Kyle Larson at Las Vegas. A bit of a surprise…? Yes and no…

Larson was suspended from NASCAR competition nearly a year ago following a slipped racial comment during an online racing event. He’s been through apologies, grief and structured sensitivity courses. The reinstatement to NASCAR came with an invitation to join one of the elite racing teams in the sport. With the exit of Jimmie Johnson, Hendrick had a seat to fill. The bet was on for Larson. Car numbers were shifted and the number 5 was put back on track with Larson at the wheel.

It was all but expected for Larson to make some waves. Not only did he have some catching up to do but there was an underline to prove to Hendrick that he was a good choice. Proving to himself, for Kyle Larson, was likely also an incentive. The mark on his reputation from online language, and an extra effort to show his personal growth from the aftermath, was also a possible weight in the #5 Chevy.

All of that on the table, grabbing a win at Las Vegas as only the fourth race of the season was still a bit of a surprise. It takes a bit of time to “settle in” with new teams, cars and structure. Kevin Harvick, a common Vegas favorite, was on the pole. A lack luster performance from the Harvick squad put the #4 down a lap as Larson seemed to find his pace with the #5 running well. The team executed and crew chief Cliff Daniels handled the race well.

Kyle Larson is the fourth winner in as many races. Following the ruckus of last year and the waves brought on by scrutiny, the expression of gratitude to Hendrick, the fans and NASCAR by Larson seemed to be on the level. He seems well ready to be on the road he is on to bring his name back to good standing with fans, with NASCAR, with motor sport and in open view of the general public.

Bubba Wallace, also on tap with a new team and a new focus, was there to congratulate Larson on the win. It’s a small gesture of racing camaraderie but the underlying statement of “welcome back” was noticed as it came from the man at the center of much of the discussion of race in racing in 2020. Kyle Larson has made his mark in the winner circle. 2021 is early on the season. There are plenty of surprises yet to come.

Racing is back. We’ve been stuck in Florida for two months but racing is back. The IMSA ROLEX back in January through a double shot at Daytona and a swing to Miami… That’s just a lot of Florida!

It has been interesting! First time winners at Daytona and an early season checker for William Byron at Homestead certainly threw the odds players under the bus but pushed some names out from the shadows.

Byron placed his second Cup win in the column at Homestead with new crew chief Rudy Fugle. One week before at the Daytona Road Course, Christopher Bell notched his first Cup win. Michael McDowell is on a bit of a streak with top 10 finishes following his Daytona 500 win.

Now… Finally… We’ll see a different view that doesn’t include Florida beaches. NASCAR is moving into the traveling schedule with the next stop at Las Vegas and the Pennzoil 400 (presented by Jiffy Lube).

We’re about to see racing start their moves around the country. Vegas, Phoenix then back east for Atlanta and the much anticipated dirt race at the famed stadium of Bristol. More short track action follows at martinsville, with Richmond to follow. From there it’s Talladega!

The season will be in full swing with the only questions remaining will be who’s in front and who is able to attend. Fans and the localities are hungry to get out and about and the covid vaccine rollout is putting more laps on the board. How all of this will combine for race attendance into the Spring is yet to be seen… But the hopes are high.

For now… The question remains if there will be another surprise winner at Phoenix or will one of the veterans, eager to put the young guns in the mirror, make their mark on the track?

While the big series are scratching at the headlines, the small “weekender” tracks across the country are blowing off the dust of Winter and prepping to go. Many already have had their first laps…

Keep the eyes and ears open for those vaccines. Get registered to get it if you’re not already. 2021 is shaping up for a return to “normal”… Or, at least, something close to it.

The season seems to be cranking up for the Ford badge. The Penske Racing Ford badge, specifically.

Brad Keselowski and Joey Logano have traded off starting positions in the front row, finished in the top 5 and have put one of their Fords into Victory Lane.

The previous week at Phoenix, Keselowski was on the pole with Logano on his wheel. This week at Vegas Logano was on the pole with Keselowski on the wheel. Both finished in the top for both of these races with BK taking the win in the most recent Kobalt Tools 400.

It should also be noted Keselowski finished 3rd at the Daytona opener while Logano was just outside of the top 10 at 11th. The season has opened well for the Penske Fords with Keselowski off to a quick points chase showing, perhaps, that his 2012 championship has the possibility of a repeat. (more…)

Well… That was a pretty good hire… Don’t ya think?

Pretty much a no-brainer, really. He did win races last year including the Daytona 500. He did make the “Chase” last year…

So the jump to the #20 was a good one for Joe Gibbs Racing.

Not bad for Matt Kenseth, either. Even after talk of getting used to a new car, new team, new suit, new sponsors… All that “new” and Kenseth still pops to the top to win the third race of the season at Las Vegas. (more…)

It was as if WSOP was on hand for the Kobalt Tools 400 as the cards were dealt and the drivers made their bets at the  Las Vegas Motor Speedway. The seating positions were set from qualifying with Kasey Kahne on the pole and handling the dealer button but as the cards were dealt it was Dale Earnhardt, Jr. opening with a pair of tens.

It was a decent pair to start, apparently. The first caution hit while the #88 was going in under green. This little bit of luck allowed Jr. to keep the lead on the restart. However, the flop hit and changed the dynamic of the hand completely. (more…)

Have you taken the time to see where they are racing or do you simply check the TV to see when the race is on…? All we do is plant ourselves on the couch and click the remote but those folks at NASCAR have to arrange all that stuff. At first glance it looks as if they arrange it with a dart board and blindfolds…

Race 1 – Daytona. Fine… Tradition and all that. The Daytona 500 starts the season and always will.

Race 2 – Phoenix. Let’s roll right by Texas to get there…

Race 3 – Las Vegas. Hey! Just up the road! Cool!

Race 4 – Bristol. What…? OK… Road trip!

Race 5 – Fontana…? Where is that? Next to Los Angeles…? California…? We were practically there in Vegas!

Race 6 – Martinsville. Back to Virginia…? What day is it?

Race 7 – Texas. What…? Why didn’t we stop there first and then go to Martinsville? It was on the way!

and so on…

Yes. Scheduling is a nightmare. There is the balance of tradition with newer facilities. There is the consideration of weather and temperature. There is the case for keeping the racing interesting with a variety of track length and technical skill. There is that dart board that doesn’t get used nearly enough… (more…)