This Week in NASCAR [March 10th edition]

Rollin' the dice at the Jewel in the Desert

3/10/12 in NASCAR   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

There are a number of stories to cover this week, but this trip to Las Vegas for NASCAR still fills me with a feeling of dread.  I just can't forget, with every view of every car around the track, exactly what happened here less than six month ago.  On October 16th, 2011 the IZOD IndyCar series lost one of its most beloved drivers, Dan Wheldon.  I know that the crash has to be on the minds of many of the drivers in the field this weekend, although not much has been said.  He, and his family, however, are first and foremost in my mind.  It will be hard to focus on the racing here this weekend, without thinking of Dan.  Jamie McMurray will carry the pictured tribute on his car this weekend.

NASCAR has developed the safest equipment possible with the current technology and I'm sure the drivers will be safe.  I am not so sure, however, that we won't see more crashes to rival those seen at Daytona.  I'm sure that is also on the mind of the drivers, perhaps most notably that of Danica Patrick, who was in the race that took Dan's life.  

As an aside, I am watching Nationwide qualifying right now, and I am really impressed with the progress Johanna Long is making! At 19 years of age, she is going to be a force in NASCAR before too much longer.

Brian Vickers was one of the victims of the closing of Red Bull Racing last year.  He has remained without a driving position and did not race in the Daytona 500.  I have been vocal that I believe it is his own ego and big mouth that have him in this position, and I stick to that opinion.  However, Michael Waltrip, one of the nicest guys in NASCAR has announced that he will hire Brian Vickers to drive the 55 car for a number of races this year.  Mark Martin is once again running a reduced schedule and Brian will fill in some of the seat time.  Could MWR have any two more opposite drivers?  Perhaps they are hopeful that Mark's mild temper and humble ego will rub off on Vicker's arrogance?  We can only hope.  

One thing I will say, without question in my mind, is that this may be the very last chance that Vickers will get.  Yes, he is a talented driver, but he is only human and can make mistakes.  He can also make deliberate moves that cause accidents.  Continually berating his crew and fellow drivers for every incident he is involved in has gotten really old.  When fans are watching live with huge screen TVs showing the replays and the fans at home are seeing those same replays, having a driver claim he had no part of an accident that was clearly of his making is ridiculous.  Certainly a driver can be mistaken.  However, Vickers constantly does this.  He needs to shut his mouth, walk away and wait until he cools down to offer an opinion.  We see where this kind of attitude got Kurt Busch and he is easily more talented than Vickers.  

Okay, off the soap box.

Qualifying for the Nationwide Series is done, with last week's winner, Elliott Sadler on the pole and the race will air later today.  Those of us in Canada will see it on TSN, while ESPN2 will carry it in the US.  

Tomorrow will see the Sprint Cup race, but the drivers have had time to practice and today Dale Earnhardt Jr was the fastest car on the track.  However, Tony Stewart told the media that last year at this track he had one of the best cars he had in the whole season.  In case you forgot, Smoke fell just short of the win at Vegas last year, to Carl Edwards, they guy he tied at the end of the season and took the championship from by virtue of wins.  Both of those two are obvious choices for fantasy picks.  

Matt Kenseth has a new sponsor for this race, with Zest, and has one of the best looking (and best smelling?) cars in the race.  With his strong start at Daytona, and his history at the track, Matt and his Ford Fusion should also be contenders.

The newest Hendrick Motorsports teammate, Kasey Kahne, calmed down long enough to grab the pole in the Sprint Cup race.  Kasey will also start on the front row for the Nationwide race, so if he can keep his excitement at bay and settle in to just drive the car, he could be a surprise winner, giving Rick Hendrick his 200th win.  Dale Jr., of course, wants to be the one to break a losing streak and give Rick that honor.

It could be the last weekend for Jimmie Johnson to have his Crew Chief, Chad Knaus, on the pit box.  The Appeals Board will meet on Tuesday and both NASCAR and HMS will be given the opportunity to present their side of the controversy over unapproved car parts at Daytona during Speed Weeks.  Once thing this fan had forgotten was that the Appeals Board has the power to eliminate the fines and penalties, uphold the fines and penalties or increase the fines and penalties.  NASCAR used to have a representative on the panel, but that is no longer the case.  Exactly who will make up the Appeals Board is unclear at this point in time, but I will certainly be glued to SPEED Channel and my computer (probably twitter will have it first) on Tuesday.

I'll leave you with my hopes and prayers for a safe race tomorrow.  I happened across this picture of Kevin Harvick's helmet, and I truly believe the equipment in these cars protects the drivers just as well as possible, but it just can't hurt to say an extra prayer or two.
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3/11/12   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

Debi_L wrote:
I used to feel that way about the teams that drove a few laps and parked but honestly,how else are they supposed to get sponsored if they aren't visible?  Also if they wreck the one car they do have, they are SOL. I still don't like to see the Start and Park cars, really but I'm all for Joe Nemechek doing all he can to race.  As for Bristol, a lot of the cars seem to wreck out fairly early anyway so I don't think it matters all that much. 

Bristol is just too small for 43 cars, same with Martinsville.  They always used to let no more than 36 in those races, and I just think they really need to go back to that on the smaller tracks again.

3/11/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

kramer wrote:
I'm with you and I'm not with you.  It's nice to have 43 or more drivers attempting to qualify, but they should all come to race the full distance.  I know this has been talked about before, but hell, I can go run one lap in a car and park it for the day!  I really feel that 43 is too much for a short track though, and that they need to go back to 36 at tracks like Bristol.

I used to feel that way about the teams that drove a few laps and parked but honestly,how else are they supposed to get sponsored if they aren't visible?  Also if they wreck the one car they do have, they are SOL. I still don't like to see the Start and Park cars, really but I'm all for Joe Nemechek doing all he can to race.  As for Bristol, a lot of the cars seem to wreck out fairly early anyway so I don't think it matters all that much. 

3/11/12   |   kramer   |   11004 respect

Debi_L wrote:
No, Eric, I'm not tired of the IndyCar tidbits.  I think it's a miracle that there are still 43 cars or more attempting to qualify every week in NASCAR and the fact that there are 26 full time teams in IndyCar is completely awesome.  You know me, there can never be too many race teams or too much racing....

I'm with you and I'm not with you.  It's nice to have 43 or more drivers attempting to qualify, but they should all come to race the full distance.  I know this has been talked about before, but hell, I can go run one lap in a car and park it for the day!  I really feel that 43 is too much for a short track though, and that they need to go back to 36 at tracks like Bristol.

3/10/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Unfortunately, that's the situation in racing these days. Money rules all, which sucks.

I know you're all probably tired of me invoking IndyCar with everything, but given all the changes with the cars and engines this year, the fact that they'll have 26 full-time teams for St. Pete, most of which driven by guys and girls who deserves seats, is a borderline miracle.

Of course, there's a big list of drivers still on the outside looking in...

No, Eric, I'm not tired of the IndyCar tidbits.  I think it's a miracle that there are still 43 cars or more attempting to qualify every week in NASCAR and the fact that there are 26 full time teams in IndyCar is completely awesome.  You know me, there can never be too many race teams or too much racing....

3/10/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Debi_L wrote:
Yeah, and Trevor Bayne doesn't have the sponsorship money to go to Bristol.  He finishes 4th and this could be his last race of the season.  Something SERIOUSLY wrong with this picture.

Unfortunately, that's the situation in racing these days. Money rules all, which sucks.

I know you're all probably tired of me invoking IndyCar with everything, but given all the changes with the cars and engines this year, the fact that they'll have 26 full-time teams for St. Pete, most of which driven by guys and girls who deserves seats, is a borderline miracle.

Of course, there's a big list of drivers still on the outside looking in...

3/10/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

Canadianhick wrote:
Ricky Stenhouse Jr. takes the checkered flag in Las Vegas for his 3rd career win!

Mark Martin, Elliott Sadler, Trevor Bayne, and  Brendan Gaughan round out the top five.


These is some good stuff as no Cup regulars have  not won yet.

Yeah, and Trevor Bayne doesn't have the sponsorship money to go to Bristol.  He finishes 4th and this could be his last race of the season.  Something SERIOUSLY wrong with this picture.

3/10/12   |   Canadianhick   |   2149 respect

(Edited by Canadianhick)

Ricky Stenhouse Jr. takes the checkered flag in Las Vegas for his 3rd career win!

Mark Martin, Elliott Sadler, Trevor Bayne, and  Brendan Gaughan round out the top five.


These is some good stuff as no Cup regulars have  not won yet.

3/10/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

Canadianhick wrote:
I saw these on twitter early and thought it was funny.  Kyle Busch said something along the lines of these:

"I would rather shove a pine cone up my rear than drive this car".

yeah, he sure isn't having much luck with his cars.  Maybe he can't drive "anything"...

3/10/12   |   Canadianhick   |   2149 respect

I saw these on twitter early and thought it was funny.  Kyle Busch said something along the lines of these:

"I would rather shove a pine cone up my rear than drive this car".

3/10/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

#RIPDan77 is the number 3 trending topic on twitter 

3/10/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

Eric_ wrote:
Obviously not my favorite race track. The memories...they aren't good.

One thing though. There is a segment of IndyCar fandom that has been lobbying for FOX and/or NASCAR to go silent tomorrow on lap 77 (or 98) in honor of Dan. I just want to say that IMO, they have no obligation to do so and if people on Twitter give them blowback if they don't, ignore it.

Jeff Gluck is asking everyone to post it today as well.  I am doing so.  Not getting to see the race, twitter is my only option as I can't stream it.

3/10/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

Rest in Peace Dan Wheldon (Lap 77)

3/10/12   |   Eric_   |   7716 respect

Obviously not my favorite race track. The memories...they aren't good.

One thing though. There is a segment of IndyCar fandom that has been lobbying for FOX and/or NASCAR to go silent tomorrow on lap 77 (or 98) in honor of Dan. I just want to say that IMO, they have no obligation to do so and if people on Twitter give them blowback if they don't, ignore it.

3/10/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

I really, really hate TSN, the LOSER in sports.  WE lucky people in Canada don't get the Nationwide race until 8pm this evening, because soccer is ever so much more important.  angry

3/10/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

He made a liar out of me.  Jimmie Johnson is out on the track with his back up car, ready to take some laps.  And so far he hasn't hit the wall........

3/10/12   |   Debi_L   |   11868 respect

tee hee.  Jimmie Johnson just got into the wall during practice.  They'll be going to a back up car, meaning they will spend the rest of this practice getting it ready.  Jimmie will start at the back and have no time in the car when he takes the green flag.