write more.. when not working I'll post what I think at the moment...maybe not even responding to the blog at hand.,.. Since everything one writes is just to add to the conversation....

but thanks for the read and i;ll try to restrict my writing to the topics laid out in the blog.. I would add a there is a Nascar rule for all drivers that want to run any car in a NNS race. Ib the old days (5 or so years ago)., the cup drivers ran almost all the races and took all the points. Now there are rules/guidelines governing who can run a NNS race and whether he/she will get points. The fans love it and the sponsors get some added traction.

As for the comment regarding restricting who can run in the NNS as only those that may someday become a Cup driver. Well, that's old school. Now besides driving a driver must have the requisite marketing skills. Such as smiling and hold the bottle of coke the correct way. But truthfully sponsors drive it all...It drives each and every race and each and every sentence that come out of the driver or car owner.

A good question to write about is what does teh sponsor get from teh particular driver. Do they get a return on their investment. The answer would be no as we see the changes this year.. Think fishing...

I think I'm the one who said the part about "climbing the ladder to Cup racing" and honestly I am wrong in that.  If a driver, like Elliott Sadler for example, has chosen to drive in Nationwide full time, then that's great.  Other drivers, such as Ron Hornaday Jr., have chosen to drive in the Camping World Truck Series and that's wonderful!  The point is, they are in that series and competing for a Championship.  It's frustrating for them to have to compete with those drivers who are in the elite series.  

Yes, I understand the sponsorship thing, but I don't agree with it.  And I don't know what the answer is, but I do believe the number of racers not competing for a championship, racing in any race needs to be limited somehow.

3/8/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

(Edited by orangemen90)

Which Ford will do better Sunday.. Biffle #16 (starts 5th based on 2012 points) or Edwards #99 starting 16th based on 2012 points. Interesting between makes since the Gen6 cars are maker specific.

3/8/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Are all of your comments going to take shots at Danica? That'll get old two weeks ago.
(Edited by orangemen90)

as a non writer someone who's career has forced him to write more.. when not working I'll post what I think at the moment...maybe not even responding to the blog at hand.,.. Since everything one writes is just to add to the conversation....

but thanks for the read and i;ll try to restrict my writing to the topics laid out in the blog.. I would add a there is a Nascar rule for all drivers that want to run any car in a NNS race. Ib the old days (5 or so years ago)., the cup drivers ran almost all the races and took all the points. Now there are rules/guidelines governing who can run a NNS race and whether he/she will get points. The fans love it and the sponsors get some added traction.

As for the comment regarding restricting who can run in the NNS as only those that may someday become a Cup driver. Well, that's old school. Now besides driving a driver must have the requisite marketing skills. Such as smiling and hold the bottle of coke the correct way. But truthfully sponsors drive it all...It drives each and every race and each and every sentence that come out of the driver or car owner.

A good question to write about is what does teh sponsor get from teh particular driver. Do they get a return on their investment. The answer would be no as we see the changes this year.. Think fishing...

3/8/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

orangemen90 wrote:
\

Are all of your comments going to take shots at Danica? That'll get old two weeks ago.

3/8/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

(Edited by orangemen90)

\

3/6/13   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Debi_L wrote:
I know this was just announced and for some reason it seems to be a really big deal to some.  Why is everyone so "one side or the other" over this NRA sponsorship of the Texas race?  I don't get it.  To me, it's just another entity wanting some publicity over sponsoring a race, just like Bass Pro Shops or Camping World.  I certainly don't want to start a political discussion, but to me it is just non-news.  The NRA and NASCAR have been affiliated for ten or more years, and they are contributors to the NASCAR children's charities and have been for a decade, so why is them stepping up to sponsor a race considered news?

Because it is a political thing. It's impossible to separate the NRA from politics; that's their stock in trade.

3/6/13   |   orangemen90   |   5785 respect

Looking for the 48 to win this weekend...Truthfully teh race sponsor is just a sound the announcers use... We see all sorts of ouut of place sponsors... kind of like Godaddy.com.

3/6/13   |   Debi_L   |   11778 respect

Scott wrote:
Probably because less then two weeks ago at Nascar's biggest race, the car most people were watching and talking about outside of Jimmie Johnson was the one that was soliciting donations for the victims of Sandy Hook, a cause Nascar donated a ton of money too.  I can see why this would be seen as inappropriate in some people's eyes

To me the Sandy Hook tragedy is about some wack job who went completely wacko, not about Rifles.  I dunno. It's like 911 was about a sinister power hungry wack job, not about planes. Maybe I'm over-simplifying things  

3/6/13   |   Scott   |   51941 respect

Debi_L wrote:
I know this was just announced and for some reason it seems to be a really big deal to some.  Why is everyone so "one side or the other" over this NRA sponsorship of the Texas race?  I don't get it.  To me, it's just another entity wanting some publicity over sponsoring a race, just like Bass Pro Shops or Camping World.  I certainly don't want to start a political discussion, but to me it is just non-news.  The NRA and NASCAR have been affiliated for ten or more years, and they are contributors to the NASCAR children's charities and have been for a decade, so why is them stepping up to sponsor a race considered news?

Probably because less then two weeks ago at Nascar's biggest race, the car most people were watching and talking about outside of Jimmie Johnson was the one that was soliciting donations for the victims of Sandy Hook, a cause Nascar donated a ton of money too.  I can see why this would be seen as inappropriate in some people's eyes

3/6/13   |   Debi_L   |   11778 respect

I know this was just announced and for some reason it seems to be a really big deal to some.  Why is everyone so "one side or the other" over this NRA sponsorship of the Texas race?  I don't get it.  To me, it's just another entity wanting some publicity over sponsoring a race, just like Bass Pro Shops or Camping World.  I certainly don't want to start a political discussion, but to me it is just non-news.  The NRA and NASCAR have been affiliated for ten or more years, and they are contributors to the NASCAR children's charities and have been for a decade, so why is them stepping up to sponsor a race considered news?

3/6/13   |   Debi_L   |   11778 respect

After reading everyone's thoughts here, especially on the Lucky Dog, I am going to actually say I think any one driver can only claim one lucky dog pass in any given race.  I agree with Scott that there is no way Joe Nemechek should be getting three in a race.  I don't want to see them go back to racing back to the yellow.  Drivers can get seriously hurt when they do that.  But I agree there need to be changes.  NASCAR implemented the drive around, but that just proves too confusing to the newer fans.  Heck even some of the old time fans are going WTF???  Needs to change.

As an aside, is anyone a fan of the "new" NASCAR.com?? They changed the whole web design in the off season, and quite frankly, it sucks, in my opinion!  No longer do you get everything at a glance.  Instead you get one big headline thing and in order to see anything else on their site you have to start clicking.  I might be a minority, as I pay so much for my internet, but I do not like that one bit.