Richmond Round Up

One last week of short track racing at Richmond before the whole circus packs up and pulls a 180 at Talladega. It’s our last entry in the “I made it up last week” hashtag #ShortTrackRumble. Let’s get our fix in now, cause we won’t have this much sheet metal banging and beating until we hit the first road course race at Sonoma in June.

Let’s get right into this thing.

edwards wins richmondCarl Edwards won with a bump and run on his teammate in the last corner of the race.

I’m going to stress this again. LAST CORNER OF THE RACE!

NASCAR fans are being spoiled this year with one epic finish after the other. Yesterday’s race was the very first time in the history of the series at Richmond. And Richmond isn’t one of those new cookie cutter tracks that opened during the building surge of the late 90s and early 00s. Richmond has been hosting NASCAR Cup level racing since 1953.

Carl Edwards has now gone back to back for the first time since 2010. Joe Gibbs Racing has won four in a row and five of the nine races at the one quarter mark of the season. Edwards leads the points with only one race outside the top seven so far this year (Vegas). The team, and the driver, have positioned themselves at the favorite at this point the season. JGR teammate (and victim of the bump and run), Kyle Busch is the defending champion and all, but I’d still favor Edwards. Yes, Busch has two wins and sits 4th in the points, but he had the adversity of the injury comeback to fuel his focus last year. He’s one of the most talented drivers in the history of the sport, whether you think he’s a hero or a heel, but I still want to see him hold his focus for a full 36 races before I can consider him a perennial contender.

stewart at richmondTony Stewart is back!

One of the biggest news items in NASCAR during the off season was Tony Stewart’s impending retirement followed by the injury suffered during a vacation tooling around in some sand rails out in California. Back injuries are nothing to mess around with so everyone knew it would be a while before he could safely race again. He’s been walking around at the track the last couple weeks playing the role of owner and mentor to his team and the Vickers-Dillon combo keeping his car warm for him. It’s a role that Stewart will excel in just as he has in all his other racing endeavors.

But we’re all happier that Stewart is back in his car for the rest of his final season.

Stewart ran a mid pack race all day, losing a lap, getting it back, beating and banging all day. He tangled with Logano and ended up with a shredded tire fighting for the lucky dog position. It happens. The man was just ecstatic to be on the track again.

Of Lug Nuts and Fines

Of course NASCAR shot itself in the foot and created a PR cluster for themselves by fining Stewart 35k for speaking out about lug nut safety. The crazy thing about the fine is that the statements were very tame by Tony Stewart’s standards. It stems from the rule about not having a NASCAR official monitor that all five lug nuts are secure on each wheel anymore. Junior has spoken out against the same thing. So has Biffle. NASCAR has made it sound like it’s a self policing policy. But teams are paid to push the limits. Three or four lug nuts for an extra tenth on pit road on the final pit stop? Hell yes that’s going to happen. Many drivers feel this is a huge safety risk and are put into a bad position by NASCAR.

hamlin helmet in carWell, the new(ish) Driver’s Council decided to step in and pay off Stewart’s fine. That’s a big deal. NASCAR has never traditionally tolerated dissension in the ranks. Hamlin was quoted as saying “that we just believe that we should have the right to speak our opinion” and not everyone exactly agrees with Stewart’s opinion. The Driver’s Council just sent a shot across the bow.

I think this is a good thing. The Race Team Alliance and the Driver’s Council are a happy medium for the sport between NASCAR doing whatever it wants and having contentious battles between NASCAR and some sort of union. There are too many players with money in the pot to form a full fledged union in NASCAR. Baseball and the NHL have months and whole seasons to union battles and not that long ago. Frankly, NASCAR would not survive something like that. Baseball and hockey barely did. Hell, baseball losing the ’94 World Series to a strike let the NFL swoop in and take the title of the most prominent sport in America, a title the NFL’s billions aren’t going to let up on any time soon. Baseball has never fully recovered. Hockey hasn’t recovered. NASCAR has too many of it’s own issues to ever survive a proper union blow out.

But what the Driver’s Council is doing here is important. NASCAR, the tracks, the sponsors, the TV partners, they’ve all got fat stacks of cash involved with the sport but the driver’s are still the stars. The council makes sure their voices aren’t lost in the shuffle. This is NASCAR’s new reality and it seems like it will be healthy for the sport. People constantly deride the sport for becoming too button up corporate. Guys like Keslowski have said they censor themselves because they don’t want to be fined. But NASCAR needs to let the driver’s be human beings, not machines. We’ve got machines, they’re called race cars.

One Angry Cat

I really have nothing to add here beyond Kyle Busch’s Banfield Pet Hospital paint job will go down as one of my favorites all time. The cat on the right rear looks so pissed at having that thing on its head. I love it.

kyle banfield livery jgr facebook 4-20

Shout outs!

So now that I’ve rambled on about NASCAR’s unnecessary distraction with those Tony Stewart fines, (side note, some day I want to figure out how much in his career he’s been fined… I imagine a lot), time for the Richmond Shout Outs!

My predictions from last week… eh. It was a lot of the usual faces with no huge surprises like last week at Bristol.

kahne at richmond mtn dew blackThe biggest shout out goes to Kasey Kahne.

Richmond was his third top ten and first top five of the year. Although he hasn’t been running as well as he did in the first nine races of last year, Kahne needs more finishes like this. With Chase Elliot out performing his rookie expectations already, he does not want to be mired in a lower tier of performance than the rest of Hendrick Motorsports. Again. Kahne is 14th in the standings at the one quarter mark of the season. That’s not bad per se, but his teammates are 3rd, 6th, and 11th. More races like this will help Kahne a lot. Started 8th and never left the top ten on the day. That is an excellent day for anyone.

The other shout out on the day goes to Chase Elliot.

The rookie started way back in 23rd place after qualifying was rained out and went to practice speeds. He spent over 150 laps running a lap off the pace but managed to get the lap back and claw his way back up to a 12th place finish. Twenty six cars finished on the lead lap this week, a very high number for a short track even in this modern era of waive arounds. Getting his lap back was a big deal, especially after running so long without it. I think it takes more focus to have the patience and perseverance to get the lap back the way he did rather than running 12th all day long. Chase is showing a veteran temperament behind the wheel again.

Pit Stall 13 Update

ragan at richmondDavid Ragan in the BK Racing #23 was the lucky recipient of pit stall 13 this week. He ended up finishing in the same spot as his number, but the BK team had a solid race anyways. Ragan started 30th after the washout of qualifying but he leap frogged a pile of cars early and stayed on the lead lap the entire race. Ragan raced in the top 20 most of the day. A series of cautions late in the race made the lead lap pretty crowded for a short track so he lost a couple spots near the end, but this kind of race is very good for the little team that could. After Matt DiBenedetto’s epic run last week at Bristol, I’m glad to see BK’s whole performance is getting better.

Charterless Update

  • 28th – #21 Ryan Blaney – Top of the Charterless again, but finished a lap down on a day where a lap down wasn’t going to get you much
  • 37th – #93 Ryan Elis – Running a third entry for BK Racing, this was Elis’ second start at Cup level. He’s got a couple more on the books later in the season
  • 39th – #30 Josh Wise – Survived ten laps off the pace
  • 40th – #55 Reed Sorensen – Survived ten laps off the pace, but actually with a sponsor this time. Also note how all 40 cars finished the race this week.
  • DNQ – #98 Cole Whitt – The primary Premium Motorsports car missed the show after qualifying was set by practice speeds. First race since Daytona where anyone DNQ’d.

The 98 had the lowest speed of the Charterless, a half mile per hour slower than Elis. But notice how I said Charterless. Annett would have missed the race normally since he posted no time after damaging his car earlier in the weekend. Annett, Bowyer, Jeffery Earnhardt in the #32 all posted slower practice times than Whitt.

The irony is that HScott’s charter for #46 was leased from Premium. So the team that missed the race did so to the person they gave up their charter to. Annett got a 36th place finish out of it.

On to Talladega!

We’re done with short tracks until August and NASCAR switches things up as much as they possibly can by hitting Talladega next week. The biggest track in the sport provides a holiday for the state of Alabama. This is the most rambunctious track out there.

We got two big news items already for Talladega. The official race entry list has not been released this early in the week, but Tony Stewart will still run the superspeedway. When talking about his return to the car last week, he said that he’ll start the race to get the points, but will likely hand over the car to Ty Dillon. The big track makes a driver change a hell of a lot easier than most places. I also think this shows Stewart is playing his recovery smart. Spinal injuries aren’t something to mess around with so no need to put more strain on it than he needs. After Talladega, the next race with speeds even approaching that like that won’t be til Michigan in June.

ives twitterThe other item was floating around Twitter this morning. Greg Ives, crew chief for Junior, said that Amelia has been repaired and will return to the track this week. If you don’t know, that’s the name of Earnhardt’s favorite restrictor plate car. He’s won a pile of races with that car but it got banged up. This is going to put Earnhardt way inside his comfort zone and, like his father, he is an ace at the plate tracks.

Earnhardt is instantly the favorite for Talladega. He would be even without his favorite car behind repaired. Other favorites to look out for… Hamlin, first of all. The Gibbs cars are the top in the sport right now and Hamlin won the last plate race in Daytona.

I keep wanting to say to watch out for the RCR cars. That team tends to perform well at the plate tracks, but with Austin Dillon having a rough couple of weeks and Newman and Menard having trouble carrying on with their top 15 parades, I’m putting a big asterisk on the end of that. I really don’t want to. Just like with Roush, the sport is better off with RCR, one of the old school teams, being relevant. At this point though, I think RCR needs to swing for the fences to break their win drought. Talladega is a place to do it.

And of course, we get to see what little team is going to bust out a good finish. That right there is my favorite part of restrictor plate racing.

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Bristol Round Up

So after the Texas Round Up (which really sounds like it should be a rodeo and/or tacky steakhouse) got lost to the whims of the internet, NASCAR heads back to the short track racing.

It’s time for Bristol, touted as a modern colosseum that hands out gladiator swords as trophies.

It wasn’t that long ago at Martinsville that I rambled on about the awesomeness of short track racing, so I shan’t get repetitive with you. I really wish NASCAR would swap the Texas and Martinsville weekends so we could follow the West Coast Swing with the Short Track Rumble, a three in a row of short tracks. I’ll happily take three of four though.

So how did this round of the “PR unapproved hashtag I just made up in the last paragraph” Short Track Rumble pan out?

edwards wins bristolCarl Edwards won from the pole, leading over half the laps of the race and doing his patented backflip of victory. Between Edwards and Kenseth, the two cars led over three quarters of the race, Kenseth ultimately wrecking in the front half of the race to finish 40 laps off the pace, the last car which did not DNF. But 16 lead changes is nothing to sneeze at. 15 caution flags. These cars were out there beating and banging in the best short track tradition. It’s my favorite kind of racing and Bristol put on a show.

Too bad not many were there to see it.

Every picture of the stands looked really sad. The estimated crowed at Thunder Valley was only 90k. That leaves 70k seats empty. This gives me a sad face. I am one of many that thinks NASCAR overbuilt in the late 90s and early 2000s. A lot of grandstands across NASCAR have been getting the ax. I’ve seen it with my own eyes at New Hampshire. Bristol used to be a guaranteed sell out but those days look long gone. I get that people’s sports viewing habits have changed a lot in the last fifteen years. People tend to go for the high def big screens with their own kitchen and bathroom a short jaunt away, or with the portable on the go pocket screen. It is what it is. I can’t fix that part, especially since I got one of those high def big screens, but Bristol is one of the most unique and exciting races on the schedule. It’s on my bucket list. Bristol should be the last place that needs to “enhance the race day experience.”

Rant over.

This year’s spring Bristol race was a great one. So we’ll just go with that and pretend there were butts in those seats.

Woman hit by Kyle Busch’s car

kyle hits pedestrianThis is one of the more WTF moments I’ve seen in NASCAR in a long time. Or racing period.

Kyle Busch was coming into the infield after his second crash. The right front was shot. The wheel was bent, so steering was… less than optimal. So he’s pulling into the garage and BAM! Clips a woman in the back of the leg with the car.

It looks like Busch was driving off under a rope divider. You can see a guy holding it up in the clip. And one guy had to quite literally jump out of the way. And it’s Bristol, so it’s going to be louder than other tracks. But still. Looks like she was doing something on her phone.

She rolled her ankle and went down. Frankly, I think she’s lucky the splitter didn’t hamstring her.

Even if Busch was driving in an area that one wouldn’t expect traffic, PAY ATTENTION!

I’ve had hot passes at New Hampshire before. It’s not nearly as crowded as Bristol but you PAY ATTENTION to where you are.

Every now and then we’re reminded that NASCAR can be dangerous. We’re lucky that woman wasn’t severely hurt.

Shout outs!

This is a great week for Shout Outs. Normally, restrictor place races are where you expect to see surprise finishes, they are unpredictable and the great leveler at the same time. But Bristol paid off for some people who needed great runs (or never had one before).

dibenedetto at bristolMatt DiBenedetto!

Holy crap Matt DiBenedetto!

BK Racing has been running full time for five years, taking over from the remnants of Red Bull Racing. This is a team where a top 20 finish is a great day. They finished in sixth place. Not only is that the best finish for the second year driver, it is the best finish for BK Racing period. And this is a small team that would regularly show up to the track with four cars in the pre-charter days (and still did at Daytona). Running some of the old MWR equipment that the team picked up at auction, I had this team and DiBenedetto pegged as a guy who could make some improvements this year. I expected it to come on a restrictor plate track or one of the cookie-cutters where even small teams can get some good data. Their performance this week even got the #83 team to ink a sponsor for next week at Richmond.

There’s also a twitter hashtag on now #VoteForMattD to get him in the All Star Race. Remember Josh Wise and the DogeCar? Well, wouldn’t Danica just be pissed if those internet nerds out voted her for second time.

bayne stenhouse at bristolTrevor Bayne

Here’s a guy who really needed a solid finish. Since winning the 2011 Daytona 500 as a part timer for the Wood Brothers, the fifth place finish at Bristol was his best race. Bayne is one of the people I think is on the hot seat for not having a ride next year. Roush’s struggles have been well documented across the board. Stenhouse has finally been showing improvement and I see Roush as the type of team that will have a veteran paired up with younger drivers so Biffle is safe(ish). With Bubba Wallace waiting in the wings, I figured Bayne was on the hot seat. This race was huge for that #6 team, only their third top ten since Bayne went full time and Roush resurrected the number.

Also, holy crap look at how roughed up Bayne’s car is in the picture I used here. Yay short tracks!

bowyer at bristolClint Bowyer

Bowyer didn’t forget how to drive. Looking at his numbers this year, it’s easy to think he might have. But we have to remember, even though his number and sponsors are the same, he’s running for HScott now and not MWR. Even though he’s on a winning drought for almost three and a half years, he wasn’t bad last year with twelve top 10s. Since heading to HScott for his temporary assignment before taking over Tony Stewart’s #14, California was the only top 20 he posted in the first seven races. Ricky Craven, over at ESPN, wrote a couple days ago how a driver can out think himself in a slump and how Bowyer can get his head back in the game. The best cure all in NASCAR is a good finish. One of NASCAR’s biggest characters should get a little bit of his swagger back.

cassill at bristolLandon Cassill

The finishing position of the #38 Front Row Motorsports Ford says 22nd, which is an okay day for that team. That doesn’t tell the whole story though. Cassill was mixing it up at the front of the pack at Bristol. He led laps around the mid point of the race and spent much of the second half of the race in the top ten. Unfortunately, a late race tangle with Ty Dillon, running the #95 this week, hosed that up for Cassill. Landon is one of the drivers who has been going about his career in an old school way, starting with the small teams and working his way up through the ranks. He got a top five for the Hillman-Circle Sport Tangle a while ago at Talladega. Cassill has long been one of the drivers I want to see get a chance in top shelf equipment, so even though his finish didn’t reflect it, I love seeing him mixing it up and leading laps.

Pit Stall 13 Update

There is now a tie at the top of the Pit Stall 13 Leaderboard. Matching Kyle Larson’s Martinsville performance, Kurt Busch took home a third place with the magic of pit stall 13 behind him.

Kurt’s driving style has always fit the short track races on the NASCAR circuit. He qualified pretty poorly in 26th place, but broke into the top ten by lap 200 and never looked back, staying the top ten for the rest of the day. Bonus points for having excellent pit stops all day too. The official NASCAR stats put him at third best average pit time of the day behind Edwards and McMurray.

Charterless Update

  • 11th – #21 Ryan Blaney – Cracked the top 15 quick and stayed there all day, much in the top 10. If it wasn’t for Chase Elliot coming home 4th, we’d be hearing a lot more Blaney Buzz
  • 28th – #98 Cole Whitt – Survived the attrition only four laps off the pace
  • 33rd – #30 Josh Wise – Survived the attrition but not as well as Whitt
  • 40th – #55 Reed Sorensen – The caboose of the field conked out at lap 169 and called it suspension

On to Richmond!

One more week of the “I just made it up” hashtag #ShortTrackRumble over at Richmond before hitting the exact opposite with Talladega the first week of May. There is going to be a lot of talk about all the important data next week what since Richmond is the final pre-Chase race in the fall. I’m just glad to watch short track NASCAR as often as I can.

whitt at bristolOf note for next week, Richmond will be only the second race of the year with more than 40 cars on the entry list. For the first time since Daytona, someone is going to have to go home and that’s kinda big in a season where we’ve only been hitting 39 cars for a lot of the races already. BK Racing, fresh off DiBenedetto’s team and career best finish, is rolling in with a third car for Ryan Ellis (who ran one Cup level race last year with Circle Sport). BK Racing got two Charterless cars into the Daytona 500 and they’ve been running decent midpack races so I think that probably leaves Premium with either Whitt or Sorensen as the odd man out.

As for predictions? After this past week at Bristol, who knows anymore. I’d say “the usual short track faces” but this past week was full of faces up front which aren’t usual. My hope is that guys like Cassill and Menard who ran well this past week can get the finishes to go with the up front face time. And of course I’d love to see DiBenedetto pull off another run like this past week. I can see Roush riding some momentum too, although, Stenhouse is better at short tracks than Bayne. The #17 is quietly solid at short tracks so I would not be surprised at a good finish.

Martinsville Round Up

Short track racing!!

When NASCAR rolls into the oldest track on the tour, I always do a little happy dance. Even in the years when the rules package means the racing isn’t top notch everywhere else, Martinsville always puts on a show. Because aero doesn’t mean a damn thing on the paperclip.

NASCAR needs more short tracks. Anyone who watched today’s race would agree to that.

kyle wins martinsvilleThe race this week was way more exciting than the box score would have you think. Kyle Busch finished the weekend sweep, leading over 350 of the 500 laps. That lap stat there makes it seem like he ran away from the field, but there’s the beauty of short track racing, the leader is bumping and banging around on track just as much as everyone else. There were only eight cautions, which big chunks of green flag racing in between. The cool temps at the track meant that the concrete surface never really got any grip, so there was huge tire fall off during a run. I’m more than ok with this. It’s one of those things that makes for great racing.

I feel like I’ve been talking about tire fall off and tire issues almost every week. That’s typical of a place like this or at Atlanta, but the rubber was a big deal at Fontana too. Byproduct of the low aero. (Or the Martinsville no-aero). I really think that NASCAR fans are being seriously spoiled this year in terms of excellent races. Haven’t had a snoozer yet this year really. That’s why when I saw there were empty seats at Martinsville, I thought it was a damn shame. If it wasn’t seven states away, I’d go myself. It’s on my bucket list. There are few guarantees in NASCAR, but a good race at Martinsville is one of them.

This race was full of standout performances that will tell the real story of the race, so before we start calling out those stellar runs, how’d my predictions from last week do?

Pretty much wish I had gone to Vegas with those. Last week, I called early advantage to Kyle Busch. Which was a big duh. I actually didn’t realize though that prior to this weekend sweep, he had never won a trophy at Martinsville. Seems like such a natural fit for him. After checking off this track, Kyle Busch is down to just three on the circuit that he has left on his list, Charlotte, Pocono, and Kansas.

allmendinger at martinsvilleI also hit a home run with calling on Allmendinger to carry the momentum the #47 had been building through the start of the season. Top ten car all day and stormed to the front on the last restart to finish second. The JTG Daughtry team is seriously gelling right now. Yeah, early season gains don’t always last for the whole year, but I find their gains impressive because NASCAR opens the year on a wide variety of tracks. Good finishes at Fontana and Martinsville are two very different things but this little team did both. If they can make similar gains at the cookie cutter mile-and-a-half tracks, this team can be in the mix at the end of the year.

Shenanigans!

Eh, there weren’t much. That was really the one prediction that was a swing and a miss from the last round up post. The only real drama was Austin Dillon getting fired up on the radio. But that’s starting to be a regular thing as is crew chief Slugger Labbe telling him to breathe and get back to racing.

menard at martinsville 2Menard gave Dillon a shove at one point, maybe 2/3 through the race. They were both right around 10th. Lapped traffic. Menard had a run. Just one of those deals at a short track. But with no rubber sticking to the surface of the track, people were getting freight trained on the outside lane and Dillon lost some spots. They were beating and banging on each other for a while but they left it on the track as they should and were cool after the race.

The Worst Caution Ever

I can’t find video of this floating around anywhere yet, it might be too early (since I’m writing this on Sunday night instead of the usual Monday evening), but the worst caution ever came out at Martinsville today.

Sweet Lady Debris shows up from time to time in NASCAR, but maybe the TV cameras just can’t find it. The broadcasters have more important things to cover than scanning the track to maybe find a piece of something on the track. And the cynical among us decry the phantom cautions, but at least NASCAR has plausible deniability. “Just cause *you* didn’t see the debris, doesn’t mean anything.” It’s a good line. Easy to defend.

wise atlantaJosh Wise in the #30, one of those guys I really would love to see in top notch equipment someday, was running a few laps off the pace near Truex in the Furniture Row car. After almost a hundred laps on the tires, things were getting squirrely. Truex went underneath Wise but came up into him. The doorslam put Wise up into the marbles and the caution flew.

Except Wise didn’t hit anything. Or spin. Or even slide. He just went out of the racing groove.

After taking flak for not throwing a caution at the end of the Fontana Xfinity race before the break, someone jumped the gun way too fast here.

Rally Time

I said above that the story of the race is really some of the individual highlights. Let’s look at our finishing order. Edwards had 6th. Newman 10th. Logano 11th. Earnhardt 14th. Good to meh finishes for these drivers. Normally not anything to write home about.

But all four of them spent significant time a lap down.

Edwards started deep in the field and didn’t even crack the top twenty until almost midway. Earnhardt spun for the first caution on lap six and didn’t get it back until 313 for the Wise “caution.” (I’ll be the Tin Foil Hat Crowd loves that) Logano had the pole to start, but dropped like a rock after he chewed up his tires early in a run and had to claw his way back just for 11th. Newman also started and held on longer than Logano, but lost a lap and only got it back at the end.

All of these drivers put in a hell of a lot more effort than their finish would make you think. They showed their stuff out on the track. A rally from deep in the field is always more impressive at a short track. Yeah, there are more opportunities to get your lap back, but you can lose laps even quicker. All part of why short tracks put on the best show.

Shout Outs!

AJ Allmendinger! Yeah, I talked about him above, but how can I not talk about him again? This is a seriously impressive run for him in that car. Martinsville and the short tracks are good to the road racers. The extreme style of braking carries over for both types of racing. The Dinger is always one of the best when NASCAR turns left and right and with his team stepping up their game across the board, he got a chance to show off those braking skills today. He talked about how the little teams need to pounce on good days like this and he certainly did for his #47 crew.

vickers at martinsvilleThe next shout out goes to a guy who isn’t even going to race next week at Texas. Brian Vickers had another week as the fill in for Tony Stewart, but the races with Bass Pro Shops on the hood go to Ty Dillon. He has no clue what any of his racing plans are, although there is talk he may run Indy this year. Vickers started third and ran in the top 15 all day pulling off a seventh place finish for Stewart-Haas. Even going back to his Red Bull Racing days, I’ve always felt his medical issues gave him a raw deal. You can’t blame a team for needing to bank on consistent availability, but I’ve always liked seeing him out perform these part time expectations he’s been forced into.

All of Richard Childress Racing gets a shout out today. Yeah, the Neon Beard and Dillon got into it on the track, but all three cars finished in the top ten. RCR doesn’t have Rousch problems, but it’s been quite a long time for that team to pull that off. That team is going to break the winless drought, likely sooner rather than later, and there are days when it looks like it could be any of the three. Menard in particular needed a good run. He got out front and led laps. Stats guy on twitter said in over eight thousand laps run at the paperclip, it was the first time he ran any of them out front. First laps lead on the year for Menard. The #27 had some bad hands dealt already this season, the ten point penalty for the fender whatevers, the blown tire for the 38th place finish a couple weeks ago, and for a driver who pointed into the Chase, it’s hard to soak up too many bad days like that.

Pit Stall 13 Update

larson bumperThe Pit Stall 13 Update doubles as a shout out this week! Kyle Larson had the magic pit stall this week and as a dirt racer, you’d think short tracks would be his bag, but none of his other four starts at Martinsville resulted in a finish worth calling home about. Larson’s Target car that my kid loves so much had a middling place on the starting grid. He broke into the top ten before a hundred laps were up and never left it.

Larson came home in third place and is leading the Pit Stall 13 standings now.

He’s on the upswing all together this season. I don’t like the term “sophomore slump” at all really, and I think Larson was victim of last year’s crap aero package more than most drivers. He’s improving now in year three though and I think he’ll get his breakout win soon.

Charterless Update

  • 19th – #21 Ryan Blaney – The rookie ran midpack all day, stayed out of trouble, and finished on the lead lap. A+ day for a rookie at this track
  • 30th – #98 Cole Whitt – Finished, but a number of laps off the pace. With the attrition rate lower than usual for short track racing, this was all that just surviving could get
  • 37th – #55 Reed Sorensen – Huh? That’s right, we actually had a full field now that we’re back on the East Coast. It was an extra car for Premium and I had to look that up to even figure out who had that number now.
  • 38th – #30 Josh Wise – Already talked about the Worst Caution Ever, but the car’s engine conked out later on in the race.

Texas Up Next

Big fast track coming up on the schedule next before more short tracking. Expect a lot of references to that giant ass TV screen they have at Texas Motor Speedway cause the culture of that state obsesses with largeness.

Now that we’re settling into the season, expect to see the usual faces up front. Specifically, I think the guys who ran well at Fontana will run well at Texas. RCR historically did well at high horsepower tracks, so I’d like to see them carry the momentum from today, even if the tracks couldn’t be any more different.