Dale Jr. Celebrates, Travis Kvapil overnights in jail, and the Chase goes on...
This week was no different. Even as Hendrick Motorsports, JR Motorsports and Junior Nation prepared to celebrate Dale Jr's 39th birthday, news hit the wires that one of Dale Jr's crew members, in the engine department, no less, had been found to be in violation of NASCAR's Substance Abuse Policy. That crew member was suspended immediately by NASCAR and just as quickly fired by Hendrick Motorsports. Immediately social media came alive, with many criticizing HMS for lack of support for that crew member. Demands for the employee to be supported and enrolled into the Road to Recovery program were rampant. In my opinion, HMS probably did exactly what each and every employee knows will happen if they fail a random test - termination. In some workplaces, support may be offered, especially if that employee has been with the company for a number of years. However, NASCAR has a very strict policy in place, and i believe employees are probably required to sign a contract, signifying that they understand they will be immediately fired, should substance abuse be found. I simply cannot imagine anything different.
If that former employee chooses to enter the Road to Recovery program, I'm sure he will receive support from his peers. If he seeks support from Hendrick, I believe he will find support. We can't possibly know for sure, but I wish him the best.
Thankfully, good news this week, that Dario Franchitti has been released from hospital after treatment for a broken ankle and two broken bones in his back. He will continue to be monitored, but is expected to make a full recovery.
Earlier this week we were also given the news that Travis Kvapil had been jailed overnight and charged with assault on a female and false imprisonment. Apparently a disagreement between he and his wife got out of hand. Kvapil's team owner, Ron Devine has apparently chosen to keep Kvapil in the driver's seat of the 93 BK Racing entry for the weekend.
As indicated, however, the Chase does continue. Jeff Gordon, granted a position in the Chase after team communications revealed team orders, has set out to prove he belongs there. This week, he followed Kevin Harvick's example, and set the fastest qualifying time for Saturday night's race. Kevin will start alongside him, with Greg Biffle and Jimmie Johnson in the second row. The rest of HMS make up the third row, with Ryan Newman and Juan Pablo Montoya in the fourth. As mentioned above, Dale Jr celebrated his 39th birthday this week, with wishes from fans across the world. Saturday will mark his 500th NASCAR Sprint Cup start.
Matt Kenseth currently leads the Cup points, but he will really have a lot of work to do this weekend, as he was unable to get better than a 20th place qualifying position. But this is Matt, and he has overcome a lot worse than that so far this year.
The Charlotte race is a favorite of Jimmie Johnson, and his team has had a great deal of success here, with five wins at the Fall race over the last ten years. The race is a typical Saturday night one, with the race starting during daylight hours, and continuing into full dark. As you have undoubtedly read elsewhere, keeping up with the changing track conditions is the biggest challenge. In past years the team able to make changes to their car to meet the track changes has been the one to cross the finish line in first place. Kasey Kahne has also had good results at the track, with four wins, while Kevin rounds out the drivers with multiple wins, in this Fall race. A number of drivers have won here, and any one of them could get a repeat win, or a first time winner could be crowned. It could be a Chaser, or a non-chaser. One thing seems to be a certainty, however, Jimmie Johnson will definitely be one to watch.
Finally, as October is Breast Cancer awareness month, I want to send a shout out to Kyle and Samantha Busch. Love or hate Kyle, his wife, Samantha, is a mover and a shaker. When one of their employees was diagnosed with breast cancer a few years ago, Samantha decided to do something about it. She and the Kyle Busch Foundation have raised enough money to ensure many women in the North Carolina area they call home will receive the treatment needed to treat their cancer. Their efforts continue this weekend, with Kyle's pink car. You can find out more about "Project Pink: Protect Your Pair" here.
Practice for both Nationwide and Sprint Cup will get under way and continue throughout the day. Who is your pick to win?
Thanks to https://www.facebook.com/DaleJr and http://www.kylebuschfoundation.org/ for the photos.