Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Where Do We Go From Here

The last three years have seen three major retirements in the sport. Jeff Gordon, Tony Stewart, and now Dale Earnhardt Jr.

This leaves to question where our sport is going from here.

Of course there is no shortage of popular young talent, but is there enough to carry the fan base?

I think the best bet lies in the hands of Chase Elliot. The second generation driver has a lot of similarities to a young Earnhardt Jr. He's likeable, has talent, and has a big name father.

Sure his last name isn't Earnhardt, but I'm sure Elliott will do.

The driver needs to pick up his production if he wants the impact that Jr had. He's currently second in points, but is that enough?

NASCAR popularity is built on winning. Elliot, and quite frankly, NASCAR, needs the driver to find victory lane and soon.

If Elliot manages to win one or more this year just wait for his popularity to sky rocket even higher.

Until then, NASCAR will have to make the most of Jr's final season. Attendance will be up for the rest of the year as fans try to get their last chance at seeing him.

Next year attendance and TV will be down. A sport doesn't lose its most popular figure and not see a hit in ratings.

In the mean time, I'm looking at Elliot to take that responsibility. He has the name, the skill, and the sponsors. The questions is, can he get it done?

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Dale Jr Hanging It Up

2017 will be Dale Earnhardt Jr's last.

The 14 time most popular driver announced Tuesday that he will hang up his helmet at the end of the season.

Not a big surprise considering his previous year.

The big question is where the sport will go from here. With three huge names retiring in three straight seasons, the sport could be in trouble of losing some fans.

No matter the impact after he's gone, the impact Jr had while he was racing is unparalleled.

Jr was loved by many around the sport. He held fans after his father's death and shouldered the load of NASCAR for 18 seasons.

He will be missed.

Rain Rain Go Away

This weekend was the second Bristol race in a row to get moved back a day.

Considering how last season seemed to be a washout every weekend, this year has been relatively dry. It still sucks to have a Sunday race pushed back to a Monday.

It's really noticeable in the stands when there's more empty bleachers than fans. Especially when the racing was as good as it was Monday afternoon.

A big shout out to Bristol track officials for the way they've changed the racing surface. Besides for superspeedways, this may be the best two line track on the circuit now.

Even better, the track changed. Kyle Larson looked unbeatable for the first half of the race, but then the rubber came in

His car began to push and for the rest of the race there wasn't a clear cut favorite.

The track change allowed guys like Clint Bowyer, Matt Kenseth, and Ricky Stenhouse to really make late charges and turn their days into a good finish.

But in the end the best came out on top. Jimmie Johnson showed why he had 82 career wins. He just doesn't go away.

The seven time champ proved his worth yet again.

Bristol you didn't disappoint. Don't ever change.

Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New Asphalt Is Terrible

Jimmie Johnson took home his first checkered flag of the season at Texas Motor Speedway. It was only a matter time before the 48 team would break through.

The biggest story from Texas would definitely be the repave. The speedway laid down new asphalt as well as reconfigured the profile of the mile and a half speedway.

The new surface proved to be a challenge for the drivers all weekend. Fridays practices were spent putting rubber down to try and make the surface able to handle multiple groves.

Saturday's Xfinity race was single file, follow the leader race that did not see the high line come in. The speedway then took all night Saturday to use the Texas Tire Monster and attempt to get the track more rubbered in.

A lot of drivers gave credit to the track for trying. The fact of the matter is that repaves suck. It takes time to get these things to work right. There's no tire fall off and the surface is far too slick for anyone to try and run outside.

It's disappointing that the next few years at this place will be relatively boring but it's the nature of the beast. Texas did not have a choice to keep their old surface, it was too much of a liability with rain.

The two different corner layouts have potential for awesome racing. I even noticed some drivers, particularly Dale Jr., trying out a line a little higher than the bottom late in the race.

The race played out about as expected. The man that has owned Texas ended up in victory lane. Johnson owns seven cowboy hats with several coming in the November race. Typical Chad Knaus, if a track is in the chase, the 48 team will learn to own it.

Toyota seemed to struggle again. The new bodies must be giving these guys trouble. The new nose design is playing with downforce and it's clear more work is needed for these guys to snag more wins at aero tracks.

The biggest story of 2017 outside of Kyle Larson, who would've won if he could've gotten by Logano a few laps sooner, is the resurgence of Ford. Penske has been dominant week in and week out. Blaney had the best car all day Sunday. SHR is competitive. If they can find a way to get rid of Danica, the would have 4 top 10 cars every week. Clint Bowyer is back to his old ways. He was around the top 5 all day Sunday and has been all season.

Long story short, despite the repave Johnson still owns Texas. Repaves still suck. Ford is still dominant.

Hopefully November brings a better race.