NASCAR officials expected a few changes in a season unlike any other one might expect.
After being sidelined for 10 weeks by the COVID-19 epidemic, NASCAR returned in May ahead of the NBA, Major League Baseball, NHL and many other sports. To reduce costs for teams, NASCAR eliminated practice and qualification in almost all events. Race weekend turned into a one-day show. Realized race dates.
Then this week’s news came that NASCAR planned to replace Auto Club Speedway in a short track.
Many of NASCAR’s actions are earning praise from drivers.
Chase Elliott asked Thursday about Auto Club Speedway’s plan, “I think the big picture is that we should all be really excited that leadership at NASCAR is doing something different nowadays and it’s a trend.”
“It has really been a trend throughout the year. I think instead of finding the negatives in some of the things they are doing, I think we should all be super excited that they are actually changing and doing some things differently – have some different ideas. And they are putting them to work. There is something that I don’t think has probably ever happened yet. So, be excited to see them trying different things. “
The change also includes midseason adoption of the rule of choice in the race, a cup race at Nashville Superspeedway in 2021 and a delay in the start of the Next Gen car until 2022.
Turning 2-mile Auto Club Speedway into a shorter track that has elements of Martinsville’s long straitway, Bristol’s high-banked bend and Richmond’s Dogel Frontstretched driver.
“It’s very provocative and I mean that in a good way,” Brad Keselowski said on Thursday of Auto Club news. “I think we are really starting to look at (President of NASCAR) Jim France and his leadership style, I don’t want to say that they are comfortable, but find their way and direction. It’s fresh in some ways Has been a small part of it. I would say that this move to Auto Club Speedway gives a good feeling in the sense that it looks like something is coming right from above. It seems to have a fair amount of thought Gone, at least from my point of view.
“I think we’ve seen a few such examples, like they’re Jim. He’s got his style, and I don’t think it’s bad and I’m not sure I’d say where we were bad before. I Thought there is room for improvement, but I feel like I’m in the middle of a book and I’m just reading the chapters and it’s almost the same as having a different writer with these chapters now and Jim writing them And they are very interesting and compelling.
“It’s hard to see them as a whole because naturally none of us know everything that’s going on behind the scenes, but there’s more to this moment that I agree with that I disagree with And that’s probably a good thing. “
Jim France took over as president of NASCAR on November 6, 2018, when former chairman Brian France was arrested by Saig Harbor Village (New York) police while being in the 7th degree drunk and criminal possession of a controlled substance .
Jim France immediately appeared in the garage on race weekend, earning praise from competitors. Many in the garage complained that Brian France was not often on track during his tenure, which began in September 2003.
Jim France also presided over the merger of NASCAR with International Speedway Corp. The merger was announced in May 2019.
Less than two months after Jim France took over, Steve Phelps was promoted to president of NASCAR on October 20, 2018, replacing Brent Dewar.
Everything has not been right. Bob Levine, owner of Levine Family Racing, has been in critical condition About NASCAR’s business model. Leaven sold his team to Spire Motorsports this summer. Germain Racing owner Bob Germain said he is considering a possible sale of the team with sponsor GEICO not returning later this season. Questions have been raised about Richard Petty Motorsports with the news that Bubba Wallace will run elsewhere next year and take some of his sponsors with him.
“We have been working with our teams and have been working with our teams for the last four-five years,” Phelps recently told reporters. “We want a healthy team.
“I suggest that the number of new owners trying to join the game has never been higher. Certainly when I was around, and I have been around for 15 years. There is just a ton of excitement in the direction of what the ownership of the team looks like.
2. Exclusive Club
Kevin Harvick’s eight wins have the momentum to become the first driver to win at least 10 Cup races in a season in more than a decade and only the third driver to reach that mark in the last quarter.
Jimmy Johnson is the last driver to complete the feat. She won 10 races in 2007. The only other driver to reach that position in the last 25 years is Jeff Gordon. He won 13 races in 1998 and 10 in 1996 and ’97.
Rusty Wallace was not the last driver from Hendrick Motorsports to score at least 10 wins in a season. He won 10 times in 1993 for car owner Roger Penske.
The head of Harvick’s crew, Rodney Children, considers the 10-win season a great thing.
“In 2018, we were able to win eight races and all-star races, and it was a big deal for us. This is one of those dream seasons, and has certainly been one as well. “
Denny Hamlin, who has six wins, said one team’s goal for this year is to win 10 races.
“Now you know how important Bristol and Indy were to us,” Hamlin’s crew chief Chris Gabart said. “Those were the two that we had and got away from us.”
Hamlin lost the lead with 12 laps to go in Bristol when his car went too high in the corner. He then ran into Joey Logano when Logano did the same thing in the next corner.
Hamlin had a tire, which was knocked down and left with eight laps to go to Indianapolis. Harvick won that race.
Why to win 10 goals for Hamlin’s team?
“You look at the names of the people on that list, not only was it done a long time ago, it was done in a different kind of era where the rulebook is concerned,” Gabart said. “This is an elite list of people.”
3. Never mind
Kyle Busch enters Saturday night’s Richmond race seven points above the cutline for the final spot and without crew chief Adam Stevens. But Busch does not expect any issues with Stevens back at the shop.
NASCAR suspended Stevens from a race as two lug nuts were not safe and secure after Butch’s car hit the Southern 500 (Clint Boer crew chief Johnny Classemire faced the same penalty and would not even be in Richmond) .
Engineer Jacob Canter will serve as chief of Bush’s crew on Saturday. Canter has been head of Busch’s crew in five of his Xfinity races this season, including the Friday night show.
Even though Cantor has far less experience with Busch than Stevens – Busch and Stevens have been together since 2015 – Busch said he wouldn’t change what he says on the radio. That’s because Stevens must have been listening.
“I basically have to talk to Adam directly while talking on the radio, ”Bush said. “It’s just I can’t hear back from Adam.”
The suspension of NASCAR prohibits a person from garages, pits and other restricted areas. A suspension does not prevent a crew chief from listening to the team’s radio and communicating with the crew on the track.
“I am not sure of the technology and communication with the stuff in the war room and Joe Gibbs racing today and all that stuff that we are running right now,” Bush said. Stevens is not in Richmond.
4. in a hole
Ryan Blane faces a tough challenge to reach the second round of the playoffs. Should he do so, he would be one of the favorites to advance to the third round.
Such is life at the NASCAR Playoffs.
The first round is seen as the weakest of the blanks. He has never been in the top 10 in Darlington. His 24th-place finish last weekend was among the playoff drivers. Blaney and Matt DiBenedetto are 17 points each from the final transfer spot.
Richmond is worse for the struggles Blaney has faced in Darlington. He never finished better than 17th out of eight. His average end in Richmond is 25.5.
Another poor result on Saturday could bring Blenst to victory in Bristol.
If he can only get this round, he will be the one to watch. Las Vegas, Talladega and Charlotte Roval are in the second round. Some drivers call it a wildcard round, given how important it would be to win in Las Vegas, so a driver does not have to worry about what might happen in Talladega and Rowall.
Joey Logano won in Las Vegas in February, but Blane took the lead when a caution triggered an overtime restart. Blaney played the lead role, a move crew chief Todd Gordon lamented. Second-placed running back Alex Bowman also piled on. Logano, who was carefully placed third, took the lead and won.
Even if Blaney does not win Las Vegas, Talladega is next. Blani has won the last two races there. He won in the playoff race in June and last year.
If not, Taldega, there is Rowal. Blaney won the inaugural race there in 2018 and finished eighth last year.
So if Blaney can advance to the first round, he may be in a good position to go deep into the playoffs.
5. count right
Last week, a 10-point penalty for improperly inflicted ballast to Ryan Blande and his team is changing how Team Penske prepares his cars.
The team said a 5-pound lead bag was left in the car by mistake. The bag was added to simulate fluid weight before the race engine was installed.
Team Penske’s competition director Travis Geisler said the team is changing its process to retrieve such bags.
“A very unfortunate situation, but you go back and you look at it and you say, ‘Well, what do we have to do here? “Said Gisler.” How do we stop it from moving forward? What do we do? ‘ We are moving towards a ballast bag count.
“Normally, people would just add ballast bags until the car was weighing in. Now a count needs to be done. It’s like when doctors go into surgery they know what they have, They know what equipment they have so that they don’t leave anyone behind. That’s what we need to do. It’s a piece of our process that needs to be tightened. “
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