Episode 19 — Kevin Harvick Wins at Sonoma

-Recap of the Toyota/Save Mart 350 from Sonoma

-Kevin Harvick takes the win

-Another new winner this season

-How was the race overall?

-Winners and losers?

-Discussion:

-Kyle Busch held a post-race Q&A on Twitter after the race.

-Interesting tidbit — says he had everything set to run the Indy 500 this year and someone said no.

-Speaking of Kyle, he will lose his interim crew chief to a one-race suspension due to lugnut issues post-race

-Is the lug nut thing getting ridiculous? Or is this a good thing?

-Chase Elliott signs four-year extension. Surprising? Not like he was going anywhere.

-NASCAR says stage racing is staying. Will look at changes for next season.

-What would we like to see changed, if anything?

-Visor Cam at Sonoma – Indycar has had this since at least the Indy 500. It’s AWESOME!

Preview: Coke Zero 400 at Daytona

-Pressure on Jr. Is it warranted? Is it too much? Can he rise to the occasion?

-James’ Pick: Austin Dillon

-Eric’s Pick: Kyle Busch

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Episode 18: Kyle Larson is the king of 2-milers

Show notes:

-Recap of the FireKeepers 400 at MIS

-Larson wins again on a 2-miler

-Kyle’s team makes another questionable call

-How was the race overall?

-Winners and losers?

-Discussion:

-Tire Dragon at MIS – Why did they only do the groove?

-Stupid article from Freep about no personalities in NASCAR: https://www.usatoday.com/story/sports/nascar/columnist/2017/06/19/kyle-larson-firekeepers-casino-400-michigan-international-speedway/407610001/

-Ryan McGee column about what’s not coming back to NASCAR: http://www.espn.com/racing/nascar/story/_/id/19687527/nascar-no-matter-how-much-want-here-10-things-see-happen-again

-Dale Jr. Download – Jr. talks about debris cautions

-Why is it in the “IN” thing to do to hate on NASCAR right now?

Preview: Toyota / Save Mart 350 from Sonoma

-Bubba is out of the 43 for Sonoma. Back after: http://www.foxsports.com/nascar/story/road-course-specialist-billy-johnson-to-sub-in-no-43-at-sonoma-061917

-Eric’s Pick: Kyle Busch

-James’ Pick: Kurt Busch

The SuperSpeedway Power Rankings – Toyota/Save Mart 350

1 Martin Truex Jr. (LW 1)

I said last week he would be fast… Not much of a leap. He won the first two stages at MIS but once again, did not seal the deal. He has a win at Sonoma in 2013.

2 Kyle Larson (LW 3)

It’s so cool to see this guy get better every week. He’s on a roll if you include his sprint car wins! I was so close to making him number one but Truex is still the top dog. 

3 Jimmie Johnson (LW 2)

His one road course win came at Sonoma in 2011. He’s coming off a top 10 at MIS and a wicked argument with Chad. 

4 Kyle Busch (LW 5)

His 2015 win in Sonoma catapulted him to a championship run. He could really use that type of bump again this season. 

5 Kevin Harvick (LW 4)

Kyle finally got past Harv in the rankings! I still feel like both of them can win any week now. Well maybe not this week for Happy. Although, he has been better at Sonoma since joining SHR. 

6 Chase Elliott (LW 7)

Mark it down! He wins MIS in August. 

7 Jamie McMurray (LW 8)

He’s running great! But you have to wonder when Larson’s success bleeds over and the 1 car wins a race. 

8 Brad Keselowski (LW 6)

Since I started these rankings, no one has fallen further. It’s time to be concerned.

9 Ryan Blaney (LW 9)

Follows up a win with a wreck. Still one heck of a year he’s got going.

10 Denny Hamlin (LW 10)

He had a shot at it on Sunday and got the job done Saturday. Even if the win was encumbered his battle with William Byron got me off the couch.

Also considered

Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Erik Jones, Ernie Irvan

Eric’s Post Race Thoughts — FireKeepers Casino 400

696710450Photo Courtesy of Nascar.com

It’s Sunday night after the FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan International Speedway, and I thought I’d add a few post-race thoughts. I’m going to start trying to do this for all the Monster Energy NASCAR Cup Series races, so watch for it each Sunday or Monday. Here are my thoughts from this week.

-After watching all three races this weekend, including being at the Xfinity race at MIS, I’d have to say the Cup race, as it should be, was the best race of the weekend. It seemed that with the current package, cars could pass going into and coming out of the turns, on the straightaway, and even in the middle of the turns. If someone wanted to pass, and had the speed to do it, they could. The same couldn’t be said about the Xfinity cars on Saturday, and Saturday night’s race at Gateway — which often is a good race — was a snoozer.

-Kyle Larson. We talk about him every week in the podcast, and man this kid is something special. It’s nice to see him coming into his own and it’s neat to see him do it on a team that hasn’t been considered to be one of the absolute top teams in the sport. I think the rest of the drivers should be happy the season doesn’t end at Michigan or California, because they’d be racing for second in the championship if Larson made the final four.

I’ve been waiting for him or the team to falter, and so far they haven’t. Second win this season, officially locked into the playoffs, and I think Larson is one of the major contenders for the championship this season. Him and …

-Martin Truex Jr. Truex is a favorite this year, thanks to the mountain of playoff points he’s piling up with the stage wins. The problem for Truex is he needs to start finishing, because you can points your way into the playoffs, and you can points your way through the rounds, but you can’t points your way through the final race, and everyone has proven you have to win at Homestead to win the championship. It’s great he’s racking up the points now, but they won’t mean anything if he can’t be first across the finish line.

-The young guns. I know this isn’t a thing anymore, but there was a point when I looked up at the screen today and in the top eight we had Kyle Larson, Ryan Blaney, Chase Elliott, and a couple of other young drivers running right there. Kyle Busch was leading, and he’s not exactly an old man yet either. If anyone thinks there is a lack of talent coming up in this series, they’re smoking something. Yes, we’re losing veterans to retirement, but there are plenty of kids waiting to take their place. In fact, some of them have already taken those places this season. Wow.

-Stages. Saturday during the Xfinity race was the first time this season I really saw a stage HURT the racing by extending a caution for about three extra laps. Today, as has been the case all season for the Cup series, the stages helped. Michigan has a tendency to have long green flag runs, and it never hurts to break them up.

-Late race shootouts rule the weekend. Saturday’s Xfinity race had a 10-lap and a 2-lap shootout to end the race. Saturday night at Gateway the trucks had a 7-lap shootout to end it and Sunday’s Cup race featured a 5-lap shootout to end it. All three were entertaining to watch. I don’t want to see a manufactured finish, but when you have a shootout at the end, you rarely lose. Now, if everyone knew it was coming, it would be a different deal. But because it’s unexpected, it makes it exciting. Hence why the shootout at the All Star race stinks.

Check out the podcast Wednesday night when James and I will break down the race at Michigan and preview the first road course race of the year at Sonoma.

Irish Hills 250 Recap From the Track

As I said in last week’s podcast, I took my wife and twin boys to the Irish Hills 250 NASCAR Xfinity race this weekend. It was my boys’ first NASCAR race — they just turned 5 — and it all worked out because it was free for all of us. Made it a really easy decision to do it.

We don’t discuss the Xfinity series a lot in the podcast, so I thought I would come on here and write a little bit about my experience this weekend. So here are a few noteworthy things from our trip to the track.

1. NASCAR’s low downforce package in the Xfinity Series this season really hurt racing at MIS. The Xfinity cars were arguably the best ones on the 2-mile speedway the last few years. But this year, NASCAR attempted to reduce the downforce by making a few changes, including taking a big chunk off the rear spoiler.

Problem is, the downforce is still there in this series. All they seemed to succeed at doing is getting rid of the wake of air behind the cars. It was that wake of air that allowed cars to draft up behind one another and pass at the end of the straightaways. Now, they don’t punch as big of hole in the air, and there is A LOT less passing.

At several points in the race the entire field was single-file with at least three car lengths between cars.

Low downforce is the answer for the Cup series, but not the Xfinity Series. The Xfinity cars are about momentum, whereas the Cup cars are about power. Getting rid of downforce does different things to those packages. It’s the same reason the big spoiler DIDN’T work at MIS in the Cup series. I hope they bring the spoiler back in Xfinity.

2. Despite subpar racing throughout most of the event, we did get to witness a heck of a finish, thanks to a late-race caution with 13 laps to go, followed by a spin by Matt Tift that led to a 2-lap shootout to end the race. William Byron had lead, with Denny Hamlin starting under him. The two battled the last two laps with a photo finish and the closest finish ever in Xfinity Series history at MIS and the win going to Denny Hamlin. Watch my video from the stands below:

3. My boys aren’t ready for a Cup race yet. We decided to take them to the Xfinity race because it’s short. I wanted to see if they could handle a Cup race, though I expected it would be too long for some budding NASCAR fans. I was right. Ryan fell asleep with about a quarter of the race to go, and Ethan slept through the last 10 laps. Both missed the post-race burnout and celebration, as well as the Matt Tift spin. But they both said they really enjoyed the race.

4. Stage racing from the stands. As a TV viewer, I love the stages. At the track, they’re nice because you know there is a caution coming. But there was one thing I thought could be improved. It’s hard to tell when the stage is ending at the track.

Yes, there is a scoreboard, but the scoreboard just shows the lap count, so you need to remember what laps the stages end. If you don’t, suddenly there is a strange flag waving from the flag stand and then the caution comes out and you’re left wondering what just happened.

If we wave a checkered flag (a different color, of course) at the end of the stage, why don’t we wave the white flag before it? I don’t think that would be confusing for the fans, and I think it would be helpful in knowing the stage was coming to a close. Just a thought. I’ve wondered this since Daytona.

The other observation I had about the stages was how long they take. At the end of stage 2, we had a caution with like four laps to go in the stage. Because there wasn’t time to go back to green, they had extra caution laps to finish the stage. then they opened pit road and allowed two extra laps for pit stops. By the time it was all over, it was a 15-minute caution. There’s got to be a way to speed that up. It was super hot at that point in the race, and it would have been nice to watch something other than the cars following the pace car around for what was just a quick debris caution.

All in all, I’m happy with my experience. I’m never disappointed at MIS, because even if the racing isn’t that good, the fan experience is great. We had fun, and the boys want to go back to another race, so I guess it’s a win all around.

My next NASCAR race is the Camping World Truck Series Eldora Dirt Derby, and I’m still debating whether to hit MIS in August for the truck race or maybe the Cup race to see Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s last race. Next year I’m looking at possibly a trip to Martinsville or Bristol for my first time, but we’ll see what happens.

Episode 17 — Danica Patrick Freaks Out on a Fan

– Recap of the Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400

– Blaney Wins it! First driver to win without earning stage points in first two segments

– Battles with Busch and Harvick

– 18 teams gives another one away

– Bubba’s first race. How did he do?  

– Jimmie’s crash/brake problems/Dale Jr. blows up

– Jr. said on his podcast brake issues are because of lower downforce.

-Winners and losers on the day?

Discussion

– Danica Patrick dissing the fans

– Playoff Picture recap

– All drivers broadcast

– Camping World Truck Series race at Texas – Timothy Peter’s wreck

– IndyCar – “Avoidable Contact” – Saw on Twitter someone suggesting this should be a penalty in NASCAR. Steve O’Donnell responds, “no way, we’re a contact sport.”

Preview Firekeepers Casino 400 @ Michigan International Speedway

-Eric’s Pick: Brad Keselowski

-James’ Pick: Chase Elliott

Shout outs:

Close show

The SuperSpeedway Power Rankings – FireKeepers Casino 400 at Michigan

Note: My apologies for not posting a Power Rankings before Pocono! As a working, new dad, sometimes things get in the way of my hobbies. For the record, after Dover, Jimmie Johnson would have been number one as promised. However! We’re headed to my home track this week, leaving Pocono in the rear-view. Here are your updated Power Rankings.

1 Martin Truex Jr. (LW 1)

Two solid weeks back-to-back. Martin holds down the first spot again. I have a feeling he’s going to be fast at MIS… Just a hunch.

2 Jimmie Johnson (LW 5)

I don’t care that Jimmie crashed at Pocono. I’m glad he’s OK! His win in Dover was so reminiscent of Homested in 2016 that it’s giving me nightmares. 

3 Kyle Larson (LW 3)

Am I starting to expect too much out of Larson? Yes. Do I expect him to win Michigan? Yes. Do I expect him to win every week? Well, yeah!

4 Kevin Harvick (LW 4)

Kyle Busch has been better. But Harv is stringing together results! Getting closer. 

5 Kyle Busch (LW 6)

Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Side note. Can you imagine if someone blocked him like he blocked Blaney? Tears would be shed. 

6 Brad Keselowski (LW 2)

Great interview by Brad and Blaney after Pocono. Again, I rather see the results and less TV.

7 Chase Elliott (LW 8)

Signs of life the last two weeks. His daddy was really good at MIS. Just FYI.

8 Jamie McMurray (LW 7)

Ouch.

9 Ryan Blaney (LW NR)

I’m so happy for this kid. He’s got a bright future. What a win!

10 Denny Hamlin (LW 10)

Blaney winning means that Denny might have this spot locked down for a little bit.

Also considered

Kurt Busch, Ricky Stenhouse Jr., Roger Curtis

Episode 16 — Overtime Line Ruins Great Race

Show notes:

– Recap of the AAA 400

– Jimmie Johnson steals one from Larson

– Thoughts on the race overall? Was it good/bad?

-Winners and losers on the day?

Discussion

– How stupid do you have to be to climb a fence at a NASCAR race? And how do they pull it off? Where is the security?

– Kyle Busch’s tire issue — what should the penalty be?

– NASCAR’s overtime rule. Does it suck? Yes it does. How do we fix it?

– Bubba Wallace getting a shot at cup. Loses Xfinity ride.

– Kasey Kahne ominous tweet about not being done. – He’s gone

Preview Axalta ‘We Paint Winners’ 400 @ Pocono

-Eric’s Pick: Dale Earnhardt Jr.

-James’ Pick: Kevin Harvick

 

Close show

-Where can we be found on social media?

-Website address: www.thesuperspeedway.wordpress.com

-Podcasts will be found on there as well.

-Find us on iTunes, Google Play and Soundcloud

GWC — If ARCA can do it, why can’t NASCAR?

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NASCAR had yet another spectacular race ruined Sunday by its terrible overtime rule.

On the first green-white-checkered finish attempt, Ty Dillon got sideways after running through some oil dry that had not been properly cleaned up, taking out about half the field. Jimmie Johnson, who had just taken the lead from Kyle Larson on the restart, was declared the winner since he had already crossed the overtime line halfway down the backstretch before the caution came out.

Look, I think it’s great that NASCAR has made an attempt to make sure races finish under green. But I’m sorry, it just isn’t enough, and it never has been.

About three times a year I watch ARCA — Daytona, Talladega and Michigan. ARCA has the perfect overtime rule. No race will end under caution. Ever.

It’s simple. If the caution comes out before the white flag, there is at least two laps of green to finish the race. If the caution comes out after the white, the green and white is waved at the same time and the field gets one lap to battle it out.

It doesn’t matter how many times it happens. Caution comes out, they try again.

I’m not aware of any races that went on and on and on and on at the end in ARCA because of repeated attempts.

At Talladega earlier this year, ARCA had a one-lap shootout to end the race. Guess what — they didn’t wreck at the finish. This is a series filled with inexperienced and young drivers. If they can figure it out, why can’t NASCAR?

In the criticism from Sunday’s race at Dover, I heard many people again talking about the restrictor plate races. We need a different rule there to prevent crashes like Austin Dillon into the fence at Daytona a couple years ago.

I beg to differ. Cars getting airborne has nothing to do with a green-white-checkered. Did Chase Elliott go airborne at Talladega on the last lap this year? What about Chris Buescher or Matt Kenseth last year? Yes, these crashes sometime happen at the end of the race, and there is a little more likelihood because people are racing harder, but the cars aren’t going faster. There’s not more air. They get airborne because of aerodynamics, not because the race is ending under green.

NASCAR took some great steps introducing the original green-white-checkered rule. They took another great step by changing it from one attempt to three. Then they ruined it with the stupid overtime rule. Now it’s time to fix it.

If ARCA can do it, NASCAR can too. I call for unlimited attempts, and we always end under green.

When a sport is struggling with attendance both in person and on TV, you can’t afford to leave a bunch of fans going home unhappy because a good race was ruined by a stupid rule.

Let’s fix it, and let’s do it soon. How many races go into overtime? How many have been ended because of crashes after that attempt? Not many. When they had three attempts, only a couple ran out of chances. It’s not going to exceed that very often, and the couple of times it does is worth it to let the fans go home happy.