Five races in… Five winners…

Martin Truex Jr. made his first mark for 2021 by winning the Instacart 500 at Phoenix. Joey Logano had the edge on the last restart with 29 laps remaining but Truex got around on the outside and led to the finish. Logano seemed to have the car to win with leading laps and a stage 2 checker but the #19 Bass Pro Shop team managed to set up Truex for the final run.

Atlanta is up next as NASCAR rolls back to the eastern tracks. Bristol follows with a much anticipated dirt race. The technical aspect of dumping all of that dirt on top of the pavement is astounding. Now they will run 500 laps on it… There is a race test on the surface with a late model event, with the “Bristol Dirt Nationals” set for the weekend of March 19-20. That should give an indication how the track holds up in race conditions.

For Atlanta, it’s just the pavement with points race number 6. Racing with covid conditions is still on with no practice or qualifying. It makes for interesting racing as teams use the opening laps for feedback on changes in the cars. This also seems to be making the drivers work a little more which, in turn, is puttng a bit of an edge on the racing on the track.

Will we get a sixth winner in Atlanta…? Chances are good. There are too many drivers in the “expected to win” bunch that haven’t scored yet. The season really is just off the blocks but with names like McDowell and Bell getting early wins the points are turning into a “who’s next” instead of a “who’s who”.

Phoenix had the eyes of NASCAR all day Sunday as the last chance “race in” was held by rare rain. While fans tuned in for the Quicken Loans Race for Heroes 500 they instead were treated to a series of race replays showing the CHASE races and events that led up to the race at Phoenix. The victories and the eliminations, the crashes and the grudges that played out to set the circumstances of good drivers on the line or below it to advance to Homestead.
The big winner was the weather forcing NASCAR to start much later than intended only to cut the race when more rain came. The timing of the rain left the #88 of Dale Earnhardt, Jr. out front when NASCAR dropped the final red flag. That left many drivers out of it when there was still enough race left for the possibility of racing in. After a long day of waiting the weather also left fans a bit damp for not being able to see a full race and a real play of racing to the finish with those in contention to make the CHASE final four.
Jeff Gordon, winner at Martinsville after the Logano/Kenseth smash up, had the only CHASE advance win and will be joined at Homestead for a championship run by Kevin Harvick, Kyle Busch and Martin Truex, Jr. Following the delay and rain at Phoenix it was a points play for the three joining Gordon.
The championship run was ended for Joey Logano,  Brad Keselowski, Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch. Logano has 6 wins in the season including the run of the three CHASE Contender races. Carl Edwards and Kurt Busch both have two season wins and Keselowski made the CHASE with one.
The four drivers going to Homestaed and the final championship race score with 4 wins with Kyle Busch, 3 wins with Kevin Harvick and one win each for Martin Truex, Jr. and Jeff Gordon. Gordon’s win was pivotal for the #24 team coming at a time when the retiring driver needed it most surviving to the Eliminator round and facing an uphill battle to stay.
The Sprint Cup championship is now on the line. Homestead and the season finale is coming up. Four remain to race for the cup. Thirty-nine others will be out there for a final season win to carry back to their sponsors and fans.
Go Racing!

Kevin Harvick switched teams from a long run with Richard Childress Racing to a new seat at Stewart-Haas for 2014. He brought Budweiser with him to wrap the new #4 Chevrolet. At the season opening Daytona 500 he took the best finish of the rest of the Stewart-Haas group of drivers with 13th place, driving up from starting 38th.

The second race of the season offered the same result as Harvick again finished in front of his team mates but this time the finish was also the win. It’s race two of the season and, for points, the second race for Harvick in the #4.

…And he has already snagged a win.

Whatever time many may take to adapt to new surroundings Harvick seems to have skipped over. At Phoenix the #4 was fast enough through practice and qualifying to put it, and Harvick, on the board as the one to beat. He took it to the track and came off with the win of the Profit Of CNBC 500. (more…)

Apparently, it was a Subway weekend.

Carl Edwards drove the #99 Subway/Aflac Ford Fusion to the win at the Subway Fresh Fit 500 in Phoenix. He kept Jimmie Johnson in the mirror and outran a grass cut move by Denny Hamlin.

Edwards’ visit to the winner’s circle broke a 70 race run of finishing on the outside looking in. It had also been 70 races since we saw that back flip thing that he does. Had it really been that long? Everybody knows Edwards flips off the window of his car when he wins even if it was two years since we’ve seen it done. (more…)

Daytona was a big week rounding out a full month of speed from the ROLEX 24 to the ‘500. Now it is on with the season and the week in – week out of racing.

If you think about it that way as a comparison to “work” as most of us know it, do race drivers ever get up and just not feel like going in? Who hasn’t called in “sick” just because you would rather just chill with jammies on all day…?

However, if you have ever had the chance to go fast… No matter where or in what… You could grasp how drivers would just about have to be an inch from six feet under to not show up for their job… (more…)

Phoenix fans got a deal on their tickets.

One ticket gave access to a NASCAR race and a WWE event combined with championship drama and flying language suitable for an “R” rating if it were on the big screen at the cinema.

It was a mash-up of the bloopers from “Days of Thunder”, “Ricky Bobby” and “Last American Hero”…

Throw in the Nationwide Series race the day before and you have championship hopes dashed away by two.

Elliott Sadler in the Nationwide Series and Jimmie Johnson in Sprint Cup had practically the same scenario. Sadler had his hopes dashed away with a wall hit that took the #2 OneMain Financial Chevy out of the Great Clips 200 and left him 20 points out with only Homestead to go.

Jimmie Johnson also had a run with the retaining wall that took the #48 Lowe’s Chevy to the garage long enough to loose several laps and 20 points. Johnson also faces the prospect of one race remaining with the only hope of gaining resting on the potential bad luck of another.

On any race weekend fans would consider themselves lucky to have a seat while a game-changing scenario plays out on the track in front of them. (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…)